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A music session is a social gathering of musicians and singers who perform music in a relatively informal context. Much of the music performed at such events is traditional music for the area, popular songs and other well-known tunes. In sessions, the participants typically improvise the accompaniment, song arrangements and musical ornaments to the melodies of songs or tunes. The venue may be a public bar, tavern, village hall or a private home.
The events usually occur at regular intervals and a weekday evening may be chosen if professional musicians are expected to take part, so that it does not interfere with paid weekend gigs. More amateur players may organize a session on a weekend. At a session, musicians usually play or sing for pleasure and to socialize. Frequently the musicians and singers are unpaid. However, one or two musicians (usually experienced players or professionals) are paid to 'lead' a session and to encourage others to join in. In a jazz or blues jam, the venue may pay a small "house band" (typically a rhythm section) to provide accompaniment.
The music session forms an important part of Scottish and Irish culture (see Irish traditional music session). Often such events form an integral part of music festivals. The festival will often consist of a series of concerts by local groups, well-known or famous bands or entertainers. It is quite common for the local amateurs and touring professional musicians to meet after the concerts and have a "session" late in the evening. These sessions may continue into early hours of the morning. In jazz and blues, "jam sessions" are an important part of the musical culture.
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