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Endings month: Jam etiquette for endings

Posted by jrjenks on Thursday, December 3, 2009

Endings Month

To get endings month off to a good start, let's consider jam etiquette for endings.

I think most jammers will agree with these points from Dr. Banjo's (Pete Wernick's) Jamming Tips: Bluegrass Jamming Pointers:

Whoever is singing lead or kicks off an instrumental usually leads the group through the song, signaling who takes instrumental solos ("breaks") and when to end.


On instrumentals, the same person usually starts and ends, with solos going around in a circle to those willing.


Use signals to help everyone end together: Foot out, hold up instrument, end after one last chorus or repeat of last line.


Listen for instrumental licks that signal ending.

That last one is a little tricky. What, exactly, do "instrumental licks that signal ending" sound like?

I'm guessing that Dr. Banjo means to listen for what Bill Knopf calls "preparatory licks," which will be the next thing I talk about when endings month continues.

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

2 comments on “Endings month: Jam etiquette for endings”

Tedd Says:
Friday, December 4, 2009 @8:34:29 AM

I always get a laugh when I meet a novice struggling for hours to get a decent sounding "shave and a haircut" end lick. I end up bursting their bubbles when I tell them I only use that lick about once a year as a joke with other jammers who just refuse to end a we need a drummer to give a final cymbal splash. In reality I seldom hear any kind of fancy ending even with the stage bands. I tell folks to spend their time in the guts of the and listen a lot ... and the tail (including the recognition of the impending end) will fall into place.

jrjenks Says:
Friday, December 4, 2009 @8:41:06 AM

"Shave and a haircut" is going to get its very own entry during endings month -- with plenty of cautions.

As I've pondered this project I've been listening to endings on stage, in jams and on recordings. I agree that fancy endings are a rare thing. But most players provide a simple ending and there are quite a variety of those. Stay tuned.

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