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May 28, 2020 - 4:10:14 PM

QldPicker

Australia

38 posts since 4/17/2020

In an Old Time Jam, is there a preferred or accepted etiquette related to tuning? By that I mean is it normal or preferable to group tunes by tuning (eg first four tunes in G followed by A etc) rather than some other measure like tempo? From the jams I have attended in The US, it would appear that tunes were grouped by tuning, however I never thought of asking if that was the case.

May 28, 2020 - 5:25:30 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23602 posts since 6/25/2005

Also, don’t plug in your electric piano unless you’re very experienced playing it in an old time context—like Patt Plunkett.

May 28, 2020 - 6:31:07 PM
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2933 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by QldPicker

In an Old Time Jam, is there a preferred or accepted etiquette related to tuning? By that I mean is it normal or preferable to group tunes by tuning (eg first four tunes in G followed by A etc) rather than some other measure like tempo? From the jams I have attended in The US, it would appear that tunes were grouped by tuning, however I never thought of asking if that was the case.


No.

Jams are just made of individuals; those present who decide what they prefer.

Staying in one key is often simply common sense pragmatic accommodation for a banjo player, who uses different tunings. Sometimes a fiddler, but to a lesser extent. But banjo players and fiddlers differ about tuning changing problems or preferences. Up to the people there.

May 28, 2020 - 7:32:51 PM

1474 posts since 4/29/2013

In my experience, jam sessions will typically stay in one key going through most of the tunes that folks know. A tune might be played for 5-8 minutes in some instances if the circle's getting "tight". Eventually, someone will either suggest a tune in a different key or to switch keys (most of the time allowing for the banjoists to retune). Sometimes new tunes will come up that are easy to follow along when going through several tunes, so that's a plus. Another plus is when new folks come and play or those that haven't been around for a while, there's usually some new tunes shared. 

And as Mike mentioned, sometimes a jam will stay in one key the whole night (most of the time we play D tunes at the jam I attend, with A and G tunes on occasion). Having food around or people having conversations/telling stories allows for some break-time between tunes. 

Edited by - Noah Cline on 05/28/2020 19:39:17

May 28, 2020 - 8:03:59 PM

3845 posts since 10/13/2005

Yes, you play until the beer runs out..... banjered

May 28, 2020 - 8:14:45 PM

QldPicker

Australia

38 posts since 4/17/2020

Thank you all the clarification and responses.

May 29, 2020 - 2:43:44 AM
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299 posts since 3/12/2014

Please don't forget the new person. Sure they don't play fast enough or good enough but they will be thrilled they got to play.

...Deb

May 29, 2020 - 4:50:58 AM
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carlb

USA

2113 posts since 12/16/2007

I host a jam in here are some of the things we do, besides selecting a key to play.

There's is only one rule: the person who selects the tune (that is anybody, fiddler, banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin, etc, though they may be the person who starts everybody playing it) is responsible for deciding when we're going to stop playing it.

Also, I've found that if you want to introduce a new tune, that it usually only works well if there are two fiddlers who know the tune. You can hear as we get to the fourth or fifth time through how the sound of the group improves as people catch the tune.

May 29, 2020 - 5:29:09 AM
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2199 posts since 4/7/2010
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When I play music that includes a banjo player, I try to stay in one key for a while so they don't have to retune often. When the session does not have a banjo player, I don't worry about it and change keys on a whim.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

May 29, 2020 - 8:23:36 AM

mjt0229

USA

347 posts since 4/20/2015

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

I host a jam in here are some of the things we do, besides selecting a key to play.

There's is only one rule: the person who selects the tune (that is anybody, fiddler, banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin, etc, though they may be the person who starts everybody playing it) is responsible for deciding when we're going to stop playing it.

Also, I've found that if you want to introduce a new tune, that it usually only works well if there are two fiddlers who know the tune. You can hear as we get to the fourth or fifth time through how the sound of the group improves as people catch the tune.


For me, learning to read the room to decide when to stop a tune is very hard. Nobody has ever complained to me that I let a tune go on too long, but it always feels like a lot of pressure to manage that while I'm trying to keep up with the rest of musicians.

May 29, 2020 - 10:31:16 AM

carlb

USA

2113 posts since 12/16/2007

Woops! Let out a keyword "NOT
quote:
Originally posted by carlb

I host a jam in here are some of the things we do, besides selecting a key to play.

There's is only one rule: the person who selects the tune (that is anybody, fiddler, banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin, etc, though they may NOT be the person who starts everybody playing it) is responsible for deciding when we're going to stop playing it.

Also, I've found that if you want to introduce a new tune, that it usually only works well if there are two fiddlers who know the tune. You can hear as we get to the fourth or fifth time through how the sound of the group improves as people catch the tune.


May 29, 2020 - 11:57:56 AM

Clawdan

USA

3427 posts since 3/12/2006

My take from some years ago but still relevant. 3rd article down.

https://clawdan.com/index.php?/articles

May 29, 2020 - 11:58:44 AM

Clawdan

USA

3427 posts since 3/12/2006

What about with Cross Tuned fiddles?
quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

When I play music that includes a banjo player, I try to stay in one key for a while so they don't have to retune often. When the session does not have a banjo player, I don't worry about it and change keys on a whim.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com


May 30, 2020 - 7:41:20 AM
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Clawdan

USA

3427 posts since 3/12/2006

Thanks Mike. Quite right. "Awareness, sensitivity, courtesy and musical common sense will serve a session player well and usually ensure a happy time for all. But the article details there are some subtler points and these help create that necessary awareness. "

May 30, 2020 - 4:34:57 PM
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2382 posts since 12/11/2008

The OT session in McClurg , MO pays no heed to the needs of the OT banjo player. This a very traditional rural Missouri fiddle tune session meaning that OT banjo was never really part of the original musical landscape. Rural Missouri is not a suburb of Surry County, NC.

Missouri is a "fiddle forward" OT culture where close melodic interplay between fiddle and banjo was rare. There are still no banjo divisions at Missouri fiddle contests

So, in places such as rural MO, my advice is to bring two banjos and have one capoed. Fiddlers will play what ever tune they feel like playing(including tunes in Bb or F), so two banjos gives you a fighting chance.

Of course in the cities and college towns here, the OT sessions are mainly attended by and for OT "Revivalist" musicians. The group stays in one key for quite a while before switching if an OT banjo player is present.

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