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Kicking Tunes Off- An update

Posted by bj on Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is something I've been working on. I'm getting better at it. And I've decided to use the Tommy Jarrell method of JUMPING RIGHT IN. No rotten potatoes or four counts for this gal. My jam group seems to be taking this in stride, they come right in on the second time through the A part. And I've been practicing starting out strong instead of wimpynoodling.

I've been working hard on finding what works for REMEMBERING how to kick off each tune. This has been the biggest thing for me, the biggest problem. I've come up with a formula. If I can remember the first four notes of a tune, I can usually swing into the rest of it. So, while people are gabbing at the jam, I noodle the first four notes softly, REMEMBER the tune, then kick it off strongly from the beginning. I've been working hard to associate those first four notes that start off a tune with the title of the tune in my brain. It's working, though some tunes are elusive for some reason. I've figured out that some share the same four notes with other tunes, and that makes my mnemonic aid screw up. I do have a couple backups to deal with this. First one is to ask if anyone else wants to kick off that tune. If no one steps up, then I get out my "cheater" which is an mp3 player I've put my tunelist on, a simple one time through each tune, with the files named with the key of the tune then the tune name, so that it automagically gets arranged by key on the player.

There are now about 20 or so tunes I can kick off pretty strongly, and the list is growing by at least two or three a week, as I really work on that 4 note association for each tune. Some come really easily. Pretty Little Shoes was one I could kick off almost as soon as I learned it. While Julianne Johnson had eluded me for months, until this week it finally just fell into place ( *** knock on wood! *** )

I hope to have the list up to around 30 before I leave for Lake Genaro in a few short weeks.

And the next thing I'm planning on learning is end tags. My friend Paul knows a zillion of them. Hopefully he'll be up at Lake Genaro to get me rolling on some.

10 comments on “Kicking Tunes Off- An update”

robinja Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @10:03:16 AM

Sounds like you have Julianne Johnson down now, but in case your method doesn't work, a friend of mine always sang a little nonsense verse to the first phrase of this tune, "My dog's bigger than your dog." This fits so well, that's how I remember it.

Curious, by end tags, do you mean some kind of "shave and a hair cut" kind of thing after the tune, or just changing up the last few notes of a tune so people can tell that you're ending it? I periodically do the latter in small groups to see if I can pull this off without raising the foot. I don't really do the other king of tag, except where I am emulating a favorite fiddler who does one on the particular tune I'm playing (mainly a couple of Benton Flippen tunes.)

M-D Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @10:03:26 AM

You know, for those of us who just start a tune, rather than "cranking one up", it's not uncommon to play the A-part through one time, allowing the seconds to jump in as they can, and the dancers to jump in as it comes back around to the A-part for twice more, as usual.

bj Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @10:21:04 AM

Yes, Judy, I mean "shave and a haircut" kind of endings after the end of the last B part. So far I just put the foot up and then maybe slow down the last couple notes and drag out the very last note. It's just not elegant though. Paul's endings are very elegant.

That makes sense, M-D, however, if I did that now, I have a feeling I'd be starting into my third playing of the A part while everyone else is starting the B part. They've become used to how I've been kicking off for the last couple jams or so.

I'll be jamming with David one on one on Thursday afternoon, I'll get with him on this kickoff issue and see what he thinks. If he and I do the same thing, the group usually follows most times. And he is at MOST of the jams, though he hasn't been to the last couple. He's my go-to person for kicking off tunes I'm weak kicking off, and has been playing for over 30 years. And we'll be able to test drive what we come up with at the picnic on Saturday afternoon, which will probably get a smaller turnout than the jam does, though I've already gotten 4 positive responses to the email I sent out last night.

ChickenMan Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @2:55:30 PM

I too prefer to just jump right in. I don't really care if it starts altogether nicely - I want to start it properly and almost every tune I know doesn't bow in a "potatoes" kind of nashville shuffle. It make my BG band members a little testy when I insist on either just starting on the long one-bow or giving only two staccato down beats and - in. It could be all the Tommy J. I listen to, but I doubt it. Ed Haley does it, so does John Hartford, Luther Strong and, well frankly, all the music I listen to. The only time I hear potatoes is at dances and jams with many many participants. I love how Byron Berline 'kicks' this one off

bj Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @3:12:48 PM


Oh yeah, that works!

Well, the guy who INSISTED I kick everything off with Potatoes will be at the picnic this Saturday . . . and I don't plan on kicking anything off with rotten potatoes. :-)

FiddleJammer Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @3:17:46 PM

Ain't no rule that says folks have to start all at once, although it could be helpful for dancing. :-)

bj Says:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 @3:31:44 PM

The dancers (and caller) can always do the "Bow to your partner, Bow to your corner" stuff while they're waiting for the tune to come back around. :-)

M-D Says:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 @1:29:04 PM

"Ladies and gents to your places. Let out your back-band, and tighten up your traces." :o)

bj Says:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 @1:36:32 PM

LOL! Have you done some calling, M-D?

M-D Says:
Friday, August 21, 2009 @10:37:02 AM

No, but we had a square-dance, a jiggin', and a waltzin' up town, last night, in front of the court-house. :o)

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