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May 30, 2023 - 6:43:38 PM
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596 posts since 2/10/2020

I'm about to head over to my weekly jam. I'm leaving the banjo at home and I'm just bringing my fiddle. That will force me out of my comfort zone. I can't reach for the banjo when things get tough or if someone calls for a difficult key. On the plus side, I'm riding my bike over, so much easier to do that with just the fiddle!

May 30, 2023 - 9:47:56 PM
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doryman

USA

596 posts since 2/10/2020

Ok, here's my quick recap of how the evening went. First of all, we are a mixed jam; folk, country, bluegrass, OT, probably leaning towards bluegrass. I didn't have too much trouble playing back-up or leads (we play in the traditional bluegrass jam style). The only keys we played in were G, C, A, D and Em, so I had those covered. 

 

The trouble mostly came from when it was my turn to call a song and lead. There isn't a critical mass of people in the group who know the tradition fiddle tunes, so I couldn't really play those if I wanted everyone to play along. So that left only a couple of songs that I can both play on the fiddle and sing at the same time. I need to learn about ten tunes that I can play and sing at the same time and that should easily get me through a typical jam session around here without having to repeat the same songs week after week.

Tonight, when it came around to me, I led Darling Corey (sang and played), Been All around the world (sing and played), Saltspring (no singing to that one) and Bill Cheatham (no singing). That last one was a jam busting disaster as only two of us really knew it.

Edited by - doryman on 05/30/2023 21:50:40

May 30, 2023 - 11:43:07 PM
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2477 posts since 12/11/2008

Hey, don't fret. The way I see it, fiddlers rarely sing anyway. It's the instrument that does the singing.

May 31, 2023 - 5:09:39 AM
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2587 posts since 10/1/2008

Well.... sounds like it went pretty well to me. Insofar as playing in odd keys, you may already know this, look into playing with your index finger held over two strings and play the relative scale in a closed position never lifting your index finger. This is sometimes referred to as a "fiddle capo". It allows, with moving your fiddle capo, through arpeggios and pentatonic scales, accessing the I IV V chords. Lastly, whenever you pick up an instrument in public you are playing without a net. There is largely little to no judgment out there and for those $#%*$ ..... (expletive deleted)     R/

Edited by - UsuallyPickin on 05/31/2023 05:12:47

May 31, 2023 - 5:17:28 AM
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Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

I've done this a few times now and very glad I have. A couple of those times for me there were really good fiddle players there too! In the end, I stunk but it was motivating and good experience. It's nice when you have a jam that you can grow with. The last jam I went to I took the mando for those harder keys. Adding a bike ride in there to anywhere sounds good to me!

May 31, 2023 - 6:12:59 AM
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3354 posts since 10/22/2007

For some reason they like it when I do/sing Liza Jane. But. Typically, I just play instrumentals. Something easy like Rubber Dolly, Big Mamu, or Chinese Breakdown. If I bring a mandolin, I'll bellar Little Georgia Rose, Bluebirds Singing for Me, any ol' dumb thing in G. I'd prefer just bringing a fiddle. A mandolin isn't much more gear, compared to a dreadnought guitar. Here's the thing: I used to put equal time on both fiddle and mandolin. Then at jams I could break on both or either. But I'm telling you, that makes for sore fingers. My "hot shot" days are far behind me. I relagate mandolin to a few two fingers chords.

May 31, 2023 - 7:56:11 AM

389 posts since 12/2/2013

It would take some practice at home on your end, but here’s a system to help guide the group
One trick to get them to play the right chords on a fiddle tune if you’re seated is to use a foot to tell them which chord to go to. I think of it as the circle of fifths for example, the one chord is straight out, 4 to the right and 5 to the left. You can get creative if you need the relative minor chord, touching the feet together and so forth as long as you explain it to them first.

May 31, 2023 - 10:20:57 AM
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doryman

USA

596 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

It would take some practice at home on your end, but here’s a system to help guide the group
One trick to get them to play the right chords on a fiddle tune if you’re seated is to use a foot to tell them which chord to go to. I think of it as the circle of fifths for example, the one chord is straight out, 4 to the right and 5 to the left. You can get creative if you need the relative minor chord, touching the feet together and so forth as long as you explain it to them first.


You greatly overestimate my ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. 

May 31, 2023 - 3:51:33 PM
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3618 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by doryman
The trouble mostly came from when it was my turn to call a song and lead. There isn't a critical mass of people in the group who know the tradition fiddle tunes, so I couldn't really play those if I wanted everyone to play along. So that left only a couple of songs that I can both play on the fiddle and sing at the same time. I need to learn about ten tunes that I can play and sing at the same time and that should easily get me through a typical jam session around here without having to repeat the same songs week after week.


Tonight, when it came around to me, I led Darling Corey (sang and played), Been All around the world (sing and played), Saltspring (no singing to that one) and Bill Cheatham (no singing). That last one was a jam busting disaster as only two of us really knew it.


I'm not sure it's simply not knowing how traditional "fiddle tunes" go... there's other aspects, including being able to work out unfamiliar materiel on the fly... songs or tunes.

But your comment reminds me of phenomena I've observed... noticed some folks that... like in BG, country, folk realm... they can generally figure chords out for basic songs (I, IV, V, vi in keys of G, C, D); but when they hear that it's a "fiddle tunes" they seem lost or confused; as if they were somehow supposed to do something vastly different. The moment if you start singing lyrics to a tune... they seem better at figuring it out. Might be due to lyrics tend to simplify emphasize more straightforward core melody, easier to hear melodic line, and words help understand as phrases, narrative structure to part (like 4 phrase with question/answer); so more sense of where are in tune and predictability. With that might consider fiddle tunes with words; or can make up some words; (to say Bill Cheatum).

------------

Of course part of playing at jams has to take into account the others abilities when comes to backing up - whether tunes or songs.

Some are limited only able to play what they have worked out and practiced before; any "new" materiel song or tune is bit of jam buster to them; they struggle to hear and figure out chords.*

Others, often have element of hearing unfamiliar material, and figuring out chord accompaniment on the fly; part of the idea of a jam is not be limited to above. That said, different skill degrees... some songs/tunes are easier than others. Awareness of what might be easier/intuitive; when comes to introducing new might consider those that have pretty straightforward phrasing and common/intuitive chord progression. (granted, many fiddlers have no idea themselves of the chords,  how to figure chords, thus what is easy or not for others)

For those that need a little help... is might be able to tell them chords before (or certain aspects, heads up; "goes to Am" in that one phrase/part); sometimes all need to do. Might use some system with feet, head nod; holding up fingers; or shouting chord letter name or number; of course letter names (end in eee sound) can be hard to distinguish on fly; numbers are easier, but only if the others know the number system. For some, esp the * above; might just consider write the chords down for them on paper/note card, hand it to them.

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