View Full Version : The No Tag Ending

Apr-26-2004, 10:14am
I dunno if jams everywhere are being affected by this or if it's just a local phenomonon, but around here the trend of eliminating the traditional vocal tag is rapidly spreading throughout the jam community.

This trend seems to have started by certain frequent jammers listening to bands who utilize methods other than the vocal tag to end songs...all well and good. People who practice together enough to be a band generally know when the song is supposed to stop and are free to choose whatever ending method they choose.

However, I have yet to see this method work well in any jam I have been in. Generally what happens is, the singer strums their last chord and then stops and ends up looking retarded while the rest of the jammers continue to play the song for variable lengths of time, until it slowly dawns upon them that the song has ended.

Thusly, I don't understand why this trend is spreading so rapidly. I could understand it if it sounded really cool and people were like wow that's cool and wanted to copy it, but instead it sounds like a train wreck. Have these copy cats not noticed that while many bands end songs in some way other than a traditional tag, they do end the songs in some way? Strumming a chord and then glaring at the other jammers does not an ending make.

Tag licks, be they vocal or instrumental serve a purpose in jams. Stop the madness! Support your local tag lick. It's ok if we end badly, but please let us end together!

Tom C
Apr-26-2004, 10:25am
I wish I could teach my stubborn friends to count so we all start together!
I told my friend's 7 year old daughter(who has now been playing fiddle for 2 years)
to teach daddy to count.

Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 11:10am
" Strumming a chord and then glaring at the other jammers does not an ending make. "

LOL! Probably symptomatic of learning too many songs from records, and not enough songs from fellow pickers. That person's behavior has the suggestions of, "Don't you all know how the songs goes? Don't you have the record?"

I saw a few more rock-oriented jams this past weekend that were a mess, as none of the players really even acknowledged that players can - and do - communicate with each other in these ways while jamming.

At a different BG jam, I saw this one very skilled guitar player, who used passing tones and Dom7 voicings to guide the group around the changes ... helping to keep everyone in line in a very subtle, but elegant manner.

Tom C, I'm with you there. Why don't more people know how to do that?

Let's all just try to lead by example, eh?

Apr-26-2004, 12:04pm
IMO, its a jam, so does it really matter if it 'sounds good'? It should be the singers responsibility to end the song - how bout a good ol foot kick?

Mark Normand
Apr-26-2004, 12:06pm
Are you guys talking about raising your foot to signal the upcoming end, or something else all together? As a newer player trying to sing a few tunes now and then, would appreciate clarification! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

John Flynn
Apr-26-2004, 1:16pm
That's what I like about old-time. A "four potato" kick-off (da dada da dada da dada da), so everyone knows when to come in and a "kick out" at the beginning of the last part so everyone knows where to end. It makes it easy and comfortable for everyone, as long as the "alpha fiddler" does it right.

Apr-26-2004, 1:25pm
<Are you guys talking about raising your foot to signal the upcoming end, or something else all together?>

What I'm talking about is that traditionaly either the lead singer or instrument will signal the end of a song in a jam by singing or playing a tag lick, which is usually, but not limited to repeating the last line of the song.

The purpose of which is to signal to the other jammers, who may or may not be familar with how the person leading generally ends the song that the end is coming.

Putting one's foot out is also used to signal the last round of the song, but it doesn't actually end the song. The tag lick basically functions the same way to end a song as pickup notes or counting serves to start one.

Many bands incorporate fancier endings, which sound nice and work well when everyone already knows when to stop, but not so well in a jam situation.

And yes it is up to the person leading to end the song, but if they aren't going to tag it, imo they need to end it it some other way that signals "hey this is the end" not just stop.

David Horovitz
Apr-26-2004, 2:12pm
This is an interesting topic and one that I've observed in many informal situations. Could it also have to do with the fact that there are many lesser experienced players appearing at jams and that they're just not confident enough of their abilities to consider how they're playing/leading is interpreted by others? This is no slam on lesser experienced jammers (I fall into that category in other respects!).

It takes a lot of courage to participate in your first jam or even your 10th jam, but at least folks are getting out there.

Having said that, I see nothing wrong with coaching each other at jams, as long as it's done tactfully and sincerely.

Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 2:52pm
At the same jam where I saw that really good 'leader', there was also a gentleman that called a tune and was just fine while he was singing, but when the breaks got passed around, he had a hard time keeping the changes - he kept dropping measures out beneath the soloist and going to the next chord a couple bars too quickly. The group as a whole held things together alright, and we discussed the minor chaos a little afterwards without assigning any sort of blame. No harm No foul. But, IMHO this guys should not have called a tune, as he wasn't yet strong enough to drive the group. (FWIW: He was an excellent lead player, so what gives? )

A couple folks heard me singing the next day, and asked why I hadn't called more songs as they liked my voice. I told them I wasn't yet strong enough to drive a jam like that. The guy offered me that common saying in return, "Better to keep one's mouth shut and appear a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt."

But, I also think you've got to just dive in on occasion or you might never get strong enough.

- Benig

Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 2:59pm
" ... its a jam, so does it really matter if it 'sounds good'? "

I get your point, that jams are supposed to be casual ... but, if you go to pot-luck dinner you still hope the food tastes good. I mean, you would never ask if it really matters, right?

Apr-26-2004, 5:43pm
Yea, I would never actually ask that, ya know? I think if its a 'jam', pretty much everyone is there to have a good time, and not worry if anyone messes up or anything. If you want 'tightness', I think you should try to get a band together.

Apr-26-2004, 5:58pm
It's kind of like playing blackjack. Sometimes, the table is friendly and the other players help you out. Other times, people are giving you dirty looks or putting you down.

As a beginner, I grately appreciate constructive criticism at jams. For me, life is about learning. So looking at this situation, I would hope that somebody would step up (during their turn) and maybe explain what they would like to happen (at the beginning/end).

It seems to me that communication is the key to most problems in the jam/world....


P.S. I have learned so much from this website, it's wonderful!

Apr-26-2004, 7:10pm
the guys in my band always call out something we do on stage. I frown and usually go along. But to me jamming and performing are 2 separate things. If you are in a jam sitting in with a band. that's different. but to go to a jam and pull out an arraingement to perform at the jam is to me embarassing. I always feel I'm showing off. I remember being at jams and others doing that and feeling like they were the premadonas. It's that banjerplayers faultagain. Chorehab another thing that bugs me at jams is for folks not to wait for the singer to remember his words for a measure or two. Instead the banjo just fires into another break, prolonging the madness. I get weary of that almost as much as bones, spoons egg shakers,dancing wooden dolls, franch harps and the like.

I was at a jam the other night and this ole guy pulls out his new hummin bird. He couldn't really play in rhythm very when he was singing. I've never seen that bust a jam up so quick. I was willing to stick with it. He wasn't obnoxious but he wasn't good. OOHH well.

Jonathan Reinhardt
Apr-26-2004, 7:18pm
Paying close attention to the lead person and listening carefully helps keep it together.
Songs have beginnings (intros), verses, choruses, breaks and ends (tags, outros).
Tbone - remember Janice and her kicking those songs to an end? If you misssed it, check out the great video from 1974 - Janice - has all three 'big time' bands and the beautiful 1970 Canadian tour.
rasa #
and if you're at a Cajun jam, be prepared for unexpected two measure tags delivered at the end of some verses #- (but that's not mandolin related info!!).

Apr-26-2004, 11:45pm
Just to clarify, I'm not talking about newbies who don't know how to end a song. These are all seasoned jammers who are doing this because they've heard some of the in bands do it during shows or on their cds, so they think it's the trendy way to end a song.

Wanting a tag or similar ending is not about being "tight" it's about avoiding unnecessary confusion by properly signalling that the ending is coming and then actually providing an ending to the song.

A quote that particularly applys to large jams "if you don't tag a bluegrass song they'll play it all night."

Apr-27-2004, 12:33pm
Good Lord-
Just raise a foot, not a stink!

Apr-27-2004, 12:42pm

Apr-27-2004, 2:29pm
Jaded are you talking about a vocal tag or an instrumental lick/tag?

I've always thought the word Tag line was the last vocal line of the song repeated again and at the jams I go to if there is going to be a tag somebody says "tag it" then we add the the last line again. It works on some tunes but not all.

Is this what you are talking about or do you mean a instrumental lick that suggests the end of a song? Just curious..

Apr-28-2004, 2:46am
Either Ethan, tho primarily and the vocal tag. In songs where a vocal tag doesn't work, generally we rely on an instrumentalist to end the song.

Raising your foot signals it's time to end, but it isn't an ending.

Mark Normand
Apr-28-2004, 9:35am
We must be gettin' better, haha, we just raise a foot, everyone knows the end is near, here comes a repeat tag line or instrumental outtro, and everyone usually nails it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif Great fun!

Michael H Geimer
Apr-28-2004, 10:58am
Granted this was with a small regular group of us who pick every Tuesday ...

Last night, I sang the last chorus of a song we regularly play, and instead of just taging the line, I let the tune drift off into this Dead-like modal comp on an E-chord while I got into a side conversation with our bongo player* just to test the waters.

After about three minutes of chit-chat I said, "Hold that thought a second, Joel.", and sang out the last line of the chorus as a belated tag line. We stopped right on cue!

Good fun. We do that sort of funny stuff in public, too, but I would never try it with strangers.

*Yeah, you read that right ... Bongo Player http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Ken Sager
Apr-28-2004, 4:41pm

Apr-29-2004, 1:40am
We not only had a bongo but a digireedo(sp?) at a party we jammed at once. It was an interesting experience.

jim simpson
Apr-29-2004, 5:57am
At the opposite end of the tune, what about no kickoff? I saw a pretty good band recently that used no kickoffs at all, just started strumming the guitar and singing. The singing was awsome but I really wanted to jump up w/my mando and kickoff a couple for them.

Apr-29-2004, 9:06pm
I feel it is my mandolin playing duty to give a big closed chord "BOOM BOOM BOOMbaBOOMbaBOOM" a la Monroe ending from time to time at bluegrass jams. It's traditional for sure, the innocent bystanders love it, and it puts an unmistakable ending out there to let the other pickers know to quit. But the fact that a lot of pickers who've never listened to much old Monroe freak out is what makes it all worthwhile.

Apr-29-2004, 10:26pm
in a loose jam...we use the foot, but for shows our guitar player kinda raises the headstock up towards the ceiling if theres a question about the ending.....then if someone runs over we cover it up with an Allman Bros ending...ha ha!