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Thread: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

  1. #26
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    .. but it's a bad idea to plan on taking sheet music to an oldtime or bluegrass jam and playing from it.
    Best is to bring it to the jam, and then see how it goes. If it is a no sheet music jam, don't take it out, if it is a sheet music jam, your prepared.

    There was a bluegrass jam in the DC area that was held it two parts. A so called slow jam for an hour, a break, and then two hours of a regular jam. During the first hour someone would hand out chord sheets to help folks. Those who had the chord sheet from the week before took it out of their binder. In the regular 'after the break' jam, the newbies were welcome to stay, and about half did, and kept their music "cheat sheet" in view.

    And how many bluegrass jams have one or two huge three ring binders with song lyrics and chords. They are used not just to aid the newbies, but to remind the core players what other tunes they might do, and to keep everyone on the same page.

    But the fundamental advice is sound, see what kind of jam it is and comply. If it is not a jam with cheat sheets, don't cheat.
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  3. #27
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    You have swerved into something that plagues some of the jams I go to. Its the idea of a dorky tune. Tunes that are so overplayed and popular that some folks won't touch them any more.
    Ha you put a lot of words in my mouth. I've never considered most any tune as being dorky altho there is a lot of music I simply don't care to hear or play. I'm constantly practicing nursery rhymes and cartoon music, is that dorky? My preference is just playing a wide variety of tunes in a speak-easy setting like at home on the porch. An introvert by choice.

    I even hate the word jam, the word just sounds pretentious eeek. Now I love to just play at home or with one or two people. Just simply Play some tunes not Jam. I just have never been around players who ever said the word JAM, now the word gig was spoken often as in we got a gig or you wanna play a gig but never heard musicians I was around say "you wanna jam"... I do remember a line in a blues tune "It must be jelly cause jam don't shake like that"...alright enough of my jam...
    Last edited by CBFrench; Mar-23-2021 at 5:31pm.

  4. #28
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    I even hate the word jam, the word just sounds pretentious eeek.
    Well that was the word when I started. I have heard "session" but to me that sounds more pretentious. And in some places they call them "picks", as in "you going to the pick tonight at Joe's Pub? Everyone will be there."

    As long as it is playing music with other people regularly, I don't care what its called.
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    I even hate the word jam, the word just sounds pretentious eeek. .
    Yes, but since "jam session" is originally a jazz thing, pretentiousness is OK.

    Sincerely, a Jazz Player.

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  7. #30
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    I run two jam sessions (when it's safe) and attend several others (when it's safe). I feel like the best thing a beginning jammer can do is learn two songs that he/she can deliver from memory with no help from other players (solo). It's really not that hard to do. I say that as someone who spent most of my life completely unable to memorize music. Here's the secret: Pick a song that you sang as a child at home or at Sunday school, or that your parents sang to you. How about "This Little Light of Mine"?

    It's an easy I - IV - V three-chord progression (that's what you want so you don't have to think about it), there's very little new that you will need to learn, everybody loves it and will encourage you, and everybody will help by singing along and playing breaks. Watch a few videos to hear what others sing for verses. Write it down to help you remember it. Organize the verses that speak to you in the order that sounds like the story you want to tell. Arrange the song: Verse - Chorus - Break, Repeat. Plan to go around the circle with the breaks, repeating verses if necessary, until everyone has played a break if they want to. Save the last break for yourself and make it optional. Practice the song in this format at least 100 times, Start working immediately to tell the story that you are telling with this song, until you can do it without looking at the paper. Highlight key words on paper to help. After you've got it, start another song. Two songs are all you need to do your part at most jam sessions. Having one song is good.

    It is important to lead songs that have words, so that you and everyone else knows where you are as the song progresses. That will keep you out of the ditch, or at least make it easier to get back out of it.

    Fiddle tunes present real difficulties at jams. Everybody needs to know the same tunes and have practiced them. Usually, everybody has a different list that they've learned or practiced. Everybody needs to know the same version of the tunes - same key, same chord progressions, similar rhythm. You'd be surprised at how many folks play traditional fiddle tunes in non-traditional keys or as swing music. You can't just capo the mandolin to solve the key problem. Swing will add other chords and rhythm elements. Everybody needs to be able to play them at a decent speed. You've gotten the tune together quite well at home, then someone kicks off Angeline the Baker at 220 beats per minute and almost immediately you are lost. People get lost if any of those things are lacking, and there's usually no lyrics to get you back on track. And no matter what people say, you can't just improvise on a fiddle tune if you don't know the melody. It will sound terrible.

    This all sounds like a lot, but it all follows naturally if you start by picking a simple song from your childhood.
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Yes, but since "jam session" is originally a jazz thing, pretentiousness is OK.

    Sincerely, a Jazz Player.
    Ha yes indeed, all according to who's jamming that's why I stick to just playing

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    If "jam" is misused in this thread, that's on me, since it's the term I used in the beginning. I thought a "gig" was a performance in front of others, but I suppose I'm just showing more ignorance. Once again, you guys have educated me.

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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    If "jam" is misused in this thread, that's on me, since it's the term I used in the beginning. I thought a "gig" was a performance in front of others, but I suppose I'm just showing more ignorance. Once again, you guys have educated me.
    don't pay no attention to me...you say black I say white even though I love black...but I do hate the word jam
    Last edited by CBFrench; Mar-23-2021 at 9:19pm.

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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Sherry, when you say easy “tune” to memorize, do you mean instrumental? Also, when you say memorize do you mean chord structure and/or a note for note solo? Or are you including songs? If it’s songs, and your talking about which are the easiest to be able to memorize as an entire performance, so you can lead a song in a jam without music (which I highly recaommend) then pick one that’s a simple 1, 4, 5, progression and where the chorus and verse are the same progression and melody. Also, as far as the lyrics go, a song that tells a simple story makes the words easier to remember. An example would be “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” or “Down Where the River Bends” (2 favs of mine).

    If you are not familiar with the song, give it a real good listen until you can easily hum it. You should be able to hear the changes, but if you need help look them up and find the pattern (both these songs are: 1 1 4 4. 1 1 5 5. 1 1 4 4. 1 5 1 1. Once you see the pattern, you can start to hear it too.Hum or sing it and go through the changes. Once you have this down, you can start to pick the melody by ear. If you can hum it you can pick it. Once you can pick it at a reasonable speed, you can start adding minor embellishments (tremolo on the long notes, passing notes, simple double stops here and there, etc). It all comes together.

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    Ha you put a lot of words in my mouth. I've never considered most any tune as being dorky altho there is a lot of music I simply don't care to hear or play. I'm constantly practicing nursery rhymes and cartoon music, is that dorky? My preference is just playing a wide variety of tunes in a speak-easy setting like at home on the porch. An introvert by choice.

    I even hate the word jam, the word just sounds pretentious eeek. Now I love to just play at home or with one or two people. Just simply Play some tunes not Jam. I just have never been around players who ever said the word JAM, now the word gig was spoken often as in we got a gig or you wanna play a gig but never heard musicians I was around say "you wanna jam"... I do remember a line in a blues tune "It must be jelly cause jam don't shake like that"...alright enough of my jam...
    I think I'd enjoy sitting with you on a porch with instruments and "not jammming"
    Last edited by Sue Rieter; Mar-24-2021 at 10:30am.

  16. #36

    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    If "jam" is misused in this thread, that's on me, since it's the term I used in the beginning. I thought a "gig" was a performance in front of others, but I suppose I'm just showing more ignorance. Once again, you guys have educated me.
    When my band has a gig, we plan out a set list (with some flexibility), generally set up the PA and mixer, and stick to “band members”, with occasional guests.
    When we jam, sometimes at the very same location such as the brewery, I’ll put out the word to the band members and to some other musicians and we’ll just take turns calling/requesting songs, sometimes talking/demonstrating a chord progression if someone new is sitting in and learning one of the songs. Our songs are generally rock, folk, blues or country with a few indie or alternative songs depending on who is sitting in, so it’s not quite like a bluegrass jam... but we have a lot of fun and the brewery patrons love it.

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  18. #37

    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Some of them are way to fast and complicated for me, but I would manage a part of them, puh I should practice more

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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    I've enjoyed seeing some new names in this thread.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    You say any genre but why not pick one.
    Turns out I've joined a gospel jam group. Any additional gospel tune suggestions to memorize?

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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    This is a catchy gospel song IMO

    "Take Me in Your Lifeboat"


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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    I love “I’ll Fly Away” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. There are also shape note hymns which are vocal pieces sung in acapella harmony. Some of those would be fun to play with others reading the parts. However I assume there are many songs that are sung in this jam. Write down those tunes when you attend.
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  26. #42

    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Down to the River to Pray by Alison Krauss?

    Definitely I’ll Fly Away.

    Not bluegrass, but there are some great gospel versions of verses for Cohen’s Hallelujah and it’s really easy to play.

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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    This is a catchy gospel song IMO

    "Take Me in Your Lifeboat"

    Catchy, for sure! Love it!

  29. #44
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Here’s two 2-chord (1,5) that are easy to memorize. The first is “Get In Line Brother”. The second is “Where the soul of Man Never Dies”.


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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    I won't suggest tunes, but will give you some good news: The more tunes you memorize, the easier it becomes to memorize and remember tunes. Counter-intuitive, yes, but many people will verify.

    For me, just playing a piece off the page, no matter how many times I do it, will not install a tune in my memory. I have to memorize in small bits, maybe four bar sections, and piece it together with a lot of repetition. Eventually you might find that you have to make a list of all the tunes you know. One of my early mentors kept with him a pocket notebook, i guess those are obsolete now, with more than 100 tunes that he had committed to memory in it. At 80 he could still play the songs.

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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    I use the same method as lowtone 2, for me I memorize 2 bars at a time, it then becomes muscle memory.
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    <<So every now and then take up the challenge. Try and breath some fresh air into an old dorky tune, yea even that one, and watch the magic. Watch the tune do its job and grab some new hearts.>>

    Great links. Thanks
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    It's interesting some learn from sheet music and some say not to. Guess I'll have to figure out what works for me.

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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    I am a Pilgrim, Doc Watson arrangement is a good tune.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easiest Jam Tunes to Memorize

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    It's interesting some learn from sheet music and some say not to. Guess I'll have to figure out what works for me.
    I use both. You can use notation as a shortcut to learning, but one way or the other you have to hear it to remember it. Use both.

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