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Musicians' signals

Barbara 25 Oct 09 - 12:00 PM
Leadfingers 25 Oct 09 - 12:28 PM
Barbara 25 Oct 09 - 01:07 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 01:28 PM
Tim Leaning 25 Oct 09 - 05:57 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 07:13 PM
Stringsinger 25 Oct 09 - 07:18 PM
John P 25 Oct 09 - 07:24 PM
Barbara 26 Oct 09 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Mr Red 27 Oct 09 - 09:08 AM
ced2 28 Oct 09 - 02:56 PM
BK Lick 28 Oct 09 - 06:27 PM
John P 29 Oct 09 - 10:50 AM
John P 29 Oct 09 - 10:54 AM
BK Lick 29 Oct 09 - 06:11 PM
Barbara 29 Oct 09 - 07:20 PM
BK Lick 29 Oct 09 - 07:57 PM
John P 30 Oct 09 - 11:17 AM
Roger the Skiffler 31 Oct 09 - 07:55 AM
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Subject: Musicians' signals
From: Barbara
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 12:00 PM

A friend recently sent this piece out to the San Francisco club list, and I found it fascinating. It's about all the ways different musicians use to communicate with each other while playing.

A Shuffle in Charlie
Here's the direct address if the link doesn't work.
http://www.maynesmith.com/pieces.htm#shuffle

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 12:28 PM

Strikes me as somewhat pretentious , and talking down to a LOT of musicans ! Blues players DONT KNOW Key signatures ? Come On !!


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Barbara
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:07 PM

Some really good black blues musicians in the past played entirely by ear. Don't know if it's still true.
Most people these days can identify different keys -- of course -- this is in C or G and most know what other chords go with, but I certainly couldn't tell you by numbers of sharps or flats what all the keys are.
I'd think it would be entirely possible to learn to play blues progressions really well without knowing the names of any of the chords.

There are huge differences in the amount of "head" knowledge in good musicians.

Consider that Paul McCartney was originally invited to come to a session with John Lennon's band at least in part because he knew how to tune a guitar -- something John and co didn't.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:28 PM

The second item on that page (Sam Eskin and "Shule Aroo") is also of interest.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 05:57 PM

I have recently had the pleasure of an explanation of these hand signals
from a lady bass player of our acquaintance.
It is fascinating to hear from a pro muso how 'tis done.
Totally beyond me but I could see how it worked at the time.
She was I believe more likely to be playing country than jazz.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:13 PM

Barbara - re: I certainly couldn't tell you by numbers of sharps or flats what all the keys are.

SIMPLE RULE - always true for Western Standard - In the Key Signiture...

SHARPS - Take the last added sharp and go 1/2 step higher..ie.F#=G or C#=D or A#=B

FLATS - Take the second to last flat - That is IT -

What you have written is similar to folks who "can't cook" because they don't know how many ounces are in a cup.

RE: Signals - If a group has worked together - they know the flow - and they know who is the lead for that piece...almost no-one ends "down" and if you do...it has been rehearsed

When playing for a singer/vocalist - (who has experience and musical knowledge) - the clues are freqently given on the hand held microphone - little finger/and or index finger - THEY are the lead - and are reading the audience and their own emotions. There are "magic moments."

When playing for a live musical theatre orchestra - Everyone is a PUPPET - including the conductor - they just perform what is written. The multipliers are to give "full orchestra sound" from ten musicians (yeah).

Mama's don't let your sons grow up to be music majors.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:18 PM

1. Holding up fingers indicate the numbering system for chords. one-finger, a one chord or tonic. Five-fingers, dominant seventh chord. You can signal musicians who know this without having to shout out the changes. Get's hairy when the tune is complicated. Works better for bluegrass or basic folk changes.

2. Sharp keys indicated by holding fingers up. Ie: Four fingers- four sharps, key of E
Flat keys by holding fingers down. Four-fingers down, key of A flat.

3. Point to foot for tempo marking.

4. Use cut symbol for fast four-four time. Slow four-four, flash four fingers twice.
Flash three fingers then four fingers for 3/4 time.

5. Head nod to start tune. Or foot stomps. Indicate four beats or bars by numbers of fingers.

Many of these cues must be understood in advance.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: John P
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:24 PM

Wow, I've been a professional musician for 40 years, and have played most genres of music on a wide variety of instruments. I've never heard of many, maybe most, of these signals. I've also never been in a performance situation where I hadn't rehearsed with the band at least enough to choose the keys before going on stage. In improvisational and jamming situations the signals vary all over the map, but usually someone starts a song or a tune and everyone else jumps in.

I've spent years playing jazz, and I don't know any of the mentioned repertoire. I can jam forever of any bluegrass tune, but I don't know any of Ralph Monroe's songs. I have played with musicians who know everything about music theory and with those who know nothing. It doesn't seem to make much difference when it comes to communicating in the middle of a tune. I started my musical life playing the blues and, oddly, I know what chords are.

I agree that the various non-verbal communication musicians engage in is interesting, and I've seen a lot of different types. This article, however, besides talking down to a lot of musicians, reads like it was written by a newbie who asked some friends what signals they use and assumed those signals were universally used by people playing the different genres.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Barbara
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:56 PM

What I do, unnamed Guest, is look at the last note in the piece, which is very likely to be the tonic. (Not always, of course, especially if it is modal). Years ago my Shape Note group joined up with another and discovered that they were singing a song in major that we sang in minor. (We were right). (But it sounded interesting in major,too).

And I do know the counting up or down rule -- sort of -- but if you asked me, say how many sharps or flats in the Key of E, I'd have to work it out. Or look it up.

On the original topic, the signal I find confusing is the making-a- circle-with-the-hand one. Some people use it to mean, "Wrap it up", others to mean "Go around again on the part we just finished."

Blessings, Barbara


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 09:08 AM

way above this drummers head. If the foot goes up, get ready to stop. If the noise stops and you don't, don't be wearing anything remotely noticeable


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: ced2
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 02:56 PM

A chap I know who plays a shaky egg in sessions keeps getting 2 fingers waved at him. He says he knows that there are 2 sharps in D major but as his shaky egg can't be tuned he can't understand what all the other musicians are going on about. "Ignorance," as my mother frequently said "is bliss." Should I tell him (that there are only 2 sharps in A mixolydian, or indeed in E dorian)?


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: BK Lick
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 06:27 PM

This article, however, besides talking down to a lot of musicians, reads like it was written by a
newbie who asked some friends what signals they use and assumed those signals were universally
used by people playing the different genres.
Mayne Smith ain't no newbie.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: John P
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 10:50 AM

I didn't say she was a newbie. I said the article made her sound like one. Big difference.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: John P
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 10:54 AM

Maybe I should expand on that . . . She sounds like a newbie because she is presenting many of these signals, and talking about what musicians are "expected" to know, as if these things were universally accepted in different genres of music, which my experience indicates is not the case. That's what makes her sound like she's talking outside her experience. Maybe she just doesn't have a clear idea of how to present ideas.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: BK Lick
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 06:11 PM

Maybe you should follow that link to Mayne's website before you expand any further.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Barbara
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 07:20 PM

Mayne, HE'S been around the block a few times. Click on HOME in the link.
But my hope was to talk about different signals people know and like or don't rather than why or whether Mayne knows what s/he is talking about.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: BK Lick
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 07:57 PM

Click on his bibliography.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: John P
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 11:17 AM

Maybe you should follow that link to Mayne's website before you expand any further.

Why? I've no doubt that Mayne is very accomplished and experienced. What's that got to do with what I said?

But my hope was to talk about different signals people know and like or don't

Yes, indeed. One of my favorites is the distressed look someone in the band gets on their face when they are trying desperately to communicate something to everyone else on stage, but no one can figure out what they're trying to get across. Everyone has their hands busy and can't signal, and a PA system is going so no one can talk . . .

As for sessions and/or dances, the raised leg to signal the end is the only one I've seen used a lot. I personally would rather the signal was in the playing; there are lots of ways a lead player can change the last B part of a tune to let the other musicians or any dancers know that the tune is winding up. As someone who mostly plays accompaniment, I enjoy playing along with that and amplifying it in my playing.


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Subject: RE: Musicians' signals
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 07:55 AM

Story in Humphrey Lyttelton's posthumous memoirs: once in his early days he was doing this (counting in the band with heavy stamps)& stamped Freddy Legon's banjo to bits to loud audience applause!

RtS


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