SouthEastern Bluegrass Association

SEBA Newsletter Sample

An Introduction to Bluegrass Jamming:
Chapter 8: Song Selection

By Tom Barnwell

Editor's Note: This excellent article is a must-read for anyone interested in Bluegrass music. For readability, we have divided the article into 10 "chapters", as follows:

Chapter 1 Preface
Chapter 2 Instruments
Chapter 3 The Structure Of A Bluegrass Song
Chapter 4 Backup
Chapter 5 Breaks
Chapter 6 Lead Singing
Chapter 7 Harmony Singing
Chapter 8 Song Selection
Chapter 9 Bluegrass Jamming Signals
Chapter 10 Jamming Etiquette

Song Selection

Many people are first drawn to bluegrass by a modern bluegrass band doing modern, sometimes complex, material. The basis of the genre, however, was set more than thirty years by such people as Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Jim and Jesse, and Jimmy Martin.

Many of these old songs are known by a very large percentage of bluegrass musicians, and a good rule is to learn some of these songs. Another good rule is to sing mostly old, well known songs in a jam session until you get to know the other participants well enough to involve them in less well known materials.

Since the less well known material can cause people to loose interest and drift away, mostly you should keep your special new song for yourself and your close friends.


This article Copyright, 1997 by the SouthEastern Bluegrass Association.

The author would like to extend special thanks to Selwyn Blakely for his valuable input, and to Scott Woody, Mike Flemming and Gerald Hooke for their valuable comments.

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