Saturday, January 5, 2008

Inside Knowledge

I'm a member of the TPIN (Trumpet Players International) listserv, and they're currently discussing "Fake" books. There's a lot to know about them, I'm finding out.

Anyway, one of the more interesting tidbits to appear today is this one, and I'm wondering if you all knew about it. Is this true, Dan? Any other knowledgeable insiders hip to this?

Jazz players of my acquaintance refer to key in a wonderfully helpful shorthand. C is signaled by a closed fist (no sharps or flats). F is "one down" (one flat) - signaled on the stand by pointing one finger down. Bb is "two down" for two flats; G is "one up" for one sharp. D is "two up". You get the idea.

Saves a ton of confusion on the stand when not everyone can hear everything that's said - more of a problem now than it was a few years ago :-)}. Simple hand signals for the key of the tune being called.

And saves arguments about whether Autumn Leaves is in g minor or Bb major. It's simply "two down". ;-)}

Bill Biffle


And then later in the day came this addendum, in the scroll, so to speak:


In NYC, up is flat and down is sharp. I know the reason, anyone care to guess? :)



Update: Today, Tuesday the 8th:


I'm on the East Coast (of Iowa) and we use down for flats and up for sharps. I just makes sense!


One thing I do not know, is why on the West Coast, we always use fingers

> down for flats and fingers up for sharps, but it is the opposite on

> the East Coast........

> Mike Vax


Update on January 10:

> By the way, you can solve the whole major/minor key thing by calling "2 down" or "1 up"



My first experience with this club date "key code" using finger signals was when a leader called After You've Gone in "3."

I was the only horn on the gig, and I proceeded to play After You've Gone in Eb concert, which was correct, but I was playing a jazz waltz WAY faster than the leader wanted it. I interpreted every finger snap as a measure of 3/4. I thought to myself, "This guy's going to be thrilled with me because I know the tune he called and how to do what he asks at this ridiculously bright tempo."

Wow, was I embarrassed later when I learned what he had intended!

Funniest part of it is that the rhythm section enjoyed the challenge of interpreting the tune the way I misinterpreted it. The guy hired me over the phone because I knew and sang him the bridge to Someone To Watch Over Me but he didn't know how inexperienced I was. That leader groomed me into a much better player . . . thank God he was cool with paying me while giving me on-the-job training.

Oh, and he held his three fingers sideways/horizontal, not up or down.

Rich Willey / Boptism Music Publishing

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