Monday, March 28, 2011

Quote Me on That - Musical Quotes and How to Use Them

Looking for something interesting to throw in a break? Try a quote.

Throwing a short phrase from a recogizable melody can be alot of fun and can trigger a kind of instant nostalgia that only something dug up from our collective past can.

To inject a musical quote into your playing simply treat it as you would any other lick; find a space where it works harmonically and...voila!

The difficult part can be finding an appropriate melody; something that at least a few people in audience will grasp in a measure or four. I've picked a few examples that you are more than welcome to use.

The first one is from 'Dixie'. It is the first two measures of the song; "Oh I wish that I was in the land of cotton..." I think the Dukes used this for the General Lee's horn.

Here it is written in G and ready to be fit into any 2 measure section you please.

The second quote is from 'The Entrance of the Gladiators' which is commonly used in the circus and is associated with clowns. I actually throw this one in on 'Ground Speed' so feel free to check that out here

Anyway, here's the quote

The last one I'll show here is the Turkish March. I love this melody and have heard fantastic arrangements of this on banjo; Jason Homey from the Clumsy Lovers occasionally plays it as a solo in concert. Here I have the first 4 measures transposed to G to be used as a surprise kickoff for a breakdown. The melody implies G minor but if you pop up to G major after the intro I find it to be an appealing shift.

Try those out and see how they fit. If you want more quote licks I have a few more up on my banjo lick site at

That's all for now, but as a famous Austrian once said "I'll be back."

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