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Jam Session Hand Signals?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Reverend Duke, May 13, 2003.

  1. Reverend Duke

    Reverend Duke

    Apr 3, 2003
    I used to have a .gif that had the hand signals for use at jam sessions (fingers up/down for sharps/flats, etc.), now I can't find it and my Google search turned up nothing!:mad:

    Anyone know what I am talking about? got a link?

    thanks in advance.

  2. Don't need .gif for that!

    The number of fingers pointing up corresponds to the number of sharps in the key signature. The number of fingers pointing down likewise corresponds to the number of flats.

    So, three fingers pointing down would be the key of....

    Anyone? Anyone?
  3. Eb, silly.

    Are there standardized signals for major, minor, melodic/harmonic minor, and the modes thereof? Like, if I want to go from an F Phrygian vamp to one in Db harmonic minor, how would I signal that? Or would I just have to come up with my own signals, a la what Coltrane did on Ascension?
  4. There's a funny story in Bill Crow's book "Jazz Anecdotes" on this subject:

    In order to pay the rent, Johnny Cresci found himself working regularly with a society band led by Lester Braun. The music was boring, so John looked for ways to liven things up. He noticed that, even though the band’s first dance medley was always the same tunes in the same order, Lester, playing leader, always gave the standard finger signals to indicate to the musicians the key of the next song in the sequence. He always gave these signals exactly four bars before the end of the tune being played.

    Knowing how many fingers Lester was about to hold up, Johnny devised questions that he would ask just loud enough for the musicians around him to hear, and Lester’s hand signal would seem to be the answer. He might ask, “How many guys made it with your old lady last night, Lester?” just before Lester held up five fingers for the key of D-flat. Or, “How may balls you got, Lester?” just before Lester held up one finger for the key of F.

    Lester never found out why his band always started the night in such good spirits.
  5. Reverend Duke

    Reverend Duke

    Apr 3, 2003
    For the record I've got way more responses here than on the Electric side! :D

    I'm looking for the picture/key because a) I have boneheads that can't remember key/sharps too well, and 2) it looked cool, and I wanted to just have it in my bass case.

    funny story, though.

    A sideways upright player, or a electric bassist with an upright heart.

    **EDIT/UPDATE: members.tripod.com/~Rizal_L/handsigns.html

    courtesy of the electric side! **