View Full Version : Light percussion at jam sessions

02-26-2013, 06:50 AM
Hey UUers!

Does your group use light percussion at ukulele sessions and performances? I just got a really nice set of bongos that will work well for my acoustic sessions, when I need a little break from the bass.:cool:

02-26-2013, 07:36 AM
Someone in my group will tap on a tambourine depending on the song. It really does add to it.


Uke Republic
02-26-2013, 07:57 AM
Cajons, Rhythm ring, rasp, claves are a few things we use.

02-26-2013, 02:35 PM
I want to save up for some bongos to use, they might be fun.

02-26-2013, 03:09 PM
On one occasion at Kanikapila night, there was a conga drummer. He colored the songs wonderfully.
On another night, a Kala U-Bass which carried the bottom end and made the music sound so full.
Looking to purchase a Box Drum for the same purpose..............................Bo........... .

02-26-2013, 03:13 PM
Don't forget egg shakers. They fit in your pocket and are easy to master. If you're up for more of a challenge, try the bones.

02-26-2013, 04:45 PM
Don't forget egg shakers. They fit in your pocket and are easy to master. If you're up for more of a challenge, try the bones.

I'll beg to differ...if egg shakers were easy to master there would be fewer people playing them poorly... :)

An egg shaker handled well is an asset, but there are far more people who think they are playing them well than actually are. Actually, that's probably true of just about any shaker but egg shakers, being super cheap, seem to get abused the most. While I have heard bones played badly it's much less common because usually by the time somebody graduates from plastic eggs to bones they've developed at least some sense of rhythm.

I remember at one jam somebody's girlfriend (not sexist, just happened to be how it was this particular time) stood right behind me and shook the loudest (*&(^ box shaker I've ever heard about 12 inches from my left ear. Another time there was this guy with three egg shakers in each hand. It was kind of comical because people kept moving away from him all afternoon and after a while he'd look around and realize that he was basically standing by himself so he'd go attach himself to another group, whereupon people would start drifting away... LOL

Now, this is probably going to sound snarky and if so I apologize in advance, it's just something that I've observed over years and years. Often, if somebody plays no other instrument than a shaker (or a tambourine, or a bohdran) they are pretty dreadful. Even when they've managed to develop a sense of rhythm they tend not to recognize dynamics and that 80% of the time the percussion should be soft enough that it is more noticeable for its absence than its presence.

The ones who aren't dreadful usually play some other instrument and they use the shaker or what have you to fill in a missing hole in the music rather than playing it because it's the only way they know to participate in the fun and they aren't content just to enjoy the music.

Okay...now...give me a second to pull these flame-proof under-drawers on... :)

Edit to add: Oh, go to almost any open Irish session - if they haven't put some kind of rules in place to control the mob you will typically see one or two fiddles, maybe a set of u-pipes, possibly a banjo and maybe a flute - and about 300 tinwhistles and 100 bohdrans... :) I've seen some open sessions where they set a pretty firm rule that whistlers and bohdrans have to take turns so only one or two are playing any given song, otherwise you can't hear anything but whistles and bohdrans being played badly and loudly...


02-26-2013, 04:51 PM
Cajon is my favourite portable percussion! So versatile, fills in the role of a drum kit on the run

02-26-2013, 05:24 PM
OldePhart: okay, maybe "master" was the wrong word. I hear rhythm without trying and tend to think all percussion is awesome, but I know many people who can't play the shakers to save their lives. Perhaps "play adequately without making everyone want to kill you" would be more accurate. The benefit of egg shakers is that they're relatively quiet. Sure, it's annoying when people shake the hell out of them off the beat, but they can be ignored more easily than an off-the-beat tambourine or jingle bells. People who insist on playing three egg shakers at once are just delusional.

Optimistic story: I was at a musical get-together recently. One woman brought her two kids. In order to keep them occupied, we handed them some egg shakers. The little girl, who was about eight, carefully watched as someone else played the shakers, then imitated the movements. The kid had rhythm and was able to keep the time nicely. She wasn't obnoxious or intrusive; she just sat there and played along.

Of the people I know who are good at percussion, all of them play other instruments as well, though one of them is primarily a singer. Another is actually a trained classical percussionist, but she is also very proficient at the melodica and the carillon.

The tin whistle/bodhran problem is a whole other issue. I play the whistle, and I know many people take up the instrument due to a perception that it's "easy." "Easy to get a sound out of" and "easy to play well" are not the same thing. If I attended a session (there aren't really all that many around here), I would probably take my six-hole flute and lurk in the background a lot.

02-26-2013, 11:03 PM
It takes three or four egg shakers being played badly to ruin a session, but only one accordion. Food for thought.

Claves are good for keeping the percussionists on beat somewhat (if played by someone with rhythm of course).

02-27-2013, 07:20 AM
It takes three or four egg shakers being played badly to ruin a session, but only one accordion. Food for thought.

BWAA-HAA - good point!

Chris Tarman
02-27-2013, 12:11 PM
Maybe it's just the players in my area, but I personally can't stand the cajon. They just really annoy me for some reason. I was relieved the other day when I was talking to the drummer I've played with on and off for the past 14 years (in my other life as a bassist). He said a mutual friend of ours keeps telling him "Dude, you should get a cajon! They're awesome!" It turns out that his opinion of them is pretty much the same as mine. His reply was "Why on earth would I get one of those things???" I was greatly relieved!

02-27-2013, 01:39 PM
I'm also a fan of cajons. Partly because they sound great but not overwhelmingly loud, and partly because more people I know tend to have djembes and bongos. The cajon offers something a little different.

02-27-2013, 01:49 PM
I'll throw in another vote for cajons. Love them at jams!

It's not exactly ultra-portable, or even really percussion...but it's something to think about. A washtub bass shows up at our once a month jam. That adds a really interesting layer to the jam.

We're really laid back. We let you play bring whatever you want. I have been at jams where non-ukes were frowned upon. They wouldn't tell you to put it away, but they made it clear they were not pleased.

02-27-2013, 03:52 PM
What about the cajonico?! Cool new instrument:


02-27-2013, 04:11 PM
What about the cajonico?! Cool new instrument:

We have a guy that plays one you sit on, but he is also a great drummer, so he is awesome in general

02-27-2013, 04:43 PM
We have frog guiros in several sizes that are pretty popular at jams.

We also have small wooden shakers. egg shakers, a couple of mini tambourines, a Nepalese bell that is vaguely cowbellish, a frattoire tie, and a set of bongos.

02-28-2013, 06:32 AM
What about the cajonico?! Cool new instrument:

:iwant: :drool: Looks like lots of fun...

02-28-2013, 06:42 AM
Stomp box anyone?