Charlotte Folk Society logo celebrating 30 years

Dedicated to promoting the ongoing enjoyment and preservation of traditional and contemporary folk music, dance, crafts and lore in the Carolinas Piedmont,
since 1982.

A few words about Old Time Music Slow Jams

Slow Jam
"Regulars" of the Slow Jam at the Annual Ice Cream Social
(photo courtesy of Michael McCluskey)

Here are some interesting things to know about “Old Time” music. The melodies commonly played as Old Time fiddle and dance tunes can make a great starter repertoire for someone learning an instrument for the first time. As they are based largely upon old folk songs, they tend to be easy to remember and learn.

That said, Old Time music is an aural tradition, and it is rare to find two players that will play a tune the same way. In fact it is common for any player to vary their version of a tune often. That coupled with the fact that a tune may have several names, and that any name may be associated with a variety of very different tunes make playing Old Time music both fun and “interesting”.

The versions of tunes presented on this web site are basic versions of tunes played around Charlotte North Carolina, though they are not the only versions of these tunes heard in these parts. As a rule when at an Old Time Jam, it is considered courteous to sit out one time through a tune to capture the version being played in your head before launching in. One should try to adapt to what is being played by the Jam leaders that day.

At the Charlotte Folk Society Beginners Slow Jam, we will be playing tunes that will be compatible with the versions presented on the Slow Jam web page. From Jam to Jam, they may not always sound exactly the same, but if you learn these versions, you should fit in with the CFS Slow Jam.

That said, the music, mp3, and MIDI files offered are just basic roadmaps of where the tunes go, and are useful when learning a tune for the first time. Old time music needs to be played from your head, not from music or a memorized version, so the sooner you can hum a tune and play along, the better!

It is not expected that you would ever play an Old Time tune the way the music is written in any published source. It falls upon each player to add their own Old Time rhythms, variations, and licks that make the tune truly Old Timey. One learns these by listening to other players and incorporating their tricks into your playing. Don't be afraid to experiment! Try what your neighbor is playing! Listen to the Jam Leaders!

Old Time Jams are a great community sharing experience! Hope to see you at the next CFS Slow Jam!

Click Here to go back to the Slow Jam page!

Ed Gebauer, John Goldsbury, Jennifer Stanton