30-Second Song Recommendations?

  1. MikeZito
    Here is the short story -

    For the next 4 weeks I am going to try to learn one simple song every day. By 'simple' I mean a song with a short verse and chorus which can be played together in about 30 seconds, and still be perfectly recognizable to people. For example, today I am going to do 'Camptown Races'. Tomorrow, 'Deck The Halls'. In the past I did this quickie version of 'When The Saints Come Marching In'.


    You get the idea.

    So - obviously I am going to need at least a couple of dozen songs to try out. I am open to any genre of music. What I am NOT looking for is sheet music, tabs or online lessons . . . I simply want to test myself by listening to a song, and then trying to come up with my own arrangement, using my own style.

    It certainly won't be pretty - but I have to try.

    Any thoughts, comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain
    On Top of Old Smokey
    Oh Shenandoah
    When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  3. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    This is the Song that Never Ends
    The Sesame Street Theme
    Michael Row Your Boat Ashore .
  4. HonketyHank
    If you crank up the metronome a bit, just about any reel or hornpipe if you don't play the repeats.
  5. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Kevin says, "This is the Song that Never Ends" - if it never ends, how can you play it in 30 seconds?

    "This is the Song that's Over in Thirty Seconds"
  6. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    well after 30 seconds of this is the song that never ends you wish it was over
  7. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Will the Circle Be Unbroken
    Down to the River to Pray (Alison Krauss has a great version)
    Santa Lucia
    Ode to Joy
    Puff, the Magic Dragon
    Forever Young
    Mercedes Benz (Janis Joplin)
    Happy Birthday
    Simple Gifts
    Turkey in the Straw
    Yankee Doodle
    This Land is Your Land
    Little Boxes
    La Cucaracha
    Beverly Hillbillies theme
  8. MikeZito
    Louise, you and I must think a little alike. I had to laugh when you recommended the 'Beverly Hillbillies Theme', because last night I started working on the 'Theme From Bonanza'. You also went Italian with 'Santa Lucia' while I was thinking 'Arrviederci Roma'. No to mention, 'This Land Is Your Land' is the first or second song I learned to play on the mandolin when I first got started; (chords only, not the melody).

    Thanks ALL (so far) for the ideas . . . keep them coming!
  9. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Mike, what a great idea!

    Row, row, row your boat
    Church hymns you know
  10. MikeZito
    Here are my first two attempts . . . and no need to worry - I will NOT post all 30 tries!


  11. SOMorris
    I thought you did a great job, Mike!
  12. MikeZito
    Hey SOMorris -

    As Jethro Burns used to say; 'Thank you for your pity.'
  13. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    I don't know about this, Mike. That second one stretched out to 31 seconds.

    All kidding aside, sounds good!
  14. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Good stuff, Mike!
  15. MikeZito
    Okay boys and girls -

    If my largely-ignored public school mathematics education is correct - today marks the midway point of my 4-week trial of 30 second 'simple songs'.

    To make a long story short – I learned very quickly that 'simple' songs do not always mean an 'easy' project. Even though my selection of songs have been 'simple', trying to come up with original solo arrangements that featured some sort of embellished melody and corresponding rhythm, was not always as easy as it seemed it might be.

    Over these past 14 days I have managed to arrange and record 8 songs; (I did work quite hard on at least one or two songs each day, but only a certain percentage made it to video - and, I was forced to take weekends off, to protect the sanity of household residents who were not otherwise at work). If anyone might be interested in seeing/hearing my project songs, the link below should bring you to my YouTube channel, where they are all posted.

    As always your thoughts, comments, critiques and suggestions are most welcome (here on the forum, or by PM) . . . unless your suggestion is; 'Mike, you may want to sell the mandolins and consider taking up the kazoo instead.' (I have heard that suggestion wayyyyyy too many times!)


  16. HonketyHank
    ". . . I simply want to test myself by listening to a song, and then trying to come up with my own arrangement, using my own style."

    I had to go back up the thread a bit to remind myself what the objectives are with this devilishly simple-looking project. I think you have passed the test. Nicely, at that. But I kinda wonder about the relevance of the 30 second limit. Your interpretations are good, but just seem rushed in some cases. What about a 40 second limit? Or maybe ~35 +/- seconds. You could call it a relativistic 30 seconds. Realistically speaking though, nailing down an interpetation of a tune, even a 30 second (+/-) tune, in one day is no small feat. Eight in fourteen days is pretty amazing.

    Keep on -ing
  17. MikeZito
    Hey Hank:

    In all honesty, there was no real relevance in the 30 second time limit, (which often runs a bit over, nonetheless). In short, (no pun intended) when I did my mandolin demo videos earlier this year, they all, unintentionally, just happened to time out to about 30 seconds - so, when it came time to start this latest project, I simply decided to keep with the 30 second time frame, just as a matter of consistency.

    THANKS for the feedback, it is MUCH appreciated.
  18. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    "Own arrangement, own style" +100
    Love your technique all around, Mike, good stuff, thanks for sharing.

    On a personal note, my favorites: Camptown Races, Night Train to Memphis, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Tumbling Tumbleweeds. But I like them all, and I "liked" them on YouTube with a thumbs up!
  19. MikeZito
    Hey Mark:

    A sincere THANKS for your feedback as well.

    Perhaps the principal reason that I ask for feedback on these videos is simply because I never know what people are going to respond to, or not respond to. For example, I came very close to not posting 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds' because I was not sure that it would go over very well . . . and then it showed up on your 'favorite' list. Who knew?

    Anyhow, THANK YOU again for taking the time to check out the videos - your comments are very much appreciated.
  20. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    These are sounding great, Mike. I seem to remember you saying you were off work for a few weeks, and this is such a positive, constructive way to use the gift of free time. Rare for most of us adults! Nice tone out of that 272.

    Is anything on your list in a minor or modal key? That would give you a new twist going forward.
  21. MikeZito
    Hi Louise:

    Yes, I am using my medical time off to try to make some significant improvements to my mandolin skills; and since I have no other outlets for my playing, this is my best attempt to make some headway - until I have to return to the sad, cold, hard, realities of the working world! (laugh)

    To be honest, I haven't been thinking about song keys in this project. I just spend most of the day trying to come up with quick/simple songs that I can work on - and then attempt to work out solo arrangements for them. Perhaps a minor/modal piece will creep in before too long.

    THANKS for checking out the songs, and for the kind words - it is greatly appreciated.
  22. HonketyHank
    Minor / modal reminded me. The Cuckoo and Shady Grove are both short. Primarily because they don't have a 'chorus' or B part in most versions. Same with Little Old Man at the Mill. East Virginia. Seems like a bunch of them from down around the Hazard, Galax, Bristol area. Old timey mountain minor modal pentatonic-y banjo-fiddle tunes. I love 'em all.
  23. MikeZito
    Okay fellow Newbies - this project is only a few days away from completion, so these posts/updates won't continue ad infinitum.

    I recently read where one of my favorite mandolin players was once doing a recording session where he had to play a song many times - but never play it the same way twice . . . so I decided to test myself with a similar type of thing.

    Below are three versions of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'.

    In the first version I attempted something of a more traditional style:

    For version #2 I made an attempt at a touch of a bluegrass . . . keeping in mind that I do NOT know how to play bluegrass:

    And on the 3rd try, I went after a bit of a bluesy feel . . . keeping in mind that I do NOT know how to play blues:

    As always - thoughts, comments, suggestions and evil snickering are welcome.
  24. HonketyHank
    I think all three are quite fine. But I would resist trying to categorize them. #2 does sound bluegrassy, but the other two, well they are just quite fine.
  25. MikeZito
    Thanks for the feedback Hank - it is most appreciated.

    I did not mean to 'categorize' the cuts (especially since I know almost nothing about playing in specific music genres) - but I was just trying to explain my thought patterns behind each variation. I will hold my tongue in the future.
  26. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    "I will hold my tongue in the future."

    Be sure to wash those dirty paws before doing this.

    Looking forward to checking out your links, Mike, unable at the moment.
  27. MikeZito
    Mark Gunter: Mandolin Player and Comedian . . . .
  28. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    I have held a tongue sandwich.
  29. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Crazy good playing, Mike, love them all. Wouldn't attempt to categorize them, great job of changing things up.
  30. MikeZito
    Thanks for the kind words Mark . . . and yes, I will button my 'category' lip in the future.
  31. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Aw Mike, you're reading me wrong, I meant that "I, myself" as one who just listened to them wouldn't attempt to categorize them. I get where you were coming from, explaining your thought patterns, I appreciate that insight. Don't button your lips or hold your tongue, please, we're a reasonable bunch I think
  32. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nothing to snicker about, evilly or otherwise. All three versions, sound good, and it's a good exercise to try to come up with three separate versions.
  33. MikeZito
    Thanks Louise - yes, the multiple versions were simply an exercise to test myself . . . and also a good way to keep up the videos since I was getting stuck on new songs that weren't turning out quite right!
  34. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Sometimes the stuff that doesn't turn out right is where you can learn the most, if you can go back and analyze where and when it went astray.
  35. MikeZito
    Hey Louise:

    If not getting things right were the best learning tool, I'd be a genius by now! (laugh)

    In this project I have often found that I can find either the rhythm or the melody - but sometimes have problems combining the two.

    The partial list of stuff I have tried by have 'failed' at is almost comical:

    - Hey Big Spender
    - Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting
    - Amazing Grace
    - Arrviederci Roma
    - The Night Chicago Died
    - Immaculate Mary
    - Sweet Home Alabama
    - Theme From 'The Godfather'
    etc., etc.

    Oh well, back to the drawing board . . . .

  36. MikeZito
    Ok gang - we have reached the end.

    28 days, 14 songs; (I was hoping to get much closer to 20 songs, but I can't complain too much).

    Overall, I am pretty happy with the experience, and I do believe that I came away with more ability and knowledge than I had at the start - and that is what the whole exercise was about.

    THANKS to all who helped and commented - and please feel free to check out all of the final results below.

  37. HonketyHank
    Congratulations! All were interesting - can i say 'intriguing' even? My favorites were 'Mary had a little lamb' and the kentucky mando. After reviewing all, i can definitely hear a mike zito style that comes thru more strongly than any particular 'genre'. i think that's great.
  38. MikeZito
    THANKS for the kind words Hank - they are VERY MUCH appreciated.
  39. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    "- Immaculate Mary" -- well there is one every Catholic of my generation has sung often enough that you should be able to pick it. I just picked it out in G. I am indeed intrigued by your challenge Mike. I have proven to myself that I can pick out some well ingrained melodies. I wonder what would happen if I spent some time like you did.
  40. MikeZito
    Hey Kevin:

    I was able to pick out the the melody of 'Immaculate Mary' - but I just couldn't come up with some sort background rhythm to make it work as a 'solo' piece. I had the same problem with another hymn; 'Amazing Grace'. Maybe I will make another try at each, some time in the future.

    All-in-all the whole project was a great 'challenge', and I would highly recommend it to anyone . . . after all, if someone as talent-limited as I am can do it, anybody can!
  41. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Hmmm, don't know "Immaculate Mary," not having been raised Catholic, but I doubt that it's very danceable. That might be the problem with finding a good rhythm part for it.
  42. MikeZito
    (laugh) No, I can't say that I have ever seen anybody dance to any traditional church hymn, but in my project I wanted to stay away from playing strictly melodies - I tried to incorporate at least some sort of 'droning 'or 'chord' notes behind the melody . . . hence my problem with the two hymns mentioned above, and even with several other songs like 'This Land Is Your Land', 'Rolling In My Sweet Baby's Arms' and 'Hey Big Spender'.
  43. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    yea the best I could come up with just some double stops and chords at the end of verse and chorus. I have played it in church on guitar but just simple down up strums. Now you should hear what my daughters did to Sing of Mary. :D
  44. MikeZito
    Kevin - good to hear that it was not just me who had trouble with the song.

    'Sing Of Mary' is another good one . . . .
  45. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Mike, I just made an attempt at Tumbling Tumbleweeds and I ran a search for that title under "Groups" - I generally do that in preparation for posting something in SAW group, to see if a thread already exists.

    Lo and behold, the only mention of that tune in any groups is here in this thread! So I was reminded that you had a go in your 30 second video experiments a while back. Cool

    The attempt I made today is almost 3 minutes long and I had the benefit of using a MIDI backing track. Sharing it here "just because" ... 'cause it was mentioned in this thread. Here goes nothing


  46. MikeZito
    Thanks Mark - you always make me look bad . . . but then again, that's not hard to do . . .

    Keep up the good work.
  47. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Thanks for the encouragement Mike, but . . . despite all that self-deprecation, you know you're a good player. I admire your playing.
  48. HonketyHank
    Very nice, Mark. I liked the square tumbleweeds. I bet they can do some damage if they hit you on a corner.
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