Musical Instruments and Survival Situations?

Posted by: dougwalkabout

Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/19/16 03:11 AM

It occurs to me that music is a big part of most people's everyday lives. And when there is a big disruption, big stress, music tends to settle me (and many others) down -- there's a thread of normalcy that helps tie things back together.

I just saw a little hint of that, and it reminded me again to post the idea. When I sit down at the end of the day and noodle around on my old six-string, my hounds just settle into their beds and close their eyes. They are content; they do this every time; they know this means everything is okay.

Does that translate to humans? There isn't much that's more effective at drawing disparate groups together like music around a fire. I can see the value in a stressful time. Kids at least will respond well.

If nothing else, the original instrument is, of course, voice. In my younger backpacking years, wheezing out a stirring ballad on a tough ascent seemed to give me that extra psychological "oomph" to persevere and keep going.

So, thoughts? Experiences?

Anybody play an instrument around here? Would it be worth taking in a bug-out or pulling out when bugging in?
Posted by: ireckon

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/19/16 05:05 AM

Lately, AM talk radio is my primary means of calming me down. A host with a nice, mellow voice is like music to my ears. The host is usually talking about something interesting or newsworthy. So, I get to learn something at the same time. The feeling that my IQ may be increasing further calms me.

Also, a nice melody on an acoustic guitar or a piano cannot be beat.
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/19/16 06:43 PM

I've found that getting in some time behind my horn (concert trombone) relaxes and rejuvenates me. Unfortunately, the only time I can play it is open (un-muted) is when everybody else is out of the house. Come to think about it, nobody else likes my harmonica playing either. Though I will admit I'm a dilatant on the tin sandwich.

Since so much of dealing with a disaster involves waiting for the situation to change, morale, welfare, and recreation (MW&R) become important. Games, reading, and of course, music is all part of it.

Bugging in - Any acoustic instrument, except the stuff in the soprano range (piccolo and parlor trumpet). Piano and acoustic guitar is probably the best for group amusement.

Bugging out to on foot - There are travel instruments like the Strum Stick guitar and pBone plastic band instruments. For the most part, I would stick to pocket size stuff (Harmonica, Ocarina, Recorder, Drum practice pads, roll up keyboards). I keep a harmonica in the glove box for times when I'm just cooling my heels.

Bugging out via vehicle - If you can fit it in the car, and it can tolerate the temperatures in the car (most brass instruments don't like anything over 120F), take it. If you're likely to end up in s shelter or a hotel, make sure whatever you take can use earphones. I can't imagine that opening up with a full power brass instrument in a shelter is going to be very welcome.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/19/16 08:06 PM

Music can be good for the spirit, especially when it is something to sing along. I play harmonica, tin whistle, six string guitar and banjo. Harmonica and tin whistle are small enough for taking along. They are meant for that.
The guitar would be worth pulling out. My skills with the banjo however make it unlikely that my play will raise the spirits wink.
Posted by: Jeanette_Isabelle

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/19/16 11:01 PM

Most of my music is on iTunes; I still have one CD. If it hits the fan but we still have electricity, I'm good.

Because of what we are now seeing, I recently added two inspirational but relevant selections: "Hands" by Jewel and "God Bless The U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood.

Jeanette Isabelle
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 10:16 AM

So where can I buy a tactical survival guitar? Is there like an SAS or Navy SEAL Les Paul model? Maybe it comes with a fire starting kit in the neck? (Shavings from the guitar itself provides tinder.) The strings can be used as a wire saw, or perhaps to garrote a bad guy.
Posted by: bacpacjac

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 01:54 PM

Les Stroud once tried to make a trap out his guitar. (Sierra Nevada episode, I believe.) He didn't catch anything, but it seemed like a good idea to me. Tactical guitar, indeed!

When bacpacboy was small, I used to wear a tiny harmonica around my neck, along with my micro photon. That necklace has since been abducted and lost by my kids. We didn't make what anyone would consider music with it, but it sure was a good child amuser! In fact, I think I'm going to go on a hunt for another one. Thanks for the reminder! wink
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 03:16 PM

Hohner makes some 4 hole mini harps. Model 38 IIRC
Posted by: haertig

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 03:36 PM

I'd have a heckuva time bugging out with my piano in tow. That's the only instrument I can play well. I'm trying to learn the ukulele these days - my first stringed instrument.

But a uke is not small enough to bug out with, unless you've got a big vehicle and extra room after all your other gear is loaded. A harmonica sounds like the way to go for disaster situations. Small, and I assume they're pretty sturdy as well. Unfortunately, for me, I can't say for sure if I find the harmonica pleasing, or annoying. Maybe I just haven't heard someone good enough playing one. I think the harmonica might be like a violin. When an expert is playing, it's beautiful. When your kids are trying to learn it, you want to run out of your house and jump off a cliff.

But back to the original thought of this thread - music DOES soothe me. I can be in a bad mood or stressed out, and after a few minutes playing the piano I am all settled down again. That's when playing something I can already perform. Learning a new and difficult piece is not always relaxing at first!
Posted by: Jesselp

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 04:44 PM

We lost power in my home for 15 days after Sandy rolled through. At the same time, we were sheltering another family with us, for a total of five kids.

Keeping the kids entertained without the use of electronic devices was a challenge. Until one evening I pulled out my acoustic guitar.

The evening was the best night of the entire experience. Think campfire sing-along, but with flashlights and no fire. Everyone had a great time, and was in a good mood the next morning, despite the great stress we were all under.

Now, I don't know if I'd grab my full-size Martin Dreadnaught in a bugout situation, but for bugging in, it made things much nicer to have it around!

(And FYI, Martin makes a very small "Backpacker" model that I have seen on hiking trails in the past.)
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 05:15 PM

I can see musical instruments being very good for morale during a bugging-in situation and for that any instrument you can play or wish to learn will be a good thing -- be it a piano, cello, guitar or a set of drums. An alto sax has a nice tone and I tend toward jazz... Good entertainment & just a good way to pass time and keep your mind occupied.

In a bugging-out situation, the instrument naturally needs to be portable and needs to take a subordinate role to other stuff that needs to be carried. A harmonica fills the role, as does the small soprano recorder (common flute) we played in the 4th grade. I have an alto recorder that I need to learn -- it's actually a nice instrument for which I have a lot of classical sheet music. A harmonica is even smaller and possibly easier to learn to a point; to become really good takes time and lots of it -- start now. $.02
Posted by: unimogbert

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 06:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
So where can I buy a tactical survival guitar? Is there like an SAS or Navy SEAL Les Paul model?


Carbon Fiber construction guitar. Not for fire but can be used for - canoe paddle, animal trap (soundhole), and defensive (club) weapon. And can be played afterwards. Might not even notice a blemish on the "road hard" finish. (Composite Acoustics Cargo travel guitar)
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 07:06 PM

Amazing! Is there no end to the stuff I learn on this forum? I just checked: there is such a thing as carbon fiber guitar, and it's black, too! Tactical!
Posted by: unimogbert

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 07:44 PM

Several CF guitar manufacturers exist in fact.
And the guitars sound quite good. (I have 3)

The main thing from the guitarist point of view is that they are immune to humidity issues of drying out and cracking or warping.

12 string versions are marvelous as it negates the old saying about 12 strings never being in tune. CF is very stable so temperature and humidity changes don't change the tuning.
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/20/16 09:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Russ
I can see musical instruments being very good for morale during a bugging-in situation and for that any instrument you can play or wish to learn will be a good thing -- be it a piano, cello, guitar or a set of drums. An alto sax has a nice tone and I tend toward jazz... Good entertainment & just a good way to pass time and keep your mind occupied.

In a bugging-out situation, the instrument naturally needs to be portable and needs to take a subordinate role to other stuff that needs to be carried. A harmonica fills the role, as does the small soprano recorder (common flute) we played in the 4th grade. I have an alto recorder that I need to learn -- it's actually a nice instrument for which I have a lot of classical sheet music. A harmonica is even smaller and possibly easier to learn to a point; to become really good takes time and lots of it -- start now. $.02


The harmonica does require a fair amount of practice to become proficient with. For snorts and giggles, I've made a list of instruments that can be stuck inside of pack or pocket without taking up too much room and are tough enough for the road:

1) Harmonica - takes a lot of practice to become good enough to want to listen to, and relatively vulnerable to contamination. Diminutive size and ability to solo makes it a classic travel companion. Buy a hard case to protect it. Expect to pay $25-$50 for a decent harp.

2) Various western flutes (Ocarina, Recorder, Tin whistle, Fife, Tambor, etc). They tend to have simple construction, are relatively compact, and often available in polycarbonate or other robust materials. Mountain Ocarinas makes a couple of indestructible models with an octave and a major 3rd chromatic range. Usually lines up with western semi tones. I'm leaving orchestral instruments out due to complicated linkages and a general intolerance to adverse weather.

3) Various aboriginal (Native American, Japanese Shakuhachi, Peruvian Quena, etc) flutes. Probably the most melodic sounding, but notes don't necessarily correspond to Western tones. Try not to say "I am Kane, I will help you"

4) Mbira (African thumb piano) - Often found more as a storytellers companion then as a stand alone musical instrument. If you're a good storyteller, expect to be invited over every time there's a power outage.

5) Jaw Harps and Kazoos - snorts and giggles. Nothing really left to say

6) Drum pads and sticks / spoons - Great way to keep yourself amused. Maybe not so much for an audience, unless you have some awesome cadences (i.e. Drumline 2002).
Posted by: Roarmeister

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 02:06 AM

AS long as Sirius exists I'll be fine... I need to get my fill of the oldies but goodies....

Seriously, I wish I could play harmonica like Stroud. That to me would be the ideal size personal instrument.

One could experiment with crafting a flute/whistle/recorder of some sort. One of the guys on Alone season 2 crafted a blow tube that doubled as a didgeridoo.
Posted by: Roarmeister

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 02:15 AM

Originally Posted By: ireckon
Lately, AM talk radio is my primary means of calming me down.


Talk radio -not good for me. My blood begins to boil and roil and I start shouting at the radio when driving. smile
Posted by: gonewiththewind

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 01:56 PM

With my musical talents being what they are, a musical instrument would provide another benefit for me. I would offend anyone within hearing distance so badly that they would search me out just to destroy the noise maker. So I guess I could use it as an emergency signaling device!
Posted by: bacpacjac

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 07:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_R
Hohner makes some 4 hole mini harps. Model 38 IIRC


Thanks so much, Mark!!
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 07:29 PM

Hohner Mod 38 mini harp A similar model comes with a keychain... But compare that harp price-wise with a 10 hole Hohner 1501BX Blues Band Maybe size does matter wink
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 08:15 PM

For bug-out I might prefer one of the plastic models. The are much less sensitive to moisture, usually cheap and probably good enough for most of us.
For use in non-emergency scenarios I got a Hohner Marine Band. It makes a difference.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 08:26 PM

+1 on the Hohner Marine Band harmonica. The Marine Band 1896 is a classic and the price is not out of reach to even a beginner. No affiliation, I'm a beginner and I'm not even big on blues.
Posted by: wildman800

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 09:09 PM

I sometimes bring an Irish Whistle. I don't know how to play it but I enjoy playing with it.
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 10:33 PM

I'm partial to the Lee Oskar diatonic. They're a bit cheaper then the Hohner's, completely synthetic (stainless, brass, and plastic) and have a bright sound that projects a good distance.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 10:53 PM

Is that brighter sound true across all 13(?) keys? If it is that would be a good signaling tool in a survival situation. Maybe not as good as some of the louder whistles, but dual purpose is often a compromise.
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/21/16 11:25 PM

You're not going to match a whistle with a harmonica. If I had to guess, I'd put the max volume in the mid 80's Db.

The bottom range (below middle C) can be a little muzzy unless you have a good air column. Keep in mind that there is no such think as a "melodic" harmonica. They all sound like jazz saxophones. The L/O just tend to be brighter than most.

EDIT: Depending on how bad you are, it just might work for critter protection. A bad harpist sounds like a goose in the washing marching.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/22/16 02:56 PM

Around here the Hohners and the Lee Oskar are about in the same price range. I prefer the Hohner because I like the touch and feel better and I like their sound.
I have a Hohner Echo for 40 years now and it still plays fine. That kind of makes a small price difference less relevant anyway.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/22/16 03:10 PM

I got some good advice for buying instruments from a music teacher. He advocated buying a decent instrument especially for beginners.
A "beginner level" one is harder to play nicely and frequently destroys interest. A decent one keeps a higher resale value. Once you reached advanced level (and sometimes beyond)you got a decent instrument you are used to.
The only reason I have a Hohner Happy Color harp is because it came in a set with book and DVD. The instructor on the DVD plays a decent blues harp. Good luck trying to match the "it should sound like this".
Posted by: haertig

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/23/16 12:42 AM

After reading this thread, I went and checked out some harmonicas on Amazon. And went to Youtube to hear a few played (by people who know how to play well!)

I have to say,the harmonica is just not for me. Everyone has personal preferences, but I just don't care for the way they sound.

Mark_R mentioned an ocarina. Those sound much more pleasing to my ear (not the high pitched ones, I think "tenor" or lower sounds better).

Now I think I may have to go investigate buying an ocarina. I was thinking of learning the pan flute a while back, but an ocarina would be much smaller and easier to carry around.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/23/16 01:22 AM

Learning the harmonica will be a journey and it may be interesting. From what I heard on youtube there are different techniques and sounds, but it may result in my gifting it to someone who can appreciate those tonals.

OTOH, I like the sound of the alto recorder I recently purchased, the problem is while it is supposedly sized for adult hands, maybe there's a fingering technique I'm missing because it does not fit my hands (and I don't have small hands). I'm going to try a soprano recorder and see how the higher tones sound compared to the alto. An alto recorder typically covers 349-2093 Hz and the soprano covers 523-3136 Hz; that's a significant shift. There's a chart at Recorder Frequency Ranges that may be useful. Per that chart, age related hearing loss starts around 2000 Hz. As I recall my hearing starts to significantly fail around 4000 Hz, so we'll see where this all ends.
Posted by: bacpacjac

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/23/16 11:35 AM

Mini Hohner re-acquired and around my neck around again. Thanks Mark!!
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/23/16 02:50 PM

So who's up for forming a survival band? It seems the harmonica section is pretty well staffed.

Wanna do an album?
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/23/16 06:20 PM

Hmmm, learning more about the seemingly simple recorder every day. The are a number of videos on YouTube which are very insightful. A guy who goes by "gorebagg" has a series of youtube videos on the recorder stating at Z1 - Wood or Plastic? It seems I should not have started with a wood recorder, plastic requires much less maintenance and they are nearly indestructible. According to the manufacture's website, the alto recorder I have is stabilized maple, so probably not as delicate as the $3000 wood recorder gorebagg reveres and plays on youtube, but not as maintenance free as the $5.50 toy recorder he also demonstrates. The issue I have is probably not finger placement as much as it is breath control.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/23/16 10:55 PM

Still, since the topic is musical instruments in survival situations, the good quality but less expensive plastic recorders and plastic comb harmonicas are probably a better choice since they are inherently more stable and require less maintenance. Too humid, too arid and the properties of wood change. Look for zero maintenance. $.02
Posted by: haertig

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/24/16 12:19 AM

If you're a beginner, you need to buy at least a "good quality" instrument. Buy something less, and you'll hamper your learning ability trying to use a piece of junk. One the other hand, buying a top-notch instrument when you don't know how to play it won't make you play it any better. You'll still sound like c^&*p! Good stores will tell you this, and guide you to an appropriate instrument for your skill/learning level.

I bought a ukulele online from The Ukulele Site ( in Hawaii - https://www.theukulelesite.com/ ) a few years ago. They were excellent in recommending me a laminate rather than solid wood uke, telling me how the dry Colorado air where I live would wreck havoc on a high end uke unless you take extra special precautions to humidify it. And they also said, I wouldn't be able to tell or appreciate the difference between reasonably-priced and expensive while I was learning. Good stores are like this (and I definitely recommend The Ukulele Site).
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/24/16 12:36 PM

Agree, if the instrument sounds awful or won't stay in tune a student will get frustrated. But there are good musical instruments which should be affordable to those on a limited budget. Just research options from the name brands. Just considering Diatonic lines there are a number of good options in harmonicas across the price spectrum. Looking at just the Hohner brand a Marine Band or Blues Harp are made in Germany and have a great rep, but then Hohner also has the Hohner Blues Band which is much less expensive but made "elsewhere". Lee Oskar is another brand with a good rep. Unless your ears are trained it probably doesn't matter. If you are on stage and getting paid it probably matters a lot.

When it comes to recorders (aka common flute) the price range is crazy. Unless I was a professional, who really needed and could play well enough to justify the expense (time & money), there is absolutely no rationale for buying anything in triple digits (wood). Wood recorders tend to be expensive to buy and are more finicky. You need to keep proper moisture levels in the wood and oil them as you would a fine piece of furniture. OTOH, there are name brand recorders that are affordable and sound great, but they are plastic. The youtube videos linked above address this issue in detail. Still, $30 for a good one, $40 for a really good one -- both will last a lifetime -- play it every day, don't play for years, doesn't matter. Stick one inside your backpack and don't be concerned.
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/25/16 07:56 AM

This sort of stuff strikes me as "hobbies that may boost morale in an emergency." I wouldn't learn an instrument just because it is a skill that might help me get through a bug out/bug in. It's just too much work, too arduous, and too hard if you don't like it. So whoever reading this thread, don't rush out and buy a recommended beginner harmonica/recorder/whatever for the purpose of "survival."

On the other hand, if playing an instrument is already something you like, by all means go ahead. It will enrich your life, bring pleasure to those around you (if you're decent), etc. Bringing some relief during a disaster is just a bonus.

Since we have talked about coordinating with neighbors and how survival is easier if you work with others, what about some form of community music? Amateur chorus, band, orchestra, etc. Before the invention of electricity, that was one way for people to entertain themselves when professional entertainers weren't around (or were too expensive). In some sort of prolonged disaster, stuff like that may help people feel a little better.
Posted by: Bingley

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/25/16 07:57 AM

Since we're talking about survival, how about improvised musical instruments? Washboard, spoon, inverted buckets, pots, etc.? All these things are of value in a survival situation, too. smile
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/25/16 04:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
... "hobbies that may boost morale in an emergency." ...
Bingley's thoughts may be correct, for me this is something I've wanted to do unrelated to any survival skill aspect. My relearning a musical instrument is for me and is not intended as a morale boost -- if not for double pane windows it would probably just annoy the neighbors. Recall the string quartet in "Band of Brothers" who played while their German neighbors salvaged furniture and other items from a recently bombed town. Beethoven as I recall, but was that a dirge -- not much of a morale boost, beautiful scene though.
Posted by: WesleyH

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/26/16 02:40 AM

Anyone know where I can get a copy of LES STROUD'S Homeopathic Harmonica hits for the hopelessly Astray?

(Available on Arista records and tapes. . )
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/17/16 04:40 AM

Lots of interesting replies. Much appreciated!

I've had three social events in the last few months (around a fire) where I have been prevailed upon to crank out a set or two on an old Fender acoustic, accompanied by my gravelly voice. To my surprise, they were very well received! Maybe there's a renewed appetite toward "live music is better" -- organic music, with all its imperfections, a pushback against endless floods of perfectly engineered recordings?

Anyway, the question now is how to build a playlist that is do-able by one guy with an acoustic guitar and gravelly voice. (Or other instruments that continue to work, surprisingly, when the electricity is off.) It has to hit a number of genres and build a sense of group inclusion and camaraderie without giving unnecessary offense to anyone.

For example, I didn't know where to start, so I warmed up a couple of groups by getting them to remember camp songs from their youth. Silly, cheesy, goofy, it's all fine -- and fun. Gets them in the zone. Then there's Otis Redding: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay -- getting everyone to whistle along at the end (badly) was a bit hit.

In that vein, thoughts and suggestions?
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/17/16 03:23 PM

I do not think it is about "life music is better". Life music is an event and people are part of this unique performance. That΄s doubly true if they interact (sing along, whistle, hum or clap). That is something a recording - no matter how perfect it may be - cannot provide that.
Your approach of warming up is probably one of the best.

This guy offers some advice about playlists, practice and list that can be played with a limited number of accords: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9FIrror1a4 (to avoid unpleasant surprises: he΄s performing "Horse with no name")

There are also some songs with a concept of promoting participation:
The limerick song (Some versions are appropriate for all audiences, some not so much), this version seems to be fairly non-offensive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4znGvVBlwr0
The engineer΄s drinking song (several versions around, maybe not ideal while children are present, may get as clean or dirty as the audience wants)
Kiss me Blarney Stones (designed more for adult audiences, not the best choice, when ladies are present; BTW: there is a recording that extends over an hour)
Posted by: TeacherRO

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/17/16 07:33 PM

Worth it to collect a few (paper) books for camp songs, american classics ( musicals, etc) and Beatles tunes.
Posted by: bacpacjac

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/17/16 07:43 PM

Scouts Canada and Boy Scouts USA have some awesome resources for camp songs. There are some pretty cool youtube videos from Jambories too.
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/18/16 03:14 AM

Originally Posted By: TeacherRO
Worth it to collect a few (paper) books for camp songs, american classics ( musicals, etc) and Beatles tunes.


I've found that most "folk" music is readily playable by a competent hobbyist musician. It's certainly easier then concert band or orchestral music. By folk, I mean American folk and campfire, Celtic jigs and reels, sailors shanties and hornpipes , military marching songs, work songs, blues, etc.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/25/16 08:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_R
I've found that most "folk" music is readily playable by a competent hobbyist musician. It's certainly easier then concert band or orchestral music. By folk, I mean American folk and campfire, Celtic jigs and reels, sailors shanties and hornpipes , military marching songs, work songs, blues, etc.


I've found that as well. There's an art to faking it so that it sounds good enough to listen to, even if it's not perfect (doubly so if it's a recorded pop/folk song). I do try to avoid doing violence to other people's work, though, out of respect for truly great artists I admire.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/25/16 08:22 PM

I found a list of harmonica songs with tabs for you harp players. The guy at http://www.wildflowerharmonica.com/tabs/ (no affiliation) is apparently an instructor, so these must be "do-able." I'm sure there are many more out there.

B
B52s, The – Rock Lobster – 4th Position Scale Lesson
Beatles, The – Day Tripper – Cross Harp Lesson
Beatles, The – Here, There, and Everywhere – Harp Switching Lesson
Beatles, The – Let It Be – Middle / High Scale Lesson
Beatles, The – Love Me Do – Cross Harp & Breath Pattern Lesson

C
Christmas – Deck the Halls
Christmas – Jingle Bells
Christmas – Joy to the World
Christmas – O Christmas Tree
Christmas – Silent Night

F
Foster, Stephen – Camptown Races
Foster, Stephen – O Susanna
Foster, Stephen – O Susanna (cross harp version)

I
Irish – Connaughtman’s Rambles, The
Irish – Danny Boy
Irish – Harvest Home Hornpipe
Irish – Kesh Jig
Irish – Ms McLeod’s Reel
Irish – Parting Glass, The
Irish – Star of the County Down

K
Kids – Bingo
Kids – Do Re Mi
Kids – Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?)
Kids – Happy Birthday
Kids – London Bridge
Kids – Mary Had a Little Lamb
Kids – Pop Goes the Weasel
Kids – Row Row Row Your Boat
Kids – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Kids – You Are My Sunshine

L
Loops, Jeremy – My Shoes – Beatbox Lesson

N
National Anthem – The Star-Spangled Banner

P
Pitbull, feat Kesha – Timber – Articulation Lesson & Song History

S
Scales – The Blues Scale (Cross Harp)
Scales – The Major Scale (Straight Harp)
Scales – Minor Scales
Scales – Pentatonic Scales

T
Traditional – Amazing Grace
Traditional – Big Rock Candy Mountain
Traditional – Dueling Banjos
Traditional – Good Night Ladies
Traditional – Happy Birthday
Traditional – Reveille
Traditional – Shenandoah
Traditional – Taps
Traditional – What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?
Traditional – When the Saints Go Marching In
Traditional – You Are My Sunshine
Twain, Shania – Nobody Needs to Know – Ear Training & Cross Harp Lesson
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 02/06/17 11:02 PM

Hmm! Went back to re-read this old thread and was quite surprised at the number of views. Guess the web bots have been busy skewing the numbers.

Anyway, a couple of quick thoughts:

If anyone is interested, I'll look over my notes and post the song list that I've been compiling.

I've also been adding to my acoustic guitar collection. I'm amazed that playable used instruments can be had for under $50 these days -- if you know what to look for, and if you're quick to grab a deal. What a huge change from when I started out!
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/20/18 12:38 AM

Given the number of hits, I guess folks out there are still reading this thread. Perhaps someone has posted links elsewhere? Anyway, I'm glad you find it worth your time. smile

I came across a link regarding music and social cohesion, and thought it was worth sharing:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/four_ways_music_strengthens_social_bonds

Another link about music and its effects on the brain:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_we_love_music

Edit: BTW, it would amuse me to know where this extra traffic is coming from. I know, curiosity killed the cat. But if what I'm doing anyway (working out campfire songs, reconditioning inexpensive -- not "cheap" -- guitars) would amuse, I'll post more here. Thoughts and advice?
Posted by: EMPnotImplyNuclear

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/21/18 10:21 PM

Hi,
I think all these would work with a gravely voice and one guitar, for guitar solo you can whistle smile
Remember to read your audience smile

  • fgjVrBatu2I The Cure - Love Song (Acoustic Version) - YouTube
  • WWAgBzK-1E0 Ripple (acoustic) - Grateful Dead - 10-31-1980 Radio City, NY set1-08 - YouTube
  • EM0cxHxatFg Damon Johnson - "Cowboy Song" and "The Boys Are Back In Town" - Richard Krause
  • YovafhkMbwc K-Ci & JoJo - All My Life - Dalilah Dhalif Ali Acoustic Cover - dhalif
  • d34hsuSceD0 Violent Femmes - American Music - YouTube
  • 0rwPxuyk7sM How to Play Rockstar - Nickelback (cover) - Easy 5 Chord Tune - PartyMarty EasyGuitarTunes
  • TCDg9nZabVc How to Play Stuck In the Middle with You - Stealers Wheel (cover) - Easy 4 Chord Tune - PartyMarty EasyGuitarTunes
  • V2we4rZhQ0I Jane Says acoustic Jane's Addiction - Haley Elizabeth
  • z19rg2sVTBo Smash Mouth - The Story Of My Life - YouTube
  • y-poSLBmN3g 175. Wilson Pickett- Land of 1000 Dances (Acoustic Cover) - Peter Duong -- naaa na na na naaa nananan naaa nana naaa nanan naaaa
  • 8vFcDMRyJKo Shout (Isley Brothers) Easy Strum Guitar Lesson How to Play Tutorial - MunsonMusicLive
  • 1EGLxgxlfnM They Might Be Giants - Particle Man (cover) - ibanez0930
  • YLV1sJNDuX0 Lamprey - Narwhal (Acoustic) - YouTube
  • P1FzDGLc3as Narwhals - YouTube
  • QDxfCywWgaE Chris Kenner - Land of 1000 Dances - YouTube
  • _eDcPRSeDsU "Fire On The Mountain" Grateful Dead, acoustic cover - guitar5054
  • 8OzaJQCURUA Christina Aguilera - Come On Over (Acoustic) - adultish
  • "The Joker" - Steve Miller Band
  • "Enter Sandman" - Metallica
  • "Crazy Train" - Ozzy Osbourne
  • "Sweet Home Alabama" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • "Don't Stop Believin" - Journey
  • American Pie – Don McLean
  • Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
  • Old Crow Medicine Show – Wagon Wheel
  • The Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • "Ripple" -- Grateful Dead
  • "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
  • Friend of the Devil (acoustic version) by Grateful Dead
  • Casey Jones Grateful Dead
  • Melissa by the Allman Brothers
  • Dead Flowers by the Rolling Stones
  • Straight To Hell by Drivin' N Cryin'
  • Sister Golden Hair by America
  • Friday I'm in Love by The Cure
  • Amie by Pure Prairie League
  • Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
  • "Gimme Little Sign" by Brenton Wood in 1967.
  • "Land of a Thousand Dances" was done by Wilson Pickett
  • "Sweet Soul Music" is by Arthur Conley, in 1967.
  • 5kXaviCBrJE Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe - Acoustic (RARE LIVE) - myISH
  • RkMuq4yEk7U The Darkness - "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" | 91X Xsession
  • band member teaches you cStaQjy6AeQ How to play "I Believe In A Thing Called LOVE" by The DARKNESS - ROCK ANTENNE
  • this girl is on fire -- alicia keys
  • burning ring of fire -- johnny cash
  • Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)
  • jingle bells batman smells
  • south park theme, going down to south park - primus
  • i put a spell on you because you're mine
  • Cowboy Song (Thin Lizzy song)
  • dont you just know it -- huey "piano" smith
  • rubber biscuit -- the blues brothers
  • rawhide - tv show theme
  • spiderman theme songs 1960s tv
  • i cant dance i can't talk only thing about me is the way i walk
  • susanne you're all that i wanted in a girl you're all that i wanted in the world - weezer
  • say it aint so - weezer
  • 2obMo7y-rvA Taylor Swift - Acoustic Performances from RED Album - Songs include "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Treacherous," and "22."
  • i'm just a little bit stuck in the middle M_-qbbCsAeM Lenka - The Show (with lyrics)
  • crimson and clover say it aint over
  • Three Is a Magic Number - Schoolhouse Rock

Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/23/18 03:10 AM

Wow, thanks for the list. That took some work!

I confess I recognize fewer than half the songs -- I guess GooTube is about to get a workout!
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/24/18 07:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Russ
... It seems I should not have started with a wood recorder, plastic requires much less maintenance and they are nearly indestructible. According to the manufacture's website, the alto recorder I have is stabilized maple, so probably not as delicate as the $3000 wood recorder
...
The issue I have is probably not finger placement as much as it is breath control.


I ended up playing alto recorder through a circuitous route. I've since dropped the harmonica in favor of it. Unless you plan on recitals, a brand name resin recorder is a good hobbyist and rough use instrument. The one I have is a Yamaha YRA-312 ~$30. I've found that the arched windway really helps with breath control. The other two name brands are Aulos and Zen-on.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/24/18 07:42 PM

A while back I picked up a Yamaha Alto (ABS Resin) recorder — YRA-314B. That’s the only one I try to play cool The wood recorders are nice, but whether they sound any better is academic; I suck as a recorder player so ABS resin is a much better option.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/24/18 08:55 PM

Russ, you suck?? That's your problem - you are supposed to blow!!

Always glad to assist...
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/25/18 01:52 AM

Originally Posted By: hikermor
Russ, you suck?? That's your problem - you are supposed to blow!!

Always glad to assist...


Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 01/26/18 04:13 AM

LOL! That's where a harp is so forgiving -- just the right amount of suck and blow makes a joyful noise. grin

I wonder if we have reached "peak thread" though -- we're down to Mel Brooks??? Oy. laugh

I need to post something broody and soulful real quick! cool

And emoticons! Need more emoticons!
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/28/19 01:37 AM

Just looking back through all our old threads, it seems quite a few others have given this one a second look. So, permit me to give it a bump.

Fires and floods, power out and people on the move. Hard times out there.

Are you folks still playing, singing, strumming, blowing and (on purpose) sucking, defying the storms outside? I hope so. Music lightens the load.

I have a couple of earworms that won't let go of me, so I have no choice but to learn them and play them. This week it's "End of the Line" by the Traveling Wilburys and "Ol'55" which is a Tom Waits tune covered by a few country rockers you may have heard of. Both on gootube. And they won't let me go until I know them by heart.

Hope you have a soon-to-be-portable earworm or two on your list as well.

Cheers!
Posted by: Janysboy

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 10/28/19 02:09 AM

I'm working on a "Tin Whistle" Simple device like a recorder, with 6 finger holes. There are plenty of free you tube tutorials to learn how.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 03/21/20 10:15 PM

Wow, folks. Crazy times! Like many, we're voluntarily sheltering in place and distancing from COVID-19.

I thought a thread bump might be appropriate.

BTW, RIP Kenny Rogers. "The Gambler" is part of my fireside repertoire. Everybody likes it, regardless of their musical preferences. Somehow it rings true.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 03/22/20 06:45 PM

An couple of ideas:

Don't discount the ukelele as an instrument. It's much easier to learn to play than a guitar. I learned in elementary school. It can handle all the basic chords for campfire songs. A decent instrument should really have geared tuning heads. Ukes are a total hoot to mess around with!

For those who have an old guitar but don't play: you can still make pretty noises. Instead of standard tuning, drop both the high E (1st string, at the bottom) and the low E (6th string, at the top) down one full note to D. It now has a nice chord when you strum it open. And then you play an "A" chord and just move it up and down the neck (same fingering as A) until you find other spots that make nice chords. This works!

Don't have a guitar tuner? You can get them on your smartphone.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 05/21/20 08:03 PM

My sister plays ukelele. She tells me that any time you show up with a ukelele, someone will insist that you play "Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho. So you'd better bring your best red velour jacket and lounge lizard crooner voice. You have been warned. grin
Posted by: Jeanette_Isabelle

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 05/22/20 12:09 AM

Does she play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow?"

Jeanette Isabelle
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 05/22/20 12:51 AM

I'm pretty sure the chord structure would work, for both the original and the Garland/Armstrong Hawaiian mashup.

I will hassle her about it the next time we get together. laugh

But to move the conversation forward: what uke classics should you learn to make you a 4-string hero around the fire? Thoughts? Help me out here.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Musical Instruments and Survival Situations? - 07/05/20 04:13 AM

It's curious, but since covid took hold there have been something like 7,000 new views on this thread but almost no posts except mine.

So to whoever is stopping by, welcome! I hope you found value here. And please consider pulling up a stump around the fire and telling us your story. We always have more to learn. Maybe you know the words to a song that we've been wrestling with. smile