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Tease Vs. Jam Vs. Quote

Tags: Setlists, Shows, Notation, Lingo

The setlists at Phish.net distinguish, as exactingly as possible, between teases, quotes, and jams:

A “tease” occurs when a band member briefly plays or hints at a part of another song, usually the melody. A good example is Page’s teasing of the signature “Drowned” riff several times on the piano during the July 21, 1997, “Bathtub Gin.”

A “quote” occurs when a member of the band vocally or verbally quotes another song, or familiar saying, or anything along those lines. For example, see the April 15, 1992, “You Enjoy Myself” vocal jam, where band members quote “Proud Mary,” but do not play it. Another popular example are the quotes by Trey and Fish from “The End” (The Doors) during the March 1, 1997, Hamburg “Mike’s Song,” which was released on Slip, Stitch and Pass.

In technical music terms, a “quote” occurs when a musician plays a particular song’s melody line on his on her instrument -- what we define as a “tease.” In the Phish community, the terms “tease” and “quote” are thus used interchangeably. For clarity within the setlists file, though, we have reserved the use of the term “quote” to mean vocal or verbal quotes only.

We use the word “jam” conservatively. In our opinion, Phish is a jamming band and, by their nature, several songs at a show will jam out in some way. Any song is potentially subject to jam on any night. It would be silly to label every “You Enjoy Myself” as “You Enjoy Myself ” -> “Jam” because, quite frankly, they all do. And it would be too discretionary to label the “best versions” as “You Enjoy Myself” -> “Jam.” So, for the sake of brevity and accuracy, we have limited the use of the word “jam” to three specific occasions:

  1. A substantial part of another song is played and, usually, some lyrics are sung. For a good example, see the “Cannonball Jam” in the May 7, 1994, “Bomb Factory” Tweezer, or the “Wormtown Jam” in Amsterdam in 1997. These jams are considered so substantial that they are listed in the setlist itself.
  2. A jam of another song is so true that it deserves to be mentioned. Often, it involves multiple band members locking-in on a common theme for a short period of time. Basically, this is a tease taken to another level. Examples include the “Birdland” jam in the July 21, 1997, “David Bowie” and the “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” jam in the December 3, 1997, “Drowned.” These types of jams are mentioned in the show notes, and not the setlists themselves.
  3. A jam is initiated on its own, as if it were an individual song. These types of jams became more frequent in the summer of 1997. See the “Jam” -> “Cities” on June 20, 1997, or the “Jam” -> “Timber (Jerry)” in the popular July 1, 1997, Amsterdam show. Of course, there is an inherent degree of subjectivity involved as well. Fans have differing opinions on what constitutes a noteworthy segue, or whether a particular song was jammed, quoted, or teased. We have diligently attempted to use the lexicon and standards that are most accepted in the Phish community and among music scholars in general.

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