Tease Vs. Jam Vs. Quote

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

A “tease” occurs when a band member briefly plays in full, or strongly hints at, a part of another song, typically the most easily recognizable melody, bridge, or chorus of that other song (e.g., by playing the song's melody in full (in which case literally everyone--who isn't deaf--hears it), or plays it in part, or in a key that is different from the original version's key). 

A “quote” occurs when a member of the band vocally or verbally quotes another song's lyrics, or a familiar saying or phrase. For example, see the April 15, 1992, “You Enjoy Myself” vocal jam, where band members quote “Proud Mary,” but do not play (perform) the song. 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 in the Phish.net setlists as a “tease.” In the Phish community, the terms “tease” and “quote” are thus used interchangeably. For clarity within the setlists file, we reserve the use of the term "quote" to mean vocal or verbal quotes only, in order to distinguish it from a musical "tease."

We use the word “jam” conservatively in setlists. Phish is a band that routinely improvises or "jams," and is known as a "jam band." By their nature as Phish songs, many songs at a show will "jam out" or feature improvisation in some way. In fact, any Phish song is potentially subject to jam on any night. So, for the sake of brevity and accuracy, we have limited the use of the word “jam” in a setlist (or show notes) 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 that appears within another song is so substantial that it deserves to be mentioned formally in the setlist, or (if relatively brief) at least in the show notes. Often, this involves multiple band members locking-in on a melody or theme for a short period of time, like thirty seconds, or a minute or two. Basically, this is a "tease" taken to another level. Examples include the more than two-minute-long jam on the Allman Brothers Band song "Jessica" on 5/8/93, noted in the formal setlist; or the “Birdland” jam in the July 21, 1997, “David Bowie,” and the “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” jam in the December 3, 1997, “Drowned,” which are mentioned in the show notes of those shows and not the formal setlists.
  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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