Finding Vintage Sheet Music

My search for the famous Cab Callow Jumpin’ Jive sheet music led me down a dark and tortured path.

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Hi, Ben!

Hey, Ben, I think we’re ready. Ready to start Ben over to me Ben.

Hi there, folks, welcome to. Ukulele practice time with Danno, ukulele practice time wi th Danno

The whole point of ukulele practice time is to share my thought process with you as I’m going through some ukulele learning.

Our plan: finding sheet music

And today what I’m ukulele learning is a discovery process that I’m going to share with you, the discovery process of finding a piece of sheet music for a song that you want to play. What do I mean by sheet music? Do we have any sheet music lovers here? Personally. I keep pulling up the same dumb example because it’s what I have at my fingertips, but, you know, this is actually a little song booklet, but a piece of sheet music is just one song similar to this. So you’ve got an attractive cover. You’ve got the music inside. And personally, I love to collect the old sheet music pieces, I love that they’re so attractively done, the graphic design, they probably didn’t call it graphic design back in the day, is so charming and speaks of its time. And when I say “of its time” and my mind, I’m going to old sheet music from probably the 1920s and 30s and even a little earlier. But sheet music is still a thing today.

You can still buy sheet music for your favorite Taylor Swift songs.You just have to dig a little further to find it.

Back in the old days, of course, there were music shops where you’d go in and the way that we used to dig through record bins or CD bins and find the album that you want or the CD that you want, You dig through and find the sheet music.

A good job !

And did you know this? There were even sheet music demonstrator’s. So it was a job that you could have if you knew what you were doing. You could, as a customer, you could go into a music shop and say, “say, do you have that new Tommy Dorsey song” or whatever? And that nice lady would pull it out, set it up on the piano and play a little bit for you so you could hear how it goes and decide if you wanted to take it home to play on your own piano.

Collecting sheet music

Yeah, Annie, I’m so with you. Love to go dig through the thrift shops and find the sheet music. That’s the other fun aspect of it, is that as a collector, a lot of times you can get a box full of sheet music for a couple of dollars. It’s not very desirable now. It’s like collecting, you know, imagine if you only listen to your music on old Edison discs. I don’t mean discs — cylinder’s. Before there were flat records, there were some cyndrilical records. And those are — they’re not still available, you can’t get new ones that I know of. But of course, people still collect them and people still have the special machines to listen to those old cylinders.

Piano rolls

But it makes me think of piano rolls, you can still buy piano rolls, I think you can have new piano rolls made for any song.

Finding sheet music at Estate sales

All right. So I want to come down off my lecture podium and talk to you about a specific journey that I took today on how to find a specific song that I was looking for. So there’s a great old song –.

Yeah, Lynn says estate sales. So estate sales are wonderful because, well, they’re always a little morbid because an estate sale is usually when somebody died or moved out of the house and all their stuff is just there. And it may be my age and older, but it used to be that everybody had a piano and everybody had a piano seat, piano bench that opens up. And then in the piano seat was all that treasured sheet music that the family had. So, yeah, at estate sales. That’s a great place to find old sheet music nowadays. Of course, you can find it online like anything that’s collectible.

Danno’s zeppelin-ware

The other thing that I’m collecting these days is Zeppelin, where I think I’ve written this before. This is dishware that was used on Zeppelins. It’s a real thing. You might come over to admire my Zeppelin ware collection sometime, except I don’t have any yet. I just thought that would be a fun thing to collect. And I did a little bit of research and found out that, yes, you can go on eBay and you can find rather nice looking dishware that was used on Zeppelins.

That sounds like a joke and it’s not.

The Jumpin’ Jive

All right, so there’s a great old song called The Jumpin Jive. Anybody know it? The Jumpin’ Jive, I believe, in fact, I can validate it here was written by, Yes, Cab Calloway. Cab Calloway famous for…

So you probably know that one and you may know Jumpin’ Jive.

It was a huge hit in the 30s and kept being remade and remade and remade by people like Glenn Miller Orchestra, has a great version on a live album.

The Andrews Sisters did it. Their version is great. Those are probably the three that I know. And then Cab Calloway himself. Oh, Lionel Hampton.

If he tries to sell you and I can’t think of how it goes, tries to sell you nickels and calls watermelon pickles, then you know who you’re talking to that we man,

Cab Calloway loves the reefer

Cab Calloway seemed to have a little thing for the reefer.

In fact, the song that I’m looking at today, the jumpin’ Jive, I’m pretty sure boils down to being a reefer song to.

But I never heard it that way. I learned it first from the Glenn Miller song and the — Cab Calloway is probably the personification of 1930s swing and hepcat drug references, cool jazz cat slang speaking. So who knows?

Cab Calloway Hepsters’ Dictionary

You know, he actually had the Cab Calloway Hepsters’ Dictionary that supposedly opened up all the the slang information for the squares so they could be able to speak it too. Glenn Miller, on the other hand, was square and was probably singing — It was sort of like Pat Boone doing a Babalu up Beloff Bambu, you know, a white guy doing a black guy song. And sometimes that can be done well, sometimes that can be done with Cross-cultural pollination, and sometimes it’s Pat Boone. So Glenn Miller is by no means Pat Boone. Those guys could swing when they wanted to and those guys were real musicians. But there is just a little bit of that element when you take a song like The Jumpin’ Jive and Glenn Millerize it.

Dinah Shore recorded The Jumpin’ Jive. Thanks, Suzanne. Boy, I need to look that one up. I’m actually a fan of Dinah Shore, but I can’t picture that either.

All right, so Jumpin Jive, I’m not going to play it for you because I’m still working on it. That’s ukulele practice time. Right.

The process of finding the sheet music

But I want to show you the process that I went through this morning, and that also is ukulele practice. Time is just sharing these processes with you both musical, technological and in this case, research. So this is what happened. I wanted to find this great song, The Jumpin’ Jive.

I’m trying to think of I’ve got it here so I can look at it, but I don’t want to cheat.

So I always pride myself on trying to work out a song by ear when I first. Want to learn it, I don’t immediately rush to the books I use, I test myself and test my knowledge to see if I can work it out. Today, I tested my son, who was playing piano in the next room and made him come listen to it. He almost worked it out. He got the key right and everything, but we couldn’t quite figure out, is it just a descending line or is it actual chord changes?

So at that point, when I couldn’t answer the question, then I turned to the books. I check my own computers first and see if I have a reference to the song. And in this case, I didn’t. That’s not failsafe because not all my songs are indexed because, you know, sometimes they’re just pictures. They’re PDFs.

But I’m going to show you the process that I went through to satisfy my need in the moment when I failed to find it at the Library of Congress. By the way, I’ve seen this listed as jumping jive with the G and Jumpin’ Jive with an apostrophe.

I couldn’t find it online…

So when I couldn’t find it online and usually I do find those PDFs when they’re available. So the next thing I’ll do is I’ll use the search term sheet music plus song title. And sometimes that’ll bring up some things, and in this case, it took me to eBay, so let me show you what I found when I went to eBay.


There’s the sheet music for sale for nine dollars. Now, what I’m going to show you is how I kind of juked the system here a little bit. And I don’t want anybody accusing me of trying to bilk a seller out of his money. If you come to this item on eBay and see it for sale, you’ll actually see that unavailable, sold. And the person that sold to is me.

And here’s a little tip for you, by the way. The sale price asking price was nine dollars for this worn copy, and I sent the guy an offer, said, I’ll offer you five and he took it. That all happened this morning, you can imagine the excitement.

So you may or may not know this a lot of times for a paper document like this, these little images down at the bottom. I don’t know if you can see my mouse jiggling around those those are the pages of the document and somebody selling will often take pictures of the interior pages to more clearly show you what is for sale.

Sneaking the eBay images

When I clicked on that, it brought up the page. When I mouse over it, it enlarges the image.

So I was able to click through and bring up that big image and then save that image to my hard drive.

So this is not a perfect image at all. This is all jiggled and slanted.

So if I go to page two and three, you can see that it’s really bad.

But there’s enough information there that I was able to sit down and start working out the chords that I wanted to figure out, which was the jumping off point for this whole journey.

So I thought that was a smart, fun, sneaky way to get the chords for immediate satisfaction.

And then, like I said, I bought the sheet music from the guy for five dollars. I’m happy to support our vendors and I’ll be able to actually do better work from that with some of the processes that I’ve shared on other days of how I love to take the sheet music and break it down so it’s more ukulele friendly.

Uh-oh — guitar chords!

Annie points out: guitar chords. These are guitar chords. So I’m going to spend my last few minutes here showing you how I’m choosing to deal with that from this sheet music today.

So those guitar chords Can be translated to ukulele in one of two ways, the way that I started doing it was I just followed the shapes that are shown on the strings and in this particular case, it worked out extremely well. What do I mean? When I follow follow the shapes, I’m ignoring the chord name written at the top, and I’m just looking at the dots on the chord diagrams.

What I mean when I say it worked out well is a guitar has six strings, ukulele has four strings. So we’re used to seeing those chord diagrams that have four strings. The way Annie was able to spot these are guitar diagrams is that there are two more. Lines representing the strings, so what you can do when faced with guitar chords like this, most of the time this won’t always work and it won’t always work perfectly, is ignore the two strings that are furthest to the left, which are the two strings we don’t have on a ukulele. Mind you, the guitars tuned differently, pitched differently, but the four strings to the right are relatively the same, so when you play, let’s see. What we call a G on a ukulele, if you play that shape on a guitar, it would still sound nice, but it would actually be a D chord

I’m only going to play the top three strings. I’m not even going to worry about string four because I just want the very basics. And I can see that the main movement is on those first three strings. So something like–

I mentioned that in the recording sounds like a bass line. And this has given us enough of the walk down in the chord form. So it makes sense. Let me know if you have questions about that.

The other thing you can do is ignore the chord shapes, ignore the diagrams, the dots in the lines, the constellations and follow the chord names. Now that requires a probably a little more knowledge that you may or may not have, especially for a lot of these old jazz songs that are often in not very ukulele friendly keys.

But I could say, all right, e flat seven, a flat minor.

And I get the same sound a different way, so I get to know and I got to follow the coordinates this time, so e flat, a flat.

Now, what I love about this is that it’s actually giving me some kind of stop that from happening. It’s giving me some insight because that’s two different ways to achieve the first four quarters of the song, which really.

This song repeat a lot, that’s kind of the riff that builds out the song, so by using the guitar shapes, it’s got my brain working one way by using the uke, the chord names and ukulele chords. It’s got my brain whirring another way so I can start to piece this together and decide which way is going to work best for my fingers, for my knowledge, it allows me to change keys.

Go find The Jumpin’ Jive

Now, that said, your assignment today, if you don’t know this song, is to go out and find it and listen to it, it will make you very happy and you’ll be humming it for the rest of the day.

My favorite versions in order, Cab Calloway, followed by the Glenn Miller live version. And I’m going to look up the other versions that we talked about here today. So a little something different today, folks, I hope that’s helpful and useful

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