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Post new topic Musical term "Hokum" ?
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Author Topic:  Musical term "Hokum" ?
Clyde Mattocks


From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2018 5:04 pm    
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Don Helms, in talking about his recording work with Hank Williams says Fred Rose would say, "Don, give me some hokum on the turnaround." In another instance, a local player that I knew, in giving an opinion of a fellow musician, would say, "Aw, he can't play nuthin' but hokum." This set me to wondering was this a widely used piece of slang or was it a localism and were there similar terms to describe the same thing?
I assume it means jamming over the changes. I have heard other players refer to it as ad-libbing and oblagotta.
Was it maybe a derogatory term used by readers referring to non readers? I can't imagine Fred using it to Don unless it was in a humorous context. If it simply means staying off the melody and following the chords, would all of be-bop be hokum? Would even Buddy, Joaquin and a lot of our revered players be considered as playing hokum?
I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and the terms you have encountered in playing around the melody.
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Last edited by Clyde Mattocks on 13 Dec 2018 6:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2018 5:49 pm    
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If a steeler plays too much hokum
Someone might reach out and poke 'm
Altho if he's good
It's sure understood
He might land a gig with Dwight Yoakam


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Michael Maddex


From:
Northern New Mexico, USA
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2018 7:14 pm    
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Good one Don.

Hokum means ┬┤pretentious nonsense┬┤.

See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hokum

My guess is that Fred probably meant something like play something simple that sounds cool.

Forever Hokum! Onward Into The Frog! Cool
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Tom Keller


From:
Greeneville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2018 7:52 pm    
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I always thought that Hokum meant an overly dramatic often schmaltzy approach to an intro or break. YMMV.

Regards

Tom Keller
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 14 Dec 2018 12:32 pm    
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Some online research shows hokum in reference to a style of blues music that has raunchy, sexual overtones or inferences. Think Lucille Bogan Whoa!

Youtube lists a bunch of tunes, mostly from the late 20's, labeled hokum blues.

Caution urged if looking them up as some of them are pretty graphic

There is also a song titled Hokum Blues.

I have no idea whether any of this is relevant to the stage calls you asked about.
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Paul Arntson


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 14 Dec 2018 6:02 pm    
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In the 1960s I played with an old fiddle player from North Idaho named "Roy". He was purported to be a judge at the Weiser Idaho Festival.
He said when they evaluated a player they took points off for "hokum", which he demonstrated as a bunch of 16th notes that were repetitious.

"Orange Blossom Special" was the tune he demonstrated it with, as I recall from 50 years ago.
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