Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jamming Advice to Myself.

Jamming is an informal music session. A number of musical enthusiasts will gather and play together without a score. This leads to chord progressions repeating beyond the length of a traditional song (IE: for hours) as people repeat and mutate riffs(sometimes by accident) and stretch their ability to use their instrument to produce something fresh and (occassionally) interesting.

Some people think that this is what jamming is about; that it is on par with talented, educated and disciplined musicians gathering to improvise. I don't think this is always the case.

A lot of people who jam are amateur/self-taught, and I have no problem with this. However, people need to have ideas. Enthusiasm to play doesn't always equal the ability to listen and react to what a person hears.

I know a few people who can think of nothing better than sitting about in a cirle with their buddies and whipping themselves into a collective fury with their djembes and bongos. I am not against this, but I can't get behind such a thing without feeling a little odd.

This may be something to do with feeling I'm getting lost in music, maybe I actualy want to know where I am when I listen to a piece. Maybe I want to know when the solo will end.

I think if you're participating in a jam session, you need to have a good quality warm up conversation of some kind. Signals, themes, a key, somethings to help guide everyone, like taking turns to lead others (like birds flocking). It should be agreed if the group you're jamming with want to use these things or avoid them, and maybe why/not...I think the idea of building a working framework that appeals to all involved is very important.

I do enjoy a bit of drone and krautrock style repeating, but this should be by choice, not because someone can only play three chords (loop making/playing machines are quite affordable these days) Three chords are fine for a pop song, jamming can/should be more than that (maybe finding the other parts to accompany the chords to make the pop song stand out from the crowd).

Here's hoping my time spent in jams will be more productive if I can just remember to bear my own points in mind.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Barry,
Just refreshing my memory about this after last night's conversation.
And to remind myself that I completely agree.

12:25 PM  

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