Essence Of Jamming. Part 2

The next article addressing the subtle art of jamming.

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Thanks for giving this article a read, using the following steps have never failed to help me and plenty others, and I hope that they do the same for you!

Know Yourself!

Let's face it, if you're unpredictable, or if you yourself don't even know where you're taking this jam, you'd be an incompetent jammer! Easy as that. Your 'jamming partner' should be able to feed off of you, and if you yourself can't even develop an improvisation to a place that YOU are familiar with, obviously your 'jamming partner' can't. So you see, the greatest jams ARE pre-meditated, but they still are imporivsed. Lost yet?

Introduce Yourselves!

You see, as in touch as you and your 'jamming partner' may be, you and he/she still have to get acquainted as musicians. This means A LOT of trial and error. Ask yourself, 'What is it that we do that triggers our chemistry? How can we do that again?' Maybe there's a special harmonizing that you and he/she do, or some cool syncopations that are worth being noted and possibly utilized in a live jam.

Use Signals!

Be it with a crescendo, a little reference point that tells him/her that you're about to take it loud or soft, you and your 'jamming partner' should have signals, ways of staying in touch throughout the jam. If you guys fall out of communication, then obviously the music won't mix. Sorry to seem biased, but if you're into the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you may notice that Flea and John Frusciante stand right next to one another when jamming, staring into eachother's faces, so that they both know where they are and where they're going. You and your 'jamming partner' can use facial expressions, a gradual changing in the music, or even verbal communication during a jam.

Make Rules For Yourselves!

A great way for you and your 'jamming parter' to be on the same level is to set standards for the jam. 'OK, you have to stay in 4/4 timing, I have to stay in a certain key, we need to clock our tempos so we say snycopated, you can have X amount of chromatics, but don't go overboard...' etc, etc, etc. This helps to unite the music and make it flow. It's also relieving to ALWAYS have something to refer back to when jamming.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This refers back to number 2, but can not be stressed enough. Say you're planning on going into a jam directly after a song at a gig. Obviously, you and your 'jamming partner' will NOT have identical ideas. Maybe you're thinking, 'OK, a quiet little progression he can play while I do some slow, legato soloing with some mellow drumming behind me, and then, after about 64 measures of this at 72 bpm, we might end it with a nice little fade out...' while the other guy is ready to pull the most distorted, insanely fast progression the western hemisphere has ever seen at 300 bpm, to end after 128 measures with a sharp stop.

There are simply too many variables!

So, again, you and your 'jamming partner' should practice a few sample jams, and compromise on a general essence that you guys can get into. You don't have to be predictable to your audience, just to eachother.

Keep It Simple!

When starting out, you should know that the less musicians invloved, the easier it is to organize ideas. There is less a chance of a miscalculation when playing live, and the music won't sound as 'all over the place'-ish. Of course, you should also begin to escalate by adding more musicians when moving on to different levels of jamming. And remember, the same steps apply!

When starting out, you should also give at least one musician an assignment - just stay with X chord progression while the other maybe could solo over.

Practice With Yourself!

If you have a recorder or a means of playing back a track, you should try to experiment as much as possible with yourself. It makes you generally more competent, and gives you a deeper understanding of music in general. Recording, playing back, and playing over a track often times can lead to an original song, as well.

Know When To Quit

Im sorry, but sometimes the chemistry just isn't there. Maybe a sound can't be agreed on, or you and your 'jamming partner' just can't understand one another musically, but you should be able to accept the truth. However, if possible, you just need to identify specific issues and address them as soon as possible.

I hope that this article proves useful for all looking to jam!

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Flowerpot
    Cool article. Very good points, and although my band don't really 'get' jamming *smacks head in desperation* i'm sure this would help if they read it.
    ArtOFGuitar?
    UM...You mean there was something I was suppost to learn. Just kid'n good article.Go to hell guy who likes simple plan!
    Diegob_86
    GO FUCK YOURSELF BLIZZARD OF OZZ I AM JUSTBEING HONEST ABOUT WHAT EVERYBODY KNOWS
    vinniebeast
    I think that being unpredictable as a player is good, so the audience never knows what you are gonna do.
    rhcpcure2826
    I think that being unpredictable as a player is good, so the audience never knows what you are gonna do.
    You don't have to be predictable to your audience, just to eachother.
    wrote an article about it from what he thought was the jammer's perspective.
    well, isn't that the idea??? i think that my phrases are general enough to apply to everyone, ad i did give specific examples. could you specify as to where you feel i was making the article non-applicable to certain people?
    Spoon_and_fork
    Avril sucks big balls just like this simple article of nonesense which every one knows just by listening to music.
    shinkyo00
    these are really the basic points that everyone knows but dont really pay attention to, which is why a lot of bands end up having 'screwing around/showing off' sessions instead of jamming session nice article \m/
    Bubonic Chronic
    The best jams I've ever had just happened. We played for months and months, just jamming for something to do besides smoking pot, and since it was too early to start drinking (before noon), we'd jam! It was something to do to kill time until the drinking could start. But in doing that every Saturday, eventually we had some very powerful music come out. We developed a communication that was very natural, even "telepathic," well, not really, but it sure seemed that way sometimes. My brother and I would suddenly stop on a dime, and there were no signals, no plan, we just both had the same idea, we were "inside" the jam. Like a friendship, or more especially like sex...yah, just like sex, the beginning is awkward. It's not always pleasant and won't always work. Over time sex, er, I mean jamming (sorry, got distracted for a second) will get better and better. Eventually you will have this jam that is just so amazing that you won't even believe it happened. It's like God, or Satan, or whatever just created this beautiful moment and you were lucky enough to be a witness to it. It helps to know some music theory, though. It also helps to expand your musical "language" by practicing alone in different keys, forcing yourself not to play in those comfortable areas we all have, like 12th fret blues box or whatever. Try the key of B, or how about G#? You'll find yourself stumbling around at first, but soon you'll find a whole new vocabulary because you can't rely on those time-tested (and tired) tricks anymore. Learn some of the other instruments, too. Sometimes it helps to switch with your drummer. The simplistic outlook of a drummer who plays guitar a little can take it in different directions, too. If you get tired of hearing yourself shred, let the drummer jam a bit. You'll find you can do some real simplistic stuff that sounds great once in a while when you force yourself to play a secondary instrument (one you don't shred the living sh*t out of.)
    DarKnightBender
    Dude... So, my friend and I were gettin' down to some Avril, and all of the sudden she broke out with this Ashlee Simpson mid-song riff! Her style is so not hardcore enough for me ur "rocking out 2 avirl lavigne" and u say she isn't hardcore enough 4 u? calling the kettle black aren't we?
    DarKnightBender
    Dude... So, my friend and I were gettin' down to some Avril, and all of the sudden she broke out with this Ashlee Simpson mid-song riff! Her style is so not hardcore enough for me ur "rocking out 2 avirl lavigne" and u say she isn't hardcore enough 4 u? calling the kettle black aren't we? but ye good article. 4 stars.
    mr_sandman
    I dont really believe in whatever you've post up above....My band dont really give each other signals but we just play and learn to catch up with each other. No offense but whatever you've said just doesn't fit the real essence of jamming.
    ugthanamug
    Mars Volta is a great jam band. I had 3 sweet jams in a row with my band the other day, at the end of one of our songs. Good article, but however, jamming to Avril? something's wrong with you. peace
    Guitarist633
    Nice article...i been playing for 5 years and i still take so advice from other guitarist articles...so *** off
    Guitarist633
    Nice article...i been playing for 5 years and i still take some advice from other guitarist articles...so *** off
    bobisonthecob
    i guess this is a good start for beginer(sp). actually no its not, it was like he sat in on one jam session and then wrote an article about it from what he thought was the jammer's perspective. I think the technical things that he wrote about in this article should have been vague, and the generalities should have been more technical
    Bilzzard_of_Ozz
    Get some drugs man get just a bit high with your band some some hachis and you 'll probably have a great jamming session or maybe not
    That's the most mature thing I've ever heard NOT! Good article, man.
    Diegob_86
    Get some drugs man get just a bit high with your band some some hachis and you 'll probably have a great jamming session or maybe not
    jothegrunt
    Common since???^ Sense*.....Guess we figured out who is stupid. Some beginners need this information. :-P
    jothegrunt
    Common since???^Sense*..... Guess we know who is really stupid. Some beginners need this information. :-P
    Cameo
    Rules? I think you should all be on the same page, but there should be no limit to what funkifyin' crazyness you're allowed to unleash
    darkstar9814
    so true, it took me and my current guitarist a while to find the rite chemistry, but now it s there and its great.
    turnstiles27
    ^ They're no real rules in music, only suggestions, which can be broken at will. I think that's what this article was- just helpful suggestions, not official rules. Good article btw. 5/5
    rhcpcure2826
    well, Cameo, by rules i meant basic criteria for the jam. if everyone played whatever they want in any key at any rhythm with any kind of general feel each member wanted, there would be chaos. More like 'standards' instead of rules.
    AnnaPlaysGuitar
    Dude... So, my friend and I were gettin' down to some Avril, and all of the sudden she broke out with this Ashlee Simpson mid-song riff! Her style is so not hardcore enough for me, so I used this article to conclude that I should "Know When To Quit". Thanks, Oh Almighty Article-writing Dude! My new jamming partner is into more brilliant, old-school style punk rock, like Simple Plan... Some New Found Glory...
    James Lye
    okie...this article is true to a certain extent guys out there....i have a band and we always jam...we even had 2 public performances...well in jamming all you gotta do is practice...and always be kind at your words...dont be harsh...if not things will definitely fall out...always evaluated guys...see where or what went wrong so that in future it will nto happen again...
    rhcpcure2826
    Dude... So, my friend and I were gettin' down to some Avril, and all of the sudden she broke out with this Ashlee Simpson mid-song riff! Her style is so not hardcore enough for me, so I used this article to conclude that I should "Know When To Quit". Thanks, Oh Almighty Article-writing Dude! My new jamming partner is into more brilliant, old-school style punk rock, like Simple Plan... Some New Found Glory...
    sarcasm?
    lol experiment with your self lol
    haha yeah, i realized when i looked over this that theres a lot of inuendo...
    before practicing with your partner, you can experiment with yourself... otherwise youd be incompetent... but practice, practic, practice!
    i can see how those few phrases may be taken wrongly
    frusciante_5
    dude i totally agree with your John Frusciante and flea comment, i think they interact better on stage than any other band i have seen. Good article, i liked seeing as you didnt touch on the obvious points too much. oh yeah love the inuendos
    Lymbe
    Nice one, learned alot. Now I just need to find bandmates...
    Bulletbass man
    my gutarist and i often disagree what to do with aa song so it usually turns out a mess and we hop around a lot and usually destroy something in his basement in his process so i get kicked out of his house in the process and we never finish songs we'll make some type of way to communicate