Jamming For Beginners

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Jamming For Beginners

In This Introductory Article We'll Cover:

  • What Is Jamming

  • Basic Music Principles For Jamming

  • Creating Rhythmic Identity

The Jam Session

What Is A Jam Session?

Jamming Usually Implies A Band, Group of Musicians or, An Individual Using Backing Tracks, Playing or Improvising Music On The Spot. A Jam Session Could Be As Simple As Playing A Number of Songs or, A Free Flowing Approach To Creating New Beats, Rhythms, Solos, Songs etc. Jamming, Also Is A Great Way To Practice Playing With Others or, Just Having Plain Fun!

There Are No Rules When It Comes To Jamming! Many Great Songs Were Created During A Jam Session or From Just Twiddling Away On An Instrument. A Great Example of This Is The Creation of "Sweet Home Alabama" By Lynyrd Skynyrd. In A Marty Music YouTube Interview With Ed King, Who Co Wrote The Song, Ed Explains How He Created The Rhythm Riff. Worth Watching. Marty Recorded This Shortly Before Ed's Passing.

Ok, Back To Jamming. Although There Are No Rules, It Does Help To Use A Few Musical Principles. Here Are A Few.

Some Musical Principles - Thoughts?

  • Getting Started. Somebody Normally Suggests A Song or, Just Starts Playing A Tune. Other Band Members Join In Adding Their Part. Another Approach Is Free Flowing Where A Band Member Gets A Beat Going. Could Be On Any Instrument, Drums, Bass, Guitar or Other Instrument & Each Band Member Joins In.

  • If The Band Is Jamming Away To A Song It Will Have Structured Chords, Beat & Rhythm. If It Is A Free Flowing Improvisation It More Than Likely Will Have Some Structure. An Example, Say The Band Is Improvising A Blues Tune, It Probably Will Use The 1 4 5 Chord Structure. That Is, The First Chord, The 1 Chord Is Whatever The Key of The Tune Is In. If It Is Say, Being Played In E, The 1 Chord Is E. The 4 Chord Is Counted 4 Tones Up From E, i.e. E F G A, So, The 4 Chord Is A. Similarly, The 5 Chord Is The Next Tone Up, Which Is B.

  • Following Some Form of Progression Gives A Typical Sound For A Genre. So For Bluesy Songs 1 4 5, For Rock Songs 1, 6#m, 4, 5 (Example: A, F#m, D, E), For A Pop Type Feel, 1, 3#m, 4, 5 (Example: A, C#m, D, E).

  • The Number of Bars For Each Chord Is The Big Variable. Twelve Bar Blues Yes, Will Have 12 Bars. The Standard Arrangement Is 4 Bars of 1 Chord, 2 Bars of 4 Chord, 2 Bars of 1 Chord, 1 Bar 5 Chord, 1 Bar 4 Chord, 1 Bar 1 Chord & 1 Bar 5 Chord, Making 12 Bars In Total. This Progression Is Just Repeated For As Many Times As You Like.

  • Varying The Number of Chords In The Standard Progression Is What Makes Your Tune Unique. It Doesn't Even Have To be 12 Bars! Many Songs Are 8, 10 or 16 Bars!

  • This Approach Can Be Used With Any Turnaround Progression. Just Remember The Progression Gives The Tune Its Musical Fit. That Is, The Chords Work In Harmony With Each Other & Just Sound Right!

  • Next Is The Beat or Feel of The Tune. It Is Often The Beat That Gives The Tune Its Identity! Many Tunes Are Instantly Recognised From The 1st Bar Because of The Beat & Rhythm.

  • It Is Often The Drummer or Bass Player Who Gets The Beat Going. Usually The Beat Follows What Is Typical of The Genre. Let's Say The Drummer Has A Beat Going, The Bass Player May Join In, Initially Playing With The Kick Drum Then Adding Notes Around This. The Rhythm Guitar Player Joins In Following Either The Bass or Using A Progression That The Bass Then Begins Following, But, Still Maintaining The Beat.

  • The Lead Guitar Player or Other Instrument Joins In Using Notes From The Scale of The Chord Being Played or, The Key The Tune Is Being Played In. As An Example, A Bluesy Tune In The Key of E Would Use The Notes From The E Major Pentatonic Scale. If The Key of The Tune Was Say, Dm, Then Notes From The D Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Rhythmic Identity

  • Ok, We Have The Beat Going & Added Rhythm But Is That Enough? The Next Challenge Is Making The Tune Stand Out, To Be Different. You See This With Top Bands. A Guitar Tech Running On Stage With Another Guitar But Wait, This One Has A Capo On It. None of The Other Band Members Have Capo's. What's Going On?

  • That's One Way of Creating Interest In The Rhythm. All The Guitars Playing The Same Chords May Sound OK Because of The Tone Difference of The Guitars or, Sound Like A Rabble. A Great Way To Get That Difference Is To Play The Same Chords Using Different Techniques. Let's Say One Guitarist Plays An "A" Bar Chord. The Second Guitarist Can Play An Open "A" Chord. They Support Each Other And It Sounds Great. One Guitarist Maybe Strumming To A Pattern Say, The Open Chords, While The Other Guitarist Plays Highlight or Fill Using Bar Chords.

  • You Get A Similar Effect Using The Capo. For The Same Tune In The Key of "A", One Guitarist Could Put A Capo On The Second Fret And Pay The "G" Open Chord (Its Really An "A" Chord Because The Capo Has Shifted It 2 Semitones Higher - 1 Fret Equals 1 Semitone), While The Other Guitarist Plays The "A" Bar Chord.

  • A Similar Effect Is Created By Playing The Same Chord Using Different Fingering.

  • Other Instruments Can Do The Same. Play The Chord An Octave Higher or, Use A Mix of Notes To Make The Chord.

  • The Goal is To Have A Tune Without Having Each Instrument Sounding The Same.

You Can Practice These Techniques Using Busk'n Servant Backing & Loop Tracks Included In Each Song or Loop Pack. Play The Track or Loop & Try Playing The Same Chords But With Different Fingerings, Using A Capo & Transposing The Chords etc. The Song Packs Are Mobile Device Friendly So You Can Create Ideas Wherever You Are!

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