Is "jamming out" neccesary to you?

groove1

Silver Member
Jamming/Improvising is important to me because I play in jazz groups. Even in my rock n
roll days I played in bands that played tunes that were popular but in our own style with a
lot of soloing etc. We made it our own. I know guys that played in bands that always played
every song the same way (as much as that was possible anyway). I could never do that.
I'd rather not ever play again than have to do that. For me it would be boring.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I love jamming. Just making stuff up on the fly.

It’s liberating: few or no rules. Maybe pick a key and a general feel, or maybe not even that.

In a way, it’s like having a normal casual conversation instead of delivering lines from a script. (Jam = say whatever comes to mind; play an arranged song = read a script)

I’m always a bit surprised when I run across musicians who can’t or won’t jam. I mean, where else will you get the opportunity to quickly try new ideas in a full-band context?

Of course, it mostly works in non-performance situations. And the truth is, most bands I’ve been in over the years did little or no jamming.
 
P

plangentmusic

Guest
I also think playing completely "free" (no key, no meter) is an excellent way to build certain skills -- atmosphere, tone, , vibe, mood, etc. But I wouldn't want to listen to somebody else doing it. : )
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It's what I live for, but it seems I meet fewer and fewer people these that use their ears enough for me to find "jamming" with them enjoyable.
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
For the most part our band sticks to the setlist during practice. However, we usually start practice off with a free jam (10-15 minutes or so) to get everyone loosened up and ready.
Every once in a while we will dedicate a large portion (if not all) of practice to jamming. It's a lot of fun and most of our original songs have been born from this.
I don't think it's absolutely necessary to do, but if you have the luxury of jamming from time to time and it's done in a productive way, it can be fun and good for the creative process.
Important to note: When I say we jam, I mean only at practice and only with band members present for our own benefit. I agree with those that say most of the time, our jams wouldn't be appealing to an audience. Anything we do for a gig is well rehearsed and planned.

I kind of look at it this way- if I were a painter, I would have to doodle from time to time to get ideas for my next piece. This is what we, as musicians, are doing when we jam.
 
Last edited:

SticksEasy

Senior Member
I like it for a few minutes, but doing it constantly, or making a whole practice of it, it becomes very stale to me.

I used to play in a band where we done a lot of music with effects, like Nine Inch Nails, and Tool. There's an intro to the Tool song Stinkfist, in which both guitarists would take a few measures to shred while the bassist just followed whatever rhythm I played with fills over top of it. After about 30 seconds of this, I'd do a count, either by hitting quarter notes on the snare or the bass drum.

We'd also do this at the end of a show - after finishing the last song instead of quitting, we'd go into a jam, and just play pretty much whatever we wanted. I mean, we had rhythm, but it was just guitar riffs over my fills and such (like before). We'd carry this out for a minute or two, and then shut it down.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I enjoy improvising but I usually despise jamming. In my view there is a difference.

Jamming has a particular kind of informality and although I can certainly do it, I find it very tedious after a few minutes. I've improvised entire songs at acoustic gigs before - completely from scratch and pulled it off and I've 'jammed' with other people at gigs and pulled that off but it does get very self-indulgent very quickly. I often find that the players that I'm jamming with try and get their stock licks out very quickly and don't really communicate with me in the way that I'd like them to.

What I really enjoy is improvisation with great communication between the players. I've never really felt like jamming has that same effect. I also often find that I can tell when a band has gone into the studio and written their songs by 'jamming' - the albums are long, self-indulgent and usually end up with all the songs sounding essentially the same.

I do like improvised music, though. I listen a fair amount of Free Jazz and Noise and much of that is improvised but based on a real kernel of an idea. Jamming to me just starts out with playing without an idea and hoping something sticks. Improvisation is exploration.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I enjoy improvising but I usually despise jamming. In my view there is a difference.

Jamming has a particular kind of informality and although I can certainly do it, I find it very tedious after a few minutes. I've improvised entire songs at acoustic gigs before - completely from scratch and pulled it off and I've 'jammed' with other people at gigs and pulled that off but it does get very self-indulgent very quickly. I often find that the players that I'm jamming with try and get their stock licks out very quickly and don't really communicate with me in the way that I'd like them to.

What I really enjoy is improvisation with great communication between the players. I've never really felt like jamming has that same effect. I also often find that I can tell when a band has gone into the studio and written their songs by 'jamming' - the albums are long, self-indulgent and usually end up with all the songs sounding essentially the same.

I do like improvised music, though. I listen a fair amount of Free Jazz and Noise and much of that is improvised but based on a real kernel of an idea. Jamming to me just starts out with playing without an idea and hoping something sticks. Improvisation is exploration.
It is very hard to find musicians who listen well to others in a jam situation. Cultivate that skill well because it isn't too common.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I was under the impression that if I don't jam, I'll die.

I would jam in a house, I would jam with a mouse, I would jam in a box, and I would jam with a fox. I would jam in a boat; I'd even jam with a goat. I would jam here, and I would jam there, I would jam anywhere.
Ha! You're in fine form today, Doc :) Funny response in the practice every day thread too.

Nothing formalised in the jam stakes in my band, but jams can happen with us in a few ways.

If our singer can't make it (he's a very busy sole trader) we run through the instrumentals or someone will have a go at singing and cause pain. Once we're over that, we jam.

For a period we had a loosener jam before every practice. Sadly it fizzled out because our singer sometimes forgets that he has terrific instincts and can wing it with fine style. So then he sits back and if I try to encourage him to just make something up he says he can't.

The attachment was made up on the spot, although afterwards the bassist told me that he'd been messing with the riff and progression for years. The rest of us were following him and our noses. It sounds like a formative song right there.

We jam anything - pretend bop, pretend free jazz (easily my favourite), pseudo metal, C&W, blues (lots of blues), swing, RnR, pseudo classical, or based on a song's riff ... or we'll jam out ridiculous stuff like Whole Lotta Love. where I could do a fair Robert Plant impression until my voice gave out about a year ago (smoking, scotch, age).

I'm sure many of you will relate to this ... at times my band jams out monstrous sprawling rolling things that go for 20 or more minutes, at some stage (or three) breaking down to the kind of atonal diddling around that would bring a tear (maybe a flood of 'em) to Cecil Taylor's eye.

The band's string players and keyboardist are compulsive noodlers at rehearsal. As a dutiful drummer, if I hear someone playing anything even remotely rhythmical I'm gunna be in there. If it's textural I'll still jump in. Stuff 'em. If they don't want impromptu jams then they can cut back the noodling. Fine with me - I'll roll either way :)

So I'm with Doc. I love jamming. Is it necessary? Of course not. Is chocolate necessary? Some clowns would say yes, but we all know the real answer is no, but if it wasn't an option the world would be a little poorer.
 

Attachments

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Never dropped an entire rehearsal to just "jam" but have certainly spent some time jamming in order to develop an idea or a "germ" of a song that someone may have presented and been unable to contuinue with. Have also found that much new material has evolved out of these so called jam sessions. Whether it just be a passage, a riff or an idea that is then worked, developed, shaped or meshed into something more meaningful.

I've never wanted to spend a whole rehearsal just noodling, but from time to time I reckon it's highly beneficial just to lay it down, let it flow and try to develop further opportunities from it.
 

Chunky

Silver Member
I'd say it's necessity.

Why?

It keeps our songs different and fresh.

How?

I write alot of songs for the band and the guitarist writes alot of songs for the band. as vsried as we try to make our own songs they still sound like one of mine or a one of his. when we jam it's something else and can help get a fresher sound.

We would NEVER jam live, it's self-indulgent and alotnof the parts you think are great only feel that way because it's new.
However...we do often jam out great parts or even a song just writes itself. we take what we like and we work on it, tweak it, perfect it.
I usually dumb down my parts as I go way over the top in jams. The lads say I play better and more carefree in jams which is true, I'll throw in stuff I've never tried and nail it whereas I might psyche myself out and overthink it if it was set in stone.
But, that's not playing for the song so, I strip away the ego massaging stuff and compliment the song as best I can.

Just another way to help write or begin to write a new song and an unbeatable way to practise band communication, test your band telepathy and just have fun and wind down.

We spend more time perfecting songs and parts though.

So, for me and my band a necessity 'cos it improves our song diversity and keeps us having the best of times, 4 best mates having a great time together. priceless.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
It is very hard to find musicians who listen well to others in a jam situation. Cultivate that skill well because it isn't too common.
there is no one on this forum who I consistently disagree with in one thread and completely agree with in the very next like the legendary DMC
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
So I'm with Doc. I love jamming. Is it necessary? Of course not. Is chocolate necessary? Some clowns would say yes, but we all know the real answer is no, but if it wasn't an option the world would be a little poorer.
It really is necessary for me. When I first started playing music, there was nothing else. We jammed because it made us feel so good to make music as a unit. Each of us was fluidly swapping between musical roles and spotlights, in rhythmic unison and theme. It feels amazing to lock in a good groove, and even more amazing when through subtle cues and feel, everyone can make the same changes, dynamics, peaks, and even endings without discussing anything before hand. It's almost like magic when it works out that way, something we're not even sure how it happened.

As well, or perhaps as a result, the vast majority of our original songs are the product of a groove, lick, or idea that came about organically in a jam. When we hit on something that feels good, we try and take that idea to expand on and use as the base for a song arrangement.

I played music for several years before I realized that not everyone had the "jam skill". After playing a few years I met some amazing musicians who at the end of a jam would have a blank look on their face and declare "I didn't know what to play!"

Also, like Polly, I'm generally unable to restrain myself. If I hear anything even remotely music-like, be it string players noodling, or a weird noise a fan in the room is making in rhythm, I want, no NEED, to play too.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
It really is necessary for me.
Fair nuff. I stand corrected. It depends on the player.


When I first started playing music, there was nothing else. We jammed because it made us feel so good to make music as a unit. Each of us was fluidly swapping between musical roles and spotlights, in rhythmic unison and theme. It feels amazing to lock in a good groove, and even more amazing when through subtle cues and feel, everyone can make the same changes, dynamics, peaks, and even endings without discussing anything before hand. It's almost like magic when it works out that way, something we're not even sure how it happened.
Nicely put, Doc. Love it when everyone gets the changes. That's why I like recording everything. There's often some shiny pearls amongst the swine that can be used later. I hate losing those pearls to the ether and poor memories.


As well, or perhaps as a result, the vast majority of our original songs are the product of a groove, lick, or idea that came about organically in a jam. When we hit on something that feels good, we try and take that idea to expand on and use as the base for a song arrangement.
When I played originals someone usually came in with something - sometimes just a riff or basic chord progression with chorus and we'd beat it into shape. I can only think of one tune of those old bands that purely sprang from a jam we'd recorded.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
The attachment was made up on the spot, although afterwards the bassist told me that he'd been messing with the riff and progression for years. The rest of us were following him and our noses. It sounds like a formative song right there.
Got it on the phones now, Pol. Good work. Enjoying your groove on it lots
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
One of the reasons I stopped going to see some of my favourite big-name bands was, after seeing them 3 or 4 times, every gig seemed like the same old formula - i.e.

  • Open the gig with the first two songs from the new album
  • Then do that one off the first album that the purists say is their best period
  • Then after a couple more do the slow tempo/acoustic part of the set
  • A couple more and finish with that one hit single which is the only song that 75% of the audience came to hear anyway.

Even though many of these acts had great musicians they never seemed to go off the script: pretty much the same songs played the same way they are on the records. The excitement of seeing certain acts that are spontaneous and are known for being so is that you don't know what you're getting each time and so makes the trip to the gig all the more worthwhile. I mean, once I saw Steve Vai and quite apart from the parts which were obviously different to the album arrangements, at one point he said "here's a song I wrote during soundcheck" and ripped into a hell of a riff.

These days live pop/rock bands who make the distinction between stage and studio are hard to find - especially in the UK. I should imagine this is why a band like Phish still draws a massive following and continue to play huge venues - such as last year's Super Ball IX gig at Watkins Glen International race track in front of 60,000 people.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Although Radiohead sometimes follow script to some extent, their live arrangements are usually totally different from their studio work. Especially with their electronica material that cannot be reproduced. One of the reasons I enjoy their live work.
 
Top