Jamming - What is it and how do you get people to do it?

Jamming - What is it and how do you get people to do it?

Postby Emoto » Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:48 pm

Hi folks,

Over the past few months I have been rehearsing with keys, drums, and bass. We do a small % of Dead tunes and other tunes we like. All of us having jobs and responsibilities, we only get 2-3 hours a week to play together about 3 weeks out of any month. So, we've learned a bunch of tunes, more or less, and can play them somewhat competently.

Where I am having trouble is that the keyboard player and I both understand jamming and going out on limbs and finding new places while playing but the bass player and drummer show no signs of getting it. Either the keys or I will try to go off on a solo and do all kinds of things both melodically and/or rhythmically that go somewhere, if you know what I mean. When the keys do that, I try to be right there altering my chord voicings and timing to support and augment what he's playing, and he does that when I solo too. On the other hand, the drummer and bass player just go along as though they can't even hear us and play the same things they play throughout the whole song. No change in dynamics, no crescendos, no nothing. It is starting to piss me off.

How do I explain to these guys what I am looking for?
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Postby bucketorain » Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:24 pm

Bro, not to sound harsh but you need to tell them to wake up. Are they just not getting it or are they not wanting to jam?

Personally I would and have with my band, we sat down and talked about our jams etc. We wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page...and in tune to each other. It is a dynamic that may take some time.

You have the right start with yourself and the keys.

Keep working it out...we also sort of rehearsed a jam, say and Am B C or Emaj7 / Bm jam prior to basically said, this is where we are at and lets do it.

For the drummer not to follow suite, I don't get that one, he doesn't even have to worry about the key.

Bass, well, just ask him to do some assending / decending apegios...within the chords you are playing.



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Postby strumminsix » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:58 pm

I agree with alot of the first response but also are you trying to make non-jamband folks jambandy and all improvy?

Some people get it, others don't.

A great rock guitarist may not be able to pull of jazz.
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Postby Mick » Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:11 am

bucketorain wrote:We wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page...and in tune to each other.


That's the hard part about music, you're looking for something that will really strike a chord with the audience when you suddenly notice that someone is a little off key. Sometimes one of you will be marching to the beat of a different drummer, and other times the brass just isn't in psynch with the strings.
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Postby Emoto » Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:42 am

Thanks for the good responses. Am going to meet and discuss this with the keyboard player before I talk with the rest of the band.

I'm not in a band to play neat and tidy little songs. You guys know that the song is just a framework; a jumping off point.

Until I talk with the drums and bass about this, I won't know what their deal is. If their idea of good playing is "steady as she goes" then I am out of there.

Strumminsix, it could be that they have no idea what jamming is and aren't "jammy" people, but I at least need to hear it from their mouths and explain what I am looking for.

At worst, I am hoping that the keyboard player will stick with me, but he is so laid back that playing tidy little songs may be ok with him, I dunno. For me, the time and effort of putting a band together means that it better be what I like, or why bother.
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Postby strumminsix » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:11 am

Emoto wrote:Strumminsix, it could be that they have no idea what jamming is and aren't "jammy" people, but I at least need to hear it from their mouths and explain what I am looking for.

How did this band come together? Under what pretense?
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Postby Emoto » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:22 am

strumminsix wrote:
Emoto wrote:Strumminsix, it could be that they have no idea what jamming is and aren't "jammy" people, but I at least need to hear it from their mouths and explain what I am looking for.

How did this band come together? Under what pretense?


The drummer and I are friends through non-musical activities and had been threatening to jam together for several years. We finally did and found a bass player he knew and I found the keys through a web ad. We all want to gig maybe once a month and are all over 40 and kind of busy.
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Postby strumminsix » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:35 am

Dude, I've been in that band before. Cuz of necessity or location or convenience, etc. Don't bail out quickly. Sometimes you can reap other rewards you may not be used to...
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Postby CountryMile Cadillac » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:45 am

I hear your frustrations, but remember that a band is a collective effort. Maybe breach the subject in a way that you can incorporate both of the styles of music. Do some tight numbers, then stretch out some tunes as well. As a listener to music as well as a musician, I like to have a mix (but that is neither here nor there).
THis best thing to do is talk about it as you have said. If you all get a long, then it should be pretty easy to deal with.
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Postby Emoto » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:23 am

Which other rewards? Just curious.

Yes, I like a mix, too. We're not trying to stretch out every tune, nor from my perspective should we. We do have some naturals, though, like Low Spark and Down by the River and Fire on the Mountain. It is a drag to be doing my damndest in a solo and have the drums just go tikka tikka tikka tikka through the whole thing, not embracing anything I am doing. Kind of like the difference between masturbation and intercourse.
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Postby strumminsix » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:40 am

Emoto wrote:Which other rewards? Just curious.


Easy schedules.

Similar gig goals

Similar rehearsal goals.

Nice guys

Things like that. Basically everything besides the music. Which doesn't seem like alot now but really is the glue in the long term.
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Postby pappypgh » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:42 am

It's true some people just aren't made to jam.

HOWEVER, I'd give the 2 guys that are pissing you off this advice:

LISTEN. Truly LISTEN to what everyone is doing and if something moves you to take your bass line somewhere else, try it. Drummer - do the same thing - try to play OFF of someone. LISTEN.

If they can't manage that then one of two things is up:

1) They can't listen.

2) They hear you but do not possess the musicality to do anything about it.

You & the keyboardist should do a few open mics together & see who you meet.
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Postby Emoto » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:57 am

strumminsix wrote:
Emoto wrote:Which other rewards? Just curious.


Easy schedules.

Similar gig goals

Similar rehearsal goals.

Nice guys

Things like that. Basically everything besides the music. Which doesn't seem like alot now but really is the glue in the long term.


Yes, they are nice guys and the other stuff is all true. That has kept me going for a while, but I don't think it can sustain me longterm. Don't get me wrong - I am no virtuoso or anything, but the improvisational element is still of critical importance to me.

I may end up broaching the topic seomthing like "now that we are almost through learning the song changes and details, it is time to think about actually playing the songs instead of merely mechanically reproducing them." and try to facilitate a discussion of what that means. (?)
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Postby Emoto » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:00 am

pappypgh wrote:It's true some people just aren't made to jam.

HOWEVER, I'd give the 2 guys that are pissing you off this advice:

LISTEN. Truly LISTEN to what everyone is doing and if something moves you to take your bass line somewhere else, try it. Drummer - do the same thing - try to play OFF of someone. LISTEN.

If they can't manage that then one of two things is up:

1) They can't listen.

2) They hear you but do not possess the musicality to do anything about it.

You & the keyboardist should do a few open mics together & see who you meet.


These are all possibilities. The keyboardist is much more hooked in locally and may introduce me to some people. I am open to whatewver happens. I don't really want to hurt anyone's feelings, either.
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Postby pappypgh » Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:51 pm

Emoto wrote: These are all possibilities. The keyboardist is much more hooked in locally and may introduce me to some people. I am open to whatewver happens. I don't really want to hurt anyone's feelings, either.


I don't see how their feelings could be hurt if it seems they're not really into it in the first place. Just my .02.
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