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learning to jam

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Youngspanion, Feb 24, 2008.

  1. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Has any one have any advice on how to learn how to Jam?

    I Joined a group of guys the other night for a jam session on some Dead and I did not know what to do. I know how to play simple blues progressions and that is what I've been focusing on the last couple of years. I know scales and chords but I cant understand what to use when. One of the guys told me that a 7th over a major scale is no good. I used a Major 7th. With Gov't Mule, Allen Woody seems to use a lot of 6th's on "30 days in the hole." I can't even imagine what Phil Lesh is playing.

    What are some good songs to listen to?
  2. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Jamming is about knowing the song/chords and then listening to what the people around you are playing, and using your ear in connection to your instrument to support them.
    A lot of those Dead jams get way out there, but it sounds ok because they are making music...not just thinking "oops...i used the flat 7th there", or "time to think mixo".

    I would listen and then try to play what I hear in my head. I'm pretty sure that's what music is all about, not thinking "time to play the lydian mode".

    If you want a good song to listen to...try the one in your heart.

    (lol....that was so corny, even I couldn't type it with a straight face!) HA~!
  3. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Pocket Groove. That was corny.

    But thanks. When I asked the guys in the band what I needed to do to get better, one guy said turn your eyeballs inside and look. I know that that is what its about. But, I can't for the life of me understand that. Not yet anyway.
  4. OtterOnBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    He just means express yourself through the music you play.

    That means, you need to learn to speak music, which isn't about objects, but feelings. Obviously you can use it, but you need some practice. Your mistake playing the wrong 7th is like was using the wrong tense in grammar. :)
  5. MarkMyWordsXx


    May 17, 2006
    theory helps a ton. obvs.
  6. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Keep it simple (don't think) and expand.

    Next time you go ask them to jam on one chord for a "tune."

    Also take something to record the jam so you can play back and take home to work on.

    Most musicians are creatures of habit and do pretty much the same thing over and over again. Once you've got a basic lay of the land you can probably navigate to fit in - with a little homework.
  7. Also, don't worry too much about mistakes. Remember... you're never more than 1 fret away from a right note!

    +1 on knowing what the chords are. So many jams are just cycling around two or three chords. If you know, or can figure out by ear what the roots are, you can build lines around those and know where the changes are.
  8. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    thanks all
  9. santucci218


    Jan 26, 2007
    find a really patient guitarist to jam with. ask him to play chords and see by trial and error what notes sound cool in there and what dont.
  10. Yeah just don't afraid to **** about now and again into territory your not too familiar with. The main thing is to practise rhythm I reckon, especially if your a bass player. Better to play less notes and have a cool simple bass line then to learn how to fret wank and bore people with continually playing as fast as you can. The speed and knowing what notes to play when will come with time, it's best to find your feet playing good rhythms first if you ask me though.

    You do need to keep an open ear to chords though, but sometimes it's cool to keep to a root note or change chords less often then a guitar part might and let a guitars extra chords turn into harmonies instead.

    Theory's good if your that way inclined but I've avoided it and I've been told I'm a pretty weird bass player by a fair few people and get slated by more "traditional" bass players if you can call them that. Both of which I rather like and I don't think I'd have such an odd approach to bass if I learnt bass from a bass teacher.

    It's frustrating to start with but keep at it! Like pocket so cheesily put it, try and feel the music rather then think about it as much as you can.
  11. Budder84


    Feb 18, 2008
    Vista, CA
    That pretty much sums it up man, listen to the music as a whole and find a groove. Key up on other instruments and fill the gaps. The most important thing is to listen! Play in the right key and play what you feel. Its all about being creative, no strings attatched. Its kinda like you know, a chameleon...;)
  12. BackwaterBass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Just try to figure out the chord progression and then just stay in key and you're gold. Experience will teach you what patterns sound best against what chords, but if you're playing in key it will sound fine.
  13. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    In order to jam you want to know the chords the guitars are playing. Ask them to tell you these before the tune starts and jot them down. If they're into the Dead, start with Good Lovin' and Not Fade Away-they're both about as simple as it gets in terms of chord structure.
  14. The guitar-player/singer in my "band" turned me onto the Grateful Dead. It's been nothing but pure jamming bliss since then. I'll get recordings (audio and video) of the songs and play along with them as I practice. What you'll quickly discover is that the Dead never played the songs the same way twice. They improvised each time. The music is written to allow it. So, don't get caught up in trying to copy Phil Lesh. Instead, learn to approach a song with ideas. A big help is to learn at least some music theory. Know the chord structures, know the lines that work with them.
  15. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY

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