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Trouble with Jamming + Chord Changes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rabbitfighter, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    If there is any chordal instrument it's easier than trying to figure out what a guitarist is thinking when he's riffing away on single notes. Three things are essential to improv over a song you don't know. First, a "vocabulary" of common chord patterns; second, a trained ear; third, a smattering of theory. And of course, the work ethic to make it all come together. Honestly, it doesn't come overnight.

    I'll bet you do. There's nothing random about music, it must be intentional.

    I've heard that too, and it sometimes happens when a player mistakes the interval, but it's not a plan for improvisational success!

    Without hearing what your writing partner is putting out, I'll suggest the problem might not be YOUR problem. I've heard some pretty awful original stuff that I might kindly call "atonal" (just to give it some musical cred).
  2. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    Most song are 1, 4, 5 changes. ... Which isn't the case for all songs. ... Folk, blues, rock and jazz tunes depend on this 1, 4, 5 to break the bore factor of playing the same 'one note jam'. ... 1 is the root 4 is the suggestive new key then 5 being the resolve before starting again. ... Knowing the relative minors helps. ... 1, 4, 5 then can turn into 6, 2, 5 jam. ...
    I'd suggest getting a piano and sitting down to learn chords and learn how they are used in songs. ... You should be able to hear changes when listening to a song.
    Malcolm35 likes this.
  3. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    It's a little confusing what you mean by "Jamming" - If there's no clear leader and someone is just playing random chords with no clear timing to the changes, that sounds awful and not really very musical. You really need at least a key to navigate.
  4. If you are taking random stabs to find matching notes, that tells me your ear is not yet developed enough to identify the chords being played. Unless the other instrument is only playing a melody line, in which case there is not enough information for anyone to extrapolate a bass, or any other harmony note.

    No. These are effects, not symptoms. To confidently improvise with one or more other players, you need to have a well developed harmonic ear. I would focus on ear training before jamming.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  5. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    For the few of us that have tin ears, for one reason or another, our ears are not going to be 100% correct all the time. But we can get close. And in good ole boy jamming that is usually enough. So go jam. The more you do it the better you will become.

    My point, if we can hear the chord changes drawing on a little theory training we can function in a jamming situation.

    If nothing else watch the rhythm guitar's fretting hand and play notes from the chord he is strumming. I've never been in a jamming circle that the key was not called. With that little information you could vamp a I-IV cadence.

    To jam you need to know at least the key that is going to be used. From that you can assume what chord progression will probably be used. Rock, Pop and Country will stay around the three chord format of I-IV-V. If you are not going to be jamming Rock, Pop or Country go look up the chord progressions normally found in the type of music you find your self using.

    It's not rocket science go find a jamming circle and do what ever is necessary to be included in the jam.

    Happy trails
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  6. TexasEdition


    Sep 25, 2019
    I think what you are going through is incredibly normal.... I also think you are struggling more with reading minds than you are tonally.

    The Bass player is often the one "leading" the chord changes in most Jazz/Blues/Country idioms... That's why they are called "leading tones" in a walking bass line. You really only need 3 things to carry on a jam session... The chord structure, the time signature, and the rhythm. Without those, even the most seasoned professional will suffer.
  7. FDR Jones

    FDR Jones

    Apr 7, 2018
    Just to reiterate... yes, ask the other players what key are we in, AND don’t play scales, just play the notes of the chord. If the chord is C, you want to be playing C, E, and G only. When the chord switches to F, you should be playing F, A, and C. Then on G, you play G, B, and D only. Once you have that down pat, then you will have a feel for when it’s okay to throw other notes in there.
    Malcolm35 likes this.

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