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View Full Version : What's your definition of a Jam?



Tootler
10-18-2012, 09:34 AM
I see lots of mentions of Jams and I have a fairly good idea of what it is but as a (UK based) folk musician, it's not a term that's used much among the people I play with. I am used to

Singaround - go round the room, taking it in turns to sing a song or play a tune - usually solo if it's a tune. A bit like an open mic but less formal and no PA.

Session - people playing tunes together on whatever instrument they happen to play. Sometimes someone will sing a song and will often say what key it's in so people can join in with accompaniment.

To me a Jam sounds more like a session than a singaround, but I am interested in what goes on in your Jams.

glass
10-18-2012, 09:36 AM
I have been to more sessions, but have been to a few with singarounds after the session.

Wooville
10-18-2012, 09:48 AM
All the jams I've been to and the ones that I host would fall in the "sessions" catagory.

Wooville


I see lots of mentions of Jams and I have a fairly good idea of what it is but as a (UK based) folk musician, it's not a term that's used much among the people I play with. I am used to

Singaround - go round the room, taking it in turns to sing a song or play a tune - usually solo if it's a tune. A bit like an open mic but less formal and no PA.

Session - people playing tunes together on whatever instrument they happen to play. Sometimes someone will sing a song and will often say what key it's in so people can join in with accompaniment.

To me a Jam sounds more like a session than a singaround, but I am interested in what goes on in your Jams.

lennymac
10-18-2012, 09:49 AM
I'm in the UK and my understanding and experience is that it's more of a session than a singaround, pretty informal and may not even be based around songs as such - sometimes just a jam baased around a riff or chord sequence. I've not participated in any uke specific jams though.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
10-18-2012, 09:54 AM
For me, jamming means playing music with other people. If I'm singing a song to group and no one's singing with me or playing along, I'm not jamming. As soon as someone helps out, it's a jam. Whee.

flyingv8
10-18-2012, 09:57 AM
The jams that I have done with other musicians on guitar always started with everyone noodling about until someone hits on something cool. Then the other players go along with him until some other idea pops out, then everyone enhances that. The idea is to try to make the music sound as cool and interesting and different as possible without losing it or taking control of it. The musicians have to be good at improvising. Some people cannot jam because they need to know exactly what they are supposed to play. This is like freestyling, letting it flow and seeing what happens. It's hard to find people who can jam like this. My brother and I could do it easily. We had that connection. I sure miss it!

Lalz
10-18-2012, 10:15 AM
For me it just means playing with other people without an audience other than the people who are playing. Some have a specific music genre some don't, some are improvised some aren't, some involve singing some don't. It's a very broad term. I use the words jam and session interchangeably though, as they both mean jam session IMO. The term session musician however is a bit more specific in that it involves more specific genres of music, "English folk music session musician". At least that's how I interpret it.

808boy
10-18-2012, 10:38 AM
2 or more people enjoying each other while playing or singing or both. The more the merrier. Kanakapila, Hawaiian style............................BO............... .....

ksiegel
10-18-2012, 02:27 PM
2 or more people enjoying each other while playing or singing or both. The more the merrier. Kanakapila, Hawaiian style............................BO............... .....


What He Said.



-Kurt

000Kanaka000
10-18-2012, 02:32 PM
A jam session here means getting together with other musicians and playing
for the fun of it. Nothing is preplanned.

Sporin
10-18-2012, 03:07 PM
I see lots of mentions of Jams and I have a fairly good idea of what it is but as a (UK based) folk musician, it's not a term that's used much among the people I play with. I am used to

Singaround - go round the room, taking it in turns to sing a song or play a tune - usually solo if it's a tune. A bit like an open mic but less formal and no PA.

Session - people playing tunes together on whatever instrument they happen to play. Sometimes someone will sing a song and will often say what key it's in so people can join in with accompaniment.

To me a Jam sounds more like a session than a singaround, but I am interested in what goes on in your Jams.

The ones I go to are probably 90% Session, 10% Singaround. I think that generally folks prefer to all play and all sing. The "solos" seem to be when folks play something obscure or that they wrote themselves.

Jcollazo
10-18-2012, 03:23 PM
I like the answers jennymac and Lalou gave. A jam is one of those nebulous concepts that different things to different people. After some gigs I have met up with other musicians in a club and "music broke out". It was spontaneous, unstructured and the only rules followed were the rules of music theory.

other times, a number of folks will meet at a BBQ and the next thing you know we've been playing every blues tune we know... for four hours.

Some people enjoy deep, meaningful conversations until the wee hours. My conversations usually start in the key of A.

pulelehua
10-18-2012, 10:30 PM
Is nobody going to make a really bad joke about jelly and preserves.............................?

Pundabaya
10-19-2012, 01:05 AM
I was going to. But you went and ruined it. :(

MisterRios
10-19-2012, 02:04 AM
I was going to. But you went and ruined it. :(

You could still make a joke about marmalade. Oooops.... sorry.

Cooper Black
10-19-2012, 02:18 AM
In the US we have the Jazz/Bluegrass tradition of passing solos around the entire circle. Does this happen in Singarounds and Sessions?

Mandarb
10-19-2012, 03:55 AM
Jam - what you would call a session.

Uke Whisperer
10-19-2012, 08:11 AM
You could still make a joke about marmalade. Oooops.... sorry.

I was thinking more of being "between a rock and a hard place". Oooops....sorry too.

Tootler
10-19-2012, 12:42 PM
In the US we have the Jazz/Bluegrass tradition of passing solos around the entire circle. Does this happen in Singarounds and Sessions?

Not normally but folk who are into bluegrass do it and I imagine jazz musicians will to when they are jamming but I am not really into jazz.

The norm with a singaround is each person in turn sings a song, solo. It is customary to join in the chorus, though, if there is one - which there often is as people will often choose to sing songs with a chorus as it gets people joining in.

With sessions, it's mostly all playing together and solos such as you get with bluegrass are not usual.

OldePhart
10-19-2012, 12:46 PM
Is nobody going to make a really bad joke about jelly and preserves.............................?


I was going to. But you went and ruined it. :(


You could still make a joke about marmalade. Oooops.... sorry.

Actually...I was going to burst into song...

"I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam..."

John

Ukuleleblues
10-19-2012, 12:50 PM
I see lots of mentions of Jams and I have a fairly good idea of what it is but as a (UK based) folk musician, it's not a term that's used much among the people I play with. I am used to

Singaround - go round the room, taking it in turns to sing a song or play a tune - usually solo if it's a tune. A bit like an open mic but less formal and no PA.

Session - people playing tunes together on whatever instrument they happen to play. Sometimes someone will sing a song and will often say what key it's in so people can join in with accompaniment.

To me a Jam sounds more like a session than a singaround, but I am interested in what goes on in your Jams.To me a Jam is your definition of a session.

OldePhart
10-19-2012, 12:50 PM
A jam session here means getting together with other musicians and playing
for the fun of it. Nothing is preplanned.

:agree: I like this definition. Most sessions I've been to have at least some organization even if it's kind of behind the scenes. You pretty much expect that people are going to show up at a regular time expecting to play complete songs and so on. I.e. they are "performing" even if only for the others in the session. A jam is more "off the cuff" with not much more planning than, "hey, let's break out the guitars!" :)

John

kaizersoza
10-19-2012, 02:15 PM
a jam to me is 2 or more people playing music together whether its planned or not, you could also call it a sesh or session, but in our club we meet up for a jam, when the band meets up for a rehearsal we often invite club members to come along and have a jam with the band

Phooto
10-19-2012, 10:09 PM
I go to an "Acoustic Jam" comprising of maybe 30% guitars, 30% ukes, didgeridoo, accordian, harmonica, violin, flute, double bass. The rule is, if you can get it through the door you can play it.

We have the songs up on a big screen, led by Krabbers from this forum with a PA and we all play along. Some just strum the chords (like me), others improvise.

That starts at 8:30, at 9:30 there's an open mic session for the talented, brave or just plain foolhardy (again, I try, but probably fit the last two categories). At least it gives anyone the opportunity to perform solo, the applause is genuine and / or polite!

After that, we carry on until late with another led session. Some of the songs are new, but there's always a few regular ones in there that we are getting actually quite good at!

Anyone is welcome, it's in Ash, Surrey on a Tuesday night at the Lion pub - search for UnplugTheWood.

Jam is normally a preserve made with sugar and fruit.

Pippin
10-19-2012, 10:37 PM
A jam session here means getting together with other musicians and playing
for the fun of it. Nothing is preplanned.

Yup, in a nutshell.

Pippin
10-19-2012, 10:43 PM
Is nobody going to make a really bad joke about jelly and preserves.............................?

I thought about it, honestly. :cheers:

Phooto
10-19-2012, 10:44 PM
I thought about it, honestly. :cheers:
I already did!

Phooto
10-19-2012, 11:32 PM
Not sure I'd take any notice of Wikipedia, unless you define which language you are reading it in!

Don't forget that English & American English are different! ;)

Tootler
10-20-2012, 07:37 AM
I go to an "Acoustic Jam" comprising of maybe 30% guitars, 30% ukes, didgeridoo, accordian, harmonica, violin, flute, double bass. The rule is, if you can get it through the door you can play it.

We have the songs up on a big screen, led by Krabbers from this forum with a PA and we all play along. Some just strum the chords (like me), others improvise.

That starts at 8:30, at 9:30 there's an open mic session for the talented, brave or just plain foolhardy (again, I try, but probably fit the last two categories). At least it gives anyone the opportunity to perform solo, the applause is genuine and / or polite!

After that, we carry on until late with another led session. Some of the songs are new, but there's always a few regular ones in there that we are getting actually quite good at!

Anyone is welcome, it's in Ash, Surrey on a Tuesday night at the Lion pub - search for UnplugTheWood.

Jam is normally a preserve made with sugar and fruit.

Sounds a good evening. Unfortunately I am almost at the other end of the country, so going there for an evening would be a little impractical. :D

Freeda
10-20-2012, 08:08 AM
Under your definition most of what I do is sessions.

Tootler
10-20-2012, 09:33 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sing-along

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session#Music

The Wikipedia definition of session and sing along. It would be interesting to see how these definitions conform to the rules and regulations of a contemporary non-conformist English folk club. I did note that the list of instruments included in a Pub Session, or "seisiún" in Irish Gaelic, did not include the ukulele, surely this is reactionary and needs to be corrected.

The Wikipedia definition of a session is OK as far as it goes. They have the basics about right and the mix of instruments is not far out. The instrument mix varies depending on the type of music. The fiddle is common regardless but the balance of other instruments varies. This is a personal observation, but melodeons (diatonic accordions) are very common in English sessions but less so in Irish, Flutes and whistles very common in Irish sessions but less so in English sessions. Most will have a harmonica or two, you will see various plucked strings, guitars are the most common but mandolins are not far behind and larger mandolin type instruments quite commonly put in an appearance, I saw a tenor uke in a session at Whitby this summer. Piano accordions are quite common as are concertinas. Bagpipes depend on type of music, with Uillean pipes being common in Irish sessions, naturally, Northumbrian pipes will be seen where the music is mostly Northumbrian, but they are traditionally pitched in F, so only if the piper has a D or G chanter (becoming quite common). I normally play in English sessions and play flute and harmonica mostly but also recorder. Highland pipes, definitely no - much too loud. I have no experience of Scottish sessions but I suspect fiddles, accordions, flute/whistle various plucked strings are common, diatonic squeeze boxes less so.

As far a sing-around goes, what Wikipedia describes is nothing like an English singaround which as I said in my opening post is most like an open mic. People take in turns to sing a song, if it has a chorus the others will join in the chorus. Sometimes the singer goes up to the "front" to sing but often they just sing from their seats. It is purely acoustic and there is no PA, or at least PA is very rare indeed. There is usually an MC who ensures everyone gets a song. When everyone has sung, they start again until the end of the evening. Singers may accompany themselves, but commonly sing unaccompanied.

Phooto
10-20-2012, 09:46 AM
Actually, this is a better definition - ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-c617rcTCw&feature=plcp

Uke Whisperer
10-20-2012, 09:49 AM
Actually...I was going to burst into song...

"I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam..."

John

Oh, that is good one John!

Plainsong
10-21-2012, 11:55 AM
It depends. I might say jam session, thinking more of the sing-a-long or play-a-along form, but really I think of jam sessions as for those who can improv, and why I wimped out when asked to join the jazz band (back in the day, not on uke).

It's one of those words we use when we might mean something else. It's a flexible word.

OldePhart
10-21-2012, 12:40 PM
Oh, that is good one John!

Heh, heh. THanks Tom. All the young'uns are probably shaking their heads and thinking I've finally lost my mind...and they're probably not far wrong but for other reasons. LOL

John

ricdoug
10-21-2012, 01:37 PM
Actually...I was going to burst into song...

"I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam..."

John

...You can keep those wimpy veggies,

Just fry me some eggs and Spam...

OldePhart
10-21-2012, 02:20 PM
...You can keep those wimpy veggies,

Just fry me some eggs and Spam...

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam SPAM! Wonderful Spam!...oh fiddlesticks...now that's stuck in my head! Oops...I think we kind of derailed Geoff's thread...