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Jam session survival


SteveXFR
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A few weeks ago I went to my first jam session and very quickly realised that I didn't have a clue what I was doing. 

Someone would start something and then others would just come in and join them. I didn't know what to play or when to play it. Everyone else was making some fantastic noises but I sucked although people were encouraging. 

I'm guessing I really need to know chords (I don't really know much) but which ones? There's hundreds of the buggers. Are there a few fret board shapes which will help me scrape through?

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1 minute ago, Geek99 said:

Guess that’s why 12 bars are popular …

 

It's a good plan  but it's in a small village. There's only one pub.

Or did you mean 12 bar blues? I was prepared for that but nothing even close came up. There was a bit of reggae, some jazz and a bit of rock.

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Try playing along to the radio, or a playlist on shuffle.

 

You must already have something of a musician's ear, it shouldn't take you long to start anticipating the changes.

 

Until you get an ear for distinguishing major and minor chords (it becomes intuitive) use the 'cheat box' root, fifth, minor seventh, octave. Sounds fine over any chord 🙂

 

Also if you miss a note, just walk up/down chromatically to the right one. It's called Jazz. People will be in awe of your skills.

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3 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Try playing along to the radio, or a playlist on shuffle.

 

You must already have something of a musician's ear, it shouldn't take you long to start anticipating the changes.

 

Until you get an ear for distinguishing major and minor chords (it becomes intuitive) use the 'cheat box' root, fifth, minor seventh, octave. Sounds fine over any chord 🙂

 

Also if you miss a note, just walk up/down chromatically to the right one. It's called Jazz. People will be in awe of your skills.

And they’ll make you wear silly clothes 

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16 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Try playing along to the radio, or a playlist on shuffle.

 

Until you get an ear for distinguishing major and minor chords (it becomes intuitive) use the 'cheat box' root, fifth, minor seventh, octave. Sounds fine over any chord 🙂

 

I totally agree with playing along to the radio- it's a great practice exercise to get your ear together.

If you don't know the chords, I would stay away from the minor 7. It won't work over any chord.

 

There's a couple of ways to approach jammimg. One is to just have an extensive repertoire, and know loads of tunes. Otherwise it comes down to having a good ear and/or knowing common chord progressions. With ear training, learn to recognise at least major, minor and their 7 chords, and know what notes are in them. If you know common progressions like I,IV, V,   I,iv,ii,V,  I,vi,IV,V etc, it can be a massive help, because you'll know what's coming. 

 

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1 hour ago, Doddy said:

 

If you don't know the chords, I would stay away from the minor 7. It won't work over any chord.

 

True. But it will work over most. Now the trick is to play it with confidence. Then if it doesn't 'fit' you can make it sound like it's the chord being played is 'wrong' and not your bass note 😃

 

+1 for learning the most common chord sequences and permutations.

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Invest in an ear training course, Rick Beato has a great one for not too much money.

 

I would say a starting point would be to be able to identify common chord progressions using the Nashville number system. Then once you catch one chord with some practice you can understand where it's likely to go next.

 

If you Google the axis chord progression, it will help show just how similar most pop / rock songs are and it will be a good staring point.

 

 

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