What is the American Jamm Method?
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The American Jamm Experience has its roots in the old South, where it was preserved and nurtured until around the 1920's when it exploded on the music scene in the smokey clubs and Jamm Dens of New Orleans.
Many Jamm Masters arbitrarily switch from Jam to JAMM within a session as they see fit and others stick strictly with one or the other. In either case, exciting inner expressions can be experienced that transcend the established norms and leave stale over-rehearsed music in the dust.
Although usually associated with Jazz, The Jamm Method has no musical boundaries and transcends all musical and creative generes.
There are two basic Methods regarding improvisational music. One is the Jam with One "M" which is the "Loose" playing of previously played or recorded songs (Covers) and there is the Jamm with two "M"'s which is the creation of fresh inspirational music, which is strait off the cuff and not rehearsed.
The latter of these two methods have the most energy and satisfy the psychological craving that people are looking for when they have the desire to listen to music in the first place. It is like going to your favorite eatery and having the chef read your mind and bring you just what you have been dreaming about, done to a turn.
The Jamm has more slam and more pote. Its like the difference between a planned out love affair to one that "just happens".
Yes, by far, the Most exciting of the two is the Jamm with two "M"'s which when done by experienced Jamm Masters, sounds like music that has been rehearsed and choreographed for a hundred hours (but not rehersed to death) but rather, was just made up on the spot without even discussing concepts beforehand.
This is most difficult for aficionados of other types of music to understand or believe, but one must accept that if it was good enough for somebody like Mozart, there must be something to it. All of Mozart's work was created in this manner (and then written down much later). Thanks to the modern advances in recording and transcribing, Jamm Masters no longer have to die in order to share their creations with the world.
Whether with One "M" or Two "M"'s, the American Jamm Method is about fearless expression and unconditional acceptance of the unusual and those things quite rare from ones self and ones fellows.
No one does. You play when you feel like it. You Stop when you feel like it. When you get up to go to the Bathroom, you may return to find someone else playing your instrument and so you may end the session playing his.
In a true Jamm session there is no set start time or end time. Everyone plays or doesn't play as they see fit. There is no pressure, no funny looks and no domination.
Jammin is about getting with people who can focus on their own performance and leave your performance to you. If you have someone directing, then its not a Jamm Session.
All a Jamm Master does in reinforce the "No Rules" Rule. Basically, Focus on your self and leave other people to do what they want to. If someone trips over a drum kit on the way to plug in their amp, just go with that sound. That's the subconscious trying to tell you something. No such thing as a sour note...its all good and wild cherry if you accept it as perfect.
You have to loose your self to find your self. You can't find something unless its lost, now can you?
If you have someone always telling what to do or not to do..or stopping everyone in the middle of a session because of this or that, then that person is not what you are into and you need to find others that are.
Once you find your crew, you will feel the swirl of rhythm twist around the room, lighting on this one and that and taking the Jamm to new heights.
You will find that the less you talk about what you are going to do in a session, the better it will be. Us old timers dont talk at all...we just show up and play.
Once someone starts saying, "Yeah man, if we could just replace (Insert musician here) we'd have a really great band", then they have lost their way. That kind of politicting has no place in a Jamm Method band.
If you are so focused on that persons performance that you can even think about setting your self up as a God over them, then you havent been putting 100% into your own performance.
Hence, the reason Most Jamm Method Bands have a rule that "The only way you can get kicked out, is to try to get someone else kicked out".
There isn't a school or teacher that can train someone to be a Jamm Master. It has to happen all on its own. Its about respect that is hard won in the Jamm sessions of ones life.
All a Jamm master does really is keep the "No Rules" rule in force. It is his responsibility to inform New Jammers about the "No Rule Rule" and insure that they dont try to direct or criticize others.
It is also his responsibility to show people the door if they dont follow the "No Rule Rule". Focus on your own performance. No Negative comments, not even to or about yourself. Let others do what they want to do. Live and let Live, Jamm and Let Jamm.
Usually there is a "First warning, your last", policy. You are warned one time to not criticise, direct or say negative comments to others or even under your breath to or about your self. If you do it again, you are shown the door.
We call that kind of behaviour, "High School Drama" because such people usually learn it when they were in a band back in High School. In Such Scenarios, there is usually one dictatorial band leader (Or several sparring for supremacy) and the others always criticizing their fellows in the band or making criticisms about themselves out loud. This kind of behaviour causes psychological trauma that inhibits the natural development of the Musicians true talents and limits the scope and fashion of his pote.
In the Jamm Method environment, such behaviours are counterproductive and can take weeks even months to recover from. Many Jamm Method Musicians will not go to a Jamm unless they know that there is a respected Jamm Master in attendance. That is why a Jamm Master has to act swiftly and see to it that everyone finds the groove again after the offender has left. This is why Jamm Masters command the natural respect of their peers and are likewise regarded as icons of cool.
Bottom line: A Jamm Master will never show you the door as a result of your musical performance. You can only be shown the door for aberrant criticism of others or even by criticizing your self.
Some bands have other rules such as Not allowing Drugs, alcohol or persons so inebriated into the studio. The Jamm Master also has the responsibility of making sure these policys are followed. In Some cases a professional door man will be hired to screen people (For contraband and inebriation) as they enter the studio so that the jamm master can focus on his real job...Jammin.
It is better to always have a recording engineer or or crew member that specializes in this aspect of the Jamm. If you dont have one, it is recommended that you research some of the methods used by the Beatles and Paul Mc Carthy so that you can make do with very little. They still stand as some of the true innovators of the recording scene and their techniques can be emulated by anybody with a boom box and a Radio Shack condencer Microphone..
"Band on the Run", is a shining example of what can be done with very little or with outdated equipment.
Do your research, its all out there for free. A microphone under a pillow...or in the bathroom or in a trash can, its all good and it works like a charm. Later, when you finally get that recording engineer, you will be amazed at how little he can improve on what you have already been doing.
First, everyone needs to be tuned to the same key. Anyone that refuses to tune their instrument to the standard orchestra recommended tuning for that instrument is shown the door. The reason for this is HARMONICS. If you have just one person tunes to a different key or octave, the harmonics will screw up and ruin the recording. Even the drums have to be tuned to standard so that the guitars and such will resonate in perfect harmony with them.
If you do not have a recording engineer, then Hit the record button as soon as you arrive and let it record constantly. Ask an onlooker if they will change the media for you if it runs out...most of the time, they will be tickled to be involved.
If you fail to do this, many hours of fine music will be lost because you will just be, "Tuning up" and suddenly break out into a jamm and afterward everyone will say, Hay..Lets listen to it!" and there the recorder will be, empty. So hit the Record button as soon as you get set up (but before you tune up) and waste a little space...it is Space well wasted and well worth it.
Dont feel alone. We all been through what is happin to you now. So this is what you do: Write down alll the "Non Rules" of the Jamm session. When people arrive, at the door, you have them read them and sign in. Let someone of "stature" (like a tall basketball player) do this for you if it stresses you or if you are wondering if it will stress some of your friendships. Then, with everyone on the same plate (and without any talkin) , start jammin. Note: It may be a good rule to have everyone agree not to talk at all unless the studio catches fire or something. Once they see and feel how the Jamm works, they wont talk so much and just set up, tune up and be them selves and blow the roof off of the place.
In the Begining, before you even start Jammin, you have to have everyone sigh a confidentiality agreement and a general release of the music they will play that session. This is a must because people feel one way one night and another way the next and many times reverse their earlier enthusiasm.
So, you get those papers signed first and if they wont sign they dont Jamm, Period. The Jamm is no Good to anyone unless it can be shared with the people. Without sharing, its like a bunch of photographers telling each other how good their photos are, big deal. The people need to hear the Music or its just a bunch of musicians circle jirkin around.