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Taking it to the next level.

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So, I've been jamming for a while with my friend Stuart. We have similar tastes in music, and know a lot of the same songs. We've been jamming tonight, songs like Cindy Incidentally, You Can't Always Get What You Want, a few Beatles songs, etc. We seem to have a good understanding - I play mostly rhythm and sing, Stu plays little fills and riffs and comes in on some back-up vocals. Tonight we tried a few different songs - couple of old Police songs, Message In A Bottle and Can't Stand Losing You. A bit sloppy, but pretty decent for first attempts - we knew straight away there's a spark, and it's not going to take a lot of work to put a decent version together.

Now then - I've also jammed a few times with Darth Ordinary (he posted about the first one here - "I finally did it!") and it's gone OK. Still kind of feeling our way into it, but again, there's a rapport, there's a spark, there's potential, although we haven't accomplished much we're close to a pretty decent version of "More Than A Feeling." He's on holiday now for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, during the week, I managed to get Stu and Ray (Darth Ordinary) and myself together for a jam. We had about two and a half hours, the time seemed to FLY past! Again, we didn't manage an awful lot - it was a bit crowded at first with three guitarists, so I switched to bass. Problem one - I can't play bass and sing. Ray switched to bass, things improved a lot - he seems to have picked bass up well, but it seems a bit unfair to stick him on bass when he's a better guitarist than me, although he's a better bassist too! He is actually gassing for a bass.

There are a few problems to overcome - I'm the least accomplished guitarist, technically, but I'm the only willing (if not totally able!) singer - I'd switch to bass if I could play it and sing at the same time, but I lose all sense of rhythm, both in bass playing and singing. I can cope with rhythm and singing at the same time, but that means the weakest guitarist is playing guitar while a better guitarist plays bass.

Another problem was that we didn't really have a set-list, so to speak - we were just playing whatever came into someone's head.

The only thing that we didn't have trouble with was, we seemed to get along fine.....Stu did his best (we were at his flat) to welcome Ray, and they got along fine. I suppose it was hardest for Ray - we haven't known each other long, then he's playing with a new friend and a virtual stranger, but I thought he coped pretty well.

Anyway, here's the bit where I'm asking for some advice - how should we go about preparing for the next session?

As I say, it was a bit hit-and-miss......a case of me and Stu asking Ray "do you know this song......." and then launching into it and trying to tell him the chords.....

Should we each take a list of songs we want to play? For instance, Ray mentioned a couple of Foo Fighters songs I'd never heard of - would it be a good idea if he said, "well how about we try this song next time....." and we try to learn it from, say, Youtube and a tab site?

What I'm getting at, I'd like it to be a democratic process - one man, one vote. Does this work in practise? Or does there have to be an established leader of the band, an alpha male? That's not a role I'd feel happy with.....but at the same time, I'm not just a blind follower either. I'm the only songwriter, as far as I know - some of you have heard my songs, and said some nice things about them. Would it give us a sort of unifying identity if we worked on a couple of my songs and worked out between us who plays which bit?

It's always cool jamming with other people - I really enjoyed myself when the three of us got together. But I don't want to be the only one who's having fun - that at least should be equally shared! I suppose I'm just thinking out loud here - but believe me, any tips and advice from you veteran jammers would be greatly appreciated!

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Posted : 29/07/2007 12:53 am
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You have the exact same problem that I have and one I have been struggling with for a few months. I have two different groups that I jam with one, is a little more established, they have a book of acoustic songs they play out of so you pretty much know which songs will get played although the book is so big they only do some each time. My problem with this group is two fold, one I don't particulary enjoy the songs they play, I'd rather play a little harder rock, my guitar volume is always kept down very low to the point I can barely hear me. when I try to introduce new songs unless it has three chords and they can learn it in a few minutes they don't want to know. I hadn't been with this group for a while and went by Friday. Well I guess they had worked out a version of White Wedding by Billy Idol. I had been working on the same song (started it with Wes a week or so ago). Anyway when they played it they turned it into some speeded up acoustic lounge version. I know I'm in the minority on this but I like to play songs the way they were recorded and they ruined the song for me.

The other group is a couple buddies of mine two guys I don't know and Wes sometimes. With this group the bass player and myself are the least experienced the others have all played for years. But no one knows the same songs and I can't seem to get anyone to commit to learning songs during the week on their own.

I think part of the problem is unless you all have a large repetoire of songs that you all know then you have to make a commitment to do some practicing during the week and once that starts happenning it's not just a get together for a jam it gets a bit more serious.

With this group I had wanted to play out at least at an open mic or something just to say I did it. But I'm not sure it'll ever happen.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

Posted : 30/07/2007 12:20 pm
Posts: 1468
Noble Member

I was at a Moby concert once and his band did a lounge version of White Wedding as a joke.

Posted : 30/07/2007 12:29 pm
Posts: 2801
Famed Member

I dont qualify as a veteran jammer.. but here goes my two cents

Hey Vic. In some ways its not a bad situation to be in. I mean you got two other buddies you are jamming with. I dont know about where you live but here its difficult to find folks.

I think until you are at the point where it becomes business like, you should very much use the democratic approach. For one, you never know what spark someone is going to add into the mix that is going to bring out a massive amount of creativity from the group. Does that make sense?

Two, until you are focused on making money then shouldnt you all atleast getting a fun factor out of it? Besides, you might find that one or more of you are pretty open to any music and thus it doesnt take much to satisfy their fun factor.

Even if the other guy is a better guitarist, I would let him play bass until something changes. In the group I am in, everybody pretty much plays everything to some extent (atleast in the cases where people know multiple instruments). Sometimes I sing, sometimes the drummer sings. The bassist (which is the most awsome bassist I have every played with) is also a really good guitarist. But we have all agreed that we'll do what ever as long as it sounds good. There really are no rules for us. For us, that goes for genre as well.

Now, in the future if something happens and we have to make a change then I am sure we'll be flexible enough to work that out too.

The summary is.. just have fun and let it all work out. Learn from your lessons and make sure that music is fun.


“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)

Posted : 30/07/2007 4:41 pm
Posts: 5582
Illustrious Member


I can really relate to this, all bands are like a disfunctional family. :D

The truth is, a leader always pops out in any band. In my band, I am the musical leader, Dom is the financial leader. Nobody chose it, it just comes out naturally.

Why am I the musical leader?? Because I am the one who gets all the music and lyrics together and brings them to practice. I am the one who shows everybody else how to play a song. I do this because I want to learn songs. The other guys just kinda want to show up. They want to play well and have certain songs they would like to do, but they never go the extra mile to bring the music and lyrics to practice. I do.

And Dom handles the money and gets the gigs (I have done that). But for years he owned his own auto business in New York City and he has the chops. He knows how to talk to people, he knows how to close a deal, and he knows how to collect his money. :twisted:

You have to be organized to get anywhere. Make a copy of each song with the lyrics you want to learn. If the other guys are too lazy, or too uninterested to do the same, well, then you are the leader. Be the leader.

I am going to the Riverside Jam this Saturday. David Hodge is the boss. I have played with him several times and it is his show. He has all the songs in notebooks with lyrics for each player. He has the set lists all made out. He does all the organizing, so it is his show. And that is exactly the way it should be.

It is just a fact of life that some people are leaders, while many others are followers. The leaders do the majority of the work, the followers go along for the ride. It is fair, it is the way it is.

Not saying you shouldn't listen to the other guys and value their opinions. If one of them wants to do a song, get the music and lyrics and practice it next practice. But if you are the organized one, go with it.

So don't be afraid to run the show, somebody has to. Sounds like you are the right man for the job.

Chris (Cnev) talked about the few times I have jammed with him and his friends lately. I have probably not seemed too committed to them. The trouble is, I am afraid I would completely take over. That is my nature. It is Chris's band, and I don't want to move in on him. When I am there I can get us organized. It is hard for me not to take that spot. That is some people's nature. Sounds like it is your's too.


If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis

Posted : 02/08/2007 11:36 pm
Posts: 4459
Famed Member

Wooooh Wes wait a minute buddy,

First of, I don't have a band, I am not the leader, heck I'm not even much of a player, but i do like to play and sing badly in the confines of my basement with the goal of someday maybe playing out somewhere.

I am not qualified to be the leader of any band at this point unless I were playing with all beginners. Wes that's why I like you to come by, because you DO take charge and I happen to like almost all of the same music.

The guys I play with never seem to be committed to learning anything new and it frustrates the heck out of me. Sure they may work on a song while we are together but don't do anything during the week and then when we get together again instead of going over the songs we worked on the previous week, it usually goes something like, "What should we play" I don't know" You pick!...This frustrates the heck out of me. To me if you wanna getthese songs down then you have to practice them individually and as a band over and over til it's polished.

The other group I jam with sometimes is even worse, they have hundreds of simple three chord songs they play and are pretty unwilling to learn anything new and personally most of the music they play bores me. This group is a mostly acoustic group and they tend to play every song the same way and I hate it. a good example was the song White Wedding by Billy Idol. On eof the guys mentioned he downloaded the song and it looked easy so he was going to work on it. well I did the same, grabbed a half way correct tab off the internet and Wes, myself and one of my buddies worked on that song for a good 45 minutes getting it down pretty well. Well I went over to the acoustic jam last Friday and the first thing he wants to play was White Wedding and I'm thinking that's cool I've been working on this and I have it down pretty well this will be fun...NOT. He ended up playing some acoustic strumming, lounge version, to his own tempo that was nothing like the original that I had been practicing with for the past two suxed big time. It set the stage for the rest of the night and it really bummed me out because this has happened several times in the past and I keep hoping something will change but it doesn't. I have written this many times, but to me if your going to be a cover band or play covers then you should play them the way they were originally recorded. But that's me.

I like my music on the loud, aggresive side but I don't find many people that are interested in playing that type of music and I'll be honest I don't for the most part want to play there music either.

So it is a struggle.

But Wes you know at least for e you're always welcome and taking over is no problem I encourage it.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

Posted : 03/08/2007 12:36 pm
Posts: 407
Reputable Member

Unless you clone yourself you are always going to have differing philosophies about music and things music related . Compromise is the only solution but you have to determine how much compromise you can accept . Compromise sounds like a dirty word to some but it is something we do every day we are alive . No two people have the exact same musical likes and dislikes .

Find out what your shared tastes in music are and work from there . Pick out songs that you all are interested in playing and decide the order that you will learn them in . Some songs might not be on your list of favorites to begin with but you may have a different opinion if you listen to them or learn to play them .

Determine what your goals are in this endeavor and see if everyone is on the same page . Chances are you will go through personnel changes before you find the right group for you . I certainly did . Expect arguments , discussions , fights , hurt feelings , etc. In my three piece band there is discussion all the time about music selection . We decided what kind of band we wanted to be when we started it and the main criteria we have for choosing music is "Does it fit the band?"

By no means do I think that this is the only way to do things . It is just the way that it has worked for me . Good Luck !

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .

Posted : 03/08/2007 4:48 pm
Posts: 4459
Famed Member


You're right I realize there are some compromising that needs to be done and I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit stubborn, although i don't think it's my stubbornness. It's just that I want to play what I want to play.

One thing that I have realized since playing is that some of the songs that I loved listening too ended up being boring to play and some music liek AC/DC which I was never a fan of are really fun to play so I know what you mean.

What we do need and that's were Wes is a big help is to have someone help with an arrangement. If I know a song and we have more than one guitar I don't want the other guitar player playing the same thing as me that's pretty useless and I'm not sure what to tell the other person to play all the time.

I'm not a young kid so I'm really not going to go out and search for people with my taste in music because I'd probably never find them and if I did they'd probably would have played for awhile and wouldn't want to play with me.

Vic - if your reading these I'd be interested in knowing how things are working/work out with you guys, you are in a very similar situation as I am.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

Posted : 03/08/2007 6:00 pm
Posts: 151
Estimable Member

I'm not really qualified to comment too much on forming / being in a band, but I did just want to say a couple things about working well in a group. First, I've found that if/when a leader (or two! in a bigger group...) naturally arises, letting that person lead (and that person having the confidence to do so) does wonders to keep the group organized and going strong. The same is surely true for other roles in the group, but the leader role is probably the most important. (Obviously? ;))

That said, I also absolutely think a band can exist in a democratic form. I've looked hard and many times, and I can never decide who I think the leader is in Rush. (I know you're no Rush fan, right? But that's moot...) Geddy is the vocalist / bassist / arranges the songs, so at first he seems like the frontman; but Neil writes all the lyrics and is perhaps the most talented at his instrument, relatively speaking; and Alex is surely a huge part of writing and performing a lot of the harmonies, melodies, and killer solos. They seem to get along beautifully and I never hear about any of them really being the leader, per se.

Best of luck, however you go about it! Bringing positive attitudes to the table can almost always solve any problems that come up. Cheers,

-- Voidious

Posted : 03/08/2007 7:29 pm