Jam circles – what chords to play
August 25, 2014 at 2:15 AM #8177fiddle campParticipant
Wondering if I could have some input about how to jam with other people- specifically, which chords do I play?! I’m beginning to become more aware of the chord progressions, but I still have a really hard time knowing if what I’m playing in the background is supporting the person who is soloing. I would so appreciate a short video about tips and etiquette in jam circles.
On a similar note, I’m working on improvising solos and am finding that the best I’ve been doing are only simple quarter notes.. How can I begin to processing to improvising double stops and chords in my solos?
Any thoughts on these matters would be incredibly helpful! I often feel that my progress has plateaued and want to take it to the next level.
Thanks in advanced for all of your input!
-BrieAugust 25, 2014 at 9:30 AM #8180
Hi Brie, I have had LOTS of requests for jam help videos, and so I will definitely get to that. Keep in mind the importance of the melody. Usually, the first time around in a jam will be ONLY the melody, with only slight gracings for embellishment. The next time around, you may begin to throw in some “hot licks”, but it should remain playful and must compliment the melody.
As far as jam etiquette, the main thing is to be respectful. It helps me to think of the jam as a conversation. In a conversation, you would listen to what the other person has to say before speaking yourself. I can always tell if someone is really listening to me, or if they are just formulating their next statement and not really paying attention to what I am saying. Likewise in a jam, you should be listening and engaged in the breaks that the other musicians are playing, not thinking about what you are going to play or practicing your next break. Then when it comes to your turn, choose your words (I mean notes) carefully. Make sure that you put forth a good amount of feeling and expression! Don’t mumble! Play loud enough that the rhythm instruments don’t have to change their volume for you. When you are finished, smile and give your attention to the next musician. Music may be a new and unfamiliar language, but with time and practice you will find yourself “conversing” will ease!August 25, 2014 at 11:41 AM #8182
As far playing backup chords, you are usually safe to “chop” with the mandolin player by gently striking the G and D strings with the bow hair. This is quick strike near the frog, and you shouldn’t need to worry about which notes to play. The chop is only percussive, so don’t try to play chords. Just choke the strings with your left hands so they don’t ring out.
On slow songs, you are safe to pull a long not on the root of the chord. For example, if the guitarist is playing a G chord, play a G note.
I realize this is very basic and begs a video, but it is a surefire, safe way to start playing some backup in a jam.August 26, 2014 at 11:33 AM #8208fiddle campParticipant
Thank you! These tips help a lot. I wasn’t aware of “chopping” until now, and it makes so much sense.
I really appreciate the time you take to answer questions. I’m more and more happy with my decision to subscribe for the year!August 27, 2014 at 2:33 AM #8215
I’m glad you did! As you get better with the chords, you can start chording with your chops. Until then, just chop on choked strings. The listener can hardly tell the difference and you can focus on the timing instead of the notes.
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