Yayyy, Put Your Jammin' Shoes on!--by Reb MacRath

We come here to jam once a month with our friends in the swinging saloon called AE. Let me start off with this definition…so I don’t get in a stickier jam with those who think I mean jelly:

A jam session is a musical event, process, or activity where musicians play (i.e. "jam") by improvising without extensive preparation or predefined arrangements. Jam sessions are often used by musicians to develop new material (music), find suitable arrangements, or simply as a social gathering and communal practice session.

To some extent, AE’s unique structure precludes an exact parallel: 29 writers who post once each month does not precisely equal a group of six musicians who hook up every Sunday. True. But we have enough in common to pursue the metaphor. In fact, the metaphor’s enriched by another significant difference:  our ‘solos’ can continue in the Comments section to our posts…and we’re free to sound off in the Comments to our colleagues’ posts.

In the dictionary sense, we come close to performing ‘without extensive preparation or predefined arrangements.’ And we jam partly for fun but also ‘to develop new material’ or sharpen our edge. Now, that doesn’t mean for a minute that we get to play out of key or ‘hog’ the stage: e.g., we don’t get to indulge in shoddy phrasing or inhuman crimes against grammar—or to go on too much longer than the generally agreed-upon length: 1000 words, with some exceptions. Nor do we get to play a song of interest only to ourselves or the same old song over and over again, The second part of the above definition may be of further help:

Jam sessions may be based upon existing songs or forms, may be loosely based on an agreed chord progressionor may be wholly improvisational. Jam sessions can range from very loose gatherings of amateurs… to sophisticated improvised recording sessions by professionals which are intended to be edited and released to the public.

We’re largely improv, I believe, but we do follow some strong chord progressions: nuts and bolts about our craft…news and blues about our roles as indie writers…changes in legacy pubishing…etc. Our own structure, as I’ve said, is loose but it’s by no means a ragtag assortment of rank amateurs. And, as has already been proven, some of the pieces were deemed worthy for inclusion in the AE anthology.

But remember, folks, we’re jammin’ and not giving concert-quality performances. We come here to let our hair down and to wail. Sometimes we recycle riffs that we’ve used elsewhere or try out some hot licks in the works. We’re not obliged in monthly jams to lower jaws or knock off socks with dazzling new rhythms or breathtaking new turns of phrase.

Let’s not take the fun out of jammin’ by insisting we play here in Carnegie.Hall.

Goodness, my shortest post ever. May I sign off with an epigram?

From her earliest girlhood she worshipped men’s feet. But now that she’s older, she’s had to cut down: one foot, give or take an inch, is all her doc allows her.

Note from Sue Price: Since we're jamming, can I just join in here to mention the Edinburgh On-Line FREE E-Book Festival, which began today, here.
Runs for a fortnight.
Every day, at 10am, a preview of the day's events.
Every lunch-time, an author interview.
Short stories - workshops - chat, ideas - Please drop by and join in, wherever you are in the world!


Susan Price said…
Loved it, Reb - may you be jamming with us for a long time to come!
CallyPhillips said…
Totally agree with you Reb. I'm 'jamming' about Blogs in general at 6pm (BST) each night this week at the ebook festival. http://www.edebookfest.co.uk Which might be of interest to some and just incur the wrath of others. I believe blogs should be used 'creatively' not follow strict 'rules' - much like life itself!
You are SO right! Good post, good analogy.
Bill Kirton said…
Having been around when teenagers jived to Trad Jazz, I relate completely to this, Reb, and what always came through was energy and fun.
Dennis Hamley said…
Ah Bill, trad jazz. I remember evenings in the Ken Colyer club back in the 50s. And I when I did national service in the RAF, Johnny Mortimer, later Acker Bilk's trombonist, was in the same billet and, with a few pints inside him, used to do virtuoso riffs for us. I learnt a lot about creativity by listening to him. He died a few years ago. I've mentioned him in my ebooking of Out of the Mouths of Babes, which will be launched in the ebookfest. That's a great post, Reb, and a great metaphor for our efforts.
glitter noir said…
Thanks, all. I'm glad our gifted administrators were able to fix my mis-scheduling. When it comes to anything related to computers, you can always count on Reb to take a sensational pratfall.:
Anonymous said…
I really love jazz, the chord progression is a beaut. Wonderful, and playful. Thank you for this!

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