In a nutshell. For the Americana vamps and grooves that have and continue fill the dance floors, how fast it goes makes all the difference. Same changes and progression, in the same key even, slowed way down will always deepen the testimony. A secret to setting time in the music? Drums. A secret to setting the mood ? Bass, especially using the open strings. Compare these versions of major triads from One and Four. Example 1.

Bobby's blue's
and Jerry's turn to lead :)

A bit melodramatic ? :) Cool, yea that's the idea. But bottom line, from the deep blue slow to the rockin' pop of the Bobby Blue Bland classic dancefloor packer, also later covered with psychedelic sparklings by the folk to big rockin' tonight music of the 'The Grateful Dead', put the same notes in a new tempo and whoa ... lookout ... !

And if there was ever ... An Americana bass line story of a 'we got this fill the dancefloor right now', wow ! Just the two major triad pitches E7 ( E G# B) / A7 (A C# E) arpeggitated. Teach it to the band, using dynamics and assorted rhythms to stretch it out into one of your band's own jamms ( there's cool lyrics too of course :)

1000's of miles it will travel. West Coast cool dance riff ... "listen to how it goes, come and enjoy it." :) The now ancient Dorian pitches arpeggiated meets timeless Latin poly rhythms meets an analogue, electrified Americana guitar rig. Example 1a.

~ A C E G A F# D ~

'clarion call of St. Carlos'

This'll jam on forever and ever; 'A-7 D7', especially with two drummers ! Ya just gotta wanna bring it. No beat ever to fast or to slow, all keys, all styles, all welcome to join in and make the music go :) P.s. And with the 'F#' in this group of pitches; 'A B C D E F# G', we can bring back today right now too the ancient Dorian colors of long ago ( just saying :)

~ and take it on the road ... ' ~

barre chords

~ three chords / 'C, F and G / 1 4 5 in C ... ' ~

~ three chords / 'E minor, G and D ~

wiki ~ 'Jolene' song

All good notes in 'E major.' We get our next jam track here from the song "Blue Sky" from the Allman Brothers Band. Among the finest of songs that can be dubbed ... 'three chords and the truth', "Blue Sky" brings a joy that all musicians can aspire to learn to capture.

In 'E', our jam rolls back and forth between the tonic One chord and Four, off to the dominant Five for the refrain for the song's title words. Here's the barre chord shapes and the group of pitches / scale shape for creating melodies. Bass line pitches are root to root; so 'E to A.' Pure pentatonic so all good pitches right ? Example 1.

Find and spin the recording as time permits and chances are that on your first take, you'll be hooked by the song that has now inspired a couple of generations of Americana guitarists. Do count measures in this song too, clear five bar phrase with perfect balance, kinda rare. For pro leaning melody cats, rote up on the back to back guitar solos, for there's a fluidness of art and technique we all might benefit from. Let your ears decide for ...

All good notes in 'E minor.' Same basic chords again in the same key center with root pitch 'E', but in minor now. Plus we add a chord, so things evolve a bit too. With a reggae feel, here formed up in 12 bar form. Use the chord shapes to find new melody pitches, drum licks for motor hand rhythms ideas. The 'improv' shape also works well down one octave to the open strings.

Begin jams / ear training. Just getting started with jamming ? Need a vamp / groove to work a melody line over ? Need some basic ear training for bass, chords and form ? Need some backing tracks to hear your melody and improvised lines over / through the changes ? Cool, you've to come the right place. Oh, the band need a vamp to kick things off a jamm or two ? Those vamps and jamps, vamp+jam, follow after these next ideas.

So just like with a 12 bar blues and eight bar song form, we can take any motif / riff and 'form it up' into a vamp, which can become a jamm, which can surely become at some point, right now or later, a song of its own.

It's near all by ear here ... so pick and click and off ya go. Standard 'A' = 440 tuning pitches all through and noted when not. Each idea with a link or two to its elements. The audio examples last around a minute. Just click it again, and again, to take another, and another, run at it.

'by ear ...'

C A-

( 1 to 6 )

A- D- E-

( 1 4 5 )

C to F

( 1 to 4 )

A- D-

( 1 to 4 )


( 1 4 5 )

C D- E- F

( 1 2 3 4 )

A- C F E-

( 1 3 6 5 )

C E- F G

( 1 3 4 5 )

F G A-

( 6 7 1 )

A7 D7

( 1 to 4 )

C- Bb Ab G

( 8 b7 B6 5 )

D- G C A-

( 2 5 1 6 )

'Can't You See.' A super pure and now ancient version of our '3 chords and the truth' in a story as old as the hills ... one we surely want but maybe regret ... all to live.

'D / C / G / D'

Walk the walk to talk the talk ... these changes will always ring true. And for some this motion, along with Four and One, will be the basis of a lifetime of solid jamming in the Southern Rock / Blues tradition ... :)

Jammin' with Franz. The following soloing / jam with band vamps are generated with Franz being the motor. While not heard in the mix, know that there's clicks driving these rhythms and chords into mainly four bar vamps. Find the pitches and chords 'by ear', and even teach one or a few of two the vamps you dig to your own peeps and bandmates, and commence the jammin of your own creative collabs into your own original songs.

E- / D / C / B-

"Feeling Alright" ...

A7 D7

... just catchin' a wave ...

C- Bb Ab G

Montuno. From South of the Equator comes the mountains of montuno riffs that energize the Latin songs and their dances. And while there dozens of riff of melodies and chords and rhythms, there's a couple of super cool and common montunos that work like everytime we need an intro, vamp for a tune, something to jamm on, interlude between sections, so a lot of places in our music to 'bring the montuno', 'bring a mountain.'

wiki ~ montuno
D- G7
C pedal

pedal tones


F to Gb

by 1/2 step

constant structure

F to Gb7

most common ?

movable Hollywood chords

A-7 D9

"Mountain Jam" From Americana's own mountains comes a pure lift from Duane Allman and mates essential jam. Get this one going with the right cats and it'll last a while ... and yea sure ... the dancers love it too :)

wiki ~ Daune Allman

Review. Along these lines and into the waybac, I remember, and here paraphrase from reading an interview with Pat Metheny, modern guitarist and composer, who said that 'his band started to write their own songs so that they'd have a song to play that had all the moving parts that they wanted, and needed, to get their jammin' into 'set songs' with arrangement, played the same way every time. So from jamming on an idea for a song, those ideas became full on songs end to end for performance, with their own special ways to excite built right in.

In listening to their songs over the decades now, there's most of the same puzzle pieces we all share for writing songs; intro, a riff, melodies, chords and a groove etc. Their newly written puzzle pieces included ways to expand the soloing formats by adding extended jamm cycles of chords between sections of more traditional jazz leaning sections, with modern changes of course.

that with super chops and dynamically treated, retains interest and brought to an exciting climax, both for the soloist and the whole group.

These new and necessary features / innovations in form might have come from jamming, which helps us get to places in the music that might only happen when moving through time, without a form or barline to have to worry about :)

wiki ~ Pat Metheny
cycle of changes

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and ... letting them be known."

References. References for this page's information comes from school, books and the bandstand and made way easier by the folks along the way.

Find a mentor / e-book / academia Alaska. Always good to have a mentor when learning about things new to us. And with music and its magics, nice to have a friend or two ask questions and collaborate with. Seek and ye shall find. Local high schools, libraries, friends and family, musicians in your home town ... just ask around, someone will know someone who knows someone about music and can help you with your studies in the musical arts.

go to a public library and ask the librarian

Always keep in mind that all along life's journey there will be folks to help us and also folks we can help ... for we are not in this endeavor alone :) The now ancient natural truth is that we each are responsible for our own education. Positive answer this always 'to live by' question; 'who is responsible for your education ... ?

Intensive tutoring. Luckily for musical artists like us, the learning dip of the 'covid years' can vanish quickly with intensive tutoring. For all disciplines; including all the sciences and the 'hands on' trade schools, that with tutoring, learning blossoms to 'catch us up.' In music ? The 'theory' of making musical art is built with just the 12 unique pitches, so easy to master with mentorship. And in 'practice ?' Luckily old school, the foundation that 'all responsibility for self betterment is ours alone.' Which in music, and same for all the arts, means to do what we really love to do ... to make music :)


"These books, and your capacity to understand them, are just the same in all places. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing."

wiki ~ Abraham Lincoln

Academia references of Alaska. And when you need university level answers to your questions and musings, and especially if you are considering a career in music and looking to continue your formal studies, begin to e-reach out to the Alaska University Music Campus communities and begin a dialogue with some of Alaska's finest resident maestros !


~ comments or questions ... ? ~

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