~ story lines ~

~ vamps n' ~

~ jamms ~

'... we can make anything into a vamp ...

'... we can make everything into a vamp ... :)

'... and all vamps that grooves will jamm ... !!!

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. Same notes; 'E G# B / A C# E' but way different feels.

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 sparkling by The Grateful Dead, put the same notes in a new tempo and whoa ... lookout ... ! Here's the basic bass lick again, major triad pitches E7 ( E G# B) / A7 (A C# E) for the chords, teach it to the band, using dynamics and assorted rhythms to stretch it out into a jam.

E 7 / A 7

~ 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.

C A-
A- D- E-
C to F
A- D-
C D- E- F
A- C F E-
C E- F G
F G A-
A7 D7
C- Bb Ab G
D- G C A-

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 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 moutains 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

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.

References academia 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 own and finest resident maestros !