Thursday, January 30, 2020

The four Types of Musical get togethers

Warning: I'm not including either the Hootenanny or the ever popular Shindig!

Anyway, I was thinking about the different ways musicians gather, and what those gatherings are for. I came up with four basic types.

1. Rehearsal
In the settings I'm usually in, these are the parameters….
It's usually to run the heads (melodies of tunes) and the blowing chord changes if they're hard or unusual. For example, if I've written a rather complex melody with weird changes but the blowing is a straight blues in Bb, I would not have people solo extensively on it. That's just wasting other musicians valuable time. I also would NOT run something in a rehearsal that I'm not comfortable with, but that rest of the band can play easily. It's my responsibility to take care of my part of the music. Nothing is more irritating than going to a rehearsal and realizing you are just there to make the leader comfortable, That's not a valid reason to rehearse. ( Note: I'm not talking about Broadway shows or big Rock productions that have lighting cues, dancers, etc. That is a different story. I'm also basing this off of the fact that I rarely get paid to rehearse. If you aren't going to pay the rest of the musicians, the rehearsal has to be efficient and essential. )

2. Session
This is similar to a rehearsal, but it's not usually for an upcoming gig, but to workshop things people want to work on. It could involve original music, or standards or jazz tunes people want to practice soloing on. Like rehearsing, there is rarely an audience in attendance, and also like rehearsing, each individual is expected to work on the material on their own so something can get accomplished when the session takes place. For instance, I play piano/bass duos with a friend in Guelph regularly, and we just play (non-original) tunes but I always work on the tunes we're going to play beforehand because I don't feel I could bring much to the situation if I was reading a tune I'm unfamiliar with ( on drums this wouldn't be a problem.)

3,  Jam
This is the first situation that frequently can have an audience. In fact, I have sat in with a couple of "Jam bands" and really enjoyed the experience. In a jam there often isn't a particular tune being played  ( although there can be ). Rather it's usually more of an "open form" or "free" situation although there often is a tempo, groove, key centre, and tonality people tend to agree on. What makes this situation work is how much listening is going on. If people are really tuned in to what everyone is doing, a composition can be built in the moment by committee, and it's pretty cool to be involved in!

4. Wank
For those of you not familiar with the term, wanking is British slang for, ahem, "self-pleasuring". This term is applied to music when you have individuals playing that aren't really listening to anyone but themselves, and haven't really put in the time on an instrument to play it effectively in a group setting. In fact, most of the time people in this situation aren't listening  because they are too busy grappling with an instrument they don't know the basics of. ( I.E. The fretboard on a guitar, sticking and time playing at different tempos on drums, fingerings on the saxophone etc. ) Wanking usually happens most with less experienced players, although I would put "noodling' as a sub-category to this, and that's often done by  intermediate to pro players. Noodling is exactly what it sounds like, playing in between tunes which is usually practicing they should have done on their own before the band got together. I'm making it sound like there is no purpose to the wank, but it can be good for getting beginner players to experience some sort of group dynamic, or to blow off steam. For anyone with any amount of experience though, wanking is VERBOTEN!!!!

So. in conclusion, be an efficient rehearser, a prepared sessioner, a tasteful and listening jammer, and not a wanker! You don't want Spinal Tap to say this about you!

See ya soon……..

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