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 progression…or 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?
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!