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Jam Band Segue Theory?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by btodag, Feb 5, 2015.

  1. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    I know a lot info points to the circle of fifths, but does anyone know of a source to read about the theory of jam band segues?
    I'm thinking Grateful Dead/Phish kind of thing moving seemingly aimlessly from one song and suddenly popping up in another.

    I'm looking for some science of how that works.
     
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  2. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    Not telecaster enough for this crowd?
     
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  3. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think it will take some evaluation to find out if there are any theoretical patterns to how they segue. Your question is one without a simple answer. I know how I would modulate to get to a new song in a different key but I couldn't tell you how the Dead or Phish does it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
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  4. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    There's a theory of jam band segues? You'd do best by listening to those your interested in.
     
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  5. johnnyrotten

    johnnyrotten Tele-Meister

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    My band is a jam band We don't need no stinking segues!
     
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  6. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Segway?

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    I think part of the trick is finding songs that work together. If you look at Scarlet -> Fire, both songs overlap considerably, Scarlet being essentially E A B and Fire being B -> A. Stick with the E Maj scale or pentatonic, you get pretty much all the right notes for soloing. The finesse is introducing the B of Fire on the Mountain as the focus as the solo goes along

    I also saw Bob and Phil do a demonstration of how the cue each other. They were playing a song (maybe Bird Song) for a bit and Bob began hinting at the next song by introducing some passing tones that would fit with the song they were going to. It was really skillfully done, and the next song was immediately apparent.
     
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  8. NStone

    NStone Tele-Meister

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    I do alot of "jamband" work...(i hate that term)...I would say is a mix between songs thats in a similar key and band chemistry. Phish can be more technical by nature but pretty much the same thing imo. When I was doing a weekly dead gig we would mix up the tunes ...say

    Cassidy >
    (the first leg of the jam ..still in E) >
    After Midnight in Em>
    (the 2nd leg of the jam till the end (flight of the seabirds etc)

    Theres alot of examples, have fun with it...lol
     
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  9. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    Yeah, we do the easy segues, as in remaining in the same basic keys/rhythms. I'm trying to find the techniques to get deeper.

    I was reading a small blurb about Phish using the circle of 5ths and recently a guy who made "Setlist Schematics" has shown up several places discussing the formal structure behind several jam bands' mash-ups/segues. I don't understand his schematics, but the two concepts made me think that there was obvious logic that is being applied.

    Phish and the Dead often times move through different keys after wandering/noodling around in what seems to be typically a single chord vamp with some variations tossed in to give it flavor during the wander.

    Umphree's McGee has stated they use "modules" that piece together and move from one to the next via hand signals across the stage. That's one of the premises for Um-Bowl.

    I heard long ago that Berkeley's School of Music was studying Tupac's lyrics, I was hoping that by now there were intellectual analysis of the logic behind these jams.

    Any other ideas on where to pursue an intellectual look at this?
     
  10. NStone

    NStone Tele-Meister

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    Guys that play together for a long time and log hours and hours on stage is the biggest factor. Alot of times if everyone is on the same page and attentive to the jam you can hint phrases and make key changes if everyone is aware. I used to try and over think this portion and now it just happens on its own. Kinda the beauty of it.....lol
     
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  11. czgibson

    czgibson Tele-Afflicted

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    It looks like you may have found an answer. If you post a link to that Setlist Schematics document, I'm sure there will be people here who are able to explain it to you.
     
  12. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    There's dozens of theoretical reasons why and how to segue smoothly and there's also no necessary theoretical reason of why and how.
    Last chord = first chord (of one or another section of a tunes or tunes) is an obvious one. Also, one player starting the riff of song #3 while the last chord fades out of song #2. It doesn't matter if they're in the same key or not. Stuff like that just works when everybody's listening and confident about what they're doing.

    Post a youtube 'live' example.

    If you learn more theory beyond the circle of 5ths you'll probably 'hear' what's happening much clearer and easier. You'll also realize that attitude, confidence and commitment is 75% of it. In other words ... just segue. Mean it when you do it and other folks will believe you - if you catch my drift.

    How much do you 'jam'?
    How much do you rehearse?

    The two bands mentioned (as well as most other Jam bands) are also very interested in LOTS of other music. Those bands also play (jam) probably everyday. At their height they were playing 250 gigs a year.
    When you play together a lot it's easy to anticipate where someone is going musically.

    'Jam' a lot. You'll get it, it'll come naturally. No real theory needed.
     
  13. Danjg

    Danjg Tele-Meister

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    I agree with the above posts, if you're playing for 72 hour marathon jams in barn-turned studio you start to be comfortable with the people around you. A lot of what what I perceive as happening in a really great jam band is that players are responding to one another. The drummer accents based upon the leads current motif, the rhythm/lead leans more heavily on some chord additions (like the 2nd or the 4th) if the bass is leading them to that. In other words the members are being more reactive than proactive (instead of saying "after we finish this song, 6 bars or A, 6 bars of D then we play XX in E"). Anyone who has spent time playing with me (or any other barely competent beginner) seems to be very good at recognizing when I'm lost and either mouthing the key/chord or showing me very obviously them fretting and playing the 5th string 7th fret so I can go "ahhh it's in E now...". At the same time with as many people playing rhythm and bass sections as many jam bands have, it's pretty easy to just sort of drop out if you don't know where whoever seems to be driving the seque is taking you, and on the flip side, whoever seems to be pulling the segue to a new place should be able to tell if he/she is pulling too fast or to a place that wasn't recognized by the people around them. I think this tension/resolution happens frequently and makes it's own sort of emergent tension/resolution within the song itself. Willie Nelson's live stuff has what I think are some clear examples of this, at many times it seems quite obvious that he is singing in a different key than what he's playing in or that he starts playing and singing in a different key than the rest of his band. The most important takeaway from this is that the members aren't all on the same page, they get their eventually and music as a discipline doesn't blow up right on the spot. That sort of seems like a good jam band motto...
     
  14. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    I get everyone's just-do-it kind of thing and we do, and do it a lot very well. Sometimes in the middle of a show, something will just pop out as an obvious opportunity.

    Rehearsal vs jam? We practice, which means get the progressions down, establish a structure and then jam over that structure. The ins/outs of leads are visual across the stage/room usually or even audible if the drummer pushes us a certain way.

    All of that is usually and establish chord progression and someone thinks of or stumbles on a riff from elsewhere that fits. It takes off in that direction, with all of the energy on stage that we seek to find.

    Again, I'm looking for thoughts on the meanderings that don't seem to be in the simple framework of an existing key. I'm aware that both the Dead and Phish are way more talented than we are and surely have better ears than me. Last night, I listened to a "lesson" someone recorded of Trey speaking briefly about Phish's practice warm up sessions where one guy establishes a groove, everyone piles on until they all have the full groove established. Then the guy to the right the original groove-setter has to shift the groove somewhere else, then everyone responds. It sounded like an amazing idea that I hope to try with my buds. He emphasized that it takes a long time to get good at it, but it was a foundational piece of their development.

    Anyway, I'm not looking for a bunch of people saying "yeah, what that guy said above" but I get that if you've got it, you've got it. I must not have what I'm looking for... I'll keep looking.
     
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  15. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    Phish - Tweezer 7/3/14
    [​IMG]
    Listen to it:
    http://bit.ly/1lFtQ45

    I think it would be better if he somehow put this to music and unveiled it as the song progressed. On the site, it even says "Notebook Sketch In Real Time" but I don't see any real time-ness...
     
  16. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Classical composers used key changes a lot. The most common used a pivot chord. The pivot chord is a member of the key you have been, and the key you're going to.

    In the field of music theory, there has been an explosion of research into "vernacular" music. I'm not passing judgment, just reporting. Vernacular music is pop, jazz, blues, country, folk, etc. Its language and conventions are part of the vernacular among groups of musicians.

    I don't know if jam band segues have been studied much, but reading some of the above, it sure sounds like it would be a fruitful line of inquiry.
     
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  17. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    I think I like Larry F.
     
  18. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Everybody likes Larry F.

    We used to do a thing on stage where you would tilt
    your head to the left and the rest of the band knew you were changing
    to the relative minor on the next bar.

    Are you also talking about just straight medleys?
    Where you can just replace the top melody line
    of one song with another while the rhythm section
    has slight if any variation?
     
  19. btodag

    btodag TDPRI Member

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    Old thread, but I wonder if you give an example of this?
     
  20. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

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    Relative minor = minor chord built on the 6th degree of the major scale. In do-re-mi terms, it's the chord built on la. To find it on a guitar, count down three frets from the tonic. Ex.: key of C - C D E F G A B C. Am is the relative minor to C major. So, jamming along in the key of C, head tilt left means next bar is Am.
     
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