The Origin Of The Word "Jam"

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Toast, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    I was curious about the etymology of the word "Jam". Here's a little snippet of an article I found.

    http://www.word-detective.com/2011/09/jam/
    --Snip--

    The use of “jam” to mean “A conserve of fruit prepared by boiling it with sugar to a pulp” (OED), which first appeared in the 18th century, is considered a separate word from “jam” in the “blockage” sense. But it’s very likely that this jelly-esque “jam” took its name from the crushing or squeezing of fruit to make it, reflecting the original “press or squeeze” sense of the verb “to jam.”


    Now that we have all those little ducks in at least a ragged row, it’s time to face the giant monster duck in the room: no one knows for sure why an improvisational performance or informal session by a musical group is called a “jam session.” This usage, which dates back to the 1920s jazz scene, may be using the “pile on” or “pressure” sense of “jam” to describe the effect of many musicians playing together without a score. Or it may be invoking the use of “jam” in the “jelly” sense to mean “something sweet; a very nice treat,” a usage that dates back to the 19th century (“Without Real Jam — cash and kisses — this world is a bitterish pill,” Punch, 1885). I tend to think this “sweet treat” sense of “jam” is more likely to have been the source of “jam” in the musical world, given that we are taking about the slang of musicians, to whom a “jam” represents a welcome opportunity for self-expression.
     
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  2. Brad Pittiful

    Brad Pittiful Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    couldve been as simple as one guy saying

    mans thats a sweet jam you played

    play that jam again


    i guess the term stuck...get it...jam is stiicky
     
  3. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    I think that explanation might stick.
     
  4. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    In the 70s, I worked with many old guys that were active Jazz players in the 20s and 30s. I found out the origins of the phrases "Rhythm & Blues" and "The Big Apple", both Jazz idioms. I neglected to inquire regarding the term "Jam" as it relates to informal ensemble performance. I do know they called the jam sessions at venues "Cutting sessions", or "Head-cutting sessions", because there was an enormous pressure to play well and a lot of competition for gigs in the day, and guys would be openly hostile to one another at jams. That still goes on ... there was a Jazz jam session in San Diego back in the early 2000s notorious for the antagonistic and condescending behavior of the host band and their cohorts. Quite amusing, actually ... like watching a B-movie unfold at the Jazz club.
     
  5. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

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    Must be jelly because jam don't shake like that...
     
  6. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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  7. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jam is created by a cacophony of "ingredients", all squeezed together, to produce... wait for it... MUSIC! :rolleyes:
     
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  8. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jam: A mixture of fruit gelled into one thing.
    Jam Session: A mixture of musicians gelled into music.
     
  9. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    Oncd you get toasted, jam seems right.
     
  10. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Jam, actually is an acronym J.A.M. which is Just A Minute, followed by what the hell did you guys just do to that song? What is this anyway, Yesterday? Shortened for brevity, evabody know dat.
     
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  11. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    With a name like Smuckers, you know it has to be good jam.
     
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  12. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    At least it's not also a floor wax.
     
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  13. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    Wow, I had no idea those jams in the early 1900s were so brutally competitive. I've always had this vision of after hours jam sessions where everybody was just reveling in the music. I guess the competitive nature of things should have been obvious though. Musicians have been competing with each other as far back as ancient Greece.
     
  14. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    Don't know about "jam", but someone recently told me that "gig" was originally short for "giggle"... meaning a performance done just for the fun of it. Don't know if it's true or not.
     
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  15. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Could be short for music jamboree
     
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  16. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    Well, I nominate you to look up the origin of the word "jamboree" :)
     
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  17. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    That's what I always figured....
     
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  18. NothingGoatboat

    NothingGoatboat Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, even now some jazz festivals I've played at are extremely competitive. One wrong note- and somehow they can tell, trust me- and you're dead.
     
  19. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    This is interesting....from Wiki....and perhaps having African origins makes this more likely as a term used in jazz and blues....the connection seems highly probably.....

    Etymology[edit]
    The origin of the word "Jamboree" is not well understood. This is reflected in many dictionary entries. For example, according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the etymology is "19th century, origin unknown". The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) identifies it as coming from American slang, identifying a use in the New York Herald in 1868 and in Irish writings later in the 19th century.[1] Within a half century, the meaning outside the Scouting program was becoming lost. For example, Robert Graves in The Crowning Privilege: The Clark Lectures, 1954–1955 suggests Baden-Powell might have known the word through his regiment's Irish links rather than from the US slang.

    Other writers used the term prior to Scouting in the early 20th century. Poet Robert W. Service used the term in the poem "Athabaska Dick" in his Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, which was published in 1912. By then, the word was becoming to mean a rowdy, boisterous gathering. Lucy Maud Montgomery used the term (same meaning) three times in Anne of the Island, a book set in the 1880s and published in 1915. For example:

    There was quite a bewildering succession of drives, dances, picnics and boating parties, all expressively lumped together by Phil under the head of “jamborees”[2]

    Baden-Powell was once asked why he chose "jamboree". He replied, "What else would you call it?" His response made sense if the word had already had a specific meaning other than a boisterous gathering.[citation needed] It is popularly believed within the Scout Movement that the word was coined by Baden-Powell but it was never formally documented by either.

    The word "Jamboree" today has several claimed possible origins, ranging from Hindi to Swahili to Native American dialects, which further confuses the meaning used by Baden-Powell.[3][4]

    The most logical use is that the name "Jamboree" is derived from the Swahili for hello, Jambo!, as a result of the considerable amount of time he spent in the South African region in the 1880s then again in the late 1890s.[5][6][7]


    The word Jamboree is used in English, as a borrowed foreign word, with the ending -ree. The word Jamboree is a transitive verb with a direct action of the primary word Jambo.[8] For example, an attendee of a Jambo is a Jamboree. The word "Jamboree" is used primarily by the Scouting program before the first Boy Scout Jamboree in 1920. The word has also come to mean "a lavish or boisterous celebration or party" outside of the Scouting program.[9][10]

    Baden-Powell deliberately chose the name "Jamboree" where attendees were warmly welcomed attending this first Boy Scout rally or meeting with the word "Jambo!" Many, at this first "Jamboree" or "Scout gathering" did not fully capture the spirit of this then-new concept or greeting. At the first "World Jamboree" at Olympia in 1920, Lord Baden-Powell said "People give different meanings for this word, but from this year on, jamboree will take a specific meaning. It will be associated to the largest gathering of youth that ever took place."[11]

    Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, coined the term jamborese to refer to the lingua franca used between Scouts of different languages and cultural habits, that develops when diverse Scouts meet, that fosters friendship and understanding between Scouts of the world. Sometimes the word jamborette is used to denote smaller, either local or international, gatherings.[12]

    A similarly used word "Camporee" in the Scouting program is also reflective of the older English style of use. "Camporee" today reflects a local or regional gathering of Scouting units for a period of camping and common activities.[13] Similar to a camporee, a jamboree occurs less often and draws units from the entire nation or world.[14][15][16]
     
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  20. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    That's crazy. I'd never let myself reduce an art form to some kind of transaction (my music is worth more than your music mentality). There are people who get their muse turned on by competition so I don't know. Different strokes for different folks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
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