May 18, 2024

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What is a jam session? The English call jam: Video, Photos

Only when it is made from oranges is it called jam. But what does that have to do with music? Even with jazz? We want to know from children which questions are on their mind. We answer one every week. This question comes from Fiódor, 11 years old.

Dear Fiódor, thank you for your nice question. You were wondering about the word jam session because you already learned that jam means marmalade in English. And what is that supposed to be, a jam session? You’re right, “Jam” also means marmalade in English. Incidentally, in Great Britain this means all types of jam, except those made from oranges. But that’s not the only meaning of jam. The word also means traffic jam, or colloquially: improvise.

So a jam session has very little to do with jam. Because it’s actually about music. To be more precise, about music in which musicians improvise freely. Im-pro-vi-sa-tion – meaning to do something without much preparation or thought. In the case of music, it means simply playing it freely and spontaneously, without any notes or prior arrangements.

Jam session - Wikipedia

Musicians then play melodies with different instruments, which according to their (quite well trained) feeling go well together. This is how music is created in a special form that can hardly be repeated.

Improvisation does not only appear in music, but also in everyday situations. For example, if you break your belt and tie your pants with ribbon instead. Or, if you snap a shoelace and use a piece of string to tie your shoes up instead.

But back to your actual question. The term jam session has actually only been used since 1930. 200 years before that, people were already talking about “jamming”, which means pressing objects together or crushing them. Such as fruits that are made into jam.

Or just music. At some point, jazz musicians also picked up on that. In this style of music, several people usually play together on different instruments. “Jamming” here means letting the music come out of your head. This is particularly important to create combinations, melodies and tone sequences that are difficult to represent as notes. For example, rapidly changing tones with different pitches.

And that’s exactly what happens in a jam session: you get together, start playing and invent the music along the way. If the air should be out or someone gets hungry: A sandwich with jam will definitely help.

Marmelade auf einem Löffel.

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