Jamming? Pay Attention to the RHYTHM!

Red HenryThere was some pretty good picking not far from here a few nights ago. It just showed how the right rhythm in a session can make a lot of difference.

Well, a LOT of people showed up for this jam. There must have been 14 or 15 musicians there. Pretty often that means it's hard to get songs and tunes to sound good, since there are so many guitar players (6 or 7, in this case) and so many other musicians (8 or 9, I guess) that it's hard for people to hear each other well. The two most important parts of each beat--- the on-beat and the off-beat--- are just out of focus. But this time, things were different!

As we were getting our instruments out and tuning up to play, who should walk in but Marshall Wilborn--- only one of the best bass players in the world. Marshall is extremely quiet and shy, but he plays world-class bass rhythm. And we happened to be right next to each other in the jam.

Now, being right next to Marshall had at least two advantages: (1) I could always hear where the beat was, with Marshall playing his solid bass notes; and (2) I could chunk my mandolin rhythm exactly between those bass notes and define the off-beat for everybody (the mandolin I was playing, Randy Wood #3, is not a shy mandolin). So the rhythm never got out of focus, with the bass and the mandolin going, BOOM. chunk. BOOM. chunk. BOOM. chunk. BOOM. chunk. Everybody heard the beat, and everybody heard the off-beat. And everybody played together. There's nothing like it.

Next time you're in a jam session, pay attention to the rhythm. It can make the music better for everybody!

Posted in By Red, jamming and tagged , , on by .

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.

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