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Types of Jamming (1 of 2)

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Charles Andrew Dirksen

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Jan 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/25/97
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John Flynn posted a lot of excellent remarks on Phish's jamming and
improvisation (yes, jamming AND improvisation), and I thought I'd
take an hour and throw in my two cents. (and write a book about it)

John....@yale.edu wrote (and I respond to his remarks throughout):

|Yes! Jeremy makes an extremely valid point here. I for one, as i've
|expressed was not impressed w/ NYE at all. The first set I loved. The
|other two, I didn't.

Were you unimpressed because you went there to hear experimental
improvisation, and instead got a lot of jamming, which, though marked
by modest improvisation, didn't explore new territory? I assume that
you do not think it is too much to ask of Phish to experiment -- at
every show -- along lines similar to those of the Bozeman Tweezer,
the Providence Bowie, the Orlando Stash, the Walnut Creek Runaway JAM,
the Seattle Down with Disease, the Lexington Gin, etc. ?

It's funny, because I thought the first set of 12/31/96 was a
typically well-played set of Phish (and I liked it!). That's it.
5.0. Stash was decent/great as usual, but it didn't especially
impress me. Divided was well-played, but similarly didn't impress.
The second and third sets, however, contained remarkable, outstanding
versions of songs. Character Zero was jammed out more than it ever
has been, for example. DWD in the third set was a monster, although I
would agree with you that it didn't depart from its "Type I" jamming
and structure (have you heard Seattle yet?).

Additionally, however, the second set had a remarkably (though perhaps
not profoundly) good Simple jam, Harry Hood, and even, in my opinion,
Chalk Dust Torture. I thought the jam out of Simple was quite
gorgeous, but I would agree with you that "it didn't go anywhere
remarkable for Simple," in light of 1996 versions (which were
generally incredible.. I mean.. listen to 5/27/94 next time you get
the chance.. SImple has come a very, VERY long way!). I still found
it most auricularly pleasing. I thought 12/31/96 was far better
musically than the other nights. Far more consistent, at least, in my
opinion. No sloppy Guyute, no botched Coil..

|I think Phish jamming falls into two types of jamming:

|1) Jamming that is based around a fixed chord progression
|2.) Jamming that improvises chord progressions, rhythms,
| and the whole structure of the music.

To be forever known as jamming types one (I) and two (II).. =^] What
would you call a song that employs both styles of jamming? Type III?
Or is Type II incorporated into Type I ?

I mean, Tweezer and Mike's Song and Weekapaug and Gin are known to
occasionally transcend merely Type One jamming and plow, sometimes
rashly, into Type Two. That a version involved 'Type III jamming'
seems easier to say than "both types I *and* II," although admittedly
this isn't too much trouble (I'm just screwing around).

And what about Type IV jamming, which would involve vocal jamming and
whistling effects in the midst of a Type II (or should that be Type
III?). Or Type V, which as you know involves the use of a Vacuum
cleaner, and special guests, like Aquarium Rescue Unit (see 5/5/93
YEM). Or Type VI, which is a combination of everything previously
mentioned, plus BOTH a digital delay loop jam AND a Dave's Energy
Guide groove. ;-)

Melodies and themes can of course be in both Types, right? I mean,
what do you mean by "structure," I guess? Do you mean simply "The Way
the Song is Supposed to Go, Generally Speaking," i.e., its
composition? I guess I ask because I've heard a lot of Type I that
has tooled around with plenty of unusually beautiful melodies that
aren't at all common to the "structure" or "composition" or "story" or
"text" of the given song, to the general form that the song is
expected to work in... And Yet, such melodies appear within the same
general "structure" of the version, in the sense that the rhythm
wasn't profoundly changed, the closing and opening segments were
standard, the general groove surrounding the kind melody wasn't
particularly unusual, etc.

For an example of something like this ... um. The Tweezer from Red
Rocks '96. The jamming around the Norwegian Wood theme isn't part of
the 'Tweezer' composition, of course, but I wouldn't call this 'Type
II' jamming, because this melodic play still occurred in the midst of
a typical tweezeresque groove. Am I making any sense?

Another example would be the YEM of 12/31/96. Actually, no, strike
that. That YEM contains a groove in the jam segment that defies the
typical YEM progression. Um. The 8/28/93 YEM, I think it is,
contains a hard core Oye Como Va jam. You would still call that 'Type
I', right? I mean, Oye Como Va is often teased, but it was actually
JAMMED OUT in the 8/28/93 YEM, and so the "structure" of that YEM's
jam segment was certainly, to some extent, transcended. But the
jamming wasn't really so far removed from what would qualify as "YEM
Jam Segment Jamming" as to make it "Type II," in my opinion. Do you
agree with this? You are the author of these terms, and I would like
to use them.. sooo... I just want to be sure I understand you.

(I mean, see also the Tweezers with "Sweet Emotion" jams in them..
these tweezer simply contain "Type I" jamming, basically, that just so
happens to involve a Sweet Emotion melodic-jam and so forth... I'm
clearly not including the Tweezerfest of 5/7/94 here.. that would be
Type II severely, right.. (Type III, rather.. =^] )

|Both Boston shows of the NYE run were laden with Type One "jamming" and
|virtually had no type Two Jamming.

Based on your definitions (which make sense), there was absolutely no
Type II jamming in the 12/30 Fleet Center show. Agreed. Although, I
must say, I really want to call that stuff in the Scent of a Mule on
12/30 Type SOMETHING.. =^] Type M for **MIKE** ..

The Suzy Greenberg in the second set of 12/31/96 wasn't a typical Suzy
jam, though. Although the jamming wasn't like the Providence Bowie or
the Jones Beach Tweezer, it certainly wasn't like Suzy's jam segment
usually is. It did involve an entirely different structure than Suzy
usually does, and though there really wasn't much "chord progression"
or even melody in that textural, "Trey's on the percussion kit again"
groove, I still had a lot of fun dancing to it. Even after that
monster Disease. I wouldn't call that Suzy "Type I," because it
wasn't at all typical for Suzy -- the usual structure of Suzy was
ignored after the opening segment was out of the way. I realize that
the jamming wasn't REALLY like Type II is.. I mean, in the sense of
AWE-inspiring, in the sense of a complete transcendence of Everything
The Song Has to Do With, which occurred as you know a lot in 1995.

But that Suzy wasn't simply a jammed out Suzy, but a JAMMED OUT SUZY.
Trey went to the percussion kit, I think Page danced around a lot on
the clavinet... it certainly wasn't a typical version of Suzy around a
typical Suzy chord progression. So... is the 12/31/96 Suzy Type II in
your opinion?

There are a lot of very ingenious versions of Gin (5/20/94), Tweezer
(5/6/93), Stash (5/19/94), YEM (6/26/95), etc. that don't really
contain Type II -- but which push the limits of Type I with melodious
improvisation. Have you heard any of the aforementioned versions,
John? Would you agree that they involved Type I jamming, even though
these versions contain some unusually melodic grooves within the
general structure of the given song? Have you heard the 6/19/94
Reba? I think this would be Type I.. but still.. there's a very cool
melodic jam in it. The 8/17/93 Reba (or is it 8/16.. one of those two)
definitely qualifies as Type II, though, imo.. that's crazy.

|Type one songs become:
|DWD (there are exceptions, I'll dicuss that later)
|Hood
|Slave
|some versions of Stash
|Antelope
|Reba
|Theme
|Coil (admit it, most of Page's solos sound the same)
|plus songs like Chalkdust etc.

You need to hear the 10/23/94 Harry Hood, I think it is/was. That's
no ordinary Harry! That's Type Fucking II in a big way, John (and I'm
sure you'd agree). And the 8/16/93 (or something) Reba. And the
10/24/95 Antelope..well.. I'm not so sure that would be Type II, I
guess... Howabout the Spartanburg Antelope, with the jam into
Sleeping Monkey? That Antelope jam certainly didn't stick to the
typical Antelope structure. And hey, have you heard the Amsterdam
version of Slave? That's such a lame version that I think it
qualifies as Type II by mistake! ;)

I haven't heard any crazy Themes or Coils... actually, the 5/8/93
Coil.. there's a serious JAM out of Page's piano solo, that ought to
be heard at all cost. If you consider this JAM as reasonably
connected with that Coil, which I guess it is, then this Coil would
arguably be a Coil+TypeIIJam or something.. ;-)

And John, fwiw, I do agree with you, generally speaking, that the
above tunes are generally Type I jamming tunes. But DWD is definitely
charting new territory, it would appear... That Seattle DWD ain't
very much like the Hoist version (or the 12/31/96 version, fwiw)!

Split Open and Melt is also probably, like Stash, half Type I and half
Type II. It has been known to go Elsewhere, as on 11/3/94 and 7/3/94..
I think those dates are right.

Tweezer is also like that, so is Bowie, Gin, Mike's, Weekapaug, Possum
(well.. almost wholly Type I, I guess.. wasn't it 6/30/95 that really
went out there.. I can't remember).. heck, even Also Sprach is getting
kinda weird now. Who knows what'll happen to that tune in 1997!! And
Simple? I mean, sure, that is basically Type I, steady as she goes.
But I can certainly see her flying next year, along with DWD. (and
hey, when was the last time you listened to the 5/27/94 Simple, or
12/8/94.. or howabout the insane 11/16/94 Simple>Jam!??? Type TWO).


(END PART ONE OF TWO ENORMOUSLY GARRULOUS PARTS)

benjy eisen

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Jan 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/26/97
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On 25 Jan 1997, Charles Andrew Dirksen wrote:

| Melodies and themes can of course be in both Types, right? I mean,
| what do you mean by "structure," I guess? Do you mean simply "The Way
| the Song is Supposed to Go, Generally Speaking," i.e., its
| composition? I guess I ask because I've heard a lot of Type I that
| has tooled around with plenty of unusually beautiful melodies that
| aren't at all common to the "structure" or "composition" or "story"

I don't know, call me old-fashioned (although you'd be WRONG!) but
I've always kinda seperated Type I and Type II musical performance, in my
mind, by calling Type I - "Jamming," and Type II - "Improvisation"

I recall an interview I once conducted with God Street Wine (Pearl
St., Northampton 4/25/94, w/ Jememekis S.) and they claimed that
Phish's jams weren't really improvisational, but rather charted-out
ways of getting from "Point A" to "Point B" They also admitted that
they themselves planned out their segues before the show began (but
hey, that's GSW for you...) They did, however, credit the Allman
Bros. Band and the Dead with truly improvising, "Going out there on a
limb, with nothing but faith to guide them."

Clearly Phish has demonstrated that they thrive with both aspects.

As any veteran Phish-tour driver knows, there are infinite
ways to get from Point A to Point B. You can take the same damned
interstate from Pennsylvania to Morrison, CO but there are an infinite
number of VARIATIONS with the only noteworthy deviations being different
pitt-stops and sleep stations. Type I.

Or you can say, "Fuck the interstate!" and take off on Highway 61.
You can always find *some* way to get to Red Rocks, but it may
be an entirely different drive. Or you could choose not to go to
Red Rocks after all (If only the ticketless chose this option...hmm).
Type II.

Or as Gravity's Rainbow would have it:
The missle is fired -> atmospheric phenomenon create minor turbulance
and flight variation -> missle lands on or near desired target: Type I.

The missle is fired -> we break through the atmosphere w/ the option
to return: Type II.


| But that Suzy wasn't simply a jammed out Suzy, but a JAMMED OUT SUZY.
| Trey went to the percussion kit, I think Page danced around a lot on
| the clavinet... it certainly wasn't a typical version of Suzy around a
| typical Suzy chord progression. So... is the 12/31/96 Suzy Type II in
| your opinion?

Actually I thought we already came to a definition for this type of
jamming and classify it as neither Type I nor Type II but rather
"Permagroove."

Personally, I think Permagroove is defining enough
(when trying to explain what *type* of jamming is occuring) although
Permagrooves are found in both Type I jamming (the typical Free)
and Type II (Crosseyed&Painless 11/2/96). Clearly the term
"Permagroove" implies that there is an emphasis on percussion as well
as maintaining a somewhat steady groove...the beat can be dynamic, but
there must always be a translatable GrOoVe happening - one that you
can steadlily dance to.


agree/disagree?

In the process of some serious typo jamming myself,
Benjy


Andrew Hitz

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Jan 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/28/97
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Hello everyone,
I have just returned from a performance at Orchestra Hall here in
Chicago. I was lucky enough to play with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago in
their Contemporary Reading Session. We played four classical pieces, all
written within the last four years, that were EXCEPTIONAL. Anyone who says
classical music is dying is wrong...
Oh, this newsgroup is about PHISH.....

I was moved to write to you all after quietly listening to much of
this Type I/Type II debate. As many of you know, I'm not usually too
quite....so why you ask? To be honest, I've almost felt like I was in those
lame 9:00 am every day of the week music theory classes at Northwestern
doing nothing but labeling music. I realize I am oversimplyfing this a lot
but a lot of the terminology really turns me off. But one term I do like
quite a bit that I wanted to put my own two cents in about is PermaGroove.
Benjy Eisen called for a clarification on the definition of this word.
I consider myself quite qualified to answer this question because I
made the word up. I needed to come up with a word that I could use to
explain the Albany YEM last year after I was lucky enough to witness it. As
I tell anyone who I play the Albany YEM for the first for, as soon as the
Trey gets the real groove going I say "I hope you like this groove because
its going to stick around for about 15 minutes." That was it: it was a crazy
groove and it had this semi-permanent feeling to it.

| Actually I thought we already came to a definition for this type of
|jamming and classify it as neither Type I nor Type II but rather
|"Permagroove."
|
| Personally, I think Permagroove is defining enough
|(when trying to explain what *type* of jamming is occuring) although
|Permagrooves are found in both Type I jamming (the typical Free)
|and Type II (Crosseyed&Painless 11/2/96). Clearly the term
|"Permagroove" implies that there is an emphasis on percussion as well
|as maintaining a somewhat steady groove...the beat can be dynamic, but
|there must always be a translatable GrOoVe happening - one that you
|can steadlily dance to.
|
|
|agree/disagree?

I could not have put this much better myself. I never considered the
percussion element an integral part of the definition, but often times it is
by default. Clearly, of the rather significant chunk of Fall Tour I've
heard either live or on tape, the WPB Crosseyed and Painless jam is the most
blatant example of PermaGroove. You want permanent? How about 30 minutes?
And you want a groove? Holy shit!

One key to my definition of the word which Benjy points out is the dancing
part. Anyone at either the Albany show or the WPB show that wasn't dancing
their ass off during the respective PermaGroove jams was either on someone's
(the band's, the venue's, the DEA's) payroll or they had no pulse at the
time! PermaGroove to me signifies an almost involuntary dancing state.

I definitely cannot stress the permanent aspect of the definition enough.
Every Phish song has a groove. Every one (except N2O I guess). But not
every Phish song has that permanent "the band is in absolutely NO hurry to
get anywhere" feeling to it. Bouncin' grooves but it has never come close
to approaching that permanent feeling (although in my dreams a permanent
feeling of Bouncin' is accompanied by a sign on the wall reading HELL and
myself vomiting in the corner. *End jaded commentary here*)

I think that the first (and maybe the best) instance of PermaGroove came
during the Murat theatre Bathtub Gin (ahhhhh.....August of 93). There is
some hard core permanent grooving going on in their. Check it out if this
post seems like worthless drivel (which it probably is) and maybe it will
make some sense.

Finally, in the last year, I have tried to personally use the term
PermaGroove very selectively, kind of like the Golden Hose. Just because
something was really good, which is the case at EVERY Phish show these days,
does not mean it was the hose. Likewise, I don't feel just because the band
sets up a groove (as I argued they do in EVERY song) it is PermaGroove.
PermaGroove is a very special thing and you never know when it will strike
(which is why I try to see EVERY show that I possibly can, including WPB
despite the 27 hour ride back;)

Well, there's my definition of PermaGroove, as if anyone asked...

Drew

PS Check out the San Diego Mike's Song for really cool, pretty evil
PermaGroove.....good stuff.


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