I am a songwriter as well as a live performing musician. I’ve been writing songs since I was about 15 years old and I have an extensive catalog of completed music. I write songs a lot of different ways. Sometimes I’ll sit down at the piano or with a guitar and write an entire song with lyrics, start to finish. Sometimes I’ll come up with a riff or chord progression and I’ll have to turn it over in my mind for a few days until I feel like I can finish a song with it. Another thing I’ll do is write with my band by getting together and actively writing a complete song. These are usually great songs because everyone adds something to them. Today I’m going to talk about one of my all-time favorite ways to write songs. That’s by having a jam session and just letting things happen while we record everything we play.
I love jamming with my friends. It’s just plain fun to get together, pick up our instruments and play whatever we happen to feel like. I primarily jam with my friends in my all original band, Shufflin’ Noah but I will jam with any musician that wants to. When started jamming all those years ago it was all about having fun. I had some great jam sessions when I was starting out my career in music. Once I got Shufflin’ Noah together we started to jam more frequently with the same people. As we got to know each other as musicians we realized that we didn’t have to work so hard at communicating while jamming. We began to get a feel for following whoever came up with a new idea for the current jam. The music we were creating was really amazing and we realized we had better start recording it or we would lose it forever. I can’t stress enough how important it is to always record yourself. Listening back to the recordings we make of our jam sessions is a total blast. It’s always fun to get a new CD of fresh music that we created during a jam session. The jam sessions have become a hotbed for new song ideas and have spawned some of our very best new songs.
In regards to songwriting these jam sessions are invaluable in coming up with new ideas for songs. Using the jam sessions for songwriting material has some major benefits. For one thing you’re writing together as a group so you get valuable multi-person input on all the music. As I said earlier, some of the best songs are the result of a group effort as opposed to individuals writing alone. Another benefit is it doesn’t feel like work when you’re making music together during a jam session. It’s always fun and there’s not a lot of pressure to come up with a great new idea. You also don’t have to worry about writing a completed song during a jam session. A jam session that consists of 3 chords and a break repeated over and over can be turned into a full fledged song later on. The reason we record all these jams is so we can pull the best bits of them and turn them into songs later on.
Occasionally we will come up with an entire completed song at a jam session. When this happens it’s just a magical feeling and it’s extremely rewarding. The Shufflin’ Noah song “Thank You” was written like this pretty much compete in one jam session. It’s one of our most popular songs and is a direct result of an inspired jam session. In conclusion, remember to make your jam sessions casual, fun and remember to record everything!