How to fill virtual space in jam sessions

Last update on May 4, 2014.

Both in recorded music and live jam sessions there is a concept of "space".  The space can be virtual like when you are jamming together online using jammr or because tracks were recorded separately in a studio.  The final mix sounds best when each instrument is placed somewhere in the space.  If all instruments are playing on top of each other it's hard to tell them apart.

So how does this idea help make jam sessions better?  It sounds best when each instrument takes up the right amount of space.  If a jam is too crowded then the result is chaotic and often doesn't sound that great.  Guitar with distortion or synthesizer with delay can sound good on its own but can take up too much space when there are 3 or 4 other instruments playing.

If there are only 1 or 2 other people in the jam you can fill up the space using distortion, reverb, or delay to get a bigger sound.  A lot of rock bands are only 3 or 4 instruments because it's hard to add more without ending up in a mess.

If there are too many other instruments it's best to dial back the distortion, reverb, or delay to leave some space for others to play.

How do you play in a crowded jam when there is not much space left?  One way to deal with little space is to play only small rhythmic line and repeat it to give the jam structure.  When many people play at the same time it can get chaotic, so it helps to play a repeating pattern that gives structure.

Maybe the most difficult solution but a rewarding one is simply to take turns playing and especially soloing.  That way you won't get tired from playing as quickly and you have time to listen and learn from others.  Taking turns is only fun when the other people do it too, which is why it can help to let others know you will back off and let them solo.  Hopefully they will do the same for you.

Do you have any other tips for filling space in your jam sessions?  Leave a comment!

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