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Revisiting "Jamming Types"

Posted 3 years ago by Icculus - 35 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/4e2f2cce

Mike Gordon’s “hotline” voicemail (212-330-9092) currently jokes about various jamming types. It begins, however, with “type 3,” and explains a variety of jamming types up through “type 17,” which no band member will discuss “in public or even in private,” and “type 18,” which of course does not exist.

Since Mike does not discuss them, you may be curious about “type 1” and “type 2.” These jamming types were first discussed on Rec.Music.Phish by a fan named John Flynn in January 1997. You can read a great deal of information about them here in the FAQ file. These terms have been in use by many Phish fans for over 14 years, even though perhaps you couldn’t care less about them. What do they mean, again?

“Type 1” is used to describe a jam within a song’s jam segment that follows the ordinary, customary course or structure for that song -- even if the jam in question is “extended” for a longer time than normal. Such jams stay within the song’s typical chord progression, key, rhythm, melody, etc. For example, every version of “Sample in a Jar” to date -- EVERY SINGLE VERSION -- has a “type 1” jam segment. Most jams within most versions of any given jamming tune, like “Stash,” “David Bowie,” “DWD,” “Tweezer,” “BDTNL,” etc., are “type 1.”

On the other hand, a “type 2” jam occurs when the band’s improvisation leaves the song’s customary structure behind and ventures into new territory. It’s a safe bet that every 20+ minute Phish jam consists of at least some “type 2” jamming (see the list of 20+ min Phish jams here), but length is not necessarily going to indicate “type 2.” Some confusion on the use of these admittedly silly terms may be because almost every -- if not every -- “type 2” jam begins out of a song’s customary structure, i.e., almost every “type 2” jam begins as “type 1.” And, frankly, a “type 2” jam may even return to “type 1” if the song’s typical melody, theme, coda or outro is returned to after the “type 2” improvisation is finished.

Until August 1993, the vast majority of Phish’s improvisation was “type 1.” August 1993 witnessed a significant number of Phish jamming tunes taken far beyond their ordinary course to new improvisational heights. “Type 2” improvisation back then also typically launched itself out of the band’s classic jamming tunes, like “Tweezer,” “Split Open and Melt,” “David Bowie," “Mike’s Song,” and “You Enjoy Myself.” Months like June 1995 and December 1995 include a great deal of “type 2” improvisation, nearly in every show. By 1997, “type 2” arguably became more common, and appeared in a wider variety of songs (including “Ghost,” “AC/DC Bag,” “Down With Disease,” “Halley’s Comet,” “Wolfman’s Brother,” and more). And from 1997 through 2004, “type 2” jamming seemed to occur anywhere and everywhere. Although Hampton’s “Down with Disease” in March 2009 made it clear that we would continue to get “type 2” improvisation in “3.0,” such improvisation has nevertheless been less frequent than it was in 2003-2004. This is not necessarily “good” or “bad,” as “type 2” has never meant that such a jam is in any way “better” than a “type 1” jam.

Here are some recent examples of “type 1” and “type 2” jams:

Type 1 - 6/12/2011 Merriweather “Halley’s Comet”
Type 2 - 5/28/2011 Bethel Woods “Halley’s Comet”

Type 1 - 6/19/2011 Portsmouth “Down With Disease”
Type 2 - 6/3/2011 Pine Knob “Down With Disease”

In each of the “type 1” versions, the improvisation stays within the safe confines of the song’s typical structure. At no point do you not know that you’re listening to “Halley’s Comet” or “Down With Disease.” On the other hand, the improvisation in the “type 2” versions leaves the existing structure of the songs to the point that a listener who starts listening halfway through the jam likely would have trouble recognizing what song the band was playing when the jam began.

Of course, the “type 1” and “type 2” terms are imprecise. For example, what jamming type would you call the Bethel “GoldenGinTeca” ? When the jam goes all "Manteca-GoldenAge-esque," and the rhythm changes and the key modulates, this is “type 2” action. But it only lasts for a few minutes, if that. The lion’s share of the jam is typical “Gin” jamming. (The 7/29/98 Riverport “Gin,” one of Phish’s greatest improvisations in history, is largely “type 2,” however.) Is it appropriate to label the Bethel “Gin” jam “type 2” when only a few minutes of it arguably qualify? And, more importantly, do you really care? No? Neither do I.

The “jamming type” terms continue to be useful to fans in communicating when jams veer off the customary course. But please, like Mike Gordon, don’t take them too seriously.

Comments

ocelotvswilson Reply
ocelotvswilson But what about type 17? I'm curious about that.
Score: 1
Doctor_Smarty Phish.net Staff Reply
Doctor_Smarty Type 3 should be discussed
Score: 2
Jiggs Reply
Jiggs Great read.
Score: 0
djmeneses Reply
Thanks for finally explaining that.
Score: 0
Icculus Phish.net Staff Reply
Icculus @Doctor_Smarty said:
Type 3 should be discussed

"Type 3" was the label given to Phish's white-boy "pornofunk" jamming, which Trey referred to as "cowfunk." It is exemplified by Phish's funky jams, e.g., in Fall 1997 "Tubes" and "Tweezers." Its use by fans did not catch on as much as "type 1" and "type 2," presumably because its use is also very silly, and "type 3" is -- after all -- "funky type 1," or "funky type 2," depending on out of what song it occurs. (One expects "funky type 1" in songs like "Tube," "Sneakin Sally," "Boogie On," "Tweezer," and "Wolfman's," for example.) Mike, however, redefines "type 3" on his "hotline" message as part of the joke, so I figured it best to ignore it... at least until some vet brought it up.
Score: 0
GnarnianRanger Reply
GnarnianRanger "Here's where it gets fun... If you can Multiply type 3 by type 4 jamming, and also multiply type 6 by type 7 jamming and subtract the difference. Then, multiply that by avogadro's number and what you get is types of jamming that are up in the teens."

I like Mike.
Score: 3
757phan Reply
757phan @Doctor_Smarty said:
Type 3 should be discussed
I know you guys have a secret admin only board where all you do is discuss Type 3 jamming and have secret SBD's of every show that Kevin has personally entrusted you all with. I want in!
Score: 4
TennesseeJed Reply
Does that make the chorus a Type Zero?
Score: 1
worm_mcgrupp Reply
What About Crosseyed From SBIX... That went from type 2 into type 1
Score: 0
Mavrik Reply
Mavrik As a musician I have been studying & transcribing various type 1 & 2 jams for the last 3 years. The more I study, the more amazed I am.

I have found that type 2 jams can be subdivided by the various musical elements that are executed. One of the most common ones is a shift from major to minor tonality (& vice versa) via the occasional pivot chord into a completely new key or by the more common modal shift. This serves as a launchpad into the next song without having to stop & start again. Phish are masters of this. The only other musicians I've heard do this are very experienced jazzers (from my personal study at least).

Some of the more risky type 2 jams involve meter shifts & added meters during the tension building. What's interesting in this case is that Mike usually brings them into it, Fish usually gets them out of it while Trey either lags behind are goes ahead of the beat as they bring resolution to a phrase. The magical moments are when they hit it all perfectly together back on the 1. When they occasionally do this, it's seems so impossible that I wonder whether it's luck or supreme musical intuition or perhaps both.

In any case, I believe they are the best improvisors in contemporary Western music. Given there is a vast library of live recordings, I think they will be studied in the future just like some of the greats of yesterday.
Score: 8
tmwsiy Phish.net Staff Reply
tmwsiy @Mavrik said:
In any case, I believe they are the best improvisors in contemporary Western music. Given there is a vast library of live recordings, I think they will be studied in the future just like some of the greats of yesterday.
Not that what the stick-in-the-ass critics think is really that important to me, it sure would be nice for Phish to get some critical recognition for their music. It's so summarily dismissed at this point that it is laughable. Time will tell, will be interesting to see if Phish is but another musical footnote in the future or something that is revered and popularity swells. I could see it happening both ways.
Score: 1
phishead Reply
very interestin indeed.....
Score: 0
vindaloo Reply
that is the best voicemail message EVER - totally type II.
Score: 1
GnarnianRanger Reply
GnarnianRanger @vindaloo said:
that is the best voicemail message EVER - totally type II.
No way. He doesn't deviate from the main theme at all. Definitely a stellar voicemail but it's emphatically type I. In the conversation for best type I voicemail message of 3.0.
Score: 3
Coconut_Phil Reply
Coconut_Phil As a big jamming fan, I could care less about all the details, I love a solid Phish jam, love the Saratoga Springs shows from 2003, always come back to them. This is an interesting read, never knew folks broke it down so much. I was checking out that list of long jams, Phish's Vault is going to keep us jammin as long as I live. Jam on!

Phil
Score: 0
abirken Reply
abirken Is it not amazing that a Phan base such as ours had broken down the details of
Phish jams such as this post? Here's another factor to ponder, what numerical # do the full out teases Trey is so prone to play (i.e.; Streets of Cairo, Mantecca, Crosseyed, ect...) deserve? Since we still have Type IV - XII at our disposal, I guess it wouldn't be a very hard designation.
Score: 0
Kjf2843 Reply
I really like when Phish plays type I jams. I also really like when Phish plays type II jams. But my favorite part about Phish shows is when they play.
Score: 0
phuckface Reply
wait a minute...wait a minute...you mean Phish jam AND type at the same time...SICK...I need to start opening my eyes at these shows more often!
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kipmat Reply
kipmat @Icculus said: "Type 3" was the label given to Phish's white-boy "pornofunk" jamming, which Trey referred to as "cowfunk." It is exemplified by Phish's funky jams... "type 3" is -- after all -- "funky type 1," or "funky type 2," depending on out of what song it occurs. (One expects "funky type 1" in songs like "Tube," "Sneakin Sally," "Boogie On," "Tweezer," and "Wolfman's," for example.)...[/quote]

Thanks for adding this point to the discussion. Anyone who is intrigued by comparisons of the different "types" of Phish jams should listen/re-listen to 9/18/99 Chula Vista "Boogie On Reggae Woman" for a more-or-less-sequential demonstration of Types 1, 2, and 3. :D
Score: 1
johnnyd Phish.net Staff Reply
johnnyd Type IV - Stacatto

As an ardent non-critic and non-analytic fan {that is, in relation to the true phisher-atti [i.e. we're almost all pretty analytical (read: dorks) by nature]}, I was a little confused for some time reading reviews in my trusty Phish Companion that referenced "Type III" jamming. Eventually I figured out that meant the funk stage - cow funk, space funk, porn funk, any combination thereof.

Is this an ongoing style (or "type" ;) or was this a phase, linked to a specific time or chronology? I'll leave that to powers greater than I to hash out. But either way - even if they never play a measure of funk again - its an identifiable style that most fans can recognize.

So I'm calling it "good."
:::raises arms like football ref signaling TD:::

And with that in mind, I'm proposing, on a preliminary basis, that the new staccato style could constitute a "Type IV."

Now I realize the ins and outs, and I don't want to get up to Type XVIII or anything here (unless the band somehow plays and creates new music for like 167 more years). But this has the potential to be lasting enough to be remembered as a major evolution in the bands musical history.

But the Type I vs. Type II (within the structure vs. abstract) is different than the Type III and proposed Type IV, which connote specific styles. So maybe it's apples and oranges, and the Type III Crew got ahead of itself 14 years ago. Not to blame them, who would have known? But is it possible that Type II could evolve to mean "outside the structure of the song, but exclusive of the funk and stacatto?"

Again, questions for bruhs and bruhettes much hettier than myself to resolve. But at this point (and especially if they push on with the staccato sound), I think its a framework worth considering.
Score: 1
johnnyd Phish.net Staff Reply
johnnyd Re the above post - winky-face not intended. thats close-quote -> close parens.

:::punches winky-face right in the winky-face eye:::
Score: 0
TheFamilyBerzurcher Reply
This is an issue that shouldn't be taken too seriously, but it will have scholastic merit one day. That said, I believe that the entire system of "Types" is wrong. It needs to stop. The word "type" implies that we are trying to figure out a mold into which we fit Phish jams. What we should be trying to do is identify certain characteristics of jams that are repeated or have had continuous growth throughout their history.

I suggest that we change the measuring stick to "Phases." In this system, there are four phases of jamming. Phase I is relative to the standard Type I. Like @Icculus suggests, Sample In A Jar is always Phase I. It remains tightly wound inside the chord progression and rarely ventures outside of it.

Phase II can become clear to the listener in the event of confusion. This jamming phase is largely represented by discomfort in the harmonic content. Trey might attempt to create change by utilizing a chord outside of the main progression, but still in the key. For example, in minor songs (Stash, for example), he might emphasize the lowered sixth chord while Mike wanders around his fretboard and Fish sticks with Mike. The distinguishing characteristic of a jam in Phase II is that at least ONE member of the band is still holding on to the original song structure. This is what causes confusion in the listener. Phase II is a transitional phase, but these phases can last a long time. I have seen Tweezers that exist completely in Phase II. However, sometimes that last member drops out of the texture and then is created...

Phase III. Phase III is generally analogous to what is referred to as "Type II". The jam that reaches Phase III is what many of us look for in a Phish show. Most jams that leave our jaws on the floor have reached the third Phase. Recently, Blossom's "Sneakin' Sally," Super Ball's "Simple," and the Pine Knob "DWD," have accessed blistering Phase III goodness. While only one of them actually left the original key (which almost always occurs in Phase III), each of them exhibit musical properties that are unrelated to the original material. This phase of improvisation is marked by changes in key center (Phish often does this with extreme subtlety and mastery), mood, meter, and general aesthetic presence. When Mike drops one of those fat bombs on the audience, you can safely assume that you are somewhere around the third phase. Lately, Phish has shown great ability to access the third phase, but has been utilizing it to leap into another song. What many jaded fans often wane for cannot be characterized in the "Type 2" principle. They seek...

Phase IV. Phase IV represents the great happenings of Phish improvisational history. 7.10.99 Chalkdust, 8.17.97 Bathtub, or 7.29.03 Crosseyed. There are dozens more, but you get the drift. Phase IV represents not only a complete separation from the original song that began the improvisation, but also an entirely unique moment that blossoms out of Phase III ideas. In order for the jam to reach the fourth phase, it must settle into an entirely new melodic and harmonic pattern that possesses a beginning, middle, and end. These jams are extremely sophisticated and require every member to be moving through the improvisation at the same rate. While rare, they are the very reason that many of us have been hooked on Phish -- chasing around the fourth phase.

(I can explain all of these phases in terms of formal analysis if anyone needs further clarification.)
Score: 14
SlavePhan Reply
SlavePhan @Icculus said:
@Doctor_Smarty said:
Type 3 should be discussed

"Type 3" was the label given to Phish's white-boy "pornofunk" jamming, which Trey referred to as "cowfunk." It is exemplified by Phish's funky jams, e.g., in Fall 1997 "Tubes" and "Tweezers." Its use by fans did not catch on as much as "type 1" and "type 2," presumably because its use is also very silly, and "type 3" is -- after all -- "funky type 1," or "funky type 2," depending on out of what song it occurs. (One expects "funky type 1" in songs like "Tube," "Sneakin Sally," "Boogie On," "Tweezer," and "Wolfman's," for example.) Mike, however, redefines "type 3" on his "hotline" message as part of the joke, so I figured it best to ignore it... at least until some vet brought it up.
I thought that Type 3 was more of the '98 era ambient space-groove that went way beyond any sort of improvisational rock boundaries that type 2 encompassed. I'm thinking things like 10/31/98 Wolfman's, the IT Waves, the ambient jam at Lemonwheel, etc. I guess that's just kind of how I thought of it at least - not sure what the rest of the community thought. It makes sense for me to have type 3 be one more level beyond type 2 and I never thought the 97 funk improvisationally was that much beyond some of the hey-jamming they did in the early 90s, although I'm no musician.
Score: 0
TennesseeJed Reply
@TheFamilyBerzurcher

Loved your idea / explanation. I think T1 & T2 are so embedded in phish terminology / history, that it wont change.

It gave me some insight why I'm not enjoying Furthur on their latest tour. They seem to be going for T2 via randomness. There is no underlying melody, and it ends up sounding like wind chimes.
Score: 1
nichobert Reply
nichobert "beyond any sort of improvisational rock boundaries that type 2 encompassed"

Type 2 doesn't have any boundaries or stylistic signifiers. I feel like this is what trips people up when discussing the "Types" of jamming. Type 2 simply means that the jam no longer resembles the song it sprung forth from. Various attempts to classify the funk, and later- the ambient jamming as a seperate type sprung forth from people wanting to express that a song had left it's typical structure but had gone into a general style of jamming that Phish was doing in a lot of songs during those periods. That way, people would know that while a specific Halley's Comet funk jam is far enough from typical that it wouldn't be "Type I" it also wasn't going into unexplored realms. I understand the purpose of either definition of "Type III" but they don't fall into the continuum with "Type I" and "Type II" due to the stylistic boundaries placed on "Type III" - Type I isn't just a rocking guitar solo, Type II isn't just a space jam. When it comes down to it, it's about context, not content.

More and more, you see people referring to any spacey jam as "Type II" no matter what song it comes out of. Simple jams sound like a lot of "Type II" from other songs, but since thats what Simple jams typically sound like, it is a Type I jam in Simple.

If the same jam came from a Fluffhead outro or in the middle of Julius, it would be unequivocally "Type II". Likewise, a rollicking Chalkdust-esque jam emerging from the effervescence in the middle of Foam would be "Type II" beyond a shadow of a doubt, no matter how "normal" the music sounds.

Obviously, there are grey areas. Such as the 7/31/99 Simple which spaces out as per usual but then returns to a massive peaking ending which still sounds like Simple. While related to the structure of the song, it is also extremely atypical for a 99 Simple to get loud at the end. I'd still call it Type I, but i know plenty would disagree. Then again, plenty would disagree that a Character Zero style "standard" rock jam coming in the middle of Roggae be classfied as Type II simply because they don't think it is "weird" enough to be Type II.. But again, those people are wrong :)
Score: 0
phishybanjo Reply
phishybanjo @TheFamilyBerzurcher said:

(I can explain all of these phases in terms of formal analysis if anyone needs further clarification.)
I understand what you said, and enjoyed reading it very much, so I wouldn't say that I *need* further clarification, but if you are offering formal analysis I'd love to read it! You sir, are a first-class nerd, and I am another nerd who wants to feed on your nerdness.
Bring it on!
Score: 1
skozates Reply
skozates @TheFamilyBerzurcher- great stuff, love your thinking here and I hope it catches on in the way we all communicate about the music. I predict your "Phase IV" will generate some debates as to what should make the cut... it starts to nudge into the realm of subjectivity (which is inevitable with this music and thus not a bad thing...)
In any event, you did a perfect job summing up with you're Phase IV idea what the "Type II" label never quite captured: "...the very reason that many of us have been hooked on Phish -- chasing around the fourth phase..."

Thanks
Score: 0
FlaxBandit Reply
Type I = within the confines of the song.
Type II = Not within the confines of the song.

Vegas '00 Hat Jam = Type III.....they left the confines of even playing music. Discuss. ;D
Score: 0
YorkvilleBeerLover Reply
YorkvilleBeerLover just called new topic now it all about picksbackstage passes etc
Score: 0
alpernda Reply
alpernda This discussion, and perhaps the "best lot food thread," might be some of the best blog discussions I have ever read. There is definitely still a strong community within the scene!
Score: 0
J_D_G Phish.net Staff Reply
J_D_G "Type 3" was always a misnomer, and died justifiably. It referred to a style of jamming, not the higher-level, binary demarcation noted by Type I/Type II.
Score: 0
CoyoteCalling Reply
What about acapella jams, type 5?
Score: 0

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