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.
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March 27, 1993
25 years ago
Set 2: Buried Alive > Halley's Comet > It's Ice > Bouncing Around the Room, Chalk Dust Torture, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Poor Heart > Golgi Apparatus
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar.
 Fish on trombone.
 All Fall Down signal in intro.
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