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"Jam Central Station"



Frequently Asked Questions...

Jam Central Station has been the most popular improvising page on the web for several years now, serving the needs of almost 3,000 professionals, teachers, students, and hobbyists on a daily basis. It remains one of the most fun, compelling reasons for players to visit our site.

We put this page together based on user feedback and the most commonly asked questions we've received. Hopefully it will succeed in maximizing your use of JCS. Read on...

I can't hear the music. What's wrong? We use generic, standard MIDI files for the tracks at Jam Central Station. The files depend on the MIDI plugin that is assigned to the .mid file extension (mime type) in your browser.

The audio files load and play just fine on almost all Windows and Macintosh computers out of the box. If, however, you are experiencing problems, consider changing your MIDI plugin to any of a number of third-party plugins available for FREE on the web.

Why doesn't the audio auto-play as described? This is also a MIDI plugin-related issue that affects a small minority of users. Solutions are to either swap plugins, as mentioned above, or manually launch the file by clicking on the blue guitarist in the upper left-hand corner of the song page.

Can I download the audio files to my hard drive? Yes, you can. Simply right-click (win) or option click (mac) the blue guitarist in the upper left-hand corner of any song page. At the prompt, choose "Save Link To Disk" and look for the .mid suffix. That's all there is to it.

Why MIDI and not MP3 files for audio? There are a number of reasons for choosing MIDI over MP3 for jam tracks, but the main one is simply load time. In MIDI format, a 2-3 minute trio jam track is perhaps 30 to 50 kilobytes in size, like downloading a small photo. In MP3 format, the same file might be as large as 3 megabytes, which obviously takes much longer to download, regardless of high or low access speed.

MIDI is also a FAR more flexible medium, in that the user can download the audio file, then make personal changes regarding tempo, key, instrumentation, etc, in even the simplest of MIDI sequencing programs.

Can I convert the files to digital audio? Yes, nowadays it's easy to take a standard MIDI file, with or without the personal adjustments mentioned above, and convert it to digital audio MP3 format. Apple's iTunes is just one of many FREE programs that will do this for you, allowing you to then burn your own custom jam CDs.

You can also turn them into standard audio files that can then be imported directly into digital audio recording programs, where you can add/record your own solos and rhythm parts for eventual performance CDs, or for sharing with your friends via internet/email.

What's the best way to print the charts? Offering legible rhythm charts, shown while the music plays, is one of most unique features of Jam Central Station. There are two ways to print the charts. First, you can print a chart directly from the song page itself, though you may have to specify a slight reduction (80-90%), depending on your browser and print setup.

Second, we now have a terrific PDF option for our fans, which will produce state-of-the-art quality, regardless of your system, browser, or printer. You can view charts without audio for study, or print/create custom rhythm fakebooks. Access from the main menu pages.

What if I don't know the chord voicings or scales for a tune? Each song page at Jam Central Station has links that will take you to FREE reference lessons at our "Chord Country" page.

Similarly, you'll find links to our "Scale Safari" page, which contains all the fundamental major scales, blues scales, and modes that scale-based improvisers prefer to use. If you enjoy licks instead, there are many lick-based lessons and products throughout our site.

Why no tempo variations or alternate keys? Each track we create involves a number of separate files, so adding additional tempos or keys to each selection would involve an enormous number of extra audio tracks. Therefore, we establish a "house tempo."

After a lot of consideration, we decided to offer valuable mute options for keyboard and bass, instead allowing the size of the menu itself to cover a broad range of tempos and keys. If you really need to have a certain tune in a specific key or tempo, simply download the track as described above.


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