Miscellaneous Rumbles

Learning from teaching.

1

One of the coolest things about my band is that we all learn from each other. A couple of days ago my drummer called me up and told me about a problem she was having with a transition in one of our songs. We got together tonight just the two of us and for two hours talked and worked through the issue using theory and playing together with the metronome.

We got the issue sorted out and it's just a matter of practice before rehearsal to nail the piece.

What inspires me is that she called me up and asked for help. People tend to be helpful when asked nicely and when someone is open to the learning it makes finding the right way to explain something so much easier.

We've found our ques and understand that it's heads up at the beginning and heads up at the change to the verse that really matters. The rest is just counting and being johnny on the spot. So simple and so tight.

I love that we're growing together like this and I am bothered by the spaces between us and the things in life that pull us in other directions.

Good music is hard.

2

Nice story, Jetrow. It IS gratifying when musicians can learn from each other and not be afraid to ask questions.

This brings up a good question for group discussion. How many folks who play in bands are real sticklers for "getting the parts right" versus letting a wrongly played phrase or two slide so as not to upset anyone? The bands I play in are mainly friends getting together to jam and sometimes gigging. So, I'm not someone to say "No, the Day Tripper riff really goes like this..." or "That drum part is not right..." - why get people uptight? But then, if you're striving for a good sound, I suppose you have decide what things to correct (wrong notes) and what not to correct.

3

Frank_NH, your point begs the question, which is more important the recorded version or the live representation? To me it will always be a personal mix of what is needed from the recorded version so people can recognize it and the spontaneity of the live magic.

4

Frank,

We fall into a mix of that.

While we all want the parts played correctly, nobody goes all "Buddy Rich" at practice if mistakes are made.

It's the reason for practice, to work this stuff out.

That being said, when I have an audience that has paid good money to see us, I don't want to hear mistakes.

At that point, we've practiced enough to where we shouldn't be messing up, and there's something at stake here aside from our musical integrity, the audience wanting to see us again.

The thing that we really work at practice is the groove. The difference between the drummer playing a beat, and the drummer listening to the bass, and rhythm guitar, and all listening to the drummer. When that happens, practice isn't work, and gigs are a blast.

5

I'm with you, John. Be ready when gigging. Sometimes, if we're working on a song and it doesn't play out, it gets shelved until we can get it right. It's great when all members work together for the same goal. It feels so good to jam with like minded, talented people.

Last week, one of the bands I play in dissolved. I miss playing with those guys, already.

6

I'm not much of a fan of note for note duplication on any song. You must be true to the song and that goes without saying, but I believe you play it better when you make it your own.

As a band we are really starting to gel and that we're friends first and then bandmates makes a big difference. One of the bonuses of having the rest of the band female is a group hug and a pat on the back after every gig or rehearsal. It's not the same with guys. Then there is the perspective aspect in that they show me a way of seeing something I would never have considered. I open things up to them as well.

All of them have their own sex appeal too and the know how to shine you on and use it to an advantage.

We all agree that the performance is the thing. We're entertainers and when you pay your money, you should be enjoying the show and getting value for cover charge. While we aren't a dance band or the usual bar band sort of group, we are working on making the special effects spectacular so they enhance the telling of the story. With all that investment, it behooves us all to work together and help each other to get around all the little roadblocks that stand in the way.

7

Good responses, all. I wasn't suggesting that people have to play songs note-for-note to the original album cut or it is considered a "mistake". Rather, I was wondering how many folks worked out parts in great detail (like Jetrow and his drummer) or just let it slide and have fun. Personally, I want to have the song sound good and, if it is a cover song, at least recognizable as a cover. So no wrong notes or botched stops/starts, but otherwise I give others the freedom to interpret the parts as they wish (as I do myself).

In fact the biggest thing we work on in the band I'm in now are the starts and stops. What happens in the middle of a song usually has less of an impact to the audience than if you flub the opening or the ending!

8

You gotta get YOUR parts as right as you can first,whether it's for fun or profit.If it's all just for fun,then you should let things slide because your bandmates are letting YOU slide more than you know.....If it's for profit,then product quality is first priority; you have to be ready to help and be helped-and you get plenty of practice in being constructive about it!

9

Some of it depends on the music you're playing, and the audience. Jam-band type stuff has a different standard than an R&B revue. One values spontaneity over precision, the other requires that the parts be "right and tight." Many of the most renowned bandleaders were sticklers for detail, even fining players for missing an entrance, muffing a part, or showing up late. Albert King was known to chew out players on the bandstand, others could shoot a withering dirty look. James Brown was legendary for levying a "fitty dolla fine" on bandmembers who didn't cut it in one way or another, and though it might seem harsh, his bands were legendary for their killer grooves and turn-on-a-dime changes.


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