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#1646106 - 06/26/05 07:02 AM Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
Warning: this is LONG...

We are a blues-oriented band. I play mostly lead guitar.


This is nothing new, MANY here and other places have mentioned this, but here are just a few of my own thoughts and experiences from recently regarding practice/rehearsal and recording band practices.

First, my misconceptions and how I found out they were:

I thought it the sound quality would be horrible. We practice in a bomb shelter, cinder-block walls...there is so much reflection of bass and nodes that once, when I complained the bass player was WAY too mushy sounding and loud, we traded places...I stood RIGHT in front of his amp, he stood where I usually do. We both agreed, in front of his amp it was quiet, where I stood it boomed.

Anyway, last wednsday I took my little Tascam Porta-one out of retirement (mainly because it would be an hours recording, and the preamps on the Tascam sound better to me than my digital VS machine)took a couple of SM58 mics and some cable...set it up with one mic on one side of the room, the other on the other side. I had NO high hopes of good sound. Just wanted to hear generally what we did.

I recorded one of our sets. An hour. Got it home and damn...it wasn't all that bad right off the porta one. Play with the pan a little and I was amazed. I recorded the whole hour (cutting out jabber in between songs, and false starts) over from the tascam to my Roland VS1880. Did no EQ on it yet. When I had both tracks over, I started EQ'ing to get rid of the mid-range boxiness, and lose a little of the bass. Being my first time I had to try many things til I found some solutions to sound problems (right off the tape the drums were overpowering. I thought I had the mics near where it was more balanced...but it's hard to hear what is coming in through the mics and what is coming in through the air. To di it right would mean the whole band would have to play a little bit...stop, rewind, listen,adjsut mic position, over and over...I wanted this recording to be non-intrusive as possible on our practice time so I didn't do that) epecially that the drums overpowered. So I erased what I had recorded over, and tried again, this time sending the porta ones' L & R over to two RNC compressors. Played with the settings and tamed the drums!!

Suddenly it opened up much better I spent some time adjusting EQ more, adding a little tiny bit of reverb, playing with panning (best position turned out to be like L=20, R=28) and suddenly there was GREAT seperation between the instruments, and the vocals (two small monitors WAY far from where we play) actually sounded good!

Next time it will take me half the time to fly in the porta-one recording and adjust, because I will know what needs to be done, etc.

The other thing, I thought "I already practice a LOT at home. When am I going to find the time and motivation to listen to our last practice the whole hour each week...let alone do all the hours of work to get it to CD and sounding good?"

Well, as I wrote about above, first time took about 5 hours continuous work to get to CD. But next time I expect only a couple of hours. Of course, if you record an hours worth of music, it takes an hour to get it over to the other machine, over an hour to mix, pan, get it all right, an hour to record the final mixdown to two new tracks and then about 40 minutes (on a VS..they are slow on CD record the first time) to make the original CD. After that I can quickly make copies.

On top of that, I just did this, and it seems even band memebers that never have the time to practice at home, are so interested they have been really motivated about our arrangements and songs.

Listening to the thing myself, I could give an honest appraisal of my guitar work (without realizing it, I have been getting sloppy on my higher fret bends...really didn' like that. Overall, I had good spots, but sometimes I meandered in my solos too much), and even cooler, TOTALLY unexpected for me, I got to hear the other folks more. Our keyboar player has a hard time remembering arrangments, but I realized up til now, I wasn't able to hear just how damn good he is! Some of the stuff he is doing, solo or comp, just blew me away! I got a new higher appreciation of his abilities from doign the recording!

Also, I could hear the good, bad,and ugly.

We do some songs BETTER than I thought we did.
Some songs are WAY too long for any non-stoned audience, even stoned folk might feel we were pushing it, and some songs it is obvious half the time everyone is unsure where they are or where the next bit comes in.

All in all, I REALLY wish I had been doing this from the start. This band has been together (like an old married couple x 5) for 12 years or so. I joined a year ago. They have 50+ songs (some I really like, some I am not too crazy about) I have been scrambling to learn/find my voice in/get some planned solo ideas in...


If I had had the foresight to do this from the start I could have really progressed a LOT faster.


This method also lets us honestly evaluate how good the songs, players, arrangements are and identify "blind spot" problems with songs.

Another thing I plan on doing, once I have recorded our 3 current sets "as is" (the good, bad, and ugly again) I am going to ask that the band play at least 3-4 songs for our "live recording" that are good versions. Where the solos are okay and the arrangement is right, and the vocalist felt he did his part right, etc.
These will be the "practice set goal" to at least do the songs as well as that.

After a while, I will try recording the sets again "as is" and see if we have evolved, devolved, or gotten stagnant.

Another thing this helps with is, our guitarist (a great guy) has developed a habit, or a technique that actually is pretty cool...ONCE in ONE SONG for the night. Problem is HE likes it and has started doing it in a lot of songs...it's a "strum-fest" kinda thing in a slow blues where the rythm guitar is strumming like crazy at low volume, in the back of the mix. It can be nice, but NOT overused. Hopefully he might hear that in the recording, or if not one could gntly point out "hey, that sounded really good THERE...but maybe we ought not overuse it, I think it doesn't work in the other song" be constructive.

Another thing about all this, IF say I left the band, the next lead guitarist could be given 3 setlist song CD's and use them to practice with. Or any member. Hell, I have a hard time putting the title to match with the song...Once the song starts I think "Oh yeah...that one" but this all ties in.

So, sorry for the LONG post, but I just wanted to let others know...often you see advice where someone says "it really pays to record rehearsals" and you think "yeah probably...but" and I am just trying to emphasize that it REALLY is essential. You may THINK you know how your band sounds ("hell...I play these songs 3 nights a week...of COURSE I know how they sound") but I can almost guarantee you will be surprised if you just try it once. In some areas pleasantly surprised (that's nice when that happens) and other times...not so much (not so nice, but crucual if you want to get better).

You will finally hear what the audience would have heard. You've all experienced that, when it seems like in a jam ideas are flowing, cool stuff, finding new riffs, mind working ovetime, ears working overtime...and then you hear it back and think "that's weird, I thought we went right from that B part to the C part" when in fact it took twenty bars! Meanwhile, any potential audience has already started falling asleep..

Or the opposite, when you play a solo and think "ouch...I BLEW that" and "damn, that wasn't what I thought it would sound like", etc.

Afterwards you may have to work at it when listening back to not repeat the "ouch" thought process, but if you hear it with fresh ears you think "ooohh..that was kind of a nice little riff there...and it builds up pretty nicely"

Finally you will understand why that solo you did you thought blew chunks on, was so well received and your friends came up and said "that was GREAT!"

Or why the solo you were so proud of, that went "perfect" when you asked a buddy what they thought of that song got a guarded "yeah..that one..it was okay, it was "good""

One other thing to consider is the media.

I like old fashioned Porta-ones, cassette recorders over digital any day FOR THIS KIND OF RECORDING (band rehearsals and even live concerts)... For many reasons. I like digital best for mixdown and adding EQ and effects.

The reasons tape is better for me is, it is simpler, it HAS moving parts (meaning, I can see that tape is rolling, or is at the end at a glance. Fill up your hard drive on digital and you can't tell from 6 feet away). Also in my case the porta one has better preamps than my digital units. It is simplicity, no routing crap to screw up, etc.

Easy to start and stop and verify it is working.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts about it all.

Thanks for listening!
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"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,
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#1646107 - 06/26/05 10:02 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by BluesWithoutBlame:


...I could give an honest appraisal of my guitar work ...

Another thing this helps with is, our guitarist ...
What you are finding out aboout practice is that it is mostly masturbation. That is why things are too long.... you're pleasuring yourselves instead of the audience.

"You will finally hear what the audience would have heard. "

Bands seldom sound the same at rehearsal as they do live. Record live... that is where the REAL information is. All of the things that you talk about are important, but what is done at the gigs is far more important than what is done in rehearsal, and you will hear them when you record the gigs. It can be really shocking. But all of the things that you mention,,,,, yeah, you gotta record them to understand them, no matter what format you use.

"The reasons tape is better for me..."

"... first time took about 5 hours ... ... it takes an hour to get it over to the other machine, over an hour to mix,..., an hour to record the final mixdown ... and then about 40 minutes ... "

These two statements are in opposition to each other. Having been in bands for a long time, and having recorded for a long time, I can tell you that computer editing is better for all of the reasons that you state above. You don't spend any time dumping anything, you can easily see visually where the talk is verses the music, you can quickly edit and make changes, and the CDs burn as fast as your CD burner will burn them, from 1 to 52x. You could probably have the whole works done in an hour or two. Oh... don't worry about "if it is running ir not" Don't turn it off. Just record the whole rehearsal. Then you don't even have to be distracted by the process of pushing buttons or anything. Much less pressure that way, too.

When I was playing out, I used to take my DATMan, and give it to the PA guys, to take the same feed that the PA gets. 1 DAT per set. But thn I had to do the same 'dump...etc...' process. If I was doing it now, I'd be taking out my laptop.

Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1646108 - 06/26/05 11:47 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
Bill, thanks for the reply.

Lot of good points there. Main point though, that I mentioned, my tape machine has MUCH better preamps. That alone would make me capture the rehearsals with it, even though it does take an hour to get them over to my digital recorder later. I wasn't complaining (mentioned also, I know now to compress the tracks on the flyover...that saved me an hour already) about the time, mainly because I really listen to it on the way over.

I disagree about the "masturbation" (though I respect that you have had other band experiences) for two reasons...1) No matter what anyone says I am a firm believer in "you play how you practice"...if we get into habits the time to break them is in rehearsal. It shouldn't be self-indulgent, it should be done (rehearsing the sets, not new songs, etc.) exactly as if there were an audience there.

2) I see this is a valuable aid, I wanted to know where the weak spots were. I don't know what you read into my original post, but you missed my point. I ALREADY see it helping. Helping isolate problems (some songs are WAY long from being ready TO play out) helped to get complacent members a little jazzed about playing again, and helps me already..things I mentioned.

I agree 100%, when you play out it is different. I am hoping the rythm player for one, refrains from dropping out of the song, and doing little "trill"like non-leads...that don't add to the song. I'm hoping folk pay more attention, but there also are more nerves at play playing out, so yeah..that is where the practice comes into it for me. These guys, currently we don't rehearse with backup singing...but when we play "then we'll set up some extra mics" to me this is a little insane. If I can play something close to right on 9 of ten times at home practicing, I can almost guaranteee I will flub it when I play it in front of an audience. It's not THAT critical, but I know that this is the right way for us...to hear what we are putting out there.

Thanks!
_________________________
====================================================
Check out my original music at
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/jacker

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,
but not in practice."

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#1646109 - 06/26/05 08:32 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by BluesWithoutBlame:
2) I see this is a valuable aid, ....I don't know what you read into my original post, but you missed my point....

Thanks!
Not really. I am agreeing with you about recording rehearsals. But recording a gig...that is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. I think that you will gleen some serious additional information, as well as finding out a lot about your presentation that you didn't know. Not dissing what you are doing, just suggesting that you take it a step further.

Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1646110 - 06/28/05 01:27 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
This is an interesting discussion guys! We record all rehersals for the obvious and prementioned reasons! Here is another use for taping... More than once I have went back to the tape to PROVE what my guys have SAID they where going to do and not do... you know who was going to pick up the PA and who was going to rent the U-haul and who was borrowing what from who... and who's BS'in who! yep lots of practical non musical but music business related reasons for recording rehersals. I just use my mp3 Arcos Jukebox hard drive plugged into the PA and it works very well.
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#1646111 - 06/28/05 01:31 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
Here is another simple rehersal aid to go along with rehersals. We got an old overhead projector and use it to project songs lyrics onto the wall while we are learning songs, I just go onto the internet and print out the lyrics/chords and make a quick transparency and .walah.. I project it so it is as big as the wall...hay even old guys can read it!! \:D
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#1646112 - 06/28/05 06:24 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
_________________________
====================================================
Check out my original music at
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/jacker

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,
but not in practice."

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#1646113 - 06/28/05 06:28 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
Quote:
Originally posted by ellwood:
Here is another simple rehersal aid to go along with rehersals. We got an old overhead projector and use it to project songs lyrics onto the wall while we are learning songs, I just go onto the internet and print out the lyrics/chords and make a quick transparency and .walah.. I project it so it is as big as the wall...hay even old guys can read it!! \:D
Now THAT'S over the top! ;\)

No, seriously, that is a cool idea. I also liked your other benefit to recording...evidence!

One guy on the other list said when he used to tape their sessions, it was great because when they argued about arrangements, or who had a solo where, etc. they deferred to him and his tape...and referred to the tape always as "Exhibit A"

I know I have been writing LONG posts about this, but would love to hear from more folks about their experiences with recording rehearsals and gigs, both good and bad...

Or if anyone else got the bug from this thread. Really, any of you that haven't tried it, it is a REALLY useful thing to do!
_________________________
====================================================
Check out my original music at
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"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,
but not in practice."

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#1646114 - 06/29/05 12:52 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
J. Robert Rennix Offline
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Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 588
Loc: K-to-the-C-eezzy, M-to-the-izz...
Quote:
Originally posted by ellwood:
Here is another use for taping... More than once I have went back to the tape to PROVE what my guys have SAID they where going to do and not do... you know who was going to pick up the PA and who was going to rent the U-haul and who was borrowing what from who... and who's BS'in who!
Wow. It's annoying when your bandmates don't make good on their promises ... but what kind of a jerk would actually break out the rehersal tape to rub it in their face? Not cool.

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#1646115 - 06/29/05 12:52 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
J. Robert Rennix Offline
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Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 588
Loc: K-to-the-C-eezzy, M-to-the-izz...
double post

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#1646116 - 06/29/05 07:52 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
cherri Offline
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Registered: 09/10/03
Posts: 731
Loc: N. MI USA
We record some of our rehearsals, and often record new originals when we are in the early stages, so that we can each take a copy home and work on them. If we come up with a jam we all like, I'll use the tape to write lyrics; or if I have some lyrics I've put together, I'll sing them and they guys can woodshed at home to come up with their music parts.

I watched a recording of our appearance last weekend at Alpena Blues Festival. ZERO sound quality - it was a video camera audio. However, there are many points that we can use to improve our performance for the future. Timing, stage movement, song transition, guitar transition (dead air while my back is turned and I'm switching from one guitar to the other - why didn't one of the other guys start talking, or start another song??). I also have to remember to step away from the mic when I remind the guitarist to "grab that capo, man!"
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#1646117 - 06/29/05 08:10 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
Jrob, I'm that kind of jerk! It's a business man...not kids stuff..not a sunday afternoon sitting around thing!
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#1646118 - 06/29/05 10:47 AM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
Quote:
Originally posted by ellwood:
Jrob, I'm that kind of jerk! It's a business man...not kids stuff..not a sunday afternoon sitting around thing!
Yeah...I gotta admit, I got no idea where jrob is coming from.

Jrob, if you could imagine band members that are always dropping the ball AND blaming it on "you didn't mention that" and all the things like that, you seem to think...what? That it's only a jerk that would hold them responsible...

It isn't like the room was bugged, the folks all knew they were being recorded.

I don't see a thing wrong with it. It isn't like that is the reason, but if the information is there already...
_________________________
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Check out my original music at
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"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,
but not in practice."

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#1646119 - 06/29/05 12:01 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
Ya, like the time it was the keyboard guys turn to make reservations and pickup the U-haul and showed up at the job ready to play driving his own car! OR when it was the drummers job to call the club owner and tell him we could not do a job because of a schedule conflict two months before the job.. and never called him and we got sued because of contract breech! OR ...anyway on and on! If guys dont want to be responsible for their assignments then get rid of them!
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#1646120 - 06/29/05 12:38 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
J. Robert Rennix Offline
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Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 588
Loc: K-to-the-C-eezzy, M-to-the-izz...
If your bandmates are chronically dropping the ball and not owning up to it, then it's time to find new bandmates. I'm not saying you shouldn't hold bandmates responsible, but I do think a band should be able to resolve its problems without collecting evidence.

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#1646121 - 06/30/05 12:38 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
Easy to say quite another thing to accomplish. The fact still remains, I have been keeping bandmates for 25 years and have had alot of success doing things that are necessary, not always pleasant but successful. Most times a liberal approach to a business situation ends in disaster. If it works.....why bother trying to fix it.
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#1646122 - 07/13/05 05:17 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
BluesWithoutBlame Offline
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Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 774
Loc: Oslo. Norway
Still...it is a help.

Someone on another newsgroup mentioned that it also is a great way to find out (for guitarists) how your setup really sounds. That we (guitarists) tend to have a kind of skewed impression of our own sound, because you are hearing it close to the amp, in the excitement of playing, etc.
_________________________
====================================================
Check out my original music at
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/jacker

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,
but not in practice."

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#1646123 - 07/14/05 01:14 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
Dr. Ellwood Offline
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Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 16337
Loc: MoTown
Of coarse recording your rehearsals is a given to any serious band effort. BUT my favorite thing to do to critique my guitar/amp/pa setup is to have another guitar player sit in and let me go back in the audience and just listen to a couple of songs and take some mental notes. Yep I use a wireless set up ALL the time, but the best way is to not have to play and just listen like the audience is.
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#1646124 - 07/17/05 11:32 PM Re: Band Rehearsals: The Importance of Recording Rehearsals
MidLifeCrisis® Offline
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Registered: 08/01/03
Posts: 3104
Loc: Tampa, Fl
We record our rehearsals using our exact live set up.We simply takes the feeds that would go to the FOH and feed them into our recorder. This helps us with knowing what our sound will be like live for any tune. I have compared live recording to our practice ones and they are almost always nearly identical.
I can't tell you how much this has improved the quality of our reproduceable live sound.

Originally I was opposed to the constant recording at practice. But once I saw the benefit of hearing how my patches sounded within the context of a live mix, I was an instant convert.
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A Lifetime of Peace, Love and Protest Music
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