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The Single Most Important Element in Forming a Band


Dr. Ellwood

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Yep, this is a Guitar Forum but most of us are now or have been in COVER working bands or want to be in one at some point. Here is the question, when you are forming a band TO DO COVERS, what is the most important element as far as pleasing a paying audience. Is it guitar proficiency, bass and drums bottom for dancing, keyboards for variety and fullness or rounded out total sound? My opinion is that the most important make or break point element in any working group is SINGING! What are your thoughts?
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Jeff Beck, Yngwie, and Mike Stern may beg to differ, Lee! :D:D But your point is taken, and for the most part correct. People want to sing along, at least in their heads, and the more interesting the vocalist's rendition, the better they'll like it. :thu:
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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I agree completely.

You can play the shits and so long as you have a strong singer with stage presence, personality and willingness to change gears and meet the audience you're golden.

 

So much of what goes on in crowded clubs numbs the sound and buries the details. A great singer can cut through all of this and far more frequently than any virtuoso instrumentalist.

 

Mind you if the band is designed around that particular musician and their power it diminishes most other aspects of the overall performance as a whole.

 

The power of words is tough to contend with given that's what we remember most about pop music.

 

....it's a thought.

I still think guitars are like shoes, but louder.

 

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Yeah.....singing has to be tops....

I play on average 4 to 5 gigs a month and the only people who ever come up and say 'Hey.....great guitar work' are other guitarists, and that is usually followed by 'Hey, can I get up and do a number with you guys ??' The singer on the other hand, usually has a queue of people lining up to tell her what a great singer she is.

Am I bitter ??.....naah.....without a tight band, the singer would be nowhere either, so its a fine symbiosis.

The best option however, is a good singer with a vocally able band to put some sweet harmonies in there. I figured this out coupla years ago and went for singing lessons and it has paid off big time.....couldnt lead a band vocally but can put some nice 5ths and 7ths in there.....now the drummer and keyboard guys have joined in the fun and it realy lifts the band......

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
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Originally posted by Jabberwocky:

Yeah.....singing has to be tops....

I play on average 4 to 5 gigs a month and the only people who ever come up and say 'Hey.....great guitar work' are other guitarists, and that is usually followed by 'Hey, can I get up and do a number with you guys ??' The singer on the other hand, usually has a queue of people lining up to tell her what a great singer she is.

Am I bitter ??.....naah.....without a tight band, the singer would be nowhere either, so its a fine symbiosis.

The best option however, is a good singer with a vocally able band to put some sweet harmonies in there. I figured this out coupla years ago and went for singing lessons and it has paid off big time.....couldnt lead a band vocally but can put some nice 5ths and 7ths in there.....now the drummer and keyboard guys have joined in the fun and it realy lifts the band......

JABBER!! For sure!! We spend about 75 percent of our time working on vocals and arrangements for the vocals. We all sing allot, because we have too, yep,when you have been playing for allot of years you can concentrate on the voice, the instrumental stuff just falls into place!
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You're forgetting to specify what audience you mean. If it's a metal crowd (and they can be a paying audience too), they'll probably put the guitarist on an equal footing to the singer. Discos get by with some very basic vocals, and some singers do/did more talking than anything else (Barry White, etc)

 

I think your question, ellwood, is too mechanistic.

 

I'd say that the BIG thing, the thing that people remember is whether a band has managed to involve its audience in the show. THAT is the key thing.

 

The band mustn't be just this thing playing to itself in a corner, it must interact with the audience and thrill people and get them to "be present" at the show.

 

But how that comes about is up to the individual band.

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I know it may seem a little off topic, but to me the most important element is the chemistry among band members. More specific, that includes ability, attitude, and dedication as well as stage presence.

 

But I don't see for example "stage presense" as tricks. Depending on music style (blues and dixiland and some other jazz forms are the same as far as this) when I see a band that plays well together, does interesting stuff, and that have both that contact with one another AND with the audience, I like them whether they even HAVE a singer or not.

 

A band has to be in the "ballpark" musically, ability-wise, but to be in the music, have interesting arrangements, solid rythm section, melodic leads...to me that is the main thing.

====================================================

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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I'd say vocals are the hardest thing to get right in a cover band. Shucks, you're lucky if you can find people who can play well, let alone play and sing well at the same time.

But I think the most important thing in putting a band together is finding people who can work as a team without ending up hating each other's guts after a while. You can find a way to work around pretty much everything else(with the possible exception of a drummer who can't keep steady time), but if the band members are lusting after each other's chitlins, it shows in the music. Unless you are doing some sort of aggro/thrash/metal/punk thing where the band is supposed to hate everybody and everything anyway, it's gonna undermine what you are doing.

And, musicians being as flakey as they are mostly, it's harder to find a group of people who's egos don't clash than finding folks who can play and sing well.

Or, that's been my experience, anyway...

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I tend to agree & think this quote does well in expressing why...

Originally posted by Guitars are like shoes. But louder.:

.. so long as you have a strong singer with stage presence, personality and willingness to change gears and meet the audience you're golden....

...but I'd tweak it a bit.

The actual element is dynamic connection with the audience.

Singing ---or better termed vocals (since many very popular bands have vocalists who can't sing well at all)---provides the the greatest emotive connection for most people but a great player, especially in genres where the emphasis is on musical content (jazz, etc) can provide that connection, too.

Carlos Santana is an example of a skilled & emotive musician but his greatest commercial successes have been in situations with vocalists but Miles Davis is an example of another tremendously expressive player who connected with listeners, even casual jazz fans, on a very deep level without a vocalist.

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If you are playing music for people to drink to, then yeah, playing popular songs with catchy vocals is the key. But for me the single most important element is self fullfillment. I don't want to be a rockstar or be in a band with one, well at least thats not my goal. I would rather at this point play fun music just for myself and the other musicians involved than to focus on pleasing an audience.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like good vocals as much as anyone, but I prefer instrumental music more than most people. You leave out lots of music that isn't necessarily rock music. What about jazz or classical. Even though tose have great vocal traditions too, they are mostly focused on instumental performances.

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Behind the scenes it's the ability for band members to get along and to surrender their egos for the greater good of the band (not an easy thing to do).

 

On stage it's the ability to entertain.

 

Our frontman is a reasonable singer, but a great entertainer. He knows how to work a crowd.

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Originally posted by Guitar55:

Behind the scenes it's the ability for band members to get along and to surrender their egos for the greater good of the band (not an easy thing to do).

 

On stage it's the ability to entertain.

 

Our frontman is a reasonable singer, but a great entertainer. He knows how to work a crowd.

QFT

(qouted for truth)

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Originally posted by Connally:

Oh yeah, singing is the most important quality in my opinion, we had a singer in the last band but he sounded like a grizzly bear thats been poked with a stick. The only complaints I ever heard from anyone was the singing.

Connally, why did you guys let him get past the audition stage? If you get complaints on the singing that is a huge deal...isn't it??
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Guitar55 brings up a good subject EGO. In fact it might be another thread..we will see... Anyway, In my band the egos of the individual players is very strong. It should be strong because they are all very very talented,experienced and hard working musicians. The only really humble one is ME!!!!! :D:thu: ..anyway my point is this ego if kept in control is a good thing because it usually means the person has worked hard to get to the point where they even display any ego! I think there is such a thing as a Group Ego or Band Ego that is the general pride in you group and yourself. Ego is apparent when individuals have excelled and Ego is also realized when a band has TOGETHER achieved a high level of playing pride. I think ego used this way is a good thing where usually it is used to denote someting bad. I like group ego or pride and it showes up in your overall performance. People say of my group that you all are very confident and make it look easy!
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I think actually that the premise is misleading. There is no ONE single most important element...for different styles it would be different priorities, but many of them are equally important.

 

I just don't think there is a checklist, dogmatic answer to these things. Some groups work great breaking "all the rules", some work great following common "wisdom"...we all find our own way.

====================================================

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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Originally posted by BluesWithoutBlame:

I think actually that the premise is misleading. There is no ONE single most important element...for different styles it would be different priorities, but many of them are equally important.

 

I just don't think there is a checklist, dogmatic answer to these things. Some groups work great breaking "all the rules", some work great following common "wisdom"...we all find our own way.

I can agree with that

 

 

Dallas

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I'm with BWoB here. There isn't any one thing that makes a band. And nearly any part being deficient can make a good band a crap band. You can have a really tight, smooth band and a bad singer will ruin your performance.

 

You can have a great singer, but a drummer who can't stay in time will ruin the performance. Likewise a bass player who's off beat will screw up a good performance. Each part has it's part to play. If any of them screw up much the performance won't be good. It's better they weren't there than being poorly done.

 

The first thing I look for is if I can get along with the other band members and do the other members care about the band or themselves. If you have a bunch of individuals instead of a group, they aren't going to be cohesive. If they care about themselves more than the band, you probably can't rely on them to be there when you need them.

Born on the Bayou

 

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Originally posted by ellwood:

"I think actually that the premise is misleading"

 

Hindsight is allways 20/20

Only if I got eyes in my....oh wait, this is a family forum isn't it ?

 

It's just differences in the way you and I look at life I think. As I get older (49 now) I find my views opening up more and more, where I used to be more rigid in my thinking. I see way more grays.

 

I STILL might pose the same question to myself, just to see if I could come up with one answer...but would find out fast that there are so many exceptions one could hardly call it a rule. Then, I'd probably eat an orange, or get distracted by the dog.

 

I'm not thinking I know more anything like that. Just...I used to be an electronics hardware technician. There life was simpler :) , then I got into programming, and I used to be way more "sure of myself" as far as if someone asked "what happens when that variable is set?" and I'd give an answer, and they'd say "you sure" and I'd be even more "sure"...and find out there were circumstances where it wasn't set.

 

After many of those I started learning to say "as far as I can see, it looks like it gets set under the conditions I've looked into...but there MIGHT be some conditions I didn't get to"

 

That pretty much is how it is getting with life now too.

 

Sorry for philosophizing like this, just, even as I read history and see the outcome of good intentions (more often than not, disaster and worse, or unseen, consequences than would have been with no intentions) I disregad rules.

====================================================

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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Originally posted by LPCustom:

I'm with BWoB here. There isn't any one thing that makes a band. And nearly any part being deficient can make a good band a crap band. You can have a really tight, smooth band and a bad singer will ruin your performance.

 

You can have a great singer, but a drummer who can't stay in time will ruin the performance. Likewise a bass player who's off beat will screw up a good performance. Each part has it's part to play. If any of them screw up much the performance won't be good. It's better they weren't there than being poorly done.

 

The first thing I look for is if I can get along with the other band members and do the other members care about the band or themselves. If you have a bunch of individuals instead of a group, they aren't going to be cohesive. If they care about themselves more than the band, you probably can't rely on them to be there when you need them.

Thanks...

 

A thought hit me too, remembering all the "super groups" of the cream of the crop of outstanding musicians that really were mediocre together.

 

The elements on paper were great, they ought to have been the best group ever seen...bigger and better than the Beatles, yet...

====================================================

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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All great comments! thanks. :wave: I can narrow the question up more here. Lets say we are talking a Rock/Pop/Blues group. With everything being equal the group that has the best vocals will be more successful in getting gigs,more money for gigs and can draw larger audiences. I have never seen a group that plays this kind of music be successful without good vocals.
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Another key element is finding people who are not overextended in a dozen different other directions! In other words, can people count on you to BE HERE NOW, let that pop guru used to say!

 

Of course, committing to a touring/recording band is different from the occasional weekend or regular Sunday morning gig - even then, please be honest and say, "I can only make it 50% of the time" if that's the case! No hard feelings, just be honest!

--------------------

In the case of a drummer who can't keep steady time, have you tried wiring him to a metronome - a cerebral implant or something? A BEAT SCAN maybe?

---------------------

Oh, and it's nice if there is reasonable agreement on your musical goals... a dyed in the wool Holdsworth wannabe might not be happy in a '70s cover band... maybe give him an extended solo, say 15 minutes before the club closes...

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Originally posted by ellwood:

All great comments! thanks. :wave: I can narrow the question up more here. Lets say we are talking a Rock/Pop/Blues group. With everything being equal the group that has the best vocals will be more successful in getting gigs,more money for gigs and can draw larger audiences. I have never seen a group that plays this kind of music be successful without good vocals.

Yeah. It that's true. But even here you get into what constitutes "best" vocals?

 

Pop to me is almost never (anymore) about the music, just the Pop(ular) star.

 

The Ramones had a guy that wasn't to me that great a singer, but to others was perfect.

 

But yeah...the vocals, extremely important. Even narrowed down though...some groups never even have solos (BUT the guitars have to sound a certain way maybe) others the guitar solo is signature as well...so they have to have great vocals and great solos.

 

I think it is just really hard to define. How about in YOUR group? What is the strongest point there?

====================================================

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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Originally posted by ellwood:

"I think actually that the premise is misleading"

 

Hindsight is allways 20/20

This may be similar to any discussion (say, which is more important, reading music or playing by ear?) where a qualitative or quantitative evaluation is sought.

 

To ask such a question doesn't suggest that only one element is important, it merely asks for opinions on which seems most important. There's nothing in the question that suggests "only".

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