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How do you lead/control a band?


NickT

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BenLoy's comment on the metronome thread about good players bringing a band back to the click if they move away from it got me thinking.

 

How do you do that? I've tried laying it down harder. Cutting out syncopations and nailing my notes onto the beat more heavily, but it doesn't seem to work.

 

If the band or a particular player is getting out of time, surely that indicates that they either aren't listening properly or they are listening and can't hear that they are pushing, dragging or are generally out of time?

 

At that point, besides shouting at them in mid-song, what are you supposed to do.

 

How do you corale a wayward band?

Free your mind and your ass will follow.
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IMO....Its very akward to "correct" another musician.

Its nice to have a manager to handle that when working on significant projects. Sometimes the engineer will step in as well.

In rehearsals A general statement directed at all members has worked in the past for me and has kept the peace.

www.danielprine.com

 

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Originally posted by 57pbass:

In rehearsals A general statement directed at all members has worked in the past for me and has kept the peace.

The old "I think it might sound better if WE did it like this."

 

Instead of my approach; "I think it would sound better if you stopped screwing up, you bloodly hack." ;)

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I sometimes resort to the Subliminal Man method... something like this....

 

Guys..there something weird happening with the timing (drummer sucks) and I cant put my finger on it....it happens at the beginning of each chorus (replace the drummer) ..so lets take it from the top and see if we can correct it... (if it happens again lets kill the drummer)

www.danielprine.com

 

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this is a strange situation to be in. i was once in a band with two separate guitarists with horrid time. one was a great songwriter and a really nice guy that just had NO sense of time. the other never listened to anyone but himself. a conversation with the guitarist who never listens about his need to start (in order for him to hear whether or not the drummer and i were playing what he wanted in his compositions ;) ) worked for him. but on the other hand how do you tell a nice guy he sucks without hurting his feelings?
Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh.
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How do you corale a wayward band?
Eye contact and counting out loud works for me, however (at church) I'm usually playing a legato drone general noise kind of base line so if I change to obvious beats people (in the band) take notice.
A man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all; he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame. -- C.S.Lewis
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I don't generally have this problem. It seems that most of the musicians I play with listen to my time instinctively and follow me.

 

Sometimes in the bluegrass band, tempos waver...generally rushing 16th note passages or dragging while singing. They look accusingly at me, even though they themselves weren't following me.

 

To sum up: never assume your time is great. You must always work on your own time...even when you are walking across the parking lot, subdivide your steps into 2,3,4 or other multiples.

 

You will have great time, but never believe it or become a slacker.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Hi NickT,

 

In my old band, and it seems in every band situation that I am in...

 

I am usually the only one who is willing to comment on timing problems (or any problems.)

 

I typically start with the getz76 method of using the "we" technique.

 

If the mood is right, I will go ahead and speak directly to the person who is off time, but with such extreme diplomacy, it would make you puke. :P:D Something like, "Drummerman (real name inserted there), I am not sure, but I think that maybe you are speeding up a little tiny bit after the intro, BUT it might be me. Can we try it again?" Sickly sweet, but effective.

 

Or when it comes to bad chords of out-of-tune guitars... "I feel like I'm playing a bad note or something. Would you guys mind playing it, and then I will join in and see what I am doing wrong." Immediately when they play it and it sounds bad, we find the problem, and it is gentle on the egos.

 

Hope that helped! :)

 

... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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There is a certain level of diplomacy which must be handled; it is often easier if you "lead" the culprits into discovering their own remedies to the dilemma.

Yet, I must say that most bands do not function as democracies. There need to be a leader who has both the authority and the knowledge to let players know they are messin' it up. Usually this called a MD (Musical Director)...for some reason, whenever I am hired I gravitate towards this role.

 

For keeping things rhythmically together, it helps if the MD, or whoever is noticing the problem, has the insight and knowledge to offer advice and ways to correct it rather than just a lot of finger pointing and name calling. If a band is to survive all the members must be on the same page, and be willing to openly discuss problems with each other, and always keep a postive perspective; even to the point of working through ryhtmic excercises, demonstratig how the groove lies (for instance I quite often have to demonstrate to drummers how if the lay behind the beat and play on top it, or vice versa, a thick groove is created with much more musical richness than if we "locked in" and phrased togther....)

 

Now, if for all the positve energy, "one for all.." and we can work it out vibe, the culprits continue to their maligned avenue of personal expression (i.e..they keep f***in with the time) then it is also the MD's responsibilty to fire them. Basically if they cannot listen, cannot count and cannot take posive support and help from their fellow musicians then they cannot play and should be replaced. The skills neccessary to be a good musician, and chief among these is the ability to listen, can be learned. But it is not easy, and if someone simply will not put in the work, both individually and with the group, then he/she must be replaced. Continuing on will only bring down the other players (both literally and figuitvely). Also, firing one "trouble-spot" in a band's lineup will do wonders to get all the other "in line", so to speak.

 

From I can discern from your post, if you are trying to lead the players when things get wobbly, but it is to no avail......then they are simply not listening (or do not yet know know HOW to listen to other players). Theyvare playing their part, you are playing yours, and in their perspective, as if magically, it al comes together as music. But we know better than that don't we?

Perhaps this is what needs to be addressed at band meetings/rehearsals......and perhaps finding a way to get them to listen...

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Thanks for the comments guys.

 

I was wondering more how do you lead people back to time whilst you are playing. BenLoy's comment was about good players dragging a band back to the click. I know that I've found my way back into the pocket when my concentration (and playing) wandered. How do I lead other people back into the pocket?

Free your mind and your ass will follow.
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Originally posted by NickT:

I was wondering more how do you lead people back to time whilst you are playing. BenLoy's comment was about good players dragging a band back to the click.

Are you talking about a purely tempo related thing, like when the band is rushing and you want them to slow down? When I want things to speed up or slow down I play progressively further ahead or behind the beat so the drummer (unless they're being stubborn) has to follow.

 

Originally posted by NickT:

I know that I've found my way back into the pocket when my concentration (and playing) wandered. How do I lead other people back into the pocket?

It's down to them to find the pocket, based on the groove that's (predominantly) created by the drummer and you. If they can't, then either the groove isn't blatant enough or their sense of groove is lacking. Simplifying your bassline should help if they're lost.

 

Alex

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Originally posted by NickT:

C.Alex....I'm talking purely tempo, either holding back a band that is rushing or pulling forward one that is dragging.

Another trick to slow down a rushing band is to sit back behind the beat to keep an anchor on them but when you reach the end of phrase/riff or the turnaround step out with a LOUD fill that lays further and further back behind the beat to really drag the band back to tempo. Playing 3 against 4 (e.g. 8th note triplets) can make this deceleration even more obvious.

 

To speed them up, do the reverse but IME this is rarely required!

 

Alex

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I was wondering more how do you lead people back to time whilst you are playing. BenLoy's comment was about good players dragging a band back to the click. I know that I've found my way back into the pocket when my concentration (and playing) wandered. How do I lead other people back into the pocket?
To clarify, NickT, it's not something any one player does to "drag the band back to the click." Rather, it's the responsibility of the entire band. If any single player has bad time, it can cause problems that can make it difficult to get a take that stays with the click.

 

In one studio situation I was in, there were a couple players who simply could not play to the click during tracking...they kept wavering and caused the band to sound seasick when we listened to the playback.

 

The solution? The drummer and I tracked by ourselves with no guitars, and the guitars were laid down afterwards.

 

It's not your responsibility to lead others back to the pocket. Everyone should know where the pocket is.

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We don't have that problem now, but I have dealt w/ it in the past. I can't believe from one drummer to the next, how timing can be so "different".

I also can't believe how some people that go by the title "drummer" and play in working bands can't find the time or play consistent worth a damn.

I have a good internal metronome, so I always assume I'm on time if we're OOS.

It depends on exactly what the symptom is, and how bad it is.

If the drummer is just dragging, but playing consistently, I will ususally make ONE attempt to bring the miscreant back to the original time by falling in to the most basic groove and making eye contact w/ the drummer. If I don't see the light bulb go on in his head right away, I'll concede the battle and work my way toward his time in a not too drastic fashion. Usually the others will feel this happening and adjust likewise.

If the drummer is inconsistent, I'll usually try to play as on-time as possible while I try to make slight adjustments to the drummer. While doing this, I keep a close eye on him, and try hard to make any breaks or accents come out spot-on. It usually ends up sounding kind of disarrayed, but if you watch closely enough to nail the breaks, it can sometimes come off as a "good" disarray (akin to how some Led Zeppelin stuff sounds kind of "messy" at times, but you know the resolution is coming and you wait for it).

 

Ching. $.02

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A seasoned musician told me this once, and I've tried it with sporatic success.

 

If you want the band to get back on meter (click), as a bass player, play SOFTER. When they realize that they can't hear you, they will start listening, and fall in with the groove. Or, the time will take off like a locomotive, LOL.

 

If you and the drummer are not on the same page, it's really difficult, but possible.

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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Originally posted by randy clay:

A seasoned musician told me this once, and I've tried it with sporatic success.

 

If you want the band to get back on meter (click), as a bass player, play SOFTER. When they realize that they can't hear you, they will start listening, and fall in with the groove. Or, the time will take off like a locomotive, LOL.

 

If you and the drummer are not on the same page, it's really difficult, but possible.

My band would probably just go off on a tangent and then ask me to turn up before the next song.
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My band is an improvisation band that purposely drags the tempo and then speeds up for intensity purposes, on occasion. Sometimes it works great sometimes it don't. It is what it is. Eye contact is essential for us. A head bob upwards, while looking up means faster to us, a thumbs up means louder, etc. If the drummer isn't looking, I usually wake him up with loud or strange note. Alex's suggestion on pulling a fill turn around while adjusting the speed works well also. Alot bands put it all on the drummer if timing is off, but I take personal responsibility for the time in our band. If we ain't on it, its my fault.

 

You could pull a James Brown, and fine your drummer if he's off. :D

Together all sing their different songs in union - the Uni-verse.

My Current Project

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I've not had this problem often. When it's happened, it's been due to an inability to hear one another. Two things are needed.

 

1. You must have previously earned the respect of the band so that they can take "in-song" direction without arguing (or ignoring you).

 

2. Wave your bass neck in a conducting fashion while playing quarter notes (or possibly eigths) until everyone is on the same page.

 

Our drummer is solid, but is buried in the back and can't always hear us. Thankfully, we all listen pretty well. When the rare event happens that someone is suddenly in a different place, we catch on and adapt pretty well. It doesn't sound wonderful, but the "oops" never lasts long.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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