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Stopping vs. Muddling through


Phred

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I played a gig last friday where we verged on train wrecking 'Whiter Shade of Pale'. Background: My drummer plays with a metronome, and uses it to start every tune. We have whiter shade pegged at 73 bpm. He tries to set it to 73, but for some reason it set to 113. He blindly counts in and I blindly follow. I quickly realize that we are going about double time, so to correct things I start to play half time, right around the time that the drummer starts slowing down.. The guitist and bass player are doing similar things. It tooks us four bars to get our bearings, and we were off to the races... The trouble is the first four bars were a MESS.

 

What would a pro do? I was a bout ready to suggest we stop? Do pros run into this trouble ever? What if you did? How do you stop it?

I'm just saying', everyone that confuses correlation with causation eventually ends up dead.
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Kill the metronome and wing it. NEVER stop a song if you can recover. People may remember the first four bars messing up, but they will definately remember a 'oh, let us try this again'.

"...Keytar in a heavy metal band is nothing more than window dressing" - Sven Golly

 

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Kill the drummer instead.

 

We all make mistakes with counting out tempos, the trick is to 'play' a few bars in your head before counting out loud.

 

If I'm not mistaken, there exists a law where you can actually kill the drummer in certain specific occasions and not be formally charged.

 

What would a pro do?

 

You mean after killing the drummer? Muddle through and correct the tempo on the fly.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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We had a train wreck once where my rig decided to call up on its own different patches than what I just dialed in.

 

So imagine my suprise when I launched into Journey's "Don't Stop Beleiving" with full on trumpets and a nice Oberhiem-type synth pad. LOL yikes.

 

We stopped, and re-started. The lead singer made some jokes and the audience thought it was funny, and we were no worse for the wear.

 

I, of course, wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere..

David

Gig Rig:Depends on the day :thu:

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

Kill the drummer instead.

 

If I'm not mistaken, there exists a law where you can actually kill the drummer in certain specific occasions and not be formally charged.

:D

Dave, Welcome Back. I missed ya. :wave:

 

Tom

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I believe Paul McCartney stops and starts on one of his albums. That being said, the general rule is keep going. Especially if you've clammed the beginning. The audience is unlikely to remember what happened at the beginning, esp. if you crank out the song the rest of the way.

 

It seems that 9 times of out 10, the audience doesn't even recognize a screw up. "Hey, wasn't it cool the way they did the beginning really fast?"

 

I also am against being locked into a temp on any given song, particularly with the type of music we play. Some days some songs are meant to be faster, others they are meant to be slower, and some days they aren't meant to be played at all.

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I'd be nervous as hell if our drummer had to start tunes live using a metronome. Doesn't inspire much confidence from the rest of the band.

As Dave says, he should be counting in his head, and then leading in with the sticks.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

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How about Eric Clapton's Unplugged album where he started "Alberta, Alberta" with his slide on.

 

"Hang on, hang on..."

 

I have the book of guitar music and it actually notates that moment. The music shows the first 4 notes, then writes "Hang on" on the lyric line, in the performance notes sections writes "(Remove slide from finger)" and then notates the rest of the song.

 

That might be the same song where he calls out "Chuck!" right before the piano solo. That's also notated in the lyric line.

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Originally posted by DanS:

I'd be nervous as hell if our drummer had to start tunes live using a metronome. Doesn't inspire much confidence from the rest of the band.

As Dave says, he should be counting in his head, and then leading in with the sticks.

+1

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Originally posted by geekgurl:

Originally posted by DanS:

I'd be nervous as hell if our drummer had to start tunes live using a metronome. Doesn't inspire much confidence from the rest of the band.

As Dave says, he should be counting in his head, and then leading in with the sticks.

+1
Funny you say that.

 

When we played Montreal a couple of years ago, our regular drummer couldn't make it. We hired a guy who plays mostly in the studio. We sent him the list of songs and recordings.

 

When we got to Montreal and had a rehearsal, he had each song charted and timed with a metronome. VERY IMPRESSIVE.

 

When we played the gig, his tempo was perfect. Even more importanly, we started AND ended each song as if we had been playing together for years.

 

Regarding Train Wrecks, our lead vocalist always establishes a rapport with the audience from the start. Since each gig is in a different major city around the United States and we're all coming together for the first time since last year, rehearsal is minimal and mistakes are possible. If this happens, Cathy has been known to throw up her hands and announce to the audience that we are involved in a Train Wreck. We start over and it's no big deal.

 

Of course, Cathy is blonde and very attractive.

 

I wonder if THAT has anything to do with it. :rolleyes:;)

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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If the drummer can't remember the song tempo, someone else should be counting off the songs. The lead vocalist usually has the best idea where they want it.

 

I've often thought that bands have drummers click off tunes as a way to get the drummer focused on the next song instead of the girls on the dance floor.

 

Never stop once you've started - even if you think there is no way to rescue the song. Believe it or not, this is where bands get tight - solving these problems live on stage. Break it down to one player who knows the tune if you have to and improvise a new intro. This is how bands make songs their own. You might even like the new intro better.

 

It's live music baby. Sh!t happens. It's your job to show the audience you're in control while you deal with it.

 

Best,

JC

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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When I lived in Alaska I started off an instrumental that I had written. 12-bar boogie with walking octaves in the left hand to start out, just me and the piano. Well, one night I completly butchered the intro, and had to stop. The guitar player made a big deal of it, stating that the problem was I hadn't had a shot of whiskey yet. An audience member proceeded to send me up a shot, which I immediately drank, then played the intro perfectly. Next night, the guitar player made a big deal of the intro, telling the crowd that for every mistake I made, I had to do a shot. Again, a shot magically appeared. To this day the song's title is "Playing for Shots"

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

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Now everybody's got the blues."

 

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Originally posted by Mr. Nightime:

When I lived in Alaska I started off an instrumental that I had written. 12-bar boogie with walking octaves in the left hand to start out, just me and the piano. Well, one night I completly butchered the intro, and had to stop. The guitar player made a big deal of it, stating that the problem was I hadn't had a shot of whiskey yet. An audience member proceeded to send me up a shot, which I immediately drank, then played the intro perfectly. Next night, the guitar player made a big deal of the intro, telling the crowd that for every mistake I made, I had to do a shot. Again, a shot magically appeared. To this day the song's title is "Playing for Shots"

That's a great story! I'd love to hear the song.

 

A shot and a beer is an important part of my warm-up regimen as well.

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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On a duet gig some years back the chic singer who had to have her music in front of her, pulled up the wrong song. I started the intro and she didn't come in so I took off on a lead. Well, she looks at me and says stop and I shake my head, no. I tell her to find the darn song she refuses so I end it like an interlude song.

 

After the gig I informed her that professionals NEVER stop a song. After thinking about it for a few days, I just told her it was better we part ways.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

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I would break the drummer's metronome. Just have him count off the song - or have somebody do it. Correct the time on the fly if you have to. Everybody gave you good advice! The drummer sounds like he might start at 113 and be down to 73 before you know it - just a joke - .
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Muddle thru , Our Sax player has been known to take a lead a verse to early or misses the one he should have played on , easier to correct than playing double time of course , whats cool is when everyone never misses a beat like we meant to do it.

If someone misses a solo , someone just seems to recognize it right away and start a solo of thier own. Stopping just looks bad, like your an amatuer garage band . Even though sometimes things can get that bad .

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Just to clarify, on those occasions where the "train wreck" wasin timing, or wrong verse, etc... we never stop. The issue I describes was a pure technical equipment malfunction.

 

I agree with all the others about not stopping.

David

Gig Rig:Depends on the day :thu:

 

 

 

 

 

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The only real rule is make sure the audience is happy. A good front person can do that in almost any circumstances, barring fatalities or severe injury. One important clue is that if the musicians are all pissed off and you stop, there's no hope, it's a real train wreck.

 

Generally, if there's any way to salvage and keep going, it's best. But sometimes there just isn't.

 

Now, blues jam is a different story, but occasionally I've stopped a song after a few bars of the first song in a new set and asked the guitarist to please tune up. And always got good feedback afterwards. Most of the audience are musicians and for damn sure nobody wants to sit through a whole song with a guitar 40 cents off!

 

So, I'd say "Never stop, unless continuing would be worse."

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I once worked lights for a Yo-Yo Ma string quartet concert.

 

Right in the middle of this monster run he just stops, everone stops a 16th note after him. He points to the viola, who proceeds to tune to the cello. This takes about 3 or 4 seconds.

 

He then nods his head and they're right back into it - the next section featuring some open strings.

 

I was stunned! I had never seen anything like it, and nobody batted an eye. Wow.

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

If I'm not mistaken, there exists a law where you can actually kill the drummer in certain specific occasions and not be formally charged.

It varies from state to state. In Ohio, killing the drummer for speeding up midway through a song is a misdemeanor with a $25 fine.
Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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Originally posted by Phred:

What would a pro do? I was a bout ready to suggest we stop? Do pros run into this trouble ever? What if you did? How do you stop it?

Have a footswitch connected to a light backstage that triggers a stooge "looney" stage invasion.

 

After security have removed them you can start again without it being your fault.

 

I think in a performance you've gotta carry on, the same as if you play the odd wrong note.

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It depends.

 

Metronomes? They're a tool. In a performance situation, you might use one if the songs are new and you and you haven't had enough rehearsal time together to be able to internalize all the tempi. You might also use one on a technically difficult piece where you're afraid it will fall apart if you try to go to fast and are thinking that stage nerves might lead you to play faster than you think you're playing. But in general, they have no place in live performance.

 

Whether or not to keep going depends on the performance situation.

 

I was singing with a choir once when the director/accompanist got his sheets in the wrong order and when he turned the page found that he had two copies of page six and none of page three, or something like that. We started over.

 

Usually it makes sense to start over when there is some sort of f00?k\/p that prevents you from continuing to make music. Broken strings, dead mics, that sort of thing. If the tempo, or something else that can be fixed on the fly, is wrong, then you would want to keep going.

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Originally posted by daBowsa:

I once worked lights for a Yo-Yo Ma string quartet concert.

 

Right in the middle of this monster run he just stops, everone stops a 16th note after him. He points to the viola, who proceeds to tune to the cello. This takes about 3 or 4 seconds.

 

He then nods his head and they're right back into it - the next section featuring some open strings.

 

I was stunned! I had never seen anything like it, and nobody batted an eye. Wow.

Nigel Tufnel did something similiar in "This is Spinal Tap"
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Originally posted by Mike Davis:

It varies from state to state. In Ohio, killing the drummer for speeding up midway through a song is a misdemeanor with a $25 fine.

That's a nice little revenue stream right there... [/QB]

 

 

Ours is the leader and the one who writes the checks. So We have to show mercy ;)

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Originally posted by Mike Davis:

It varies from state to state. In Ohio, killing the drummer for speeding up midway through a song is a misdemeanor with a $25 fine.

 

That's a nice little revenue stream right there...

Yes, our state officials opted for this over a cigarette tax hike - it's a more consistent income. Personally, I think $25 is a bit steep... :)
Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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Guys and girls, if you haven't experienced a train wreck at a classical concert, you haven't lived... :freak:

 

At the start of a duo concert (flute and piano), the flutist and I looked at each other, nodded, then we started... two different Mozart sonatas at the same time. Turned out we had a misunderstanding about the program... We both stopped immediately; the silence around us was deafening. It was awful.

 

Thanks God, I found the spirit to say something funny, and the audience exploded in a roaring laugh, followed by a big applause. Whew. :D

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