Advice about covers
So I am a young bass player. I went to an open jam night not too long ago and a much more experienced guitar player liked the way I play and wants to get a blues band going. We were hanging out one night and he says "Stay away from the guys that do not like to play covers, those people don't know how to play." How much do you agree/disagree with that statement?
Also, At jam nights do others have trouble jumping into songs they have never heard? Someone may say "let's play x song" and I'll say "I've never heard it but we can try it." Sometimes I nail it like I have heard it before, sometimes I sound like I have never heard it before. Haha. Is there a good way to practice that? Or is it because I have never heard the song before the actual reason I may not be comfortable with it.
we just had a new drummer join our cover band. He's near forty I'd guess, never played in a cover band before in his life, only original bands. He plays really well, much better than our old drummer (tho our old drummer could sing).
In my experience the advice should be "people who won't play covers have bigger egos, watch out for them."
c'mon, limp bizkit and innumerable other bands got their big break with cover tunes. Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison, Joe Cocker never had a problem with it and they sing just fine. People who won't play covers just to jam with friends for fun are pretty scary weird.
I'll start by saying that within the 10+ years of experience that I have. Which is not a lot compared to most on here.. I really only spent time learning covers when I first started playing. Like most people.
Since then I have practiced a lot and learned a lot from playing originals. Yet I sometimes wonder what lessons I have missed out on by not learning more. Does that mean that I don't know how to play? Not necessarily. Learning covers is a great way to learn song structure, how certain parts work with others and some of your favorite bassists' parts. That's always fun.
Would typing a bunch of novels onto your computer make you a good writer? I don't think it would hurt, but there's a lot more involved that just that.
My advice would be learn what covers you want/need to and then if writing originals is what you want to do, I'd go ahead and start.
Something makes my think that this much more experienced guy not only WANTS to play covers, but he might acutally only be able to play covers. I would be wary of guys like them too.
It's all up to you anyways.
I’ll go out on a limb and say anyone who can’t play a song written by someone else (ie a cover) will be hard to jam with. This isn’t a covers vs originals argument; it’s about learning songs you didn’t write, and knowing how to imitate a sound you didn’t create. Everyone should be able to play a few standard cover tunes, even if they hate doing it. By the same token, someone who can only play note-for-note covers will be impossible to jam with.
As far as jumping in to tunes you don’t know, yeah its hit and miss. Some songs just flow the way they are supposed to and you find yourself hitting the stops and making the changes because they just feel right. Some songs need to be listened to a few times to get a handle on. Enjoy the times it works, go home and learn the songs when it doesn’t. As long as you’re upfront about not knowing a tune, no-one can expect you to nail it first go.
Both questions are related. Learning more covers will add to your ability to sit in on unfarmiliar tunes. A side effect of the fact that some chord progressions are more common across many styles.
Learning covers develops your encyclopedia of licks
And how 'bout that very fine looking girl who really wants you to play that song she heard..!
Sorry, couldn't stop myself!
Nothing wrong with playing covers or originals. Knowing basic music theory will help in both instances. The thing about being the bass player at a jam and not knowing the tune is that the bass has to be right, whereas a guitarist, for example can sneak around during the tune. But the bass has to nail it. It's the very reason I don't go to a lot of jams, although I was in the host band for a blues jam for awhile (it recently got cancelled, though). Yet, sometimes you can still get by on a tune you don't know if it's not too complicated. Experience and a good ear help. If it's just a standard 12-bar blues progression, no problem. But for other tunes you have to listen carefully the first time around and hope you can get it the next time. Not easy.
Covers are great when the creative juices aren't flowing. Not only practicing your ear, but matching up another player's feel and timing can help expand and help yours. I regularly play jazz, reggae and polka even though I don't play those genres in any band. But I feel it makes me a stronger player. YouTube is full of backing tracks as well, to help you in a creative slump. Music is music, whether you wrote it or not!! So do you love music or yourself? Go play some music!!
Here's my deal with covers.
I play music because it makes me happy. I'm not going to play something I don't want to listen to, say "Disco Inferno" because its played out awful stuff. So i won't be in that Top 40 cover band. But I'll be in your power pop cover band and play that boring Weezer tune because it's only crime is that it's boring. That means I can learn it quickly and we can move on to the next tune that rocks, like "Hot Deuce" by Titus Andronicus. Which is why I'm in a power pop cover band. If that makes me "semi-pro", I'm ok with that.
I know the question is when will the ii, iii or vi come into play? If you have never heard the song before - those minor chords add color and or flavor, they do not affect the structure of the song, i.e. so you miss one; the earth will not explode.
Jamming is like horse shoes and grenades - close works. Yes we are to call attention to the changes as they come up and also nail the next root on the one beat. In a perfect World....... If you are waiting on the perfect World before you jump in, well, you will be waiting a long time.
Do what you did; jump in and do the best you can. The more you play the better it will get.
To play covers you need to be able to read well, and or, transcribe well. This is not necessarily the case for originals as you typically are involved in the song writing/development process.
Knowing a tone intimately from being involved in the writing of it is much easier from a performance perspective than having to reproduce a well know song as it is ALWAYS compared to the original. Getting down the subtle nuances of someone else’s song is much harder than your own song because your own song has no pre-determined framework that you are being held to. Your tune can sound however you want it to sound. And since it is an original no one will have a reference for it or any idea how it is supposed to sound.
So there is some truth to the idea, that from a performance perspective, playing covers is more difficult.
Playing covers, to me, is like a dessert after my meal. I look forward to it and enjoy it!
My daily practice routine consists of:
30 minutes of scales, arpeggios, chords & riffs
15 minutes of reading and theory training
15 minutes of ear training
After that "meal", I'm ready for my "dessert" - playing along with backing tracks, mp3s and YouTube videos of music that I love. It's fun and it's my "reward" for being a good boy and "eating my vegetables".
My "dessert' can go on for as long as I am enjoying it! (Often more than one or two hours.)
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