Learning a large setlist FAST - Tips?
Might have an opportunity to audition for a band that is already established and is already booking for spring/summer. Their bass player is bowing out, and I got an email about the spot (still waiting to hear if I can get an audition).
- Their set-list is approx 50 songs (I know that's not a LARGE setlist). - I also know that at an audition I'm only expected to have a few prepared. However, I'm eager to get the spot, and to have a better chance at the spot, I want to learn the material fast. Also,I understand that playing 5 songs well is better than playing 50 sloppily. I'm not going to trade quality for quantity.
Tips? How did you fare at doing something similar? Memorization is the key.
- I've made a playlist of all of the songs on my iPod to repeatedly listen to when I'm driving and such.
- I've made a Tab Book for the setlist.
What "genre" is the bands focus? Focus on those first to impress at the audition.
To learn fast just "follow the changes" unless their is a bass hook. My bassist in my current band and I can learn 5-7 songs a nights relatively comfortably this way. Memorizing lyrics on the other hand (ugh)
It's a pretty good rock mix. From Alt Rock to Classic Rock to Alt Country to Punk to Brit Pop Rock.
Of the 50 songs, I think there are about 35-40 bands.
I already know how to play a few of the songs, so I'll probably focus on nailing them down for an audition.
Lots of time in the shed...
I was in a similar situation in November. I was given a set list of 50 songs with a goal of playing a short set of ten songs for a gig at the best venue in the county. I had three weeks to prepare for the gig. It looks daunting, but is manageable. I divided the songs into groups; songs I knew, songs I was familiar with and songs I never heard before. I first focused on the ones I knew. This got a few out of the way, made the list look more manageable and helped my confidence. I found that by concentrating on a few at a time, I was able to learn all 50 within a month. It helped to watch live youtube videos of the bands and bass lessons. Desire can be great motivation; if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. In the end, the band thinks I'm awesome (if they only knew) and I now learn songs faster than the other members. Good luck!
Definitely check out the Tascam trainers. Great for looping and figuring stuff out.
Grab yourself a copy of Seventh String Software's "Transcribe". That'll make your life about 10x easier being able to quickly and simply loop sections, slow things down at a controlled pace, etc.
Make simple charts. Writing it down will help you remember the changes. You don't need to know my system. Just make up your own.
Stop using tabs and use CHARTS. Write down the chord progressions/changes. You need to know the chord structure of the song in case you miss a lick so you can still play in key. Play along with the songs with your eyes closed, using the charts only to cheat as you get lost. Eventually you won't need them at all.
You are already doing the perfect thing by listening to the music over and over to get the songs embedded into your memory.
Good luck! Joining established bands is usually fun!
I agree with Spent, learn the easiest songs first. If there's a couple of songs you aren't familiar with, or they're really hard, put those off. Don't spin your wheels on them; rather than spending two or three nights on one song, try to get two or three songs learned in one night. That way you'll have a lot more songs learned out of the list.
I'm in the process of learning about 60 new songs for this band I'm in. I have a couple of months. Got started a couple of days ago.
I just listen, come up with a bass line. Next day I've forgotten some of it but it comes back pretty quick. By the third practice its usually in my head for good. I take 5 at a time.
No charts, no writing anything down. I just sit, listen and play. I'm constantly learning new songs so it's become almost second nature.
Some parts are complicated to learn by ear if you want to go note for note. If the part is cool I'll listen and count it out and get it right. Sometimes a certain lick might take a half an hour. Some whole songs take 5 minutes. Some don't take any time at all.
When I play I don't want a chart or a set list or anything. I want that song in my head.
Learn the chords
Learn the structure
Fake the baseline (:
... Until you have the time to learn it correctly of course. Also add your personal touch, that helps to make it more instinctive.
When I have to learn a bunch of songs in a short time I do this:
Play along with each of them one time
Divide them into easy-medium-hard
Try to knock down a few of the easiest right away so that A) I get rolling quickly and B) the list gets shorter
Then I pick an easy, a medium, and a hard one as my next three. I continue in groups of three until I'm done
Every day I practice I start by playing the songs I have already learned so they become memorized
If time is real short and the list is long, I look up chords for the harder ones on line so as not to waste a bunch of time figuring them out
I learn the chords to each part (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.), then map the song out (intro, verse, verse, chorus, etc.) then just practice making the changes smoothly.
After I can hold down the bottom end with the kick, I worry about approach notes and subtleties.
All great advice. Getting the ball rolling using several of them already (especially CHARTS).
Couple things that make a difference for me are keys and brief Nashville Numbers sketches on the set list and listening to the tunes ad nauseum to get the sound of them firmly in my head.
All good advice so far. Just a couple more thoughts -
Prioritize the setlist. Break it down into A) songs you already know (if any), B) easy songs (e.g. three-chorders where the bass line just pumps out 8th-note roots) and C) complex songs (where there's an actual bass line to learn).
Songs you already know, you're all set. Easy songs, just get down what the chord progression is and print off a chart - then you can pretty much wing them. A song like "Beverly Hills" will take you all of 45 seconds to learn. That leaves the complex songs to actually sit down and woodshed them.
You don't have anything crazy hard on that list. In most cases, there are two or three riffs and you just need to get down each riff separately and then remember the structure - that the song goes ABABCB or whatever. If the riffs are tricky, check a tab but don't rely on them - better to learn by ear.
Burn a disk with the playlist and listen to it in your car, on your ipod, whatever, endlessly till the structure of the songs is drilled into your memory.
For the audition, I would say focus on your choice of 5 songs. Try not to have all of them be the easiest ones, after all you want to show them you can handle the whole list. You'll need to learn the rest of the list fast AFTER the audition, not before it.
Play along with the songs on You Tube.
I write the song structure in a simplified form I understand as I'm working them out. It helps me to memorize parts if I've written them down while learning them. 50 songs is not that bad, put your bass on and get off of here ad learn songs instead of surfing Talkbass. 😁😁
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