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Band Rehearsal - Do you really need the singer?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by pmorlen, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. pmorlen


    Feb 2, 2009
    Interested in your opinions:

    A lot of times when rehearsing with my band, I use a song's lyrics as cues to where I am in a song. I was wondering if that is considered a crutch. In other words, should a band be able to play a song without relying on vocals?

  2. Hi.

    It's kind of a crutch, but then again, the vocals and lyrics is the thing the audience pays attention to. If the singer makes a mistake, the band should be able to go along, not just steam ahead like a freight train.

    The current band I'm in can't rehearse without lyrics. That's no problem as I can sing from the sheets most of the songs our female singer performs, and for the rest, well the bass would be missing too ;).

    It would be better if we could just play without cues, but I feel that some of the dynamics would be lost. Usually there's someone giving the cue, that's called the leader.

  3. Wasted Bassist

    Wasted Bassist

    Nov 11, 2008
    Fargo, ND
    I disagree with the statement that audiences listen to lyrics, but that's a different matter.

    In my band, we can rehearse without any single member of the band. When we play songs without our singer I usually try to think of the lyrics in my head. I do the same thing when an instrument is missing.
  4. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    well.. you should know the song well enough to be able to play it with any or all of the other parts missing

    having said that, I think you ought to rehearse as often as possible with same line-up that's going to perform... if you need to go through boring instrumental minutae & detail that doesn't involve the singer, then maybe they don't have to be there.. but they're another instrument in the ensemble, so where possible, get em in
  5. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    It helps strengthen a band to have folks not in the practice mix.

    In all the acts I've been involved with... we normally alternate.. 2 with vocalist.. 1 without.

    Challenge is being prepared enough to know what to practice.. stops and solo bridges are normally the key.

  6. lawsonman


    Dec 19, 2005
    NW IL
    Evidently,none of you guys are lead singers.:)
  7. ForSix


    Jul 22, 2008
    You need the singer present to rehearse her songs so that you can get a feel as to how you're accompanying her.

    Without the vocal, you have no lead line to support, so you're guessing at the accompaniment.
  8. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    We can rehearse the song but not the road map. Our singer has been known to take an extra chorus here, extend the bridge there, etc. We do a lot of listening at gigs.
  9. Howlin' Hanson

    Howlin' Hanson Lighter cabs, please.

    Sep 3, 2007
    Austin TX
    We find that we can rehearse without the drummer on occasion, as the lower sound volume allows us to hear vocal harmonies better.
    We can also rehearse without one singer, as she sings lead on only about a third of the songs.

    The band refused to rehearse without me last weekend and next. (I'm visiting family in Florida.) This tells me either the bass is indispensible, or I am singing too many lead vocals. :D
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Bingo. Anyone who says they need the singer to know where they are in the song, needs to go back and woodshed more on the song themselves.

    It's like they say in football, the good players know where they are supposed to be on a play, the great players know where everyone else is supposed to be, too. Heck almost every show in my band I'm feeding our singer the words on one song or another. So the question really isn't, "do you need the singer for a rehearsal," but rather, "does the singer need the rehearsal?".
  11. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    when I was younger, I could have done any of the songs we played without a singer no problem (usually because we couldnt keep a singer long enough to get used to it). But now with my current band, I find that I am listening for the vocals for cues much more. Before we got the current singer, both guitarists would share singing lead so there was never a time without vocals and it is easy to get used to that. Occasionally me and the drummer get together to practice and I can usually pull off the songs, but I admit I like reacting to the singer.
  12. Safari


    Feb 6, 2009
    It is a bit of a crutch. My band is currently looking for a singer and it's been more difficult to arrange and nail nuances without the vocal cues. But we're also much better for it - having the songs nailed so hard into our heads that when a singer is present there's no "oh wait, so that happens now and you do that here" b.s. We're just able to focus on how we accent the vocals since we're already strong on the arrangement.
  13. the engine

    the engine Guest

    Kind of a double-edged sword. You need to be able to play the songs without the singer. BUT... When playing live you need to pay attention him as well. He could miss a cue. He may want to "break it down" for some reason. You need to be able to cue off of him while not using him as a crutch. GEEEEZ! I hate it when people give two-sided answers and I just did it! Sorry...but that's the way I see it. Hope it helps.
  14. Menace


    Mar 4, 2009
    I never realized how much I depend on the vocals for cues until my band recorded a few tracks without the vocals, to be added later.

    For live performances, not a problem. When would you ever perform live without vocals? Recording is another matter.
  15. pmorlen


    Feb 2, 2009
    Lot of great comments and good food for thought. Thanks for your feedback.
  16. mjolnir

    mjolnir Thor's Hammer 2.1.3beta

    Jun 15, 2006
    Houston, TX
    Amen to that. Lucky for us, our lead gui**** is the lead vocalist, so he's never not around.
  17. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Shrugs sholders :meh: ... well yeah I guess you can practice without the singer (we use a dedicated singer) but in the type of music we play lots of blues and old school R&B it's all about getting the que from the singer, so it is a very fluid type of music that can change every time you play the tune.

    Now change the type of music to something that has a more ridgid structure ... straight "classic rock" covers and metal come to mind and yeah I can see where getting together and working through tunes without a singer might be OK

    :) ... Depends so much on what you play, and how you work as a band.
  18. dlb1001


    Jan 30, 2007
    The band that I'm in, also does a lot of blues stuff. So, the singer or harp player is responsible for cueing everyone. But, I have been at jams where there isn't a singer or harp player so we had to take the cues from the guitar player, who was leading song.
    I guess the band should be flexible enough to handle any song with/without singer...just need someone to lead.
  19. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    with a singer:
    you can adjust your playing to support the true feel of the complete performance.

    without a singer:
    you gain independent confidence in the form of the song. As mentioned, every band member should be able to play the song correctly on their own.

    both are worth doing.
  20. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    My drummer and I used to rehearse by ourselves.. Tyis is a GREAT way to lock into the other instrument and also you will 100% know the songs when you are tight.

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