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Cheat Sheets on the gig

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by nofrets5, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. I do NOT have a "photographic" memory when it comes to learning songs, especially those I have never heard numerous times. SO, when doing the occasional sub gig. I cram and end up writing occasionally lengthy, hopefully concise cheat note/sheets when needed for certain songs, (hoping I can read them without being obvious ) and so as to not train wreck the band. I'd love to hear/see if others do this and what they use, how they lay out their notes for getting thru unfamiliar arrangements. For example: that weird 2nd verse that breaks down and adds a stray bar for a fill, or "hit/accent, or that last chorus that has and extra chord new changes squeezed in. I'd love to see a somewhat well known song, that isn't a straight verse, chorus, double verse, chorus, break, chorus, chorus vamp out and see what you use on a gig for little reminders. Can this be done on a third/quarter or less of a sheet of paper with sucess?

    If no one else does this you are lucky and I envy you!
  2. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    I usually annotate the setlist that the singer sends me. Still on one page, and I only need a few notes here and there. From the audience, it's just a setlist. And I only need to refer to it for a couple seconds every other song or so. Mostly for new songs though. For the standards, not required.
  3. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    At the last gig when I got the chance to sit in on drum set, the bass player had a notepad with notes on it. It was a list of songs, their keys and some NNS associated with each. He didn't seem to have any problem with keeping such a thing, obvious to anyone looking at him. Played a Lakland. Nice guy.
  4. me too - usually I'll make notes on the set list. problem spots. if it's a full tune I keep them folder under my amp pull them out really quick and drop 'em on the floor in front of me. white paper/marker so I can see it and kick it under my amp after the tune to destroy all evidence :D
  5. StereoPlayer


    Aug 29, 2010
    I have done that. Sometimes with set lists....just a helpful reminder of the key or starting note.

    I I do need a cheet sheet. It's usually the chord changes and run/licks are noted like... 1/8 notes A-B-C__C-D-E__E-D-C__C-B-A just as a reminder.
  6. jybarry


    Jan 29, 2010
    I have a full binder that I bring to all my band gigs. I don't always look at it, but it's there if I need it for a quick reference. I have way too many things going on in my life to spend the time to commit every song we play to memory. Plus, I play every song differently each time we play it anyway, so the book just has lyrics (for form) and chord changes. I put it on a music stand off to my left and I stand on the left side of the stage, so it's not really in the way. I'm the ONLY one in the band who never misses a change, never screws up what key we're playing the song in, never goes to a bridge instead of a solo section, never forgets the backup lyrics. I wish everyone would put a book together and at least have it with them at the gig.
  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware rep.
    IME, notes/cheat sheets/charts, especially for a sub-gig are essential, especially for arrangements such as the ones you have described. It pretty much comes down to how will you access the notes w/o drawing attention to yourself.

    Here a thread you may want to check out:
    Music stands on stage?

    +100 Seems to me that you should be the on-stage music director.

    One band I heard, the bass player/vocalist dressed in black, used a black stand and it was set up in front of his mic below waist lever. I didn't really notice the stand until later in the gig.
  8. I'm another notes on the set list guy. I make my own setlist from the one given out. It's normally four sets on one page and I convert it to two pages and print it on one; sets 1 & 2 on the front, 3 & 4 on the back. I increase the font so it's legible from the floor and make any necessary notes on it. At the end of set 2, I flip it over. Our lead guitarist built his own note stand that attaches to his mic stand. He has note cards on a flip chart that he attaches to it. Works great for him. I guess everyone has their own solution.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware rep.
  10. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I use notes, but mainly to jog my memory as opposed to use them like sheet music.

    Here's an example of how my notes look. I note the sections, and make notes related to sections in parentheses

    Every Rose Has It's Thorn - G
    Vs: G - C
    Ch: G - C (X2) G - D - C - G - C
    Br: Em - D - C - G (Hold C at end of bridge before resolving)
    Solo: G - C (x2) Em - D - C - G (repeat until resolve)
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I have an iPad and a clip that attaches to a mic stand. Very easy to use and not too obvious. Even so, peopele think its "cool" so I can get away with it.

    FOr my jazz gig, 2 or the 3 of us use them. Works GREAT!

    Of course, if at all possible I don't use anything.
  12. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    There are only maybe 4 or 5 songs that I'm sure that I remember all of the words to in addition to the aforementioned note or bridge type trouble spots. My notebook has most every song that we do in it. Whether I sing it not, the layout is there as well as the repeat lines so we all know where we are, particularly if we add a little different twist here or there. The set list is on the left side of my music stand and the notebook on the right so I can just flip a page to go to the next tune. I put the stand at a level that is easy to see and not that obvious if I'm looking at it a lot. I would much rather see a musician use the cheat sheets than forget the lines, whether notes or lyrics, and stumble around. Not cool. :cool:
  13. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Well, it's jazz. You have to remember a chord progression fo 15 different chords! :D
  14. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Heh, you're lucky if you're getting a set list.
  15. BIGBEE


    May 27, 2006
    all i can say is if played music for a living, and i do not i would have all the time needed to memorize the songs, as for me i work a 60 hour week, and practice when i can, so if i have to use a music stand to go out and have fun and do what i love to do, then so be it, if your band sounds good it sounds good music stand or not, besides that we have a blonde female lead singer so if you notice my music stand you might have a problem , not that theres anything wrong with that.:D:
  16. Through most of history, all music was played with sheet music in front of the musicians.
  17. Same notation system I used when I subbed with 2 different bands on a steady basis. I would also add the style to played, walk intro, counter on verse, blues shuffle etc.

    One band was pretty much country/bluegrass, the other classic rock.
    I kept a separate binder for each band, 1 page per song (everything in big letters), sheet protectors, alphabetical dividers and I put it on the floor by my monitor. Neither band worked off set lists but they were good at letting me know what song was next before we finished the one we were playing. If I needed a chart I could have it ready right away. I was pretty familiar with most of the material they played so it was basically one quick practice before each gig and chart anything new or unfamiliar.
  18. We play all original music, and one thing I'm fanatical about is starting a song on the right note. So I write the song's first note on the setlist. To me there's nothing worse than starting a song on an A when it should be on a G! I've got all our songs memorized so that's all I really need.
  19. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    Tis better to have a reference on stage than to mess up a song by playing the wrong note.

    BTW, where in Ferndale are you? My house is on St. Louis (Don't live there anymore, but still own the place because we couldn't afford to sell it!)
  20. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    I use a "cheat sheet" as well. Written on the set-list and big enough to read from the floor. Don't use it all the time but it's there when songs start to bleed together. They have saved my butt on more than one occasion. Same format as described above....