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Cues and Signals

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by DBCrocky, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    I was wondering what folks in different bands do for cues and signals while playing. Here is my list of how most bands do it.

    1. All songs are mapped out measure for measure, so there is no need for signals, each member is responsible for keeping his place in the song. Example: The guitar solo goes for 16 measures.

    2. Visual Signals. Band members look at each other and give nods or raise hand or necks or whatever. Examples: The guitar players raises his neck when the solo is over, or the guitar player looks at the singer, and the rest of the band watches for when the singer approaches the mic.

    3. Audio Signals. (This is my preferred method). Band members play certain phrases to cue changes. Examples: The guitar player always ends his solo with a signature lick to cue the band, or the drummer does a big fill to cue the end of the solo.

    4. Others: (LEDs? Voice cues over IEMs?) What other methods are there?

    I'd like to hear how your band(s) handle cues and signals.
  2. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    We use most of your methods. Usually we rely on the visual stuff. We'll play away until it feels about right, then we'll slowly look at each other to signal the change. Sometimes it takes a lot longer for the change to happen. If I think it's time to change, then I look at someone but it may take the other person a bunch of measures to get onboard as well.

    A few songs the drummer will do little drum thing to move us onto the next section. We try to stay away from those so it doesn't sound so obvious that a change is coming on.

    We do some trading 4's type stuff as well, where each member gets a set number of bars before they switch off.
  3. The old descending bass lick trick, when jamming, seems to work.
  4. Frank Zappa had an elaborate hand signal system, telling the band to play swing, country and so on...
  5. RhinoBass


    Oct 21, 2009
    It also depends a lot on the genre.
  6. dave_p


    Dec 20, 2005
    we use a combination of counted measures and audio clues. our drummer is blind, so while i can watch him, he cant watch me.

    i find audio cues to be very liberating, you can take a song places and always find your way home, without having to count.
  7. Broadstbully22


    Dec 5, 2011
    We joked about buying a light up stop sign and hanging it so our drummer can see it and then putting it on a peddle. I think it would work nicely.
  8. JLP


    Mar 15, 2008
    We use all the methods you mentioned. Also we've been playing together 5 years so we know one another pretty well.
  9. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    We use the methods you listed and I have always directed the cues in bands and count everything. Our guitar player does not count and would get lost without cues.
  10. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    My band is a Jam band, so solo sections and jams can go on for a long while. Visual cues are usually for big outro changes and listening cues are ment for traveling from Major to Minor kinds of things or even going into dominent 7th's and so on. It is pretty intense to be able to listen to 3 guitarists for major/minor cues, but if all else fails, thowing a bottle or a pick or one hell of an evil look my way works too :bassist:
  11. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    All of the above, as well as spoken cues (off-mic)--especially when playing with subs or on pick-up dates.
  12. CrashCarlisle


    Sep 13, 2011
    I signal the drummer to stop by putting my hands on the drums.

    Works every time, though it's a bit painful.....
  13. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    We played one show where I kept turning around because our percussionist was hitting a cymbal right near my ear. So as we played I kept turning around and finally removed the wing nut that held the cymbal on. Once he turned to go to the other side of his kit, I stopped playing and removed the cymbal. My arm hurt for days when he went to hit that cymbal and hit my arm because it was missing!! Oh the fun on stage!
  14. collins81


    Jul 29, 2011

    awesome. I want to do this, or get a stoplight and a way to trigger between green, yellow and red!:hyper:
  15. I prefer visual cues. With audio cues, that's just one thing the soloist can't play (in the middle of the solo anyway). I find using visual cues blows it wide open, a great way to play with tension & release since the solos are entirely open, form-wise. I do however have the fortunate situation of being in a band with very good group consciousness, and everyone usually feels the change coming before the cue comes anyway.
  16. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    It largely depends on the song and genre, but in my experience, it could be any one of number 1, 2, or 3. Knowing the song structure is critical, but sometimes there is a need to stretch sections out (i.e. solo), and having some sort of on-the-fly indicator that everyone understands is important. Every member should be paying attention to what evryone else is doing.
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    We use them all except #4. I like them to be subtle.
  18. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    Getting the gui****s to use any signals or pay attention is my biggest bitch, it drives me & the drummer crazy!!! :rollno:
  19. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    Mostly very subtle visual signals. We also use a live mic on-stage that only goes to our in-ears. Plus, everyone knows the songs.

    And our rule to live by: The drummer is always right. (even when he's not)
  20. Chef FourString

    Chef FourString

    Feb 4, 2011
    We do the good 'ol "look around" or the "hey dude, pay attention" leg kick. They work pretty good. Knowing the songs and your band mates well is always a plus too.

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