1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Dumbing down: a slight rant

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by dougjwray, May 30, 2020.

  1. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I recently realized that I've been posting some grumpy old man comments... Sorry about that, but here's one more. :)
    This is a companion to the "repetitious parts are a drag" thread.
    Have you run into situations where your bandmates asked to dumb down a song? One example: A few years ago, a band I was in wanted to try "She Said She Said" by the Beatles. The bridge has time changes (listening in my head right now): three bars of 4/4, one bar of 2/4, seven bars of 3/4. The guys were tripping over it, so for the next rehearsal, I wrote out lead sheets and sort of tried to conduct. No good. Of course, no one but me had actually played along with the recording; they just thought "cool song" and went for an internet lyric sheet, which naturally had nothing about timing.
    The guys suggested that we simply make it all 4/4. I think one look at my face made them decide to jettison the tune, instead.
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  2. Lagado

    Lagado Suspended

    Jan 6, 2020
    Stop the madness
    Always try and put yourself in a band with equal if not better musicians than you.
  3. the_home

    the_home Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2005
    Pensacola, FL
    I seldom have a problem with being the worst musician in the group. Happily it's not in every group.
  4. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    This is the stuff that makes me want to tear my hair out. I try really hard to not find myself in these situations and always play with people who are more capable than I am. Sometimes when I'm in a sub situation with a band that plays a fairly straighforward genre, like Americana or blues, I will hear these kinds of things. This is one reason I don't invest a lot of time or energy in those kinds of situations.

    If you're not asking me to rehearse weekly and I can just come in and play the music, then I'm not going to tell you not to dumb down your tunes if that's what works for you. But if you're that weak, I'm also probably not inviting anyone out to hear us, so I don't want to be a full band member. Sorry.
    ddnidd1, AaronMB, jdh3000 and 6 others like this.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    there are some things you can't "dumb down" effectively. counting is one of them.
  6. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Yes, and just try to imagine that song with the kinks ironed out.:rollno:
    JRA and jamro217 like this.
  7. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Oh, they do it. They just insert time to make it conform to what's comfortable for them. I was in an Americana group briefly that couldn't get a simple pickup before the intro. The fiddle player, who acted like he had more experience than anyone else, was the worst with it. They wanted to scrap the intro to make it "easier" and I finally just told them I'm not dumbing down your stupid bluegrass tune because it's already stupid to begin with. We ended up scrapping it because I wouldn't play it.

    I didn't last too long in that band.
  8. oldrocker

    oldrocker Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    I've found in cases where timing is involved a good drummer is the key.

    Usually if the drums and bass know the song and play it correctly it will sound right. I don't expect most guitar players in the typical bar band to be that intimate with the rhythm, let alone count.
  9. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    If it's a pre-drum intro, you're out of luck.
    dkelley likes this.
  10. oldrocker

    oldrocker Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Yes I've had trouble with pick up licks too. It can be very painful.
    jamro217 and LBS-bass like this.
  11. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    One band wanted to play an Eagles song... but dumbed down. Normally I would just go with the flow, but I was playing the same song in another band where we tried to play it like the recording.

    I normally don't speak up about songs, but for this one I didn't want to learn it two ways. Basically I was worried I would play it wrong in one or the other band.

    So I said we either play it right or not at all. So we didn't play it.
  12. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I have guilted or embarrassed band members into playing things “correctly”. I learned the piano intro to Toto’s Hold the Line just to teach it to the keyboard player. I told him, “If I can play it, you should be able to.” I don’t even know how to play piano. ;)
  13. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Not everyone is rhythmically gifted and not everyone is harmonically gifted. I've had to learn these two things through experience. I don't really understand why experienced musicians sometimes don't grasp what seems simple to me but I am sure that if I put myself in different company that shoe would be on the other foot.

    That's just a long way of saying that you being able to play it doesn't mean that he can.
  14. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I tend not to play with those people very long, if at all.
    (In this case) He was lazy. He learned it and the band played it after I gave him a tutorial.
    LBS-bass, Shrubber, oldrocker and 2 others like this.
  15. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Sometimes the opposite is the problem. It's fairly common for multiple guitar tracks to be layered in studio cuts to create a nice lush sound. Often the different tracks use multiple voicings.

    A guitar player in one of my bands used to insist on trying to play overly complicated chord voicings for the intro of a simple country song to try and simulate the sound of the studio track. Because of this, he would frequently get his fingers tied in a not and totally cave. I couldn't get him to stop doing it even though it made him appear unprofessional and was embarrassing for the whole band. Our lead vocalists, who was not a great guitarist, could dumb it down, nail it every time, and sound great.

    Guess who got to play the intro?

    Of course the guitar player was :bawl::rage::mad: and said he was going to play it anyway. I made sure he knew there would be serious consequences if he did. You can only give somebody so many chances and then you have to pull the rug out from under them :dead:.
    Wisebass, jamro217 and roccobass like this.
  16. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    If you read music and work with people that read music, you will find less Spinal Tap &your rehearsals will be more productive.

    There are talented musicians that don't read and are worth the headache.
  17. The few exceptions to the "Never Dumb Down" rule are when you are doing a completely novel version of a popular tune. This could be anything from a polka version of a rap tune to an up tempo version of a ballad. It is okay to cut to fit in that instance. Otherwise, if you intend to play a tune in the style in which it was written do it right or don't do it at all. Laziness and/or lack of talent are not valid reasons to hack a song. Unpreparedness could occasionally rear its hideous head when you least expect it. Say you're at a gig and everything is going smoothly. In walks a star/celeb who is in town for a show. The spotlight scans the audience and lands on them. The crowd goes wild and they are brought up on stage to do a song. You aren't a fan and know none of their material. Cleanup on aisle 7. This is not the norm and shouldn't be feared at every gig (for those of you with stage fright). Just proving that no matter how hard you try to prepare you can fall short. Listen to Ella Fitzgerald's live butchered version of "Mack The Knife". She admits it while singing! That's what entertaining an audience is all about. Not having the fear to fail in an impromptu jam is fine if you're an established star. It is not recommended for the average bar band (white or not).
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
    SemiDriven likes this.
  18. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    Sounds like his bandmates did just that. ;)
    Shalto, Nashrakh, Jefenator and 6 others like this.
  19. I've never put a foot wrong over-estimating how stupid people can be. The often exceed my expectations.
  20. Ggaa


    Nov 26, 2018
    Luckily I've never been in a band(as a member) that had to dumb anything down, songs were done right, tricky parts were/are a fun challenge.
    RumbleBot likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.