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How do you get a band member to be a musician?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pd_5string, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Hi folks,

    I am in this SUPER band, but the lead guitarist looks at songwriting and all the music as a backdrop for him to play lead guitar over and through entire songs, rather than playing for the song. He says he wants to "jam" more, but it isn't jamming it is the band vamping on two chords so he can freestyle over them.

    The catch is is that even he has agreed that now that the older material has been parsed down, edited, re-arranged, and so forth, that the songs sound 200% better, and our fans that came out to see us have also said this having heard them before. Still, he seems very quiet, and too himself at practices, like he feels inside he is "selling out" and so forth, and he is visibly not happy with the situation.

    He has had very little band experience in the past, and I don't believe had taken any songwriting courses. When I asked him once why one song he wrote had Verse-Verse-Chorus-Chorus, and then a 8 minute instrumental, he said "B/c it sounded cool."

    When asked last night what he was playing in section x of y song, so we could tighten it up he said, "I don't know, a bunch of notes."

    Myself and 3 others in the band are despearately trying to get him to realize that there people who play notes, and then there are musicians. How do you get someone to realize the beauty of "serving the song" or, playing WITH the music rather than AT it? Any web resources I could forward to this guy? Thanks!
  2. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I think if you had asked many great songwriters the same question, they would have given you a similar answer. There needn't be a more complex reason for making the song that way. True creativity comes from the soul, and often the only explanantion is that it sounded good! There doesn't need to be a reason for pure expression!
  3. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    I have to disagree here. That "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" approach is good for songwriters that have already established themselves, but I can't think of ANY song right now that has V-V-C-C structure, and ends on a jam, vamping on 2 chords, one every 4 beats. BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Trust me, if you heard it, you would be like "wait, why aren't we going back to that other part?" WHY are they taking so long? WHY are they repeating this section for so long?

    The other problem is that if 4 other people in the band want to change something, and your only reason is that "it sounds good" to NOT change it, well now you have 4 other people saying it DOESN'T sound good. So, then what? You should be able to explain WHY it sounds good. How does it fit in? How does it set up for the next part? Is it just filler? What purpose does it serve?

    I really believe that if you don't know WHY you wrote something, that you can't expect the audience to "get it" either. You also need to know what parts you are playing so you can worry less about the notes and more about HOW you play the notes (emotion).

    A 3 year old can come up with a bunch of notes. It is about the SONG, and this is what we are trying to get across to this guy.
  4. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I've played with several guys that sound exactly like this fellow (all guitarists - anyone surprised?) and they all seemed to subscribe to the "learning theory kills your instinct" school (which IMO is a bunch of garbage). Some are able to play very well indeed using instinct and technique alone, but IME they don't mix well when they play with trained musicians, and they certainly have no right to scoff at those who are trained.

    Sometimes they just don't want to learn, but I'd say the best you could do is to tell him about how learning theory has helped you and hope he is open-minded enough to listen.

    I have a question though - if the guy likes what he is doing, and everyone else hates it, why is he being allowed to get his way?
  5. Does the guy listen to live Dead or jam bands? This may be his dilemma. While the best jam bands do amazing things with free form expression, they usually continue to serve the song. He may be missing this. Also, even the best jam bands end up playing a lot of crap because without a net you inevitably get magic at times and train wrecks at others. There are VERY few that can get a good ratio of the two that makes them worth hearing. There is nothing worse than a bad jam band or a guitarist trying to improvise with no musical skills....uggh, it's the plague of neo-hippies everywhere.
    Anyway, if he's a jam band fan, I'd encourage him to expand his horizons. Most fans of this music I know listen to only classic rock, blues, alleged jazz(really funk), and jam.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I have this strange feeling of Deja Vu!! ;)
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ahh, were your band trying to get you to be a musician too? :D j/k
  9. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    i am not here to start a war or anything, but don't you ever just have a song COME to you? i feel that when our things are completely charted out and structured before we even play them that they are lacking any real emotion and it shows. when you do it like that it is just math. mind you the music that we write is rather simple (primarily rockin' blues), but i'd rather play what i love (first and foremost) and have that get people off, than play to other musicians. most musicians (esp. guitarists) are like the guitarist mentioned on this thread and so many countless others. it is so rare to find a really good guitarist who plays for the love of the music and not showcasing HIS talents only. i'm not saying don't put your best foot forward, but play for the sake of the song, not for the sake of the instrument. (-john paul jones)

    we can get into the whole less is more vs. technical debate but i am just stating an opinion. i do appreciate the technical ability and skill involved in these genres of music but it ends there. i just can't feel that kind of music and i just feel that there is so much more to music that can't be described by words.

    there is no right or wrong on this debate, only opinion and all of our tastes vary; i guess that is the beauty of talkbass. i do not intend to offend anybody with this post. i am just trying to show another side of it... :)
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Why don't you just find another guitar player, one that writes songs that are more in line with the style and direction that you and the other band members agree on. If that's not possible, find another band, it's that simple.
  11. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    There is a difference in "This sounds good" vs "This sounds good b/c *I* am playing a solo all the way through it, and don't *I* sound good? Those with egos who say " well it just sounds good" aren't really in the interest of the song, only themselves, as you pointed out.

    What if EVERY person in a band wanted to take a solo in a song, EVERY song, b/c it "sounds good" to them to take a solo? BORING!!!!!! They are not serving the song. They are serving themselves.

    The goal of the band is to ultimately get popular radio airplay. Unfortunately, jam music ain't gonna get us there. AND it isn't jam music that we do where there is interplay, lulls, swells, conversational stuff, etc. It is the guitarist noodling over a 2 chord progression (usually E5, D5, etc) endlessly.

    To the other poster: Of course, "structure" is open to change as a song develops. BUT, you should have some kind of structure in mind. You can't paint a picture unless there is a canvas to start with right? Everyonein the band (our band) needs to be on the same page with writnig songs interspersed with solos here and there rather than solos interspersed with the song here and there.
  12. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    B/c this guy has a huge amount of friends that show up to our gigs. Another ego issue dovetails from that I am sure also. He is a cool guy otherwise, but doesn't understand songwriting.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Sounds like every Jazz gig I've ever been to!! ;)
  14. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Songs do *come* to me, but the structure A-B-A-B-C... thing is so much a part of my mentality now that I don't have to really worry about structure, and lock myself in. The arrangement aspect is as much part of a song as the parts themselves, just as when you write a paper or speak, there needs to be some kind of tangible flow. If you want to sound like you are ranting to people, well that is one thing, but that is about as far as you will get in how people are receiving you...you sound like you are ranting.
  15. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Probably true, but we are a pop rock band.
  16. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    One of his favorite bands is Godstreet Wine.
  17. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    My head is whizzziiiinng from too much thread reading, I been sitting here for quite a while....

    This thread is confusing me. I don't believe that the fact that a guy wants to play leads all the time makes him a non-musician. Nor the fact that he doesn't like structure. Formulas for songrwriting would take more away from the "art" of writing than anything else IMO.

    I do understand your plight though, and if in your shoes would be equally frustrated. It sounds like the only reason this guy is in the band is cuz he has lots of freinds, and if that's your reason for hanging onto him - friends eventually get tired of coming to shows, and then you're going to be left with yourselves and your music.

    If 3 of you want one thing and he wants another I think the 3 should make the decision, period. If he doesn't like it I'd say he either needs to learn to like it - or find himself other musicians. You guys could be making great music that you all love if you had the right guy/girl playing guitar - and he might be able to find people who could help him hone his overplaying craft into something really great. It sounds like you're all holding each other back and being really frustrated and unhappy, all because of a bunch of "friends" that'll come to your shows.

    People so often stay in lousy relationships when it would be so much more beneficial to simply move on. It's hard to see it when you're in the middle of it though. I'm the king of that.

    If the guy's definitely staying you may want to try pushing a lot of the music you really like on him and pointing out why you think they're great bands/songs. My guitarist was a RUSH freak when we started playing, and I felt RUSH was devoid of any of the heart/feel/art that I'm accustomed too or like. Just my opinion - I have the utmost respect for the band. I pounded Stones into his head, pointed out the beauty of the flute in Ruby Tuesday, the simplicity of the basslines in songs like Lou Reed's Take a Walk on the Wild Side, etc, etc. That's what I and the band we were in at the time were striving for. And that didn't make Rush a "bad" band. Just different. We all needed to be on the same page. Seven years later we're finally on the same page. And lots of that RUSH stuff rubbed off on me too!!!
  18. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    You can't define happiness without limits on behavior.

    Music and songs are no exception.

    To get encores: give the audience most of what they want.

    Musicians are a small part of the world. You don't get popular because of guitar solos.

    You get popular for getting a song across in the most basic and simplistic way.

    Know your audience.
  19. I've got a headache.....
    Seems to me you're stuck with this guy, if only because he's got all the friends that come to your gigs. You acknowledge that this is the reason you won't part with him, so, put up with him. I really don't see you resolving this issue unless you come to realize that he probably knows you won't "dump" him because of his "friends", so, why should he conform to your standards. He'll do as he pleases until, eventually, the tension will shatter the band. My opinion... bite the bullet, get rid of him (and his friends), and save the band.

  20. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Lots of good points...BUT, playing a bunch of notes and being a musician are two different things. Note the line in my original post:

    When asked last night what he was playing in section x of y song, so we could tighten it up he said, "I don't know, a bunch of notes."

    This should explain it all. His guitar lines aren't even scripted, and he isn't a good enough to "wing it."

    In fact, I am not too shabby a bassist myself, but the lines I write are simple, and "serve the song." If I wanted to turn every song into a bassathon and throw every doublethump/strum/two octave arpeggios/slap/slide/harmonic trick I have at every song, then that would be totally annoying.

    Again, his POV seems "solos interspersed with song material," rather than "song material interspersed with solos." He is playing AT the music not WITH the music.

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