How should i " teach " my compositions to the fellow musicians in my trio

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bassbrother666, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. bassbrother666

    bassbrother666 Guest

    Feb 13, 2013
    So , i have written some tunes for my Jazz trio ( think Gilad Hekselman , Bill Evans , Brad Mehldau , Christian MCbride . etc ) but i have some questions regarding the way that i should “ teach “ my tunes to the other musicians in the trio .

    I think there is something not organic or musical in making charts and giving / sending them to my the pianist and the drummer .

    I can send recordings but i think that would limit their freedom because it would already state the style and i would rather hae them figure it out , as to what they should do ( the drum beat , swing/eight feel , the comping style , …. )

    My favourite option would be to teach them in the rehearsals , explaining , demonstrating and verbally teaching them those things, i think that even tho it is less productive ( as in time spent ) but the final product would be much better and organic , i heard that for example Michael League ( even tho this project is nothing like SP , they are still a Big BIIIIG influence ) does not think that charts and music scores represent something as deep as music .

    I am more inclined to do things like this last way , but i would still like your input

    Thanks and sorry for my bad english
    NoiseNinja likes this.
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    You named five influences. How do the other four teach people their compositions?

    How do your drummer and pianist usually learn new songs?

    FWIW, lead/fake sheets don't typically dictate drum beats, rhythms and comping style and if they do, there's no law that says you to follow their instructions.
  3. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Montana Mountainside
    Suck it up, use charts. It sounds like you have a 'vision' and want minimal deviation from that 'vision'. Write it out, have them read it, feel free to say (afterwards) that the style is 'open to interpretation'. Good musicians will make it happen.
    mrcbass, blubass, Ewo and 15 others like this.
  4. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Play them a recording with you playing/programming each track and basic root chord progression charts.

    Then give them a recording with their instrument removed from the mix so they can jam and compose to it at home.
    Say that was what I came up with, I'm sure you can come up with something way more interesting.

    By the time they get home they maybe won't remember exactly what you had done, but have enough of a direction to get started.

    When they come back to jam you all might have to make some minor adjustments to each other, but you'll have enough structure to work from.
    pcake and BaileyMan like this.
  5. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once...

    Feb 24, 2013
    Difficult question - it sounds like you don't know what you really want.
    Do you want to teach your composition to your bandmates (what you say you want) ?
    Or do you want an actual collaboration, based on your themes (which process you describe) ?

    If you want me to learn one of your compositions, and you can't start me off with a lead sheet outlining the changes, I'm probably going to decide it's a colossal waste of my time. If you know what you want, get me up to speed as quickly as possible. Don't make me play guessing games if you already know the answer you want is 'samba in G.'

    If all you have is a riff that might go somewhere, and you're looking for a collaboration to take it there, play me the riff and we'll see where it goes. This is not teaching a composition...
  6. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    If you are purposefully withholding the chart, then i think you are really overthinking this. A good jazz musician knows that you don't need to stick to the chart, it is a guide. The chart can also be changed by the group in the moment, that's what pencils are for.

    So provide them a chart, but let them know that they are free to do what they want with it. You can keep the chart somewhat vague written lines, just the changes. They will then have to insert some creativity into the process, but still have the changes and basic form of the song at the start.
  7. RickyT


    May 29, 2015
    1. Go to rehearsal.
    2. Start playing your new tune and let the other 2 join in.
    3. ???
    4. Profit.
  8. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    This and be opened to their suggestions and take on them...
    mrcbass likes this.
  9. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Organic? It's the way music is communicated, why resist it?

    If you "written some tunes" you must certainly have considered the style, rhythm, melody, etc. That would be useful to the rest of the players, don't you think? It doesn't limit the other players' opportunities to improvise over the bones of the song.

    Rehearsals are for rehearsing. What you want to do is to a collaborative writing effort. Two different things. I have no idea who Michael League is, btw.

    Personally, I'd have no patience for what you propose. You either come with charts and a firm idea of what you purport to have "written" or I pass.

    And your English is just fine.
    Hahaha likes this.
  10. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I plug the chord structure into Band in a Box. I try to find a feel that approximates what I want from the band and play it back to them if I can find such a feel. I give them the charts. Then I let their own strengths and personality take over. You can give them reference songs if you want, but I find the musicians don't seem to be able to translate the work of others into original material - most of my attempts at reference material have failed.

    People are what they are -- let them be the best they can be -- don't try to force them into being something they aren't because they will suck at it.

    Let them be more of what they already are and you'll have a good band. When you do want something, don't tell them what to play, give them an objective..."I 'd like to see a big contrast in dynamics here"...try to increase the intensity in this spot through your playing..."see if you can change the beat in this section to create variety"....

    Those statements point them in a direction but leave the details up to them. Then you won't get push back from forcing square pegs into round holes.
    Ewo, Nashrakh and BaileyMan like this.
  11. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Do a basic chart and get over yourself.

    Don't write out every note. Give them chord symbols and important lead lines. With an indication of tempo/feel and any breaks for the drummer. Enough so everyone knows how many bars each chord is or how many repeats and what the melody is.

    That gives them the basic map of the song but enough freedom to find their own way.

    Depending on how concrete an idea you have of the arrangement you can then give them notes during rehearsal. Things like "go nuts on a tom fill every 4 bars of this section" or "I'll take the melody on the bridge so piano should cover the bass line with your left hand", etc.
  12. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    In my instrumental band, I bring a part and chords to my bandmates. We improvise together, record it, listen, find the good parts, and then arrange our tune.

    In my rock band, the singer/songwriter comes in with lyric sheets and a chart. Also works great.

    In sum, don't worry about purity, just try an approach and see what works. But also: don't be precious about "your" compositions. Let your bandmates work out their ideas or take it in another direction. The whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.
  13. HandsFree

    HandsFree Guest

    Dec 23, 2015
    ?? How is using charts not musical? That makes no sense to me.
    If you have 'written' some tunes, you already have some kind of notation, or did you only write it in your head?

    In my opninion charts should have everything that you want to hear, could be melody, chords, rhythms, form. If any of those aspects are free to be created on the spot and may be different every performance, then they don't go on the chart.

    Are you suggesting that explaining what you have created in some other way is more musical than writing it down?
    For me the opposite is true. With charts you communicate what has to be there and everything else is up to the musicianship of the band members.
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv

    It seems to work for the approximately ten billion people that have a copy of the real book.
  15. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    just a basic chord chart and a rough approximate arrangement would not strangle my creativity ... we each have some preferred default kinda styles ... i play keys / bass / gtr ...

    i would want some direction as ' feel ' and tempo range ... and come up with a few grooves/ideas
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  16. IrealB. Set up the chart and send it.

    Or you could reinvent the wheel.
  17. BassWaffle


    Apr 10, 2011
    Charts are 100% the way to go. Especially for jazz.
    The two songwriters in my band refuse to use charts, and even though its a rock band, it annoys me to no end. So much time wasted.

    He's the bassist, composer, and band leader for Snarky Puppy. I'd encourage you to check him out, he's one of the best bassists out there, incredibly tasteful.
  18. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I see 4 options

    A chart like you can find in a real book so with chords and melody the rest is up to improvisation

    A detailled chart like those you find for classical music, everything is stated and you'll get exactly what you wrote

    Take the time to sit down with each band member and show them the part without the big picture, this is probably the longest methode

    Do a recording of it all with maybe midi instrument etc ... then again why not use a chart ?
  19. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Have you asked your trio if they object to charts? Unless they (oddly) object to charts, I'd provide them.
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  20. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I did. But my point was that anybody can say anything ... it doesn't make it a fact. Something we are all painfully aware of, aren't we?