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How To Fit Writing/Jam Time into Rehearsal

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by CSBBass, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. CSBBass


    Sep 21, 2013
    I've been working on an originals band with a few friends. It seems like whenever we get together for rehearsal, we end up jamming and coming up with all kinds of stuff that we like- which is good. The problem is that very rarely do we do anything with the things we come up with, which has been fine with me for some time as we're all sort of rehearsing playing with each other (getting our communication down, getting a feel for what we can all create and what kind of stuff we all want to play), sort of getting a feel for being in a band together. But it seems like sometimes we'll latch onto something, come up with more parts (verse, chorus etc) and over the course of rehearsal have a song which just needs lyrics written to be complete. Then we go home, come back next week and forget all about that, and start on something completely different.

    So, my question is what would you do in this circumstance? How do you find a balance between rehearsing and jamming/writing in a rehearsal session?
  2. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    Record EVERYTHING.
    The good.....the bad......the indifferent.
  3. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    Really, all you need is a decent, small, digital recorder with a decent built-in condenser mic. And, like nojj said: RECORD EVERYTHING. That way nothing gets forgotten.
  4. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I got a dirt cheap Zoom h2, and it works perfectly for this. Then upload the file to your dropbox and everyone can work on it at home. Bring ideas to the next rehearsal before you move onto a new jam!
  5. plong123

    plong123 All Your Bass Are Belong To Us

    Nov 19, 2012
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    If you have some basic audio editing software, you can even stitch together a couple parts of the jam into a verse/chorus arrangement.

    You can get one of those recorders for under $200 new. I have the Zoom H2n and it rules.
  6. puddin tame

    puddin tame

    Aug 14, 2010
    I always find i get superior results with my band if one person has written most of the song, or at least the structure, by themselves and then brings it in. Sometimes we will notate riffs, it is an enormous advantage when everyone can read and write music, you dont get that situation when no one can remember the exact rhythm or anything.

    As to the problem of when to write - when you are tight on the stuff you have add more. This tends to be a natural process as running the same songs over and over gets stale
  7. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    This is what we do;
    As others have suggested, we record everything then copy the parts that we want to develop into a seperate file and give each a working title. Then we each work on ideas and come to the next rehearsal and throw all the ideas together. Sometimes one of us will have come up with a solid framework and we will just build on that. Other times we all jam around the various ideas until something starts coming together.

    The trick is to not get too attached to a particular idea and waste a lot of time trying to force something together. I've found that usually if a basic framework doesn't develop fairly quickly it's best to move on. Those ideas are still there and sometimes showup in other ways in other songs.
  8. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I completely agree with recording, but we tend to record ideas in pieces instead of everything. It's great, especially as songs are developing. As we get tunes pretty much ironed out, we will do an "archives" recording, where we play the whole tune from start to finish. Sometimes those tunes change a little, some a lot, but having those ideas down really helps and there's none of that "do you remember what we did for a bridge in this one?"

    When we don't have full tunes worked out but we've got solid ideas, we take the time to put that together as best we can at that point in time and record. This could be just an intro or a bridge or whatever, but it's in the archive.

    We find this works a lot better than turning on the recorder at the beginning of the session and then a couple hours later turning it off. When we have small little ideas or full songs, it's a lot more approachable to go back and listen to that, then to listen to an entire rehearsal and see if there was a little 30 second piece of magic in that three hours of tape. We have fairly productive rehearsals, but this way I can listen to ideas from say a whole month of rehearsals in an afternoon, instead of sifting through multiple three hour sessions hunting for soundbites.

    Do we lose some of those "magical moments" that just sort of happen sometimes? Sure. But if we had everything we've ever done together on tape, no one is going to dig through it to find those moments anyway.
  9. +100%. Yep - get a little handheld digital stereo recorder. :bassist:
  10. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    My band rehearsed three times a week. For two of those rehearsals we'd spend the first 15-20 minutes jamming while someone had a recorder going. If things went well and we liked what was happening then we'd go back and listen to the tape, learn what we did, and then spend the rest of the rehearsal writing more stuff for it. We'd rehearse for about 2-3 hours. On our last rehearsal day of each week we'd simply run over our set for whatever gig we had coming up that weekend, and if we had time we might do some more writing.
  11. If you don't want to spend the $$ on a hand-held, my old band got a Blue USB mic and a laptop w/ Reaper installed on it. Cheap solution that worked well as long as you have a laptop available.
  12. manghu67


    Jun 13, 2011
    Omaha NE
    If you're thinking about the Zoom H2N, spend a little extra and get the H4N. It's a great unit.
  13. CSBBass


    Sep 21, 2013
    Thanks for the great advice guys. I've got an old laptop with protools 7 on it, I'll have to give the recording a shot.

    I like this a lot. If you guys weren't feeling the jam, what did you do? Work on stuff you already had?
  14. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    That, or we'd look over any new material that someone had recently written.

    The key was that we always tried to remain flexible. If a jam proved successful in developing material then we'd take time out to nurture that development. If things weren't successful then we'd either revisit older material with the intent of making revisions to it or we'd work on any new material that someone had brought in. Regardless, we always made sure we had something to work on and improve upon, and we always recorded whatever we came up with. Hope that helps :)
  15. Record everything even if its a ghetto phone recording as long as its decent enough to help you remember how to play it.

    Also organize your practices. We normally get together and start by playing a couple easy songs together to warm up. Forget individual warm ups that's a waste of time an it's annoying especially when you/they are playing loud. Then work on writing material for a while. then we end practice by running through the set as if we're on stage. Obviously theres been times where we didn't write at all because we just finished recording or whatever but For us its pretty much been the same formula for over a decade.
  16. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    my band will organize the rehearsal time into chunks (we rehearse once a week, but for about 4 hours)...

    we run the complete list of existing songs first (right now about 30). We have a total of about 50 songs, but many have fallen into the "eh, not so cool anymore" pile

    then we work on new songs that are in construction; we try to keep it to no more than 3 per week. Once we consider one done, it moves to the existing songs list

    we spend the last amount of rehearsal listening to and recording any new ideas. We listen to the ideas during the week, and the we move any new ideas that we still find cool to the "construction" list. Many times, after a weeks listen, things will seem "not so cool" and will get voted out, or put on hold.
  17. prater


    Aug 4, 2011
    This, the band I tech for will sometimes use their phones to record cool songs or ask me to film it if they don't have a better method. If there is something you particularly like then lay down your parts at home and bring them in.

    We usually wait until a few songs are in the pile before we listen back over a few beers and pick our favorites, then start working out the details. When all that is done the singer will go home and lay down a demo with electronic drums and scratch guitars. He will then record his vocal ideas over it and bring it in. These guys have hundreds of these songs that never made it to final form but the recording is there, it isn't unusual for a song or parts of a song to be resurrected even years later when they otherwise would have been forgotten. We just keep everything on file and every once in awhile go through it when there is a writing lull. Most of these songs are missing parts or the vocalist just wasn't able to come up with anything he liked for it, but one day he will hear it and it becomes clear to him what it needs.

    However sometimes a song is so hot when it is written that it goes through this whole process almost immediately and is ready for performance after just a few rehearsals.
  18. Our band takes a very deliberate approach to each rehearsal. Each rehearsal has a purpose with very little, if any, jamming. We write material usually by preparing demos at home and sending them by email. From there we all listen and prepare ideas for the proposed song. When we get together we try out the various ideas to put the song together. We never write by jamming - just does not happen.
  19. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    If I have an idea I feel strongly about, I'll work on it with one person in the band and get it solid. I generally only write stuff in odd time signatures or with some sort of technical twist so group "jam" doesnt always work too great.

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