Learn note for note on not?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bobfarabaugh, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. exactly like the original.

    26 vote(s)
  2. mosty like the original with my own flair.

    54 vote(s)
  3. not even playing the same song.

    3 vote(s)
  1. bobfarabaugh


    Jan 23, 2009
    Do you learn songs note for note or just play the important parts and wing the rest? I always have the intent for playing it "right" but usually end up making it my own some how.
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    When I do covers I always try to play note for note. People want to hear songs the way they are used to hearing them. Unless you are a famous musician nobody wants to hear your interpretation of a song.
  3. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    It really depends on the song. In my classic rock band, when we do a song like Smoke on the Water, I'm going to play it pretty much note for note, with a little of my own stuff. When we do a song like Jumpin' Jack Flash, I'll take a little more liberty in adding my own stuff because the bass is not so much a key part of the song like it is in Smoke on the Water. And frankly, the original bass part is not that great. YMMV.
  4. I agree with mapleglo.

    That said, just watch "bass covers" on Youtube and see how many variations of "note for note" there are of the same song.
  5. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    Gotta be note for note. This is one of my pet peeves since day 1. I remember back when I was about 16 I saw a band covering "sweet emotion" by Aerosmith. The bass player butchered the heck out of it and I vowed to never do that when I was on a gig.
  6. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Rochester, NY
    I'll try to get it close, but unless it's a prominent part of the song I'll just follow the chords. Then again I'm just doing occasional fill in gigs.
  7. Queue


    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    I think it depends on the song. There's some songs where the original artist doesn't even play it the same way.
  8. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Playing anything other than original music is rather pointless. But I guess if that's what you do it is probably best to try and make it sound as much like the original as you can because that is how you will be judged by listeners.
  9. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Almost no one plays the songs EXACTLY note for note. Ask someone to post a set of themselves playing something note for note and you will never get a response.

    IMHO, if you play all the signature licks correctly, follow all the changes, get the right feel and are 75 - 80% exact, no one will notice the other 25% unless its wrong notes, wrong feel, or just way off of the original.

    Besides, unless you have the exact instrumentation of the original recording and everyone else is playing it note for note (never happen) it won't sound like the original anyway.

    There's nothing wrong with trying to get it exact, but that last 20-25% is for you. No one else will notice.
  10. Fluid Power

    Fluid Power Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2013
    Land of 10K Lakes
    /\ /\ /\ /\
    What they said.
    Mapleglo has it right. When the bass line is critical to the song's identity it is more important to follow the original. Now, "which original"??? many popular songs are covers already!!!! ???? That's not to say your good version of an original is not the way to go. Unless you want to be a human jukebox. ==== Of course there is the cover of a cover of an original??? Take House Of The Rising Sun, who did the original(some are not sure)? And did the Animals do a note for note copy or just a good copy, i mean "cover"? Keep your eyes out for the DJ's comming from behind (with a perfect copy!!!)
  11. Spent

    Spent Supporting Member

    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I try to get as close as possible, but don't sweat it if I'm off; in 25 years no one ever told me I played something wrong (other than the gui****). I disagree that cover bands must play every song exactly as it's recorded; that's what djs are for. My philosophy is that we're hired to play music not songs. Seems to work, we've got gigs booked until November 2014 and every new venue we've played this year has asked for dates before our last set began. When we play, people hit the dance floor. That's what really matters.
  12. Learn in “note-for-note” just because it is a good practice

    Learn to play it roots notes only, so you know the basic progression.

    Learn all the words in case the singer forgets.

    Play it however works best for you & your band.
  13. How is it even possible to learn a song note for note unless you have access to the isolated bass line or something. Some parts are simply too buried in the mix to discern "note for note".
  14. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    I spent my formative years in a cover band. We did weddings, bar-mitzvahs, and such. Paid well, didn't care for the music. I left the band in 1989 or 1990, they're still playing the same types of gigs and are very successful, and still have some of the original members. Ok, that covers my credentials.

    Anyway, from my perspective, "it depends." Some songs it is important, especially if there's a hook (another one bites the dust, Queen, as an example). In other songs, not so important as long as the chord changes are right, and you work the right passing notes into your line.
  15. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    For me it depends on the band I'm playing in, and the tune itself. In a cover band situation, I go pretty close to note-for-note, but in a tune with a lot of improvisation, I'm not going to learn another player's improvisation and play it note-for-note. I'll learn a few of the licks to get an idea of the style, and then just go for it. Ultimately, the approach I agree with here is to get the signature parts right (such as the aforementioned "Sweet Emotion" riff) and just make sure you get a good groove happening with the rest of it. There are often times in a cover band where someone else hasn't nailed their part, and if you play the bass part note-for-note, it can actually clash with whatever else is going on. Sure, the problem is the other guy, but your job isn't to be right, it's to be musical.

    Mostly, though, I play in originals bands, and when we do covers, we do them anywhere from mostly note-for-note to completely re-written.
  16. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    I actually love learning songs note for note. And on sub gigs I love the reactions I get from band members after hearing the correct bassline in every song for the first time
  17. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    +1 to every part of this. People who insist cover bands have to play what's one the recording note-for-note generally argue that audiences expect to hear a reproduction of the recording; but skip to another thread and you'll hear (often the same) people joking about how the average bar patron can't even tell what a bass is, let alone what's being played on it.

    Meanwhile, like bassist4eris says, sometimes playing exactly what the bassist on the recording did will wreck the song, because you're rarely playing with the exact same combination of instruments and voices they were. What if you're covering a song that was recorded with two guitars and a keyboard, and you're in a power trio? You HAVE to stretch out to cover more sonic space in that situation; playing only what was recorded will leave the song hollow.

    Ultimately, in my opinion, being a musician means grasping what's needed from you to make the song work for the audience in front of you. That may mean being restrained and laying back; that may mean making sure you can nail that signature riff precisely; that may mean recognizing it's up to you to add some pizzazz and fill extra space.
  18. I checked note-for-note, but it is true that sometimes it won't work out that way because the bass part is impossible to completely discern. (Cool the Engines...)
  19. AndrewFord


    Aug 11, 2012
    Los Angeles area
    Endorsing Artist: Line 6, TC Electronics, Yamaha, Elixir Strings
    There are many variables to consider, but in general my policy is to learn it "note for note" to capture what made the track special in the first place, especially if it was played by a famous band or bass player. It is more work and takes patience and discipline many times, but you will likely reap growth in your musical development by learning a new way to approach something that you may never have thought of. If the song is a hit, there is normally a reason that the producer/songwriters settled on that bass line. Many musicians today want to go directly to their interpretation before at least learning part of the original reason why the song was successful.
  20. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    "close enough for rock and roll" is my motto"

    But it still has to fit with the song...