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Learning songs quickly, help!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by metalhead398, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. metalhead398


    Jul 23, 2013
    Dunno if this should be in this forum, mods feel free to move.

    So I have my first gig coming up in about two weeks, subbing for a band at a bar and grill. Went to see them play with their regular bassist, and for all freshmen in high school, they rock. My first rehearsal/practice with them and my normal bass teacher, who happens to be their group coach, is Monday. I have a list of about 15 songs I need to learn, 12 of which are from scratch. I have the tabs for all of them, just to make life easier.

    So my question is, how would you guys go about learning all of the songs so quickly? Any and all advice is appreciated. TIA
  2. gearhead1972


    Feb 21, 2012
    Kent NY
    when I need to learn 12 or so songs in that short a time, I forgo the tabs and just print out some chord charts. I go through the songs in order just getting the chord changes first. Once you get the chord changes and the roots you can pretty much fake your way through the song if needed. I then step up the bass lines to see if there are root-fifth lines or walking lines. Then I move onto the tiny nuances if I have time.
  3. Yes to the above. I'm sure there is fake chord sheet music available from the members of the band. I'd check with the lead electric guitar first.

    In a band you will be learning 35 to 50 songs and using 18 to 20 per hour gig. So tabs are not the way to go.
    Learn how to play from chord charts:

    Major chord - get as much of the chord's spelling into your bass line as the music will allow before it changes chords, i.e. R-5-8-5 works on most any chord. Now you may only have time for the R or R-5, use as much as you need. See the major scale box pattern I've listed below.

    Just roots work then if you have time throw in the 5th still have time add the 8-5. Roots and fives will get you by this first gig.

    Go get your feet wet and take mental notes on what else you need to practice. With fake chord sheet music you sing along with the vocalists (under your breath is OK) so you know when to change chords. Usually one bass line note per lyric syllable. Start with roots and throw in the 5's as you progress.

    http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/m/misc_traditional/home_on_the_range_crd.htm Notice that the G chord is active over the lyric word "Buf-fa-lo" and buffalo has three syllables so it begs for three beats - three G notes would fit. If you want to get fancy how about R-3-5 over buffalo....... and then just another G or R for the word "roam". Notice antelope also has three syllables, but it's over the E7 not the G chord ---- fine just take the box I'm giving you below and put the box's R over an E note and then play your R-3-5 generic scale degrees found inside the box.

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Need stuff over a G chord. Place the box's R over a G note on your fretboard and play the note spelling of a G chord, i.e R-3-5. Got an E7 chord coming up next - place the box's R over an E note and pound out R's -- or get fancy with R-3-5.

    Back to your original question, fake chord sheet music is faster and really much easier to use than tab. If they play from lead sheets - great; lead sheets are fake chord with a treble clef - forget about the treble clef and draw your bass line from the chord names.

    Have fun, it is a blast.
  4. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    First of all, get off of Talkbass and plug your bass in.

  5. Was that necessary ...
  6. Necessary? Maybe. Accurate? Definitely. Sorry to be harsh...
  7. I download charts and MP3 files for the songs. Then, get off the internet, and play along with the songs until you've learned them.
  8. metalhead398


    Jul 23, 2013
    So yeah... Thanks for all the advice! Unfortunately, the band would prefer that I play the songs note for note... I will start the chord chart technique as soon as possible though.

    But seriously, plug your bass in? Really? Like I needed to hear that. I've been practicing for 2 and a half hours straight.
  9. Note for note, then I would expect them to furnish THE MUSIC they will be using. If they are that exact I would think standard notation, with bass clef, would be what they should give you.
  10. gearhead1972


    Feb 21, 2012
    Kent NY
    Take that with a grain of salt man, some people like myself have my music area set up with a computer. I practice an hour or so then check the boards for a few minutes, then back at it.
  11. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    gearhead has the idea. Get familiar with the songs, the song structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, etc), and the chord changes. Once you're comfortable with that use your tabs to fill in the details. The tabs will make a lot more sense when you know where you'll end up by already knowing the chord changes and song structure.
  12. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Are they originals? If so, do you have recordings?
  13. metalhead398


    Jul 23, 2013
    This sounds great. I'll definitely be using that, because there are quite a few songs that I'm unfamiliar with.
  14. metalhead398


    Jul 23, 2013
    As for this: there is an original, technically, but it's just a 12-bar blues. I actually don't have any music or anything, but I'll be getting the chord sheet tomorrow.
  15. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    So the rest are all just covers? Do they do them as per the recorded versions? Do you already know the songs well?
  16. puddin tame

    puddin tame

    Aug 14, 2010
    Its going to take a long time to memorise a tab.
    It takes a little less time to memorise a chord chart.

    Ear it out yourself and i guarantee you will not forget, then perhaps make your own chord chart in the process. Demanding a bass player play covers note for note is straight up silly... Get thr important bits and the feel of it and i bet they wont notice
  17. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    My advice is work, work, work. Then work some more. If it was delivered in too terse a fashion, then my apologies. My point is that no matter how any advice is delivered, it will not make your task any easier. Woodshedding will. Best o' luck and remember to enjoy what you are doing.
  18. jp grimbass

    jp grimbass

    Aug 22, 2011
    I was in a similar situation a few months ago where I had to learn 15 songs in about 10 days. One thing that really helped, in addition to some of the advice already given, was to rank the songs according to how hard I thought they were going to be to learn. The songs ranged from some Chili Peppers and John Mayer Trio stuff to more standard rock songs so obviously the Peppers and Mayer tunes went at the top of the list. This really helped to have a plan and kept time wastage at a minimum.

    The only other thing I have to add is to make a CD/playlist and have these songs playing whenever you can. It may get a little old but it really helps to be able to hear where the song is going if you happen to go blank on a line during that first rehearsal/gig.

    Good luck! This experience will be well worth it in the end.
  19. srayb


    Oct 27, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I had to learn 35 songs in 2 weeks a while back. I wrote a customized setlist for myself while learning the songs: key of the song, changes (chorus, bridge, etc), structure of the song (i.e. V-V-C-B-C..., etc). Also how song starts (i.e. Guitar intro, or bass starts at beginning on F#, etc). Try not to put too much stuff, but this will save your ass when all you need is a quick glimpse to remember.

    Another thing that helped was the Tascam GB-10. It allows you to load all the songs and change speed or key on the fly. After I learned songs, I would practice them at a much faster speed just out of necessity for time constraints.

    Also listen to the songs in the setlist order whenever you can (in car, bus, at work if possible). It really helps to imprint the changes and structure into your subconscience.
  20. Thumpking


    Sep 14, 2010
    Learn as much as you can, but make a "cheat sheet" you can tape to the floor monitor. I once had 3 days notice to learn 15 cover tunes, and from multiple styles. If there was a part in a tune that I had trouble remembering, I just put that note progression, key change, etc. under each song title. A couple of them I had to put the major chord progressions for certain sections. It helped IMMENSELY! Write the notes so they are simple and trigger your memory. An example would look like this. I just made these songs up:

    Midnight Sun
    bridge: A#-F-C-D
    Chorus: C#-G-B-E

    Pain or Gain:
    Intro: E- stop for 8 counts twice
    Verse: A for 8 counts, then G for 8
    Bridge: B-G-D-E then stop for 8 counts

    Make it to where it makes sense to you. Nothing wrong with doing this. Good luck brother.

    NOTE: Looks like srayb says the same thing, just noticed.

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