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Live performance question

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Breslin dp, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. I have been offered the job as a hired gun by a band in my area. They have their act pretty well together and they want me to be their live bassist. The only problem is I have 3 practices to learn 8 songs, 5 songs are originals I have their demo and 3 songs are cover songs.

    So my questions is would look unprofessional if I were to go up on stage with a music stand and sheet music off to the side of me? Or should I make charts and place them on top of my rig? I don't want to sound like @$$ or look like a tool.

    This isn't my first rodeo I have been playing live since 91. Usually I am involved in the writing, or at least have a bit more time to prepare for a live gig. I know for some guys this would be a breeze but I am not at that level.
  2. bwest9


    Apr 14, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Question: these 8 songs... are they avant-garde jazz, or pop songs?

  3. I'll swap you. I have 20 by tomorrow night to learn. Off with the computer and on with the amp.....see ya.
  4. Progressive rock/metal I would say the songs aren't overly complex but there are quite a few changes.
  5. selfblessed


    Dec 29, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    I say learn em. I don't think that you would look too weird with the sheets in front of you...but There is 3 practices with the band right. Do some work between then. Then you will not need the sheets.
  6. Learn. Listen over and over and over when you're not learning them.

    Then make your own weird personalized looking charts, fit 'em all on one page and tape that page to the stage.

    A stand would be uncalled for (unless you had to learn 40 songs in 3 days)
  7. Thanks I appreciate the input. I guess I just want to impress this band. I have opened for them in the past and they asked me to join them. I will make a little cheat sheet and learn these songs like they are my own.
  8. bwest9


    Apr 14, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Just as a background to my own process and situation… I play in several projects, 2 original and 1 wedding band.

    Particularly with the wedding band, I’m required to know literally hundreds of tunes from easy 3 chord rock to jazz standards, and be able to solo over them at the drop of a dime. I use no charts; I have simply taken the time (quite an investment) and learned the songs so they are now second nature to me. I don’t worry about the form, what key it’s in, or the changes, because it’s all been internalized. Which is good, because since I’m not worrying about that stuff, I’m free to enjoy and focus on the spirit of my playing, of making it sound musical.

    In contrast, our guitarist has been with us for over a year now, and in that time hasn’t internalized the tunes and is instead on stage with stand and charts, and is usually sweating a gig out, worried about screwing up, and doesn’t really enjoy things like she could.

    Ask yourself: which position would you rather be in?

    My suggestion would be to own the tunes solid -forward, backwards, and in my sleep-- before I went to even the first rehearsal. I would not use the rehearsals at all to learn the tunes, only to "gel" with the rest of the band. Play along to the demos for the original stuff or the recordings of the covers as much as you need to be able to feel confident that you know the material.

    Not that I think you should rely on it, but is the band against you using a stand with charts, or have you approached them on the topic yet?
  9. Get them on your mp3 player, play them over and over, on the way to work in the car, whenever you can. You'll internalize it pretty quickly. 8 songs isn't that many to learn. Listen to them until you can't stand to hear them anymore....

  10. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    The section I bolded is what concerns me. What do you mean by you only have "3 practices" to learn the songs? Does that mean you will only practice the songs during 3 band rehearsals?

    - If so, I suggest you take the time to learn your parts on your own time. If you do that, you should easily get 8 songs down rock solid. You won't need charts and you'll make a more positive impression.

    - If not, and I misunderstood your statement, ignore my post and I'll go stand in the corner. :p
  11. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    How many of the 3 practices (I'm assuming you mean 3 rehearsals, with the band, as opposed to 3 sessions practicing on your own, which I think is how most of us use the terms) have you had so far? How much progress have you made from one to the next?

    Whether you have 3, 2, or 50 rehearsals together, it should all be pretty well nailed by the last one (3rd, in your case).

    Rehearsal #1, if you've done your homework, should go reasonably well unless there are some surprises that weren't disclosed (there often are). You should be able to make it through all 8 songs (it's only 8, for crying out loud!) with only a few foul-ups. Those foul-ups will show you (the others as well) where work needs to be concentrated.

    Rehearsal #2 should be a noticeable improvement, with few errors on anybody's part. Some adjustments may be necessary, & some people may have ideas for changes that improve the songs.

    Rehearsal #3, like I said above, should have everybody nailing their parts with all mistakes being pretty minor.

    How much time does everybody (not just you; the others need to practice, too) have to practice on your own between rehearsals? How much time between the last rehearsal & the gig?
  12. jdepriest


    Sep 20, 2005
    Waynesburg, Pa
    I agree with most of the comments above, 3 rehearsals to learn 5 news tunes when you also have a demo CD is plenty. Put the time in and you’ll be fine.

    BUT, the sound guy in me wants to say that it’s ok to use a cheat sheet for the first couple gigs. Maybe not on a music stand, but a list on the floor with keys and/or chords is not a problem for 99% of bands, especially for the new guy. After a few gigs on those tunes it’s a different story but in the short term do it.
    I’ve run sound for big name artist that you’ve all heard of that use cheat sheets from time to time. I once went to a Billy Joel concert and he had a huge 3 ring binder on the piano while he was playing HIS songs because “it made him feel better.”
  13. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    just bring the tele prompter, cleverly disguised as a monitor, ala John Mayer.
  14. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    - Listen to the songs thoroughly, and listen for cues to changes.

    - Break the songs down to their most basic parts, and usually those will be the chords. Put them on a little cheat sheet. You usually won't need more than 2 lines for a song.
    My notes for a song looks like this:
    Don't Stop Believing - Journey
    VS/CH: E - B - C#m - A
    BR: A - E (X3) A - B

    - If you need to know a specific riff or lick, break it down to what scale it is. That way if you forget the exact notes, you can at least come close. Put that scale in your notes. For example, instead of writing the riff in tablature for Back in Black by AC/DC, I'll just write Em Pentatonic or B Chromatic walkup for the riffs.

    - Put your notes where they not visible to the audience, but visible to you. A mic stand makes a nice spot for it. Write large enough, and legible enough. Make sure it's lit if you're playing somewhere dark. Notes are useless if you struggle to read them.

    - Learn the melody of the song. It will help you have a context and place to hang your bass lines.
  15. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    You have 3 rehearsals with the band, and their demo to practice along with at home, and you think that's not enough? Not trying to be a jerk, but that should be plenty of time to nail just about anything down (unless it's some crazy jazz stuff, or really progressive rock).

    IMO, being a hired-gun bassist is all about doing this stuff in a pinch. That's what gets you hired-gun gigs.
  16. 8 songs cannot be too hard to memories if we are not talking about insane stuff like liquid tension experiment or something! but depending upon the gig the stand could be ok or very weird
  17. JackANSI


    Sep 12, 2006
    I've always had the opinion that unless you're sight reading, you look like an unprepared fool with a music stand.

    If its taking longer than a day to completely learn a song, there is something wrong with how you're practicing.
  18. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    It might only take a day to learn a song, but it can take more to be able to execute it.

    I don't prefer music stands, but I personally found over the years that as I learned more songs, it became harder for me to memorize them all as they start to get mixed up sometimes. So, little cheat sheets come in handy for me. I usually just stick them to my mic stand.
  19. By 3 practices I meet 3 rehearsal. That would have made thing easier to explain. I spent most of the night last night playing the songs. I think I can honestly say I have a handle on them for the most part. I will have all the songs down but I am still going to use a couple cheat sheets on the floor, just in case.
  20. I agree with using notes - if needed. 8 songs + 3 rehearsals with the band + your own time with the songs outside of rehearsal sounds like more than enough time to get them down.

    As others have said, LISTEN TO THEM RELENTLESSLY. If you know them in your head, getting them under your fingers should be relatively easy. Also - even though they're originals, there are probably similarities in each tune based on the style of the writer. Once you start to get a feel for the writing style, you should be able to see a pattern and begin to understand the songs better.

    LISTEN to them TONS! If you need to, do as Jive said and make notes. 1 page per song, big, bold, black marker. Make your notes so that you can put them on the floor and read them standing up.

    I am personally not opposed to a music stand on stage if it's done discreetly - but 8 songs + 3 rehearsals + your own practice time + listening a lot should = no problem.

    Good luck!
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