Looking for arrangement ideas on a couple of tunes I'm considering

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pedro, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    We are a 5 piece band cover band (guitar, bass, drums, bass 4 male voices and one female vocalist). We do a wide variety of material from spanning styles from (Motown to Pop to Country to Rock) and eras from 1950-2000's.

    We plan to add a bunch of material in the next couple of months after we finish booked gigs. Our band usually stays pretty true to the record but a couple of the tunes I'm considering are heavily produced and I'm not sure we could do them as such. Two of the tunes I'm considering suggesting are

    1. Beyonce - Single Ladies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m1EFMoRFvY


    Janelle Monae - Tightrope https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQljISbquTY

    I've looked all over youtube for band covers of these two tunes and have run up rather dry. Lots of acoustic covers and even a couple of hysterical country/blue grass covers but I'm looking for a working band treatment.

    If I can't find a workable version I'll have to punt and go with something more doable. Any help is appreciated.
  2. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    First of all I don't agree that 'Single Ladies' is a mediocre song but its really quite irrelevant. What's important is that I think it would be a popular song with the ladies. And IMO if the ladies are happy then everybody is happy. Anyway, I wouldn't want to change the feel so much as I am interested in filling out what is mostly synth's etc with guitars, bass and keys.

    Same situation with 'Tightrope'. It seems heavily produced and I'd like to flesh it out for a smaller combo kind of thing.
  3. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I appreciate the input. Still I'm looking at more specific arrangement advice. 'Tightrope' for example has a lot of space that I don't think would be workable in a regular club/cover band setting. Same is true IMO with 'Single Ladies'.
  4. Jeff Elkins

    Jeff Elkins Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    East Tennessee
    Pedro -
    I'm struck that the key (as in key to the city) to both of these songs is in the drums.
    [side question: though I've certainly heard and seen cover bands without keys or horns do a fine job covering all kinds of synth pop and r&b (ymmv), your band make-up may not be a good marriage for these--I don't question why you'd want to do them, you know your crowd--but do you have concerns about the talents of the players to be able to pull it off? "Space" in an arrangement can really work... /diversion]
    If I was arranging these, I might bring some additional percussion into the mix--on Single Ladies I hear one guitar easily playing the synth motif (though repetitive and possibly boring), very little bass... What about adding timbales up front or having a couple instrumentalists join the drummer on the kit? Kitschy, possibly... But it could be one guitar licking and everyone else banging on things.
    On the other song (first listen for me) it seems even more important that the drummer nail the groove, and I wouldn't change the bass part one bit. Seems integral. Also a little challenging! :bassist:
    The other option that comes quickly to mind would be to mash them up with something else--do the Single Ladies as a bridge in something in a totally different genre. Check your set list for a similar tempo, drop it in after a chorus for a verse chorus whoa-o-o pass, back to the rock song.
    Even thinking along those lines might give you ideas from material you already have that can be applied here.
  5. masterFlash


    Jul 6, 2009
    For Single ladies, if you don't have a backing tracking for the clapping, move that constant important part to the highhat. Just have the dummer step on the pedal (open and close, no sticks).

    Keep the rest of the drums the way they are.
    Play the low synth parts on the bass. when not playing double the clapping.

    High synth parts, the flourishes, riffs and licks that keep the song sounding different, move those to an overdriven guitar (like a rolling stones sound). It can even powerchord double the bass when there are the long sustained synth notes(like around 1:47)

    Add as much back up vocals as you can.

    avoid slide guitar to emulate the synth glissandos.

    if you even get close on this one, i'm sure the young girls will pack the dance floor.
  6. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Thanks Jeff. Yea I agree that the key is in the percussion and groove of each song. And no I'm not that concerned about the abilities of my band mates to cover their parts (with the exception of me covering the bass part on 'Tightrope' which I think is trickier than it looks on first glance) so much as I am in filling in the areas that are covered in the songs by synths or effects with 4 instruments. There are also open spots in the recorded arrangements that I don't think will work well in a club cover band setting.
  7. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    The first post says guitar bass drums and singers. Now this one says keys. If you have keys all kinds of synth parts can obviously be taken over with keys -- midi controllers, soft synths and workstation software -- and even programmed parts triggered by pads or keys.

    Makes a big difference in arranging and how capable and experienced your keys player may be in emulating synth parts.
  8. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I assume you're referring to 'Single Ladies'?
  9. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Oops sorry for the confusion. We have guitar, bass, keys and drums. So yes we could cover some of the synth things but am not sure we could come up with exact duplications.
  10. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Dang it now I'll have to wait 'till I get home to check this one out.
  11. have your keyboard player come up with a sequence he can trigger that plays all the stuff he cant play simultaneously. trying to get other other instruments to cover production usually sounds thin and crowds dont react the same ime
  12. gotta play with a click!
  13. for sure when practicing and a must when running sequences!