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Originals: How do you present songs to bandmates?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by southpaw723, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. southpaw723


    Oct 20, 2013
    I like to come up with things but more often than not I’m writing on the guitar. I don’t want to tell the other dudes exactly what to play because I don’t wanna be some control freak. However I feel like being the bassist is sometimes* limiting when presenting new songs to the rest of the band. Any suggestions?
  2. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I have a 16 track recorder and a drum machine. It's easier for me because I sing, play bass, guitar, keys and have a very basic knowledge on about a half dozen other instruments. I like to present my version of a finished product. Then I let them have whatever creative input they want. One of my old band's best songs, I handed them my finished product on CD. The singer rewrote the lyrics, the guitarist rewrote most of the guitar parts and the drummer changed the drum part. It was a much better song with everyone's input.

    I think it depends on the band. In some band's I've played in, I've been given a finished song, no structural input wanted or accepted, but I've never had a bass line dictated to me. I'm really lucky; almost all of the bands I've played in have had mutual respect for each other's abilities. I don't try to dictate what they play, they don't try to dictate what I play.
    Mr_Moo, FrenchBassQC, JRA and 15 others like this.
  3. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I write out a rough chart. A tip I picked up from our guitarist is that when specifying parts in his charts he usually writes "this or something better", which provides guidance while allowing for creativity.
    I also often do a rough demo on my computer with bass/drum groove and melody. I can't play chordal instruments so I leave the comping out.
    Mr_Moo, dBChad and Torrente Cro like this.
  4. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ? Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    I just let them listen to a rough one take demo. Vocals and acoustic guitar.
    Mr_Moo, JRA, saabfender and 2 others like this.
  5. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I would much rather hear your idea than go through the guessing game of suggesting parts one after another to be met with "no, try again." If you have an idea, sharing it is not 'controlling' - it is starting the collaboration process rolling. If your suggestion is, in fact, a mandate, then that's controlling...
  6. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Every band needs new tunes. They'll be stoked if you bring in a well-formed idea. As mentioned above, a quick demo (even if it's just vox and guitar recorded on your phone) is usually a good way to get the song in the room if you're uncomfortable performing it on the spot.
    Just be aware that once you bring in a tune, it can (and will) get changed around by your bandmates. Don't be offended if the final song sounds a lot different than your original idea. Unless you're Prince (a super-talented control freak who can play all the parts and pay people to play what he wanted), most tunes are a collaboration.
    mmon77 and catcauphonic like this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I've seen both - presenting just a rough sketch ( chords with acoustic guitar and lead vocals) all the way to finished songs. Put on as much as you think makes the song work, but when you present it, tell them exactly what you told us.
  8. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I bring a guitar to rehearsal... can’t show anyone much on bass only.
    viper4000, lowplaces and southpaw723 like this.
  9. My bandmates will usually bring a kernel of an idea: a riff, a couple chords, maybe some words. And it is up to the entire band to flesh it out. Our lead vocalist/main songwriter will usually bring in a fully written song (chords and lyrics) and the band hones it and tightens it up. I usually bring in a finished product with a GarageBand demo.
  10. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I give them a chart with the melody and chords written out. If no time, I play the melody on piccolo bass. But this is for jazz tunes...
    JRA likes this.
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I bring a fleshed out song, with drums (via drum machine) bass, guitars, etc all on the demo.

    If they're good, pro players they'll do one of two things:

    1. Play the part as I laid it down, because it's good enough
    2. Play a better part, because they hear one
    wildman2, bolophonic, JRA and 7 others like this.
  12. StayLow


    Mar 14, 2008
    Depends on the band and my role in it.

    If I'm a principal writer or music director / band leader; "Here's the new material, and here's what you're going to play." Hand out scores if applicable. If I'm open to ideas I'll say so, or ask for them. In many scenarios, there's no time. Good players respond very well to kind direction and clarity, because they're more into music than ego.

    If I'm "just the bassist", proceed with caution, depending on whether you have any personal or musical relationship with the artist. When there's time start playing your idea and see if people respond positively and join in to jam on it.

    I really love it when people make suggestions or dictate what I should play, because I learn little or nothing by playing what I already know how to play.
    bolophonic, JRA and Dabndug like this.
  13. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I've been in multiple band situations where people are trying to bring in something for the group to play. I think as a band member my biggest complaint would be them bringing something that is not a fleshed out song. They may just have a riff, or a verse. They might not have an actual harmonic progression. So my recommendation is to make sure you have a substantial enough idea for the band to easily pick up on. This means you should have at the very least a melody and chord progression, and at least two sections to the song(A & B section). Also try to have an idea of the style of the song, so you can explain it to the group.

    How you present it to the group depends on the musicians and their abilities. You can go anywhere from fully notated chart/sheet to simply playing it live for them in rehearsal. Some of my favorite original rock bands seem to have one person bringing fairly fleshed out recorded demos to the band.
    JRA and StayLow like this.
  14. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    When I did my CD, of original tunes I wrote on piano, I'd pull the players in tight, sit down at the piano and play it. ... Didn't have to be perfect but it gave the players a window of what's there. ... Then you get to work running through the tune till it works. ... It's the way every band works.
  15. Inky13


    Nov 13, 2016
    Buffalo NY
    Demo recordings are your best friend.
    Dabndug likes this.
  16. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    "Come on guys, just play what's in my head!" :D
    taught, whero, Hahaha and 1 other person like this.
  17. Erik herman

    Erik herman Gold Supporting Member

    I’ll usually piece it all together and work out the parts and the beat and take what I like most out of what I created and play it for them and let them create the rest of the parts. It usually works out better than the original arrangement.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I grab the guitar from my guitarist and play his part.
    wildman2 and catcauphonic like this.
  19. I usually record all the parts and make a demo of the song, sometimes with vocals, sometimes without, depending on if I have them written.
    They usually go, "Who played that?" then I tell them it was me and t hey are like, "Oh, it's OK I guess."

    if they can come up with something cooler, then great! if not, then at least they have a part to play.
  20. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    "Hey drummer, play this. No, like, put the kick on this note, the snare on that. Aiight, eight times for the verse to this part, what is 4 for the chorus, go verse-verse-chorus; verse-verse-chorus; solo verse-verse-chorus-chorus. OK, guitarist, the progression is these chords on the verse, these on the chorus, solo and fill in this key, and let's sound like <band or song>. Get through it, and I'm buyin' the first round."
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