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Pianist speeding up in songs...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Sheep Man, May 13, 2001.

  1. Ok, here's the story:

    We've been rehearsing for The Whereabouts of Wally Dudes for almost 3 months now, and we've all got each song memorized.
    BUT, the pianist keeps on speeding up in almost EVERY song. During rehearsals I have to keep shouting "Speeding up!" in the middle of the song just so she knows, and slows back down again.
    After rehearsals, the rest of us keep telling her to listen to me through the monitor, but she still speeds up.

    Also, I think I should mention that I'm the only one in the band that knows how fast each song should be, but the thing is, I don't start any of the songs. It's always the piano or the guitar that gives the intro, so I always end up having to go with whatever they start at. Sometimes they start it ok, but at other times it starts too fast or too slow, and in every case, the pianist speeds up, some times even to double what we started the song at, and she can never hear it speeding up. I've been tempted to keep playing at the PROPER tempo, but now there's 4 days until our first performance day, and if I did that then:
    1) The songs would sound like crap
    2) The director would get pissed
    3) The pianist would get pissed
    4) If her boyfriend, the guitarist also says she's speeding up, which he knows she is, she'll get even MORE pissed off.

    And I try to tell her politely that "You're speeding up the song, Jen." but when I say it during the song, I have to shout to be heard above the mix, and a lot of times I see her flash me the "Shut the #@ยข* up!" look.

    I mean...the last thing we want is our pianist walking out on us 3 days before the first show, but I just don't know how to say it in a way that she wouldn't feel offended.
    I've thought about turning my bass UP on the PA, but then the audience would be blown away by the bass in the song. Yeah, I know that could be a good thing, but then if all they hear is bass, then I'm sure they'd want their $50 back. I want the songs to sound GOOD. With each instrument coming through in the mix at the perfect level, which it's at now. But there's no other way I can think of that would get her to listen to ME. We only have one monitor for the entire band, so the mix in there is the same as what the audience would hear.
    how can I say it to her without pissing her off?

    I feel...I dunno...bad about this whole thing. :(
  2. JimM


    Jan 13, 2000
    Northern California
    Can she hear you ? have her sit in front of your amp.if her boyfriend doesn't mind,that is.My drummer gets going too fast and even the guitarist noticed that I have the power to hold him in line if I dig in my heels.

    Now I remember why I needed such a big amp.
  3. Heh...yeah, she SHOULD be able to hear me. The monitor is right next to her, and I can hear myself several feet farther away from the monitor.

    I've also devised another plan, which I've just completed.
    I wrote down the bpm and time signatures for each song. If I gave it to her and asked her to practice the songs on her piano at home with her metronome...I'm wondering if she'd take offense, or if she'd even do it.
    Then again, I've also faced that dilemma that...I forget who, but someone else here also has. As in...
    "is it 152 bpm at 8/8, or is it 76 bpm at 4/4?" The song in question is a jazzy, swinging kinda "50's rock" tune with a walking line in D. So I'm just wondering...with those kinds of songs, were they generally played in 4/4, or 8/8? I tap my fot to a 4/4 beat, but find it easier to play the song if I put the metronome twice as fast, and play each note with each click of the 'nome.
    So if I gave her the sheet that said "152 bpm, 8/8" would that help better?
  4. Could be if your shouting "Speeding Up" thats what she thinks your trying to do. Try shouting "Slow Down". Also if the director your worried about pissing off is the band director then I would have to ask him/her to do his/her job and tell the piano player to watch the tempo. Something else I have noticed in the 32 years of being in bands with keyboards is if you can get them to lay off the bass line with their left hand it helps with the tempo and it cleans up the bottom. Its very hard for them to do because thats the way they were taught. Our keyboard player uses a hand held keyboard so his left hand is on the neck and off the bass notes. After all. its MY job to do the low notes.
  5. I'm gonna try my other idea, first. I'll keep this in mind as a last-ditch effort. I've written up a sheet with the song titles, and how fast each song should be played, e.g. "152 bpm @ 8/8" or "120 bpm @ 4/4" etc. Hopefully she'll go home and practice the songs with a metronome.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The obvious thing that shouts at me when reading this is "Count -in" !!

    One of the simplest, but most useful lessons lesson I learnt at "Jazz school" was the importance of counting in - and in going to Jazz gigs for many years I can remember very few occasions where the band has not started with a "count in".

    I must say that all the bands/situations I play in currently would not work at all without a good solid count in and when this isn't heard then the situation you mention about wrong tempo etc., inevitably ocurred.

    Quite often, in gigs, I can tell whether a song is going to work or sound good, by the end of the count-in - if it's weak or just plain wrong for the song it's very difficult to get the situation back.
  7. Hey! Thanks for that, Bruce! :)
    The thing is, with this being a musical and all, the characters tend to sing for "no apparent reason", to quote the director. :p

    With that in mind, some of the songs are impossible for us to count in. Others...well, others MIGHT work, but I'll keep this in mind, too. I'll be sure to try it out at rehearsal tomorrow if speeding up persists to be a problem. I gave her the sheet I wrote up with the bpm of each song, and hopefully she'll practice with her metronome today.

    (This is, of course, all assuming that I really understand what you mean by 'counting in', but I think I get it. :D)

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