playing a song like the recording

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tevin, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    I think a cover can be adapted to a band's style, as long as it is done tastefully, and each bandmate knows exactly the form and changes of the song perfectly.

    What is the joy of playing a cover if you have to play it note-by-note? Again, if the song really calls for it, I'm game. But if not, there is no reason why anyone can't be creative and spice it up or change some non-essential things.
  2. jsbachonbass


    May 16, 2006
    Denton, TX
    I think I already said that I thought it was OK for a band to adapt a cover to their style (an original version), as long as it is done purposely as a band. "Lazy evolution" does not count as an original version.

    Let me clarify what I mean by "playing it like the recording". I do not mean getting out the staff paper and transcibing it note for note. While this is excellent training, it is not usually practical in a band where you have to learn a large number of songs in a short amount of time. What I am taking about are the "functional elements" of the song: the intro lick or riff that immediately identifies the song,chord progressions, structure of the song, the instrumentation during each section of the song,bass drum and bass rhythm patterns, voicing of the chords, the signiture fills that leads up to the next section of the song. All of these things are the essential elements of the song, but they might only comprise 85 - 90% of all the notes. The non-essential things are the random embellishments that don't interfere with functional elements of the song, which you are free to do with as you wish.
  3. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    After reading back through this thread I began to wonder what there is to talk about so much. It's all simple. There are times to play like the record. Or, I could say that if you're reading classical music, of course, you play it exactly as written. Does that make you inferior as far as creativity goes? No. That's just the way to do it. It can even be enjoyable to do your craft. Nothing wrong with doing it like the original. And then, there's nothing wrong about adapting a song to your sylye, although you can't do that with written stuff. I mean, you can't take Beethoven's Fifth and just do it your way, huh? Ridiculous. No, you need to read the notes and obey the markings. The idea is to keep alive what Beethoven wrote so long ago, and to have it sound JUST LIKE THAT, see?

    There's a time for one way, and a time for the other way.
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    And people who won't play just like the record usually lack the skill and discipline to do so.
    It's pretty much the same issue as busy lines vs roots.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The kicker on this is the buzz of always nailing it dead on, the more times you nail the better it becomes, till you realize that you are nailing it, then the buzz becomes greater because you add the pressure seeing how long you can maintain it, as said disipline and that is a good thing to have in your playing.:bassist:
  6. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    Don't forget that the record most likely had some very talented and highly paid people deciding how it should sound. If you are better than them, go ahead - otherwise learn from their talent. Change McCartney's bass lines?? Heresy!

    However (there is always a however) I do feel that the styles have changed somewhat, and that some older classic songs can be adapted to our times - but not by much!

    A different version of a song - sure! For example I play 2 different versions of "The Letter" - the original and Joe Cocker's - both are good.
  7. makkE


    Jan 19, 2010
    Normandie, France
    This is so wrong. I can play "just like the record" , note for note, but I still have infinite possibilitys as to the HOW I play it and what emotional content I actually put into it, even if the form is somewhat confined into a tight space.

    It's called interpretation. Give me any bassline straight off the record, and I will try to play it jolly, sad, thoughtful, relaxed, tensed, sarcastical, etc... ideally, I will try to play what the songwriter intended, or what I feel the song means to me, or what I feel the song means to my audience, or what I feel the song means to my singer or other bandmates to match what they are personally putting into it - creating a whole new interpretation of it.

    And all the while, I will play it note for note how it's been recorded and transcribed.

    To me it's actually a challenge to colour a cover song in my own way without straying away from it. It's great fun, and emotionally fulfilling. When I play "Pretty Woman" for example, I play it with MY pretty woman in mind, and draw from the moments when my own personal experience matched the situation described in the song. The song itself is just the form, what you channel through it as an interpreter is limitless.

    If you say "The whole point of music (or any other art) is personal expression" - you are actually right. That's what it's about. But that doesn't mean that playing it exactly like transcribed/recorded would limit your expression in any way. Look at classical musicians. They are strictly confined to what is written down - but still they have huge freedom in HOW they play and interpret it. Just listen to several piano players play the same piece. They all play exactly the same notes, but they all play it diffrent, some will play lifeless, and some will bring tears to your eyes, some will take a piece to places you will never understand, yet you can sense they play it their very OWN way. That is the beauty of performing arts.
  8. NightTripper


    Oct 20, 2011
    If you're learning a song, I think it's best to learn it as close to the recording as possible. And then put your own spin on it if you think it would sound good.
  9. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    That is incredibly judgmental.

    Although there are clearly people to lazy to play a song note for note and people with no creativity who only play a song note for note, has it ever occurred to you that different people have different musical goals?
  10. Jinro


    Oct 9, 2011
    West TN
    And the comment he was replying to wasn't? :bag:
  11. makkE


    Jan 19, 2010
    Normandie, France
    You have a point. Diffrent people have diffrent musical goals.
    But music is a group effort, so ideally, everyone should have the same goals. When everyone is down on playing as close to the record as possible, you should be able to adapt to the mayority's will. If everyone agrees to putting their own spin to their covers, that's great too.

    But if two guys play like the record, and the other two are soloing away on it, it's possibly not going to sound right.

    We're talking about covers. To me, there are only two kinds of covers - faithfull recreation with the possibility of subtle individuality - or taking the cover completely somewhere else.

    In both scenarios, people will have to click with each other if you want the audience to dig it.

    To the OP ... two keyboards sounds like a nightmare to me. Do THEY play true to the record? Not many popular bands employ two keyboards - chances are they are already overplaying. Now, if they aren't true to the record, I can understand how the OP feels left out if he's not given the freedom to stray away as well - on the other hand, it could produce a mess, and it's likely that being faithful to the record on the bass is going to sound better. In the end it matters what comes out FOH.
  12. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    My point is that when you learn the song and know it inside out (which means chords, melody, bass line and structure), then you can eventually venture into doing something else.
    Reinventing the line or worse, making it busier because it's boring to play (sic) before taking the time to really learn it sounds vain to me.
  13. jsbachonbass


    May 16, 2006
    Denton, TX
    But if you are in the same band, your goals better be the same.

    Let's look at his a different way. What if you are joining a new cover band, and you are given a list of songs to learn? How do you approach this, not knowing anything on how the other band members play? What if you spend all of your free time learning and charting songs, show up to rehearsal, and half of the other players didn't even bother learning their parts, but think they can fake it for rehearsal. How does that make you feel?

    What if you are subbing in for a band, and you won't get any rehearsals? You've learned the songs the best you can, start playing the gig, and the band is "playing their own version" of the songs, which makes you look like a complete idiot.

    Too me, this is more a matter about respect of other people's time, and efficiency of practice and rehearsal. The easiest way to learn a song and have it sound good as a band is for everybody to copy what it already there. What makes it hard is when everybody is playing it "their own way", but can't get on the same page for anything.

    Let's throw out the "note for note" concept for a second. I have had past band members, who were more than capable of playing anything out there, have trouble with remembering the form and structure of the song. Why? Because they didn't think they needed to chart it, or because they have faked their way through it before. Half of the reason I chart songs now is so I know exactly where somebody in the band is going to consistantly mess up, so that I can be ready for it at the gig.

    Why do I hate all of those "cover songs you hate to play" like Sweet Home Alabama, Mustang Sally, Brown Eyed Girl, etc? Because 95% of the musicans out there don't actually know how the song actually goes, and since they faked their way through it once, they don't think they need to bother to learn.

    Just plain lazy!
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Really wanted to cut into this one, but you guys pretty much said it all already.

    Trust me. If there's "a recording", and you want to get into a band (or continue playing with the band), you best play it like the recording. If people who are already in the band want you to play it like the recording, you best play it like the recording.

    If you want to get creative then do it on new material, when you write your own parts. Or wait until you're playing it like the recording, then start slowly, tastefully, and carefully adding your personality to it. If you feel like all this cramps your creativity, then write songs and play in a different band.
  15. Tevin


    Apr 17, 2011
    I play guitar for my church. The chords are already there from us having two keyboard players half the time. I mostly try to articulate the vocals through lead.
  16. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    Clearly, it depends on what your goal is. In Britney Spears band, you better play it the same every night, or you'll foul up her pre-recorded vocals! But just because a song was recorded a certain way doesn't mean there are no better interpretations of it. Get the hook or the essence of the song, but don't be to fearful of putting your mark on it. IMHO.
  17. Jinro


    Oct 9, 2011
    West TN
    Since it's a church thing, I would play it like the recording. From personal experience, much of the music I play at church was created with a certain feeling by the original artists, and that feeling should be kept intact for the sake of worship on a Sunday morning. I frequently get irked with my band when they change a song around because when they do, it looses all the feeling and impact that it was supposed to have, and did have, on the original recording.

    Now there are times when you can venture out and add small things, which won't necessarily impact the feeling of the song but will help support it.

    Second of all, what in blue blazes are you doing with two keyboards? In a praise band the only instrument that should have multiples is electric guitar, and the max for that is two (excluding acoustic, obviously--that would make it three guitars max).
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    So you're telling us you want to change the line but you don't know the chords to the song?
  19. Why? There are countless examples where good sounds come from lineups with multiple keyboards, or more than two guitars.

    Here you go...first one I picked....count the guitars in this:

    Hillsong - Hosanna (High-Quality) - YouTube
  20. 5StringFool


    Jun 10, 2011
    Greenup, KY
    Imo the 100% rule is the most important thing to factor in when playing in a worship environment.
    If you're adding guitar work simultaneously with the vocals you have to be very, very careful, or else you step on them and detract from their part of the song. Everything needs space to breathe, sometimes what you don't play is just as important as what you do play.
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