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What does "following hands" mean?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by NickInMesa, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. I have got 20+ email offers from bands, and it's a bit hard to find a good fit, I don't want to play with the first band that shows up (not desperate).

    One of the better candidates asks me if I can "follow hands".

    Does this simply mean read the current chord from looking at finger positions?

    Or does it mean reading note number, as 5 fingers would mean "play the fifth"?

    Never heard of that term before...

  2. 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
    It means to recognize the chords the guitarist is playing by looking at his hands, and matching them. "OK, you're playing a G, I'll play in G, now you've moved to C, I will too"
  3. Ok, that's what I thought.

    Hey, who does not?

  4. Try playing with a 7-stringer on guitar & see what following hands gets you. There is no substitute for perfect pitch.
  5. PSPookie

    PSPookie Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    But if you play a 5 string bass you shouldn't have too much trouble ;)
  6. I am training myself to do that but it's not something that comes naturally.

    And 7-stringers are usually a modern metal thing. I've never played with a 7-string guitarist *ever*.
  7. Hoover

    Hoover Inactive

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City

    While this approach has been common practice since the dawn of time -- or at least since the dawn of garage rock'n'roll bands -- I have never heard it referred to as "following hands". Is this an actual term that musicians (sic) use, or are you just presuming that's what these guys are talking about?
  8. It's annoying when other players tune differently (like a half step down) and they try to follow your hands, or worse yet, when they refer to the notes and chords by the names that *would* be correct if the instrument's strings was tuned to standard tuning, and even worse, when they play along with you and everything sounds wrong because they are going by "following hands" method and/or thinking in terms of names of notes/chords as related to finger position/fret counting, rather than just PLAYING BY EAR AND LISTENING AND BEING ABLE TO TELL THAT EVERYTHING SOUNDS OUT OF TUNE!!!!! GAAAAAHHH!!!! Ok I'm done with my mini-rant.
  9. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA

    That sucks since the vast majority of musicians DON'T have perfect pitch.
  10. I am getting away from it, but the thing is I have learned to also read the intention of the lead guy by seeing his movement and landing on the right note.

    So many times the song played is not the song. It's an idea of the song. And it's your goal as the bass guy to make it sound like it's the song.
  11. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The eye opening Open Mike experiences have taught me to
    'follow hands'. I often stand behind a guitarist and if I can
    see slightly over the neck, I can pretty much catch the
    changes as his or her hand shape changes.

    Yeah, your rants are valid. They are worse at OM's, the capo
    weenie (god forbid I should ever have to use a bar chord), the
    non-transposing capo weenie - I'm playing a D - (No d00d,
    when you capo'ed up three that became an F, yo.)

    The random callout, 'This one starts in A (so why did you play
    an E then?).

    The informational minimalist. This is in G. (Dont mention the
    F#m7 to Em to B7b9 to F#m to D7 to C thing you threw in, no
    need to know that, yo.)

    Planky. Perfect pitch is fine. Then you come in fine tuned
    and the guys 12 string is somewhere just slightly North of Eb. And
    5 of the 12 strings are out with each other.

    Just do the auditions. Keep in mind that you are auditioning
    them as much as they are auditioning you. You may show up
    ready to rock, on time and prepared and what you see from
    them may be very indicative of what you could expect going

    Are they late? Noodle a lot? Stick to the program and time
    frame? What are the dynamics soundwise in the mix? All
    these things tell you a lot before you even asked the first
    question. Do they use charts? If not, can you? Are you
    expected to know the material by rote? Are you expected
    to have some magical telepathic coneection so you a can
    anticipate changes, impromptu jams, segues, repeats, song
    substitutions and drum solos? Are you going to have to chainsaw
    the keyboard player's left hand off? Pay the drummer's bar tab
    and give him a ride home?

    You get the idea.
  12. edpal

    edpal Inactive

    Oct 3, 2007

    Couldn't agree more, why not use another one of your senses to make your music better? Good musician's make eye contact to end songs, to see when fellow musicians are making chord transitions, to compenmsate when the volume is too high/low/bad to rely on their ears. LOL :D And yes, to maybe see what their bandmate is doing to get up to speed asap. I'm thinking that looking at another's hand positions is akin to looking at a chord chart written in the 3D world.

    Perfect pitch is wonderful in concept but it seems a bit elitist to look down on anyone for not relying on it solely.:meh: It's not like looking at hands is creepy in a "peeping Tom" kind of way. Is it?

    Frankly, I'm thinking few things are more likely to lead to band discord(musically and personally), and poor performance, then players who act or play like a one-man-band. Same people who make tons of noise between songs?.....my wife the schoolteacher calls that autism.:bag:

    Agreed that following someone who is in a different tuning would be very unproductive.

    Finally, music students and music instructors do it all the time.:cool: Even my dog watches my hands. :p)
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    "Can you follow hands?" = "I don't know what chords I'm playing"
  14. edpal

    edpal Inactive

    Oct 3, 2007
    Alternately, it could mean just mean,"are you willing to maintain some eye contact so we are tight as possible?".:D Possibly it is a personal interaction preference that would be good to consider when choosing band mates? Maybe some people are doing it subconciously and don't realize it. As my post above this indicates, I personally am irritated by people who don't peek a little, since I feel our performance suffers as a result. Consequently leading to resentment.......

    Personally, I like to wink and smile at my bandmates, 'specially when they/we hit a part really tight.
  15. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007

    It's good to be able to "follow hands" when you have little or no idea of the song they are playing but the sooner you can get it in your head the better. Then you can start playing it instead of just following.

    As Thor says you are auditioning them as much as they are auditioning you, especially if you have several auditions to go to.

    Apart from the obvious things like the songs they play you should also see how organised they are.

    Is there always someone twiddling between number while others are trying to talk.

    Do they 'know' the songs or are they just busking them. When we learn new stuff we usually busk it first to see how it sounds and if it is worth sitting down and learning it properly.

    Do they make best use of the time available, the older you get the less time you have as life seems to demand more of your valuable time. (Until you retire from work when you should have more)

    Is the sound balance correct, is someone always louder than you think they should be, if you notice it on the first meeting it will drive you insane over time. Guitarist are notorious for this but I have played with keyboard players (Phil Allspace) who could match them.

    I played quite a lot with a jazz guitarist and fiddle player, I just couldn't get my head round the chord sequences and the guitarist never seemed to play the same chord twice or for more than one beat. I took the approach of a semi walking bassline as low as I could get it with lots of short notes so no one could tell if they were correct or not. I was complimented by the guitarist on the speed I had learned the songs, in truth all I knew was the key and felt my way through the chord changes. Well I suppose that is what jazz is all about isn't it, everybody plays their own thing in approximately the correct key. I am sure some one will correct me on this one but I prefer rock with a solid 4/4 beat and no fancy chords.
  16. Or a guy that plays nothing but inverted chords all night.
  17. Hoover

    Hoover Inactive

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    I wish...
  18. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    :D : I can't tell you how many guitarist I've tried to play with starting out who where just like "just play man." Yeah sure, sure...once you learn what a key is.

    I kinda suck at this honestly, but I'm getting better since I joined the cover band circuit.

    I always loose them when they go high up on the neck where its impossible to count the frets (especially on our one guitar players guitar, as he has an intricate pattern in-layed on his guitar instead of markers), and when they play an A and I think its an E because I can't see what open strings are being hit.

    ...I think I'm going to ask my bass instructor to teach me some basic rhythm guitar for a few weeks, just for this.
  19. adumbberg


    Feb 25, 2008
    Santa Cruz CA
    "Well I suppose that is what jazz is all about isn't it, everybody plays their own thing in approximately the correct key."

    That's awesome.
  20. I think this is what they refer to on the DB side of TB as "Jazz Hands".

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