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What price is enough for you to memorize music for a gig?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by NapBassT, May 10, 2019.

  1. NapBassT

    NapBassT Fretless and Ramps

    Jan 4, 2015
    I play in well over a dozen bands regularly and perform tons of songs each week. Needless to say, it's sometimes difficult to memorize and recall the 100+ songs I'd play in a week's time. One band I play in just asked me to not perform with a music stand any more. Now, this band doesn't pay the best (usually 100-125 a night) so I'm half tempted to just tell them to find someone else. But that leaves me wondering: what price per gig would you put on memorizing 3 sets of music? This is keeping in mind that the gigs aren't a weekly thing; maybe two shows a month at best.

    Only one other gig I've ever done has hinted at the "no music stand" rule, and that was a very well paying gig that had multiple 4+ hour rehearsals before the performance. But even then, I've done my share of backing sizable artists and have always been able to have the music handy.

    For the record, I'm not one of those people who puts the music stand in their face; mine is always off to the side and set rather low so that my whole body is visible to most of the audience.
  2. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Genre and typical venue would be helpful here.
  3. NapBassT

    NapBassT Fretless and Ramps

    Jan 4, 2015
    The band in question is a pop country group. Two female singers and a three piece backing them. Mostly covers with a few originals. Venues are mostly smaller venues (bars, clubs). Nothing high profile.
  4. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I’m in the music stands are usually bad camp, but I’m not a multi band / frequent sub guy.

    Pop country is usually dead simple. Can you get away with a cheat sheet taped to the floor or the side of your amp?
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I also play in a lots of groups, and I always memorize the songs. Money has nothing to do with it. My current band has about 200 tunes we rotate. I played in a Zep tribute for a while (now I just sub) and we have about 40. And a play in a few others now just subbing, as my main band is booked pretty solidly.

    Here's a tip if you refuse to let go of the stand. Get used to using your phone, or a mini iPad for notes. The other guys in my band use them all the time, hook them right up to the mic stands, use foot controllers to scroll, and nobody ever notices anything.

    Here's a shot of our last gig, from the sound booth. You'd never know anyone has notes, and everyone but me, does. I have my setlist on my mic stand too though, on my phone:

    almost easy bar a.

    OK... just noticed its a crappy picture, but trust me. You can't tell :) .
    MrLenny1, EddieV, Tom Magri and 24 others like this.
  6. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    You need a music stand for country music? :laugh:
  7. NapBassT

    NapBassT Fretless and Ramps

    Jan 4, 2015
    Probably, but if they're worried about appearance I'd imagine staring at the floor wouldn't be much of an upgrade. I usually have my stand positioned so it looks like I'm watching my left hand rather than looking at a stand.

    The tablet/phone thing is a good idea. I already use my phone for some of the simpler charts. I'm just wondering if that'll fall under the "music stand" category.
    TheReceder likes this.
  8. NapBassT

    NapBassT Fretless and Ramps

    Jan 4, 2015
    How many songs do you have to perform a week? It's easy memorizing the tunes for 3-4 sets if you're a weekend warrior. I do music full time and after the thousandth (or so) song they all start to blend together, especially given that country is already pretty repetitive.

    True many of the songs are simple, but many of them are identical with an odd bar or different bridge to differentiate them. This is in addition to the keys of all these songs being within a minor third of each other. If it were my only gig this wouldn't be an issue, but given that I might do 5-6 other gigs during the week it becomes a chore to memorize every note of every single set I play.
  9. I'd tell them to pound sand as long as the audience can't tell easily. Now, singers on the other hand...
    Bob_Ross and NapBassT like this.
  10. A dozen bands is a lot. Gosh. That’d surely get tricky to manage.
    I’d say if you are asked to do something, do it. If you don’t want to, surely it’s not an important gig?
    Or try the sneaky IPhone trick.
    I learn lots of new tunes every week for one of my BLs. Sometimes they don’t even play them (right away). It’s a lot of work but worth it to me for ongoing employment and my reputation for being solid and prepared.
    Always be a solution, not a problem.
    Best wishes!
  11. Perhaps...or maybe it's just a matter of saying, hey you guys are each in maybe 2 bands (if that's true) and I am in a dozen. I just can't do this, and I apologize, but I am happy to take your input on how to ensure my notes aren't distracting. That sets the bar where it needs to be, and puts the ball in their court. If they can't live with it, then they can find someone else. Just my opinion.
  12. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I don't see that the pay matters. If you can memorize all the tunes, do it. If you can't, then you can't and let the chips fall where they may.
    backin82 and Lee Moses like this.
  13. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    I've always been a memorizer, but it's not a matter of memorizing notes or finger positions. It's a matter of internalizing the music. I feel this shouldn't be terribly difficult.

    I understand if it sucks because you don't like the music (and yeah, country, yeah. I get it) but it should be doable if you can hear the music in your head. That said, if you're a sight reader and you think of note names or fingerings or frets when you play a song, I might be off base for you.

    Try singing your bass lines while playing the song in your head (without your bass). This might help with natural memorization. It can also help in terms of identifying genre patterns across songs so you don't have to memorize as much.
    Rabidhamster, Zbass82, eJake and 2 others like this.
  14. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I went to a quinceanera with a mariachi band. The guitarron player had his phone clipped on the headstock for lyrics. I took these pics in anticipation of the next music stand thread on talkbass.


    Even the fiddle player (what’s Spanish for fiddle?) needed some help.


    The guitar player was a hoot. Dig the crime scene strap.

  15. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    I always memorize it. Unless this is an orchestra gig and you have to read, there's nothing that says "not a party" like a bunch of band members with music stands.
  16. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    If you're gigging in 12 bands, I'd say that memorizing that much music is borderline impossible.

    If you're out front... or a big gig, I'd say standless is a must.

    Bar gigs... small stuff... depends.

    Admittedly I used to be in the camp that a stand is bad news, but some of the groups I play for can go months between gigs, or practices. I could practice more, but I'm old, and I think I'm coming down with partshiemers. I'm like the poster though, my stand is usually as far out of sight as possible, and I'm usually in the back line of the stage.

    If I was doing vocals upfront, that might be a different situation.

    I do find it ironic that so many people that criticize a music stand usually have an Ipad on their mic stand.
  17. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Music stands?
    Symphony Orchestra - check.
    Big Band Jazz / Pit Orchestra - check.

    Any other situation... 'does not appear professional' :bookworm:
  18. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Free. I always memorize everything I’m going to perform.
    jbasedig, maxmaroon, aldaa and 3 others like this.
  19. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    You might get away with it too - if you were the BL. If not you need to decide how wise it is to throw down the gauntlet like that. Not your band, not your call.
    dannydabiker likes this.
  20. Is there a "Not Like" feature on Talk Bass? 'Cause I'd use it here...

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