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What's the best way to learn music for a new original material band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by vulturedog, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. vulturedog


    Feb 19, 2013
    I just moved on from one band and was quickly picked up by another band. This band has some very good musicians in it. They have gigs booked to play out and their current bassist is a drunk and unemployed and very unreliable. So they brought me in to replace him. Any way they have these gigs booked (next 3 weekends) I'm trying with my limited time to practice (I work a job for a living) the songs and get up to speed. I can tell there seems to be some pressure on me to get these songs down so they can eliminate the current bassist completely.
    The band plays all originals and has 9 songs. What is the best way to quickly get up to speed? They gave me recordings of music but with no lyrics or vocal tracks laid. I'm figuring 2 months before I'm fully comfortable to know the songs inside and out. Right now every day I just run through the songs and force myself to remember the notes and changes. What do you think?
    Any advice?
  2. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Get them to right down the chord changes, any signature riffs and the song format. They should be able to do that for you.

    Nothing annoys me more than people who wrote original music, but can't even tell you what the chord changes are...if you write a song, write it down for real.
  3. Mrzonehead


    Jan 3, 2013
    Chart them out. And read your bass off! You'll end up learning all the harmony that way and it'll make more sense melodically, hence making it easier to remember.
  4. vulturedog


    Feb 19, 2013
    P.s. They did give me some of the songs not all of them written out in chord form or root note on an abdf file wich helps but I still have to sit down with head phones and listen and even learn the song. I find it helps to listen and learn and write the song out on my own but fear of becoming dependent on written form to remember the songs.
  5. Just put on your headphones and play along with the songs over and over until you memorize them - if you have to, make more charts - then dump the chart as soon as you have it memorize….. and take a little handheld stereo digital recorder with you to your next rehearsal and record the songs with the vocals - then practice to your live recordings. Oh and congratulations. Cheers
  6. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I'm in a similar (somewhat) situation having to learn over 30 originals (already recorded in a studio and out on CD).

    I approached it like any new cover band because in essence, (while I am writing the bass lines for the newest CD coming out this summer), I had to learn pre-existing recorded bass lines. I've already learned them all in about three weeks now. Now it's just a matter of familiarity...i.e. - knowing instantly what to play and how they start, by title alone.

    First thing I do is listen to the songs and write down the main chord changes. I'm not interested in learning any lines, only the arrangment (intro, verses, chorus, bridge, ending) and main root chords (major, minor etc.?).

    All I have at this point is a list with the main parts of the songs broken down. Only then will I begin learning my parts (or creating new parts if the bandleader allows creative input, which mine does).

    For the most part, I just listen to these songs over and over again without playing my bass along with them. I just want to know the titles and get the feel or groove of the songs.

    Once I sit down and start learning them, I just try to get the main bass parts figured out. One song after another. At this point I'm not trying to get every single little lick right...just the main lines. Once I'm comfortable with them, as I listen to them I can more easily hear subtle parts and how they fit into the structure of the song.

    So basically, when I have a lot of music to learn in a short time, I start with basics and keep breaking them down a little more each time. And I listen to them constantly (and that is ALL I will listen to...absolutely no other music until I know them).

    The main difference between learning originals versus covers, is that in a cover band situation, even if I never played a cover song before, chances are very good that I've already heard it a bazillion times so the recognition factor is high. With originals, not only do you have to learn the bass part, you have to become familiar with the unfamiliar.
  7. generation zero

    generation zero

    Jul 24, 2012
    I was in a similar situation when I joined my band, I was replacing a replacement bassist so there were 20+ songs with existing parts that I had to learn fairly quickly. I came in with two weeks and maybe three practices before the first gig, a high profile gig at an event our drummer had put together to promote a new business venture of his. I was already a longtime friend and fan of the band, so I was really familiar with the songs... but I was a guitarist switching to bass to take the gig, so I was familiar with the songs from a guitar perspective, not necessarily bass. (Nobody listens to the bass anyway, right? How different can it be? LOL!) Anyway, I knew most if not all of the chord changes, but there were a few runs here and there that I didn't know, and my biggest weakness was the spots where the bass drops out but the guitars don't... out of habit I would almost constantly play through a stop, or put a stop in the wrong spot. At the end of the day though, the only thing that helped me was playing in the room with the four other guys. I could nail it every time to the CD, but the bass was there already as a guide... remembering and doing it on my own took a few weeks worth of getting the stink-eye when I would miss a cue to really seat the parts in firmly to memory. Just woodshed to the disc to build your familiarity, and immerse yourself in the songs at practice as much as possible. All the above advice is solid... start by nailing the chords and work out from there, that way even if you miss a small detail the song is still intact. It's far better to nail all the right chords and leave out a run here and there than it is to get the intricate fill perfect only to land on the wrong note in the next section. (I know, I've seen me do it.) :) Recording a practice to have the song with vocals is also a great suggestion. if possible, have the band record the songs without you, so you can practice with that at home, like a jam track. Good luck, and congrats on landing the gig! If they hired you, they obviously feel you can pull it off, so just stick to it. You got this. ;)
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Depending on the song complexity, you could also download Best Practice software. It's free.

    It allows you to loop sections (so you can work on only one part repeatedly), or slow it down without altering pitch, or visa versa (which is really helpful if they do any drop tuning).
  9. Make a ride around CD and listen to it anytime you're in your car. Sucks if you have a passenger, but it works. For me, just knowing the arrangement is the most important part.
  10. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    My band's music is all I have playing when I'm driving. Actually driving alone is the best place to learn. Nobody to interrupt you.

    Not only does it help me associate titles with the music to really "drive" them into my brain (pun intended), I actually hear new parts I hadn't heard, or come up with better parts, than when I was trying to play along with them.
  11. phoenixjmw


    Jul 9, 2013
    Figure out the chord changes then make your own bassline. If they are kicking the other guy out, do you need to copy and learn his lines?
  12. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I would learn the original bass lines first just to get up to speed. It would depend on the band and their ideas as to whether or not they liked what was there. Easier to embellish/change what's already been established than it is to put your own spin on the music, only to perhaps find out later that's not what they want...and then have to re-learn it.

    But I'd ask first. In my situation, the leader/guitarist was the bass player on the originals and he is a killer bass player. I can handle the parts, but they are already very creative and challenging. He gave me the freedom to play whatever I wanted so long as it didn't change the groove, but thus far there isn't much I even want to change. I've only improvised a little in places and even that varies from one rehearsal to another.

    If time is of the essence, I wouldn't waste my time writing my own parts, unless the original lines were so basic and easy to figure out in the first place and there was a lot to work off of.

    Couldn't hurt to ask though.
  13. phoenixjmw


    Jul 9, 2013
    Good point on asking... For me I think it is easier to make my own than learn note for note. Maybe thats unusual?
  14. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I wouldn't say that's unusual. I think it depends on the situation to be sure. I'm also in another originals band and from the get go I just took the songs and ran with them and made up my own bass lines, totally disregarding the existing ones. Which turned out better.

    I think it depends on a variety of factors...from the other band members expectations, complexity of the music, how dependent the arrangments are on the existing bass lines (are they key, signature licks that alert other musicians to changes?), etc.
  15. Offer the old bassist free booze to show you how the songs are played :bag:
  16. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    Do they have any gigs or rehearsals coming up with the "old" bassist?

    I suggest get a recording if possible so you can get the vocals in there to help with the learning processes.

    Seems like they want you NOW and you're thinking it's gonna take two months. :(

    Way different expectations....possibly something you should discuss with them no and probably more importantly, should have discussed with them when they offered you the job.
  17. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    If there isn't a simple structured chord/lyrics chart to work from, spelling out the verses,chorus, bridge, etc, then in my opinion all you have is a jam song that will probably be played different every time... that would seem very difficult to "learn".
  18. vulturedog


    Feb 19, 2013
    So far reading everyone's post I'm right on target with what I'm doing. I went through each song and just picked out the root notes and worry about fills and runs later. But I seem to have a problem with practicing to the recorded material at home with minimal problems then when I get to practice I seem to forget the song and then I get the "stink eye" Not sure what it is but I figure it's going to take about 2 months to fully grasp all the music. Some of you guys are probly awesome players and can pick it up quick..but if I didn't have to work and had no responsibilities I could probly have this stuff down in about 3 weeks at the most..but thanks for all your input!!!!
  19. You're welcome.

    Yeah, just "think positive", push yourself - and you'll nail them.

  20. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    word...also, look for any kind of repetitive structure motifs from song to song. Like, in my surf-punk band, we tend to follow the same structure pattern in a song, and each pattern tends to lead into the next in a similar way.

    Also, are the guys in the band expecting you to directly copy the existing lines, or do you have the freedom to use your own sensibility?