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When it's math, not music...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    It drives me nuts, and all the fun gets sucked right out of it.

    Playing in a new band, doing covers I never did before. They're songs that even someone playing bass for three days could execute, yet remembering the arrangement is like playing Achilles Last Stand. Only without any of the fun.

    I have to play Crazy in Love next Friday, along with about 10 other brand new songs - and I know of no other way to get it down than to use cheat notes. I don't like using cheat notes, and only do it when absolutely necessary.

    How do you guys get this stuff together? Is there a trick? Drummer and other guys in the band suck at cues. They're all in their own world - so they ain't happening.

    If you don't know wut I'm talking about, have a listen to the arrangement on this. Only 2 parts. A & B. 3 notes. But it goes A3x, B2x, A1x, B4x, A4x, B6x, A5x... and on and on, with no logic or reason.... argh.

    pjbassist likes this.
  2. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    Some songs seem like they are written on a computer, mixed with individual recordings, and never meant to be performed by a live band. Just play ABABAB? I can't.
  3. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Welcome to the wide world of modern 'pop' music, where everything sounds the same, has nearly identical changes, and (often) the bass is so low in the mix it's a chore to figure it out by ear.

    If it were me, I'd get over the 'no notes on-stage' thing if the BL allows it. Once you get used to it being there, it's less 'nose down only reading' and more 'quick glance to make sure what you expect to come up, is coming up'.

    If that's absolutely not an option, the only thing I've used that works is to immerse yourself in the song both as a listener and as a performer. Play along with the record in odd spots in your house. Pump those jams when you're driving to/from work. Transcribe them to a different key, then rinse/repeat in the new key, etc.
  4. nutdog

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

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I chart it. I guess it's a cheat sheet but no way I could remember that, along with the 50-100 other songs we were doing I had never played/heard. We did that song in a wedding band about 5 years ago. Here's what I did (the red was backing vocals). I used an Ipad for notes.

    Rap lyrics on paper are...interesting.

    Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 7.24.05 AM.
  5. FirewalZ


    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    Outside of rock and roll, most professional groups use sheet music, chord charts, etc, out of nessesity, not sure why this is so frowned upon by some in the r&r community? I've gotten similar flack on TB for lyric sheets, there's simply too many songs and progressions floating around to be expected to memorize everything.
  6. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    On the plus side, I have to say that the seemingly random changes make the song a lot more interesting (or less uninteresting, at least) than it would be otherwise. If it were just 4 bars of A alternating with 4 bars of B for four minutes, you'd be asking for advice instead about how to get through it without nodding off.
  7. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    New Jersey
    I'll leave the bashing of modern music to the more cheery people around here and just say that learning one of these is cake compared to memorizing a Jamerson or Paul Chambers line note for note. I wish I had an easier way to do it, Joe, but it's just repetition. You need to play it at home on your bass and listen to it on the way to and from work (maybe even during) and any other chance you get until it's tattooed onto your brain.

    Learning songs you like is a thousand times easier than songs you don't care for, isn't it?
  8. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    I don't understand it, either. My last band said reading music (just simple tabs) would be my downfall. When writing new songs, I always literally wrote them on paper so I would be able to practice them later, and make notes...
    Apparently, you can't do that in a metal band. The song is just supposed to flow from your metal soul, or something.
    As it turned out, my only downfall was being in a band of close-minded idiots. :D
    I would bring sheet music and a stand.
  9. nutdog

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

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I kinda enjoyed that song. We didn't have a backing vocal group so I did the high harmony falsetto. Got in touch with my inner black woman.
  10. BurnOut

    BurnOut It's The Billy Baloney Show Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2015
    The Natti
    I guarantee Jay Z or one of his great beat makers did that on a sequencer, beat making program.
    japhy4529 and Killed_by_Death like this.
  11. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    If I'm playing "Crazy in love," I'm at a wedding making 3 bills. I got no problems with that song.

    But as far as writing down songs I don't know, in a pinch, it's completely acceptable. But I try not to go two gigs with the same song charted, unless they're back to back nights.

    The Nashville system is pretty good for covers. I can read staves, but they're bigger than necessary for cover band work IMO. Do what you need to do to get the job done.
  12. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    I actually played in a math rock band, and apart from not being boring, not repeating the same two parts for eternities and actually being fairly challenging to play, our song structures might have looked strange on paper too.

    I guess the difference is there ain't much motivation in remembering song structures for brain dead songs even if they did a serious job in complicating the structure with the two parts and 6 notes they could come up with.

    I feel for you :banghead:
    rbuchholz and gebass6 like this.
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Cheat sheet until/unless you memorize it. I joined a band recently, and had to learn a bunch of tune. There are still a couple where I have issues on certain parts, so I tape a cheat sheet somewhere. Each gig it gets shorter.
    pjbassist and gebass6 like this.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Making more than that, it's for weddings, and it's the ONLY reason I'm doing it.

    Should note that another one that drives me nuts is Bang Bang. I actually like that song, too.... just really don't enjoy playing it. I have to think. And there's nothing to feel. Just pay close attention, count, and move the fingers.
    pjbassist, tbz and Basstards like this.
  15. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I must hear weird or not like you at all but what I hear with headphone is :

    During the chorus :
    B ( 8th note ) for one bar then A ( 8th note ) for one bar and goes back and forth

    During the verse :
    Punch B or A the first 8th note every bar

    Far from math metal to me ... I thought at first we would talk about stuff like Meshugga or Ron Jarzombek ... you know polymeters and stupid stuff.

    I think you emotion got the best of you because the song you posted is far from complex even for the bass.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
    Amano, lamarjones, ba55i5t and 4 others like this.
  16. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I'll read charts if I need them. If the band doesn't like it, I'll go play with somebody else.
    gebass6, burnunit and interp like this.
  17. I feel for you Joe. I couldn't make it through a minute of that track.
    gebass6 and Spidey2112 like this.
  18. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Personally, I think western music notation is really just math used to describe sound. Circle of fifths, intervals, bpm, time signatures, etc.
    If I remember correctly, there was a YouTube video of a guy with a keyboard playing every radio hit using only the same three notes, just in different times and progressions. People like familiar, what can you do?
    I tried learning some Justin Timberlake for my wife, since she is a big fan of his. The lines were almost the same from song to song. If you jazz them up, you can add more ghost notes, or walking transitions, but for the most part it was three notes and a similar pattern. Pretty boring stuff.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  19. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    you talk about this I guess

  20. This. Solid suggestions. Nothing else to add.