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bootleg

Playing without a drummer

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[quote name='Kevin Dean' timestamp='1489791478' post='3259998']
One of my bands have been dropped in it more than once by the drummer not turning up, & rather than cancel a gig would you use a pre programmed drum machine ? Or just use one for a basic tempo or cancel ? any suggestions .
[/quote]Hi Kevin, my experience is that you certainly shouldn't try it without a lot of rehearsal. In the absence of a drummer I've been rehearsing with a singer/guitarist and programmed drums. It was OK ish until we got a second guitarist and then the mistakes multiplied. You'd be surprised how often playing live a mistake is covered up by playing an extra beat or an extra bar, you can't do that with pre programmed drums. I reckon every third song failed to end on beat. Playing to a recorded track is a skill in itself and needs to be learned.

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One night with my country band, the dep drummer didn't turn up, due to a previous
altercation with the landlord , something to do with their girlfriends...
( The guitarist was also a dep, leaving just 50% of the original band! )
I found this out just before leaving for the gig. A few attempts at getting a dep drummer
drew a blank, so I had to break it to the rest of the band what had happened when I arrived.
Anyway, after a quick discussion we decided to do the gig, and of course it turned out great. Without drums many
of the songs took on a fresh identity, and even the more rocky stuff went down well, full dance floor etc.
I think our regular audience admired us for having a go too. From my point of view it was challenging but
also liberating at the same time, and made me realise it's not just the drums that people listen to when dancing.

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How about having the odd 'rhythm section' rehearsal with just you and the guitarist? Ask him if he wants to get together to really lock down the grooves of the Latin tunes. If the two of you work out some really solid interlocking parts that you can fall back on, both of you can improvise around them as and when you see fit, but if you ever feel like things are going a bit flat, you'll have something pre-arranged to fall back on.
I would also work on the micro-detail of each of your own basslines, getting the feel exactly right and adding in some little ghost-note / passing note details, so that they stand up on their own when the rest of the band goes a bit quiet.

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In a band everyone should be playing in time. There should be no [i]timekeeper[/i].

As has been said, embrace the spaces. Enjoy the clean uncluttered and fluid sound.

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Being able to have a band groove without a drummer/ percussionist is a mark of class, particularly for us bassists.

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**The time is everyone's responsibility.**

Listen to some albums that don't have drums to get your ears used to the space.

My examples would be Angel Song by Kenny Wheeler (Dave Holland on bass)

Beyond the Missouri Sky by Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden.

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[quote name='JoeEvans' timestamp='1489826942' post='3260097']
How about having the odd 'rhythm section' rehearsal with just you and the guitarist? Ask him if he wants to get together to really lock down the grooves of the Latin tunes. If the two of you work out some really solid interlocking parts that you can fall back on, both of you can improvise around them as and when you see fit, but if you ever feel like things are going a bit flat, you'll have something pre-arranged to fall back on.
I would also work on the micro-detail of each of your own basslines, getting the feel exactly right and adding in some little ghost-note / passing note details, so that they stand up on their own when the rest of the band goes a bit quiet.
[/quote]
That's sounds a good approach. I think we both tend to wing it on the Latin tunes. I'm comfortable with my walking lines on swing tunes, and tend to play with a similar feel each time, but with Latin I don't often have a part nailed down, so that could also be part of it. Looking into some clave variants has also been interesting. A bit of serious Latin immersion is on the cards.

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[quote name='scalpy' timestamp='1489856319' post='3260393']
Being able to have a band groove without a drummer/ percussionist is a mark of class, particularly for us bassists.
[/quote]
Exactly. And after 11 years playing with these tunes and mostly same band, why I'm thinking I should get my coat.

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[quote name='Jazzjames' timestamp='1489935949' post='3260917']
**The time is everyone's responsibility.**

Listen to some albums that don't have drums to get your ears used to the space.

My examples would be Angel Song by Kenny Wheeler (Dave Holland on bass)

Beyond the Missouri Sky by Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden.
[/quote]

Thanks - I'll give them a listen.

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Posted (edited)
This is an interesting problem. Drummers are so typically known as the band's time-keeper and so when they're gone it's hard to find the foundation for everything to sit on top of.

For 6/7 months the originals band I'm with were without a drummer. We trialled several in this time but no one had the right feel for our music; saying "hip/hop John Bonham with a latin vibe" to most people doesn't translate too well.

For those months I acted as the metronome and rhythm keeper for the band and I developed a percussive style of playing bass. Not to say I started making up slap-bass parts but my finger style became more drum-like. I started playing ghost notes in between my lines to resemble a kick drum and would use my fingers to slap/tap the string to create a snare. Working this style in really gave the band an absolute solid foundation to perform over. It worked really well for me and because the music we do has a latin influence it may work for you too?

Just practice it to a click or some instrumental hip/hop tracks; for example.

[url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBGsE6IammQ"]https://www.youtube....h?v=IBGsE6IammQ[/url]

This is great because you've got to work around the chords and incorporating that 'dead note kick' & 'finger tap snare' really gets that melodic solidarity.

Hope this helps! Edited by TonyCream

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[quote name='chris_b' timestamp='1489839533' post='3260223']
In a band everyone should be playing in time. There should be no [i]timekeeper[/i].

As has been said, embrace the spaces. Enjoy the clean uncluttered and fluid sound.
[/quote]

yeah, SHOULD being the key word.

I find guitarists are the worst at keeping time. Always trying to cram too many notes into too short a measure hehe

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Posted (edited)
[quote name='bazztard' timestamp='1489975146' post='3261218']
I find guitarists are the worst at keeping time. [/quote]

Funnily enough I find drummers can be the worst at keeping time for that reason. They're coming up to a fill and you can hear them thinking about it. Gradually their tempo is increasing in bpm, subtly but noticeably. When they finally reach the highly anticipated fill they're playing 32nd note values at 4/5 bpm faster than the original tempo. I've noticed this a lot in my time recording drummers. Some are solid as a rock but there have been some who just speed up naturally. Edited by TonyCream

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[quote name='bazztard' timestamp='1489975146' post='3261218']
yeah, SHOULD being the key word. . . I find guitarists are the worst at keeping time. [/quote]

Yep. . . . [i]should[/i]. . . . because we all play with guys who need to try harder to be better.

How can guys play out of time? It's like finger nails down a blackboard! There's a simple difference between amateurs and pro's, it's how well they can play in time. If you're playing with people who find it difficult to keep in time you'll be doing everyone a favour by telling them.

You have to be exceptional to make bad timing work. The only person I can think of who got away with it was Keith Moon. John Entwistle said that playing with Kenny Jones was the first time he'd played with a drummer who came out of a fill at the same tempo as he went in. Kenny Jones sat in with our band and he was great to play with. I would hate to play with Keith Moon, but for all his problems he's still the legend!

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