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I'm no Michael League

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I'm the least talented player in our band, and the hardest working as a result. I've learned hundreds of songs some of which, like Sir Duke, took me weeks if not months to master, and that has been its own reward. I can't read so that slows it down, but I'm good following charts and can play most songs from scratch in this way. We are usually picking up new songs all the time (jazz mostly).

Anyways, drummer has brought in What About Me? by Snarky Puppy, all parts written up. So I'm struggling for some reason. Not particularly in love with the song, but I just struggle to break it down as I usually do. It's having an effect on my practise schedule (I am not doing much cause of that bloody song hanging over me) and on rehearsals as my confidence is taking a shot, to the extent I skipped last weeks rehearsal cause I didn't fancy it. Now I'm thinking perhaps they should get another bass player. It's that song or me! It feels a bit like constructive dismissal; despite making clear my thought on the matter they want to crack on with it.

I've been very motivated over last few months, putting in lots of hours practise, always enthusiastic at rehearsals, but this has knocked me back. Perhaps it's time for a break.

Thanks for listening. Has been very helpful.

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A couple of thoughts.
1) The band have confidence in you & think you're up to the task of learning it...stick with it.
2) The band have confidence in you, and want to stretch you, stick with it.
3) The band have little thought about you're thoughts or feelings about the songs challenges, stick with it & ask for time & get some help with it?
4) something else....others here are more wise, and will be along with suggestions.

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Maybe listen to a few live versions of the song and see how Michael plays it, how he changes it and improvises over the song.

This is from the Snarky Puppy songbook, some background to the song:





[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPS]Notes from Michael [/font][/i][/size]

[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]“What About Me?”[/font]
[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]written and arranged by Michael League
transcribed by Chris McQueen
recorded on [/font][font=TimesNewRomanPS]We Like It Here[/font][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT], GroundUP Music / Ropeadope Records 2014 [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]I’ve noticed that as time goes on, I tend to write slow tunes more often than uptempo ones. In an attempt to avoid having [/font][font=TimesNewRomanPS][i]We Like It Here [/i][/font][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]turn into Ballad Fest 2014, I dug into my IPhone’s voice memo library and found something I recorded on guitar a few months previous.[/font]

[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]It was the intro to “What About Me?” - a really guitaristic, Wayne Krantz-ish sound bite that could have lent itself to either a funky tune or something a little more rock. The result, I would say, is in the middle, as each section of the song digs into a different bag of influence.[/font]

[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]I was staying at the Shofukan Japanese Cultural Center of Rotterdam at the time (Lingus, Shofukan, and What About Me? were all composed or finished there), and I was listening to a lot of different music, from Tunisian to classical to everything in between. Strangely, the main point of influence for each section in this song seems to come from my childhood, or at least college years.[/font]

[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]As I said, the intro feels like Wayne Krantz’s trio (especially the broken drum/bass interplay) during the Carlock/Lefebvre era. The verse reminds me a bit of Prince or Maze rhythmically, but something else I can’t put my finger on harmonically. Letter C has been compared to Led Zeppelin, which I totally don’t hear, but can’t really deny considering that I spent five years of my teenage life basically only listening to them. Letter E probably comes from my over-listening to Kurt Rosenwinkel’s [/font][font=TimesNewRomanPS][i]Heartcore[/i][/font][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT], with its interconnected but angular melodic and harmonic motion (I wrote this whole tune on guitar, so the Krantz/Zeppelin/Rosenwinkel glimmers make sense). Letter G, or the chorus as I think of it, is probably the funniest reference... when I was explaining how it should be played in rehearsal with the guys, the track I played for them was Stone Temple Pilots’ “Sour Girl,” my favorite song of theirs. It has such a unique feel for a pop tune! Half-time drums with an eighth-note, muted bassline. Crazy stuff. I miss high school.[/font]

[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]In playing this tune, make sure that letter B (the verse, as I think of it) doesn’t default to a standard backbeat. We tried this in rehearsal first and it made the whole section feel really lame. I think the broken groove really makes it swim in a funky way.[/font]

[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]The subtlety of Sput’s drum pattern in letter C is what really makes the section feel great. He and Nate slaved over that decision for about 30 minutes during the rehearsal, trying to [/font][/i][/size]







[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]find the exact, perfect pattern that would acknowledge the groupings of 5 without losing the backbone of 4/4.[/font]

[font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]As a sidenote, for those of you who own the DVD [/font][font=TimesNewRomanPS][i]We Like It Here[/i][/font][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT], check the bonus footage for an alternate take of Larnell Lewis’ drum solo. The first night of tracking, I counted it off about 25 clicks too fast... and that thing stayed right there the whole song. [/font][font=Helvetica] [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]As for the story behind the title, I’ll give you the PG version. We had just played a gig in Liverpool, UK, at Kazimier. I was in my 6th day of Noro Virus affliction (which is basically a flu on steroids) during its epidemic over there, so I was quarantined in a bedroom that had been meant to sleep two of us. Without the extra space, one guy was left to have to sleep on the floor. This unenviable position was left, of course, to the last guy to come back that night after the post-gig hang. I was sound asleep in a fever coma at about 4:00am when I awoke to someone screaming their lungs out upstairs. All that I, or anyone else, on the block heard for about 15 straight minutes, was “Really? Really?! What about me, ************? What about ME?!” [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]So there ya go. In this band, if you want a bed, or even a couch, go to bed early. [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]Off-the-page stuff to try: [/font][/i][/size][list]
[*]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]1) Try it at a much slower tempo. The B and C sections get really, really funky [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]when played slowly. [/font][/i][/size]
[*]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]2) Come up with a groove for the solo section that transitions nicely from the [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]chorus to the hits behind the solo. [/font][/i][/size]
[*]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]3) Reprise the end of the song with the chorus. We do this sometimes and it [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]seems to work. [/font][/i][/size]
[*]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]4) During the drum solo, remove certain notes from the groove to create [/font][/i][/size]
[size=3][i][font=TimesNewRomanPSMT]interesting spaces. It’ll change the feel of the whole section. [/font][/i][/size]
[/list]

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I bloody hate Snarky Puppy and all their works, so would already be on my bike. :D

It's not impossible though, stick with it. In a previous band I was forced to learn a Grateful Dead track (Dire Wolf), which sounds like a really easy country number, until you listen to what the bass is doing. The bass player busked it on the recording, and the bass line is different in every version they did. It became a point of honour to learn it note for note from the album version and I did, but the band would have been happy with an approximation.

The lesson is, don't get too hung up about it.

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[quote name='oldslapper' timestamp='1508080883' post='3389609']
A couple of thoughts.
1) The band have confidence in you & think you're up to the task of learning it...stick with it.
2) The band have confidence in you, and want to stretch you, stick with it.
3) The band have little thought about you're thoughts or feelings about the songs challenges, stick with it & ask for time & get some help with it?
4) something else....others here are more wise, and will be along with suggestions.
[/quote]

What he said - if you can play "Sir Duke" to a good standard, you're good enough to learn a bit of Snarky Puppy. However, if it's getting you down, maybe it's time to talk to the other members of the band and put forward your reasons for why you don't want to do it and the problems it's causing you?

It's all about having the confidence in your own ability as a musician, and maybe you could include learning to read notation as part of your practice schedule? Yeah, it's a slow burn, but definitely worth it (imo). I had to learn "It's My Life" by Talk Talk recently for one of the bands I'm in. To my ears, the bass part in that number is just as important as the vocal melody. The only way I could learn it was by getting a copy of the dots and learning it that way, and I spent a couple of weeks working at it before I got it sounding reasonably good enough for a rehearsal.

It sounds like you've really grafted to get to where you are with your playing (and I mean that in a non-patronising way), so whatever you decide to do, don't let the current situation knock your confidence. :)

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Thanks Ambient for sharing Michael’s notes. I also think a good point was made that if you can play Sir Duke you definetly have the chops to play what about me. The real question comes down to the fact you don’t want to play it, in which case I would discuss this more in depth with your band. My other suggestion would be to play a simplified version and let the keys player beef out the sound.

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We have a band rule. If one member is really against playing a new song we simply drop it. Its easier to find songs we all like without playing stuff one or more of us don't like. Band harmony is a good thing and there are thousands of songs out there, find those you all enjoy.

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It's not a particularly hard line for me, harder ones like Lingus which is relatively slow and switches between 5/4 and 4/4, and most of the stuff off the Tell Your Friends album.

However if you can't get the line and it's made you not go to practice then get the lads to bin it off. Music shouldn't be a chore and definitely shouldn't cause you to not want to practice and play!

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Thanks all. Very useful responses. Learning to read has been a long term, unrealised aspiration. We don't have a keyboard player which could be part of why it sounds so pants. I haven't actually listened to it all the way through as the song is getting associated with me hitting a talent ceiling. I'm going to push to bin it.

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I would agree, push to bin it. Also I would suggest to your band that without keys pulling off any snarky puppy song would be a huge task, and the song would probably sound very thin, as the bass is doubled by atleast one synth for the most part. Don’t worry about the talent ceiling, keep doing what your doing and you will be able to play anything you want.

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Be thankful you're in a band that wants to play progressive music that stretches and challenges you, you could be in a band who throw Rolling Stones songs at you every week (I'd quit that band instantly).
What About Me can absolutely be approximated through the vast majority of the tune, I bet Michael doesn't play it the same each night! The difficult part, simply due to stamina really is the outro/drum solo, it's an easy enough 'riff', but tiring, so when you get to that fast unison line at the end, you need some left in the tank.
Was a challenge to learn, but really satisfying when I got it, the rhythms involved are fantastic!

Si

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... and what do your second keys, second guitar, horn section and percussionist have to say..? Are they up to it..? What..? None of these..? It's basically a drum solo, then..? If your drummer's [i]really [/i]up to playing what that bloke on Youtube is playing, [i]he's[/i] in the wrong band. Those sights are very, very high, and if the full orchestration is not there, personally I can't see the point.
It's a funny ol' world, right enough. You're in a high-flying ensemble; make the most of it and fly with 'em, but remember the story of Icarus. :mellow:

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I'd explain to the band that you're worried about it. Don't give up on the song though. Learning to play stuff that you're not able to at the time is a great thing. Put it on the back burner, keep working on it. In a years time you'll maybe look back and wonder what you were struggling about.

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if the song made you miss rehearsal, it's decision time. Either the song goes or you go.

Surely they have enough awareness to hear that you are struggling with it?

next rehearsal, either play a simplified line following the chords or fail dramatically so they have to stop mid-song,then discuss your feelings about it

In my experience all members of a band have to be aware of each others playing and if one member isn't playing it properly they should be able to hear that it's not working and either offer to help you work on it or decide to drop it

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You could ask a teacher to help flesh out the parts? And tell the band to be patient. Having a good bandmember walk out sucks balls if it could have been prevented!

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[quote name='Dad3353' timestamp='1508104199' post='3389828']
... and what do your second keys, second guitar, horn section and percussionist have to say..? Are they up to it..? What..? None of these..? It's basically a drum solo, then..? If your drummer's [i]really [/i]up to playing what that bloke on Youtube is playing, [i]he's[/i] in the wrong band. Those sights are very, very high, and if the full orchestration is not there, personally I can't see the point.
It's a funny ol' world, right enough. You're in a high-flying ensemble; make the most of it and fly with 'em, but remember the story of Icarus. :mellow:
[/quote]

I totally agree. For the same reason, there’s not a lot of Tower of Power cover bands around; even if you could summon up enough world class musicians, you’d struggle to get the original feel (and personally speaking the track, and from what little I’ve just copped from YouTube, the band, don’t do a whole lot for me). Who in the OP’s band wants to do the track and why? As others have said, no reason you can’t get the bass part in time but there’s no point if the track as whole isn’t there.

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[quote name='bootleg' timestamp='1508080084' post='3389605']
Anyways, drummer has brought in What About Me? by Snarky Puppy, all parts written up. So I'm struggling for some reason. Not particularly in love with the song, but I just struggle to break it down as I usually do. It's having an effect on my practise schedule (I am not doing much cause of that bloody song hanging over me) and on rehearsals as my confidence is taking a shot, to the extent I skipped last weeks rehearsal cause I didn't fancy it. Now I'm thinking perhaps they should get another bass player. It's that song or me! It feels a bit like constructive dismissal; despite making clear my thought on the matter they want to crack on with it.
[/quote]

Is this a rehearsal band? I can't see this going down well at any of the gig I've done in the last 30 years. anyway. . . . Snarky Puppy is a sh*t hot band and I can play most stuff but I know I'd struggle with this or anything else they write.

If you want to give it a go, break the number into 4 bar sections, then start putting it all together into larger, logical pieces.

What's the point of leaving a band because of a song? I don't understand this "run into a difficulty and walk" mentality. Stick at it, give it your best shot and maybe you'll succeed. How good will that feel? If you really can't get it into your head, tell them. Everyone has limits of their ability, but that limit is usually a lot further away than most people realise. The rest of the band should appreciate your efforts and honesty.

I've been in bands where one member has put their hands up and told us they just haven't the talent for a song. . . . and that doesn't make them a bad player. If the other guys have any sense they'll understand and ditch this song.

Edited by chris_b

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For the last two weeks it seems like I've been using all my spare time to master Do I DO by Stevie Wonder. Last week I was 30% there and now I'm about 70%.
I reckon by end of next week I'm good to gig it. My fingers will have the muscle memory and I can mentally play the part too.

Conquering difficult lines take a lot of time. Your part may be a lot harder to play on bass than say the keyboard part is for the keyboard player even though they both sound as challenging.
. If it takes you 6 weeks to get it down then so be it. At the end of those 6 weeks its another string to your bow. You are only putting pressure on yourself to play a challenge well before you can conceivably do it in a short time span. Rushing it due to pressure will be unproductive.

The fact you are up for it is the main thing and the band should be gracious enough to give you that time. Fair enough if you said the same about Mustang Sally but its not exactly a simple tune. You want to get it right and thats fair enough.

If every tune your band does is for the advanced player, and they are all at that level and you are the slacking behind on everything then I would have thought they would have given you the heave ho a while ago.

Keep at it, but let them know whats going on. They may be really supportive and offer to go round and round sections for your benefit.
I wouldn't of cancelled the rehearsal though. I would have been honest and said its not as straight forward as hoped so bear with me. If I'd been lying around all week on the XBox then thats different.

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More great responses. I gave it another shot this evening. I'm at least hearing it as I play it if that makes sense. The unison section eludes me. I'll try and approximate. I think my walking away has other factors outside the band, to do with limited bandwidth. I play to de-stress, have fun, and this is the opposite. Rehearsal tomorrow. I am not ducking out this time.

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