Jump to content
Woodinblack

What does 'standards' actually mean for songs

Recommended Posts

I got asked by someone I am sure I hadn't met, but knew a bloke who I used to play with to 'help out' with their group that are trying to get together to make a gigging band. It was all different songs to those I normally play in pubs and I have a bit of time free so I thought why not.

They sent me 10 songs, that they have got to on their setlist and I dutifully learned the gist of most of them *

So I went to play at one of their practices last night, seem ok, a bit of a culture shock in the (lack of) volume and (lack of) speed department for me. However, when we did those songs, mostly ok, there were some other songs they were trying, and the BL kept saying things like 'I know we didn't say about this one, but don't worry, you won't have problems, its a standard'.

Some of those songs I had never heard before. So in these terms, does standard mean what I thought it means, its a song so common that everyone knows it (apart from apparently me), or does it mean its so simple you don't have to think about it, its just a i-iv-v thing (which they weren't but they were generally standard).

To me there are standards, depending on where you are: mustang sally, mr brightside, sex on fire if you play in pubs, Burn, paranoid, rock'n'roll if you do classic rock, etc. Is it just that at 53 I am just not old enough to know the right 'standards'?

* As a side note - Son of a Preacher man by Dusty Springfield - was the bass player charging by the note or what? I was quite surprised on that one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's one of those terms that means different things to different people.

The other day I was reading the wikipedia entry on the 'Great American Song Book'

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Songbook

To be honest I reckon I'm familiar with maybe one in three of the 'standards' listed in that article. A lot of them seem to be fairly obscure musical numbers from productions that have probably barley been performed since the 1950s.

I suppose the whole concept of what qualifies as a 'standard' these days is entirely subjective.

Edited by Cato

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure I've told the story... I once went to an audition where they didn't want to give me a list of songs. "They are all standards".

Needless to say, not a glimmer. Not even the slightest recognition of any of them. 

Valuable lesson learned. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

its the Jazz standards they are referring too.

You need to know and perform a specified number as part of most music qualifications...

Autumn Leaves and the rest of that ilk...........

 

Edited by jimmy23cricket

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, thepurpleblob said:

I'm sure I've told the story... I once went to an audition where they didn't want to give me a list of songs. "They are all standards".

Needless to say, not a glimmer. Not even the slightest recognition of any of them. 

Valuable lesson learned. 

Ditto, also been caught by that one.  I was expecting, All Right Now, Wishing Well, Mustang, Brown Sugar, You Really Got Me etc, etc, etc......

What I got was a list of obscure album tracks from Molly Hatchet, April Wine, Iron Maiden, Pat Travers, MSG.........not a good night.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a generation thing. What is a 'standard' to one generation is a WTF to the next.

In the early 70's I was in my early 20's and was living in London. I used to pick up dep gigs through the MU. A lot of this was function jobs with musos in their 60's and 70's who were the remnants of the old dance bands from the 40's and 50's.

"What? You don't know 'Satin Doll' ???   What is the world coming to ???........ Well surely you must know 'Cherry Pink and Almond Blossom White ???" etc etc......

Plus ca change...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Woodinblack said:

* As a side note - Son of a Preacher man by Dusty Springfield - was the bass player charging by the note or what? I was quite surprised on that one. 

One band I was in decided to get a female vox in as a departure from the (often tedious blues) stuff we were doing. She asked us to learn some songs and one of them was this, so I tried to learn it it pretty much note for note and after we'd gone through it the keyboard player says 'it sounds a bit busy, do you have to play all those notes'. I left the band within a month of that.

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me standards conjures up smoky jazz clubs.  Standard because it's usual for bands to play the same old crap while one member goes off and simultaneously plays something completely random over the top.  You may have guesed I'm not a lover of jazz.

Standard does not apply to Classic rock or Alt rock - Mr Brightside, Sex on fire, Paranoid, Cant Get Enough etc.... are just stuff that most people pick up if they are playing in cover bands, and to be honest its not likely you'll ever forget these if you played them once.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

...* As a side note - Son of a Preacher man by Dusty Springfield - was the bass player charging by the note or what? I was quite surprised on that one.

Tommy Cogbill, a regular contributor to Memphis recordings 'back then'.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

...and the BL kept saying things like 'I know we didn't say about this one, but don't worry, you won't have problems, its a standard'.

I'd be interested to know which tunes the BL thought were 'Standard'.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, ahpook said:

I'd be interested to know which tunes the BL thought were 'Standard'.

I can't remember all that he said were standards but some were:

Sunshine Day (rang a bell from somewhere - maybe a car journey in childhood on the radio?)

I'm Coming' home - Mel Torme (never heard this before)

Mercy Mercy Mercy (never heard this before)

Midnight hour - Wilson Picket - at least I had heard this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, jimmy23cricket said:

its the Jazz standards they are referring too.

You need to know and perform a specified number as part of most music qualifications...

Autumn Leaves and the rest of that ilk...........

 

Standards as in standard repertoire, not necessarily jazz, but common songs or numbers for that genre; could be jazz but equally they could be blues or soul, punk even I guess. In rock it’d be alright now or you really got me. Valerie is standard in most function bands set lists, that kind of thing. 

Edited by ambient

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I hear "its a standard" it normally relates to jazz standards, but the term could be applied to other genres in a similar way. I'm by no means an expert but as I understand it, a decent (jazz) musician would be expected to be able to play, and solo over, hundreds or thousands of tunes, ranging from very well known ones to much less well known where you might need prompting or looking at some music, but only for about 30 secs then you'd be expected to "get it" - having a good ear helps here too!!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mercy Mercy Mercy was Josef Zawinul's first electric tune . He got his first Wurlitzer off Ray Charles and wrote the tune for Cannonball Adderley on it . ( His first instrument was the accordion - imagine Mercy Mercy Mercy played on accordion ).

A Standard .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Cato said:

I think it's one of those terms that means different things to different people.

The other day I was reading the wikipedia entry on the 'Great American Song Book'

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Songbook

To be honest I reckon I'm familiar with maybe one in three of the 'standards' listed in that article. A lot of them seem to be fairly obscure musical numbers from productions that have probably barley been performed since the 1950s.

I suppose the whole concept of what qualifies as a 'standard' these days is entirely subjective.

I've just scanned the list on Wiki and know the vast majority of the titles.  They are played a lot on many radio programmes and performed in cabaret in clubs and cruise ships.  I am fortunate in being old enough (68) to remember the days of the crooners and ballad singers my parents liked and listened to on the old "Light Programme" before Radio Caroline came on air (I love 60's music - the songs of my teen years).  I work in broadcasting so get to hear a wide variety of music that I would not choose to listen to.  If you want to expand your playing options you really need to become familiar with the likes of Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Irving Berlin etc.  They wrote timeless songs sung by Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Jack Jones and countless others.  If your listening habits are Radio 1 or Later with Jools then you are starving yourself of some real quality music.  I can bop (not too energetic these days!) to Britney, Aretha, Tina Turner and the Motown classics but I can also enjoy the "Standards", Country music, some classical and - as I play in a church band - the old hymns and new contemporary worship songs.  There is a wealth of wonderful music out there.  When you consider we use basically only eight notes (plus a few sharps and flats) it is remarkable just what a variety of melodies have been written.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DaveFry said:

Mercy Mercy Mercy was Josef Zawinul's first electric tune . He got his first Wurlitzer off Ray Charles and wrote the tune for Cannonball Adderley on it . ( His first instrument was the accordion - imagine Mercy Mercy Mercy played on accordion ).

A Standard .

I guess. I had never heard it before and actually, it was hard finding a version of it on youtube or other streaming services, so I wasn't sure it was the right one. Luckily all these sort of things are pretty easy but makes me realise the term standard is fairly subjective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a lot of these 'Real Book' 'standards' that, to those having studied them a bit, reveal their structures to be, in some respects, a bit like a collection of 'musical Lego bricks'. By this, I mean that they're comprise a series of relatively simple concepts, strung together, such that, once the structure recognised, what's coming up next becomes pretty evident. This is easily demonstrated by the well-known 'I-iv-v' stuff found in many pop songs, or the notion of three-chord 'cowboy' stuff. The 'Lego' used in Real Book tunes is a bit more complex, and richer, than those simple examples, but there are few 'standards' musicians who'll learn by heart each and every song, in each and every key. They'll absorb, over time and through much 'wood-shedding' and playing out, a whole repertoire of 'Lego', and assemble the bits with fluidity, whatever the 'standard' being called., in whatever key is required. It's not rocket surgery, really; just a specific 'mind-set'. I've a number of books which break down many of these tunes into their 'Lego' parts; it's quite revealing.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, thepurpleblob said:

Autumn Leaves? 

 

I especially love the version with the smoothie maker accompaniment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Dad3353 said:

There are a lot of these 'Real Book' 'standards' that, to those having studied them a bit, reveal their structures to be, in some respects, a bit like a collection of 'musical Lego bricks'. By this, I mean that they're comprise a series of relatively simple concepts, strung together, such that, once the structure recognised, what's coming up next becomes pretty evident. This is easily demonstrated by the well-known 'I-iv-v' stuff found in many pop songs, or the notion of three-chord 'cowboy' stuff. The 'Lego' used in Real Book tunes is a bit more complex, and richer, than those simple examples, but there are few 'standards' musicians who'll learn by heart each and every song, in each and every key. They'll absorb, over time and through much 'wood-shedding' and playing out, a whole repertoire of 'Lego', and assemble the bits with fluidity, whatever the 'standard' being called., in whatever key is required. It's not rocket surgery, really; just a specific 'mind-set'. I've a number of books which break down many of these tunes into their 'Lego' parts; it's quite revealing.

Can you recommend one ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dad 3353 is exactly right. Any "professional" muso is expected to have learnt some as part of their training/career as they give you the "building blocks" to play pretty much anything. Hence band leaders referring to them so casually (although I suspect they are probably bluffing about knoowing them too)

No one is actually going to have heard of most of the songs unless you were born circa 1925.....or have studied music theory.

But, ultimately the question does stand....does the idea of "standards" need to be looked at again to include the likes of My Sharona and Mustang Sally or be more genre specific.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Geek99 said:

Can you recommend one ?

Have look at ...

Jens Larsen: Chord Progression Building Blocks ...

Andy Kyte Music: Jazz Building Blocks, Part II ...

Lots of detail here ...

Jazz Satandards .com ...

Another approach (an e-book...)...

The Jazz Standards Playbook ...

For deeper study...

Mark Levine: The Jazz Theory Book ...

... and the 'Lego' bricks method itself ...

The New Guide To Harmony With Lego Bricks ...

Enough for this week-end, maybe..?

Hope this helps. B|

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Dad3353 said:

Have look at ...

Jens Larsen: Chord Progression Building Blocks ...

Andy Kyte Music: Jazz Building Blocks, Part II ...

Lots of detail here ...

Jazz Satandards .com ...

Another approach (an e-book...)...

The Jazz Standards Playbook ...

For deeper study...

Mark Levine: The Jazz Theory Book ...

... and the 'Lego' bricks method itself ...

The New Guide To Harmony With Lego Bricks ...

Enough for this week-end, maybe..?

Hope this helps. B|

All I need now is free time to read them or indeed practice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Off-topic response to ahpook: many years ago I attended many BSI meetings and was once told that the BSI had a "British Standard Turd".   It was essentially a fluffy ball/pompom thing on a string.   It was used to test whether or not WC/cistern combinations passed the current BS for toilets.   The string was necessary to retrieve the "turd" after the flush test was over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...