Jump to content
csmallett

Do you learn songs EXACTLY as they were recorded, or just the general vibe of it?

Recommended Posts

15 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I'm jealous, I would love to be in a band playing Alan Spenner bass lines. He was a great bass player. I used to see him playing the pubs and clubs in Kokomo. Apparently he was Bryan Ferry's favourite Roxy bassist.

"Same Old Scene" and "Avalon" are great fun to play. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you know that Brittany Spears is Brian Ferry's daughter? She took her mother's name apparently. 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 2

Share this post


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

I play in a Roxy Music tribute band (don't judge me...) and something that works massively in my favour, is the "revolving door" attitude Roxy had to bassists, meaning I can claim to be playing versions of basslines played by loads of different players.  Sadly, no-one has ever come up to me at a gig to question my note choices, as I have a series of answers rehearsed and ready to go.

 

Opposite for me! I was in Genesis tribute bands, whose Mike Rutherford started off as a hugely original and inventive player, then got a bit lazy/boring once Steve Hackett left and MR took over on guitar. Compare for example Firth of Fifth, original 1973 version vs the live Seconds Out version especially in the guitar solo - a very different kettle of fish.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Bilbo said:

Did you know that Brittany Spears is Brian Ferry's daughter? She took her mother's name apparently. 

Brittany Spears is a basketball player. Was this who you had in mind?

 

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try to learn the bassline as it was originally played, but:

a) what I hear isn't necessarily what the original line plays

b) sometimes I am not technically competent enough to play the original version, and I might need to simplify it.

c) sometimes I get bored and put some extra in 

d) there's no point in a covers band trying to recreate the original recording,  The singer will likely sound different the guitarist will have different kit, and tbh the original artist won't play the same version when they do it live anyway.  I don't always use a pick, but whether I choose to use one is largely dependant on whether I find it easier to use one, not whether the original artist used one.

e) Punters will rarely notice if the bass isn't 100% right.  Most would only notice if the bass player was out of time/tune unless it's an iconic line, some would barely notice if I didn't turn up at all.

f) notwithstanding 4) above if anyone tells me that's not how it goes they get "it's how it goes when I play it"

g) some basslines are instantly recognisable, but subtly change in each verse.  Sometimes I just play one variation because I'm lazy or get lost (anything by Duff McKagen or Flea often falls into this category).

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


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

 

e) Punters will rarely notice if the bass isn't 100% right.  Most would only notice if the bass player was out of time/tune unless it's an iconic line, some would barely notice if I didn't turn up at all.

 

:laugh1::laugh1::laugh1:

Brilliant. that gave me a right good laugh. 

Cheers :drinks:

Dave

Still laughing :laugh1:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes there's a great deal to be learnt from the bass part that ended up on a record.

Other times not so much. 😗

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, Nicko said:

I try to learn the bassline as it was originally played, but:

a) what I hear isn't necessarily what the original line plays

b) sometimes I am not technically competent enough to play the original version, and I might need to simplify it.

c) sometimes I get bored and put some extra in 

d) there's no point in a covers band trying to recreate the original recording,  The singer will likely sound different the guitarist will have different kit, and tbh the original artist won't play the same version when they do it live anyway.  I don't always use a pick, but whether I choose to use one is largely dependant on whether I find it easier to use one, not whether the original artist used one.

e) Punters will rarely notice if the bass isn't 100% right.  Most would only notice if the bass player was out of time/tune unless it's an iconic line, some would barely notice if I didn't turn up at all.

f) notwithstanding 4) above if anyone tells me that's not how it goes they get "it's how it goes when I play it"

g) some basslines are instantly recognisable, but subtly change in each verse.  Sometimes I just play one variation because I'm lazy or get lost (anything by Duff McKagen or Flea often falls into this category).

 

 

I think this is exactly what I think.  Exactly.  

With my blues trio I do what I fancy as that is what it is about.  With the Jovi tribute I do try to do it as per whatever version we settle on playing but Hugh McDonald is a great player and often does stuff I struggle with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit of both depending on the song and bassline and the genre. Sometimes the harmony at a particular part of the song works best with the recorded bassline at that point. Sometimes the bassline is played with a particular technique so i tend try try to reproduce it accurately to help me learn a different way of playing. If it's a dep gig the band often want it as close to the way they play it so i will get asked to do it like the record or get a copy of the way they play it to learn. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 29/10/2020 at 18:15, Paul S said:

I think this is exactly what I think.  Exactly.  

With my blues trio I do what I fancy as that is what it is about.  With the Jovi tribute I do try to do it as per whatever version we settle on playing but Hugh McDonald is a great player and often does stuff I struggle with.

Agree, Hugh is certainly very good, I love playing his (the ones I can actually play) basslines.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I've ever heard, or played in a covers band that plays just like the record. Although a lot claim that they do. 

I've found that generally if you need to play a line perfectly you'll be given the tracks with your part boosted/soloed or there will be charts, otherwise there is usually room for some interpretation.  If that's the case you'll normally have plenty of time to learn your parts, unless it's a reading gig.

If it doesn't need to be spot on, obviously you need to be able to play the basic idea and any important riffs that might happen, but no one really cares if you change up a fill that was probably improvised to begin with. Also, you play to the situation.You need to play differently in a trio than you do in a 9 piece.

Of course, there us nothing wrong with learning lines perfectly for your own amusement either, especially if it's something beyond your current ability.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That’s a good point, Doddy. I try to learn the tracks as they were written to improve my playing - done that a fair bit this year. Sometimes as you say, depending on situation the correct line might not work - Whitesnakes Fool For Your Lovin being a good example, on the solo the bass line just gets in the way imo, so I root note it, and let the guitar shine through.

Edited by Lozz196

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I play in an ac/dc tribute and we do it the way it was originally played. The only change we make are we do the live versions of some of the tracks which are different but not by much. 

A lot of dc tribute bands add in extra fills and runs and it just doesn`t work as the music is straight ahead rock and roll. I imagine that some folk would find it a bit boring but we all love the real band so everything is cool.

When I played in a pop/rock covers band, I got it as near as possible but as was said earlier, I played stuff for years only to find out that I had been playing it "wrong" the whole time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 29/10/2020 at 14:40, chris_b said:

I'm jealous, I would love to be in a band playing Alan Spenner bass lines. He was a great bass player. I used to see him playing the pubs and clubs in Kokomo. Apparently he was Bryan Ferry's favourite Roxy bassist.

Playing the Gustafson basslines isn’t a bad job either! Two of my all time favourite bass players. Very jealous you got to see Alan Spenner before he passed away. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, it's almost always a close approximation rather than note for note. mainly because I know the drummer won't have learned it perfectly, the guitarist will be playing his or her interpretation, and so on.  There's no point in spending time nailing something note for note when I'll need to adjust anyway. Saying that, I do kinda wish I put the hours in years ago learning stuff note for note, cos I do think there's a benefit from doing it. I think there's a level of satisfaction when you can play something exactly how its recorded and I do think it improves you as a player.

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve always been in the “signature bits as they should be/other bits, recognisably the song and in the spirit of the line” camp like many others. It strikes me that this whole debate never existed (and certainly not to the polarised degree you see in some other places) before the interweb gave the “self-appointed universal law creators” a platform to criticise people. 

A couple of anecdotes from my wedding/covers band days... We were a really entertaining band who always put on a great show which got a fantastic response each night from the punters (whether bridesmaids, the corporate management team or denizens of the Ferret and Sack). But the main line up was: 

  • Singer/Acoustic or Electric Guitar (depending on set/song)
  • Bass/Backing Vocals
  • Drums
  • Sax
  • Female Vocalist
  • Sometimes second electric guitar

But we were doing songs by, for example, The Jam (EG/Bass/Drums), The Doobies (3 EG/Bass/Percussion/Horns/2 Drums), Motown (Funk Brothers), James Taylor (AG/EG/Keys/Bass/Drums), Lynyrd Skynyrd (3 EG/Bass/Drums/Piano/Honkettes), Elvis (AG/Archtop EG/Double Bass/Close Harmony Quartet)... and so on and so on across a pretty diverse party set. 
 

When the format of cover band and the original artist are that far removed from each other the question of whether the bass player was playing exactly every note and nuance as per the original recording seems a little moot - and, frankly, potentially counterproductive.

Despite wanting to get the lines as mostly right or, at the very least, fitting with the spirit of the original there was one song where this was impossible. Going Underground by The Jam - the only song in the set where the lead singer/guitarist fundamentally changed the key to suit his voice - shoving a capo on. That either moved the signature bass riffs so key notes were either down below the nut (if played in the proper shapes) or way up the neck where they really just didn’t sound right. Plus he and the drummer played a funny rhythm which clashed with the bass riff somehow. Bruce Foxton’s classic line just didn’t work. So in the end I just made up a sympathetic bass part which kept some feel, energy and spirit of the song. And boy, did we ever give that song welly, attitude and energy - it was great to play! And you know what... in the 10 years I played in that band can you guess which tune more than any other had punters coming up after the set telling us we’d totally nailed it just like the record? Yup - Going Underground, just about the one that was further from the recording than any other. So when anyone says in an internet debate that “Unless you play it note perfect you’re letting the punter down any they’ll hate it!” just remember this story! So long as they can sing along with tunes they love, jump around, dance and have a good time feeding off the energy of the band the punters couldn’t care less.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The original bassist probably doesn’t even play the recorded line live. 
 

Whatever you play has to fit in with your band’s arrangement, which in turn will depend on your instrumentation line up and the musical ability of the musicians. 
 

BUT If you’re learning it as an instructional YouTube video - you’d better get it right. And don’t pick a track that there are already a million bass covers of. And before you start make sure YouTube aren’t going to block your ‘recording’ and give you a copyright strike. 

Edited by TimR
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These are really interesting responses. When playing live, obviously the answer is "It depends" - I'm surprised by how few people learn things for the fun of it. Maybe that's more of a beginners thing?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, csmallett said:

These are really interesting responses. When playing live, obviously the answer is "It depends" - I'm surprised by how few people learn things for the fun of it. Maybe that's more of a beginners thing?

Not at all. I've been downloading and learning some of @Bilbo 's transcriptions of songs from my earlier years and that's just for fun. After 44yrs playing i still get excited by some basslines that even after 40 years still give me that buzz to learn them.

Altho i learn basslines as near note for note as possible its only for my own benefit. I use it as a starting point and the band use my knowledge of the song as a guide at rehearsals. If i'm playing the bassline perfectly or as near as possible it allows them a bit more freedom to improvise, more so when we are a basically guitar bass and drums trying to cover larger bands or songs that have been double tracked in studios.

We as a band try to get as close to the original as we can tho.

Dave

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I respect and/or admire the work of the original bassist I go into great detail to nail the bassline as close as possible.

If I feel the bassline does nothing for me or the song I play it as it is if it's a well known song or play around if it isn't.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes I will then again I think I won't,

Sometimes I do then again I think I don't.

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/10/2020 at 19:49, Doddy said:

You need to play differently in a trio than you do in a 9 piece.

This is what I was going to say. Also depends if the songs are rearranged or played in the same format they were recorded. Of course for YouTube it depends if you’re using it for promotion, teaching or just for fun. 

I like learning songs note for note because I pickup the nuances. I mostly read books if I have it or transcribe it myself. And not gigging means I don’t need to learn 100 songs ready to be played at any time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thinking about this again, the bassline isn’t the only thing you have to factor in. 
 

Can your drummer play the drum line. Often (always?) the bassline depends on the interplay.

I’ve never heard Crazy Little Thing Called Love - by Queen played properly by anyone other than John Deacon. The way he places the notes with Roger’s drumming is genius, just the right amount of swing but still pushing the beat (lots of swing is laid back). I’ve not even heard Queen play it properly since John left. And the proportion of cover bands I’ve heard play it and miss the subtleties has so far been 100%. I even tried to play it in a band several years ago, but the drummer couldn’t hold his tempo.

If that kind of thing is important to you, most people will miss it anyway, then it’s something to consider before you grind yourself down with an impossible task. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/10/2020 at 23:15, csmallett said:

These are really interesting responses. When playing live, obviously the answer is "It depends" - I'm surprised by how few people learn things for the fun of it. Maybe that's more of a beginners thing?

It was an interesting question and an interesting read. Reassuring that most bassists playing covers adopt the same strategies that I have. You have to be on top of the feel and structure of the original but adapt your line to the band you are working with and your own skill set. I've only ever played in covers bands and at the peak probably had 150 songs with three bands that I might have to play at a moments notice. Between them we'd be learning maybe 3 or 4 new songs at any one time so you have in any case to have strategies just for coping. Don't let people see your feet furiously paddling under the water :)

'Beginners thing' is too pejorative. It's a learning thing I tried to learn the note for note bassline to 'Son Of A Preacher Man' recently, I didn't succeed because in the end the band just needed to get on with it but it taught me a lot about how a fairly simple pattern can add to a bass line and forcing myself out of the same old same old has freed up the way I play other songs too. There's loads to learn from other people's bass lines. we are all beginners

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Phil Starr said:

'Son Of A Preacher Man'

That’s hard! Another one we tried to learn many years ago. Luckily the drummer couldn’t play it and the singer couldn’t sing it either. Although think she struggled because the drummer couldn’t play anything slower than 180bpm. 
 

Edit: just listened again. That bass drum is subtle! Difficult groove. A 2 minute song! 

Edited by TimR
  • Like 1

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...