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Harder to Play Along With Recording?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by tele-rain, Jun 13, 2018.

Is it harder to play along with a record rather than just with your guitar?

  1. Yes, it's harder

    9 vote(s)
    42.9%
  2. No, you suck...give it up now before you hurt yourself and others.

    5 vote(s)
    23.8%
  3. Both...carry on as you were and have fun!

    7 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Hi guys, it's me again, the on and off, off off, off, and on again guitar practicer. I've been "on" again for the last few days, just practicing songs from YouTube. I was wondering if everyone finds it harder to play along with a track on a record rather than just playing the song with your guitar alone. It can be fun when it goes right, but often times I find it very wrong. It sometimes sounds like my guitar is not in tune with what I'm hearing, so I don't know if that means they're in a different key, or if it's harder to get in tune with another instrument via this method. Also, I find that when I play whatever song by myself, I can bust it out like I mean business (as least to my ears), but when I play along with the record, I'm fumbling all over the place like I'm less than the novice that I am.

    Since I'm just a living room player, this is my best method to get a song fully going, and to share with people for fun. Every now and then, I post a "guitaraoke" clip to my Facebook for my friends to "enjoy". I've done a few with just my guitar and not many people would recognize the song. And it's kind of boring because I'm not singing, though I hear the lyrics perfectly well in my head, my friends obviously aren't in there to hear it. So I'm just wondering if it's normal to be harder to play along with a record, or if this is more evidence that I lack any natural talent whatsoever.

    I've posted a poll as well, just for laughs :)
     
  2. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

    Nov 28, 2006
    USA
    As soon as you can't vary your tempo at will, it gets harder. Not necessarily hard, but harder.
     
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  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    59
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    I'd guess that whatever we practice the least will be hardest.

    I actually learned to play with others playing songs, and I think it's pretty essential to try to do that. Records are a source if you don't have other players around.

    It's been a while and maybe with quartz tuners and digital recording all music is in tune, but I have always found other players and recordings were not always in tune with my guitar.

    Once again though, being forced to do the best we can ASAP tuning up or faking something if we don't know what to play can only help us learn more, and get more comfortable with music being just something people do, and not always perfectly.
     
    tele-rain likes this.
  4. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Yes that's true, I definitely lose the tempo slightly much of the time. I figured if I keep at it, it will be a good way to get better at keeping time. But yeah, when it's just you solo, you can pace it however you see fit, since there's no bandmates trying to keep up!
     
  5. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    Firstly - often bands do things like tune down or play half a step lower especially with keyboards. It means Eb is E in fingering. That makes a lot of melody and chording easy for both.

    Secondly, if there's only one vocalist in the band, often their recorded songs sound 'the same' on an album because it's all written in a similar range.

    Or, once mixdown is finished they notice that the song is a little slower or faster than they'd like or the tempos are all similar. By slowing or speeding the final recording by even a little, the engineer can raise or lower the pitch. It has a dramatic effect on vocals.

    In the early days they'd just apply pressure to the tape flange to slow it. - that's where 'flanging' came from. Or the band deliberately or unconsciously speeds or slows, because it feels 'right'.

    A lot of pros play to a clicktrack whilst recording, which means regardless of how much the drummer is flailing or how much the strumming or bass varies, the bpm never changes.

    You listening subjectively are unconsciously speeding and slowing whereas if you count beats and bars you'll find the recording is constant. The best drummers are like clocks. The Bangles drummer is like that. She's regular despite rolls.

    These are all things experienced players can do. Don't worry - Ringo Star was no newbie, but George Martin wouldn't let him play on a lot of early Beatles recordings because he wasn't consistent, and the Beatles live played everything very fast, because playing live adrenaline tends to do that.
     
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  6. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Yeah I don't envision me playing with anyone anytime soon, unless I decide to go that route and take up lessons again for the face to face experience of learning. But, who knows, perhaps I will!
     
  7. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    The best way to improve is to seek others out. You can learn more in a jam than in a month of solo practice.
     
  8. Sollipsist

    Sollipsist Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    47
    Aug 25, 2016
    89108
    Depending on what medium you use, it helps a lot to be able to adjust pitch. On a turntable, you'll end up varying the speed a little too, but most digital sources have plugins or separate apps that can do pitch without changing speed.

    If I'm playing along, I usually spend most of the first run-through adjusting the pitch of the source or my guitar (or both) until I have a good match, then going back and focusing on the actual playing.

    In some cases even this won't work (try staying in tune with Strawberry Fields, or the average Grateful Dead show).
     
    tele-rain likes this.
  9. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Very insightful, thank you!!
     
  10. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    A new music store opened up around me, I'll have to check it out soon and take the plunge.
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    59
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    Oh there's nothing as nice as playing music with other people, even if everybody is screwing something up.
    I used to stalk people with instrument cases if I moved to a new area, just to find others to play with, and there will always be better and worse players out there, so we have nothing to prove unless we decide to.

    I suspect there are lots of weekend guitar players that can sing a few songs and would like to have an occasional playing buddy, but don't know where to look.
    My lawyer had a paralegal that told me she played in an "adult Blues band".
    I guess that's older non rowdy polite players of something like that.
    A photographer I knew decided to take up the drums again after decades of not playing, and he gets together with a few 60 something guys to play '60s music.

    Way back when I was a kitchen musician, getting together with various players of numerous styles to play around the woodstove for our own entertainment.

    It's seriously worth reaching out to find similar level or a little better players just for pleasure.

    I think it was Segovia that said: "There is nothing more beautiful than a guitar, save (or except) two".
     
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  12. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Maybe I'll try playing along with the actual album on a turntable and play around wtih the pitch, project for the weekend!

    I wouldn't dare touch a Grateful Dead song, I'm still new to their music, but there seems to be a lot of fancy fretwork happening there! And as for Beatles, that's what I was working on tonight, strumming along to Something, courtesy of Marty's jamz on YouTube :cool:
     
  13. Sollipsist

    Sollipsist Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    47
    Aug 25, 2016
    89108
    Among other things, you'll learn that everybody has scheduling issues, so once a month is about right :D
     
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  14. Hexabuzz

    Hexabuzz Friend of Leo's

    Dec 13, 2014
    Northeast PA
    Have you ever recorded yourself playing when you think you're "busting out" a song?

    If you want an objective view, record yourself, and listen back later. It's a much different perspective of what you are hearing "in the moment" and definitely give you some perspective on how good (or not) you're playing.

    If you think you know a song all the way through, set up a click track or dummy drum track (even just a kick/snare beat) and then record yourself playing to that, and see if you're rushing or lagging, or on the beat. We tend to be right on time, or maybe even a little fast when we're confident with a part or lick we know, but if it's something we're not quite as comfortable with, you could be lagging, or even just fumbling through measures or sections on the way back to parts you know better.

    If you want to get better, be honest, and listen to a playback, and from there, make a plan to learn the things you don't, and to master playing the song all the way through CORRECTLY, even if it's at a slower tempo, so there's no rushing or fumbling. The speed and confidence will come when you're totally familiar with a song, and that comes from taking it SLOW at the beginning.
     
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  15. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Actually yes, that's why I started playing along with the records, so I could record myself, and then I'd gotten confident enough to share some on my FB. I'm pretty sure I've shared one here at some point, but I don't remember for sure. And I don't think many are full songs though, and I've never gone back to perfect them once I've posted them. So that's a good idea, to backtrack on ones I thought I did decently and see if I can get them better.
     
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  16. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    Yes, I know there's a guy around here that does lessons, jam sessions, and all sorts of involvement get togethers. I think it's awesome, but I'm a big procrastinator and introvert a lot of the time. But it sounds like something I should push myself to do!
     
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  17. jaytee32

    jaytee32 Tele-Meister

    406
    May 30, 2011
    Netherlands
    Talent has something to do with it, some people have more rhythm than others, but it's mostly putting in the time. If you want to play in time, play with a metronome. I've seen Tommy Emmanuel give guitar masterclasses and he's playing with one himself during the class. Playing with a record or with others is similar to playing with a metronome.

    Just play. Indeed play with others who are better than you ... best way to take your playing to the next level.
     
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  18. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

    Aug 1, 2008
    Bayonne, NJ
    I am a full believer in putting in the time, I do notice improvements when I do practice more. Mostly my observation is I play something that I can’t get over and over till I get it somewhat. The eventually when I’m sick of it, I’ll give it a rest. The next day, that part comes way easier to me. I just have a serious issue with laziness or maybe ADD, I dunno. But with anything, I’m always going back and forth to different things. I don’t fully commit consistently.

    I also forgot to mention the phenomenon of me messing up way more when I’m trying to record myself. It’s as if my brain knows it. I need to just let the phone keep recording and do a bunch of takes and then edit the video down to the best one to share with people, and still use the others for constructive criticism purposes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  19. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 6, 2007
    Moon Township, PA
    Usa a metronome
    Quite often the "living room" player gets into a LINEAR mode: Play this chord followed by that chord, etc. without regard to tempo. By locking into a tempo, you can identify the elements on your technique that reqiure improvement.
     
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  20. jwshuck71

    jwshuck71 TDPRI Member

    22
    Aug 6, 2016
    OKC, OK
    yep. another GREAT way to practice improvising and ear training is to play along with any of the thousands of very high quality guitar backing tracks on YouTube. they are in all styles and difficulty levels. it's the next best thing to playing with other humans, and playing along with tracks forces you to play in time and hopefully avoid developing the bad habits that often come with only ever playing alone. i've given lessons to many players who never ever really played in time or with a metronome/loop, and the vast majority would SWEAR the click or loop wasn't right. uh, nope, the click is perfect, and it's really difficult to unlearn bad time.
     
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