1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Lyrics on the Bandstand

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by rockycreeker, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Ward

    Ward Tele-Holic

    Age:
    42
    Posts:
    678
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    San Diego
    I have, however, always noticed that classically trained players seem to have a difficulty improvising and playing by ear. I played with a violin player who was trying to play fiddle. He would always ask me where he could find sheet music to the songs we were playing. He could/would not learn any songs on his own. Just for kicks I created sheet music for a couple of western swing songs we do. He played them perfectly the first time. But could not memorize them without the music. Strangest thing ever, so obviously I had to let him go.
     
  2. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,001
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    Ok I'll play...

    depends on the gig..whats your job for the night ?

    If I am touring with an act where we only play two sets and we are doing 35 shows..of the same two sets..then learn it all...it's only going to be 20 songs...

    IF I am working with my regular band, generally no lyrics or stands needed , unless it is brand new material..we have a new player with us, a great player ,great ear, great musician, he charts the tunes he is not familiar with . A new band member who is not familiar with the 50 or 60 song list..he better chart the songs and use the charts, I don't care who he is playing with...

    If I am filling in with one of the local bands that tours the "DANCE" circuit, where they may easily have 100 to 150 songs to work from, if I am hired to play and front 20 or more songs sing from my song book which spans 4 decades, yeah, I'm using a stand and my book.

    I also prep for those fill in gigs, I review the set list, go up on the net and grab the songs and chart them in the keys the band plays them in...I bring the charts and a stand.. if some here think that is unprofessional I'm here to tell you that it is just the opposite...if you don't do that with unfamiliar songs you will be a ONE GIG FILL in..the phone will not ring anymore..

    Like I said , it depends on where we are..where I am, what is my job for the night ..

    I am not a front guy typically, but I can be if need be,,so..using a stand or lyrics is about the song....it's about me doing what it is I am hired to do...

    It's not unprofessional to use a music stand...

    but I'll tell you what is...

    making up lyrics ,forgetting lyrics , not knowing the chords to songs...jamming pentatonic phrases on songs that call for more than that...

    Not every band is the same, working dance bands have a totally different agenda..playing in a dance band is a totally different thing than playing in a Blues band...

    I would also agree that a band that has a 150 song or more songbook to work from uses charts and lyrics...I would...

    One of my close friends back up in Ct runs a Wedding/Corporate gig band, they book out for approx $3000 a gig, they have approx 500 songs they can work from..It's a 6 piece band , they use charts for some songs, no charts for others..they are all fine players, make that PRO's..they are not unprofessional.

    Depends on where you are and what you are doing.....

    Ok here's my decades of wisdom coming out for those much younger than me
    ...

    We all sometimes just think we are THAT good...we can do it all..play songs you don't know maybe even never heard, we have good ears..we are good...but the fact of the matter is at some point in your guitar career you will know you ain't that good and after you train wreck a few songs that you didn't chart and bring with you and the band leaders look at you like YOU are a total amateur...you will crossover...and next time you will do the right thing...ya see,,it's not about us, it's about the songs..always is..playing them or singing them to the best of our ability...

    Like I said, depends on where you are and what you are doing... IF you are on a gig and think it is unprofessional to bring a chart or lyrics, and you end up being the only one who can't actually play or sing the song....now define professional...

    It's all good, do what is right for the gig...

    t
     
  3. chuck_zc

    chuck_zc Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    436
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Location:
    Newfoundland Canada
    probally a cover band too!!:D
     
  4. briany

    briany Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    142
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    I've played (Ok I still play with him) with a guy who uses a lyrics folder on a stand and I can't understand how after all this time he still does not remember the lyrics to the songs. It's not like the setlist has changed all that much, is it?
    He still looks at his sheets a lot which is why I assume he still cannot remember.

    Also, music stands occasionally get knocked over on tight stages. Not THAT looks unprofessional : The singer scrambling to erect his precious music stand mid song. God forbid he might actually have to remember a lyric!
     
  5. Ward

    Ward Tele-Holic

    Age:
    42
    Posts:
    678
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    San Diego
    Tony:

    Absolute great point above about fill in gigs. As a band leader, it's absolutely comforting when guys use chord charts. I chart every song we do, and it's frustrating wnen fill in guys don't use them and then don't know songs.

    Briany: Absolutely the reason he can't remember the lyrics is because he looks at the sheet and relies on them. The minute he gives up that sheet he'll be 100x better.

    Ward
     
  6. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,270
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    In transit
    Yeah, I've experienced this before. It's not the case for all classical musicians, but some, definitely. One time I brought my roommate (a classically-trained pianist) to a jam session where we were doing a bunch of Dead songs and the like. He was fine picking up the melodies by ear, but when we got to the modal jam in the middle of the song, he was like "What do I do now??"
     
  7. Dave Hopping

    Dave Hopping Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,502
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora,Colorado
    Geoff Emerick's book "Here,There,and Everywhere" cites several instances of classical players doing Beatles sessions and needing to have something written out.The lads were dumbfounded at such accomplished players not being able to just whip something up.It fell to Sir George to explain that formal training emphasizes the ability EXACTLY to reproduce the composer/arranger's musical thoughts.In one instance it also fell to Sir George to transcribe Sir Paul's melody(because Sir Paul can neither read nor write notation) for a piccolo trumpet solo in "Penny Lane" so that London Philharmonic Orchestra principal trumpeter David Mason could play it.Mason nailed it on the first take.

    I think one of the things we are talking about is the theatrical nature of most live performance.It combines the visual and the aural.What you see has to look as though it's spontaneously happening in real time,which is why you do not see cue cards in a stage play or the script in a movie scene.It's why President Obama looked a little goofy when his teleprompter went offline in a speech awhile back.And it's also why live bands should be extremely diligent about NOT letting the audience see their memory assists.
    If they care about their performance,that is.
     
  8. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,957
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    Western Canada
    This thread has struck a chord with me. No pun intended. Our bass player keeps bringing this up. The rhythm guitarist and I use music stands with lyrics cheats incase we need them. We are 4 guys who all work long hours (50+ per week) in a day job, to feed cloth, and house our young families. I practice as much as I can. I am in no way trying to take away work from professional working musicians. We play classic rocks songs in pubs and private parties because people like us, and ask us to. We do what we can. It irritates me slightly as the bass player sings no songs, and performs no solos with his instrument. Nor does he play chords, or even try to sing and play his instrument at the same time. He does not often attempt to interact with the audience, nor move, dance or otherwise look like he's trying to perform for our audience. The next time he brings it up, I am so tempted to say, "fine, from this point on I won't use lyric cheat sheets, as you'll be singing". We work folks, were extremely busy and get together to play music and have fun because we enjoy it. If folks want to hire us, we'll have music stands and if they love us, they'll hire us back. Eventually, yes we'll loose the stands as we'll have all the lyrics memorized. We've been together for 14 months and have learned about 40 new songs to play and sing. I have also memorized about 40 guitar solos.

    We keep getting paid gigs and we aren't out there hunting for them. We have music stands. If anyone thinks that it is extremely unprofessional, that's fine you are entitled to your opinion. Seems as though it works for us. One day they will be gone, time permitting. I'll get off my soapbox now. Thanks.
     
  9. kevinp

    kevinp Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    112
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Location:
    w.coast of mi.
    In the late 70's or early 80's [can't remember exactly], Waylon Jennings came to our town.
    We were up in the seats on the side of the stage, and could see the words scrolling up on a screen down by the monitors. I'm sure he didn't need them for most of his songs, but they were there in case he drew a blank,-so he would sound "professional", cause you can bet your butt -we knew the words .
     
  10. Dave Hopping

    Dave Hopping Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,502
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora,Colorado
    OK,you guys are using music stands more or less as a learning tool and you're doing it more or less on the venue's nickel.You must be doing something seriously right being paid to learn.A lot of people who already know how are paying to play.Makes me want to ask what do you know that they don't.

    Subversive Questions Department:
    If you could support your family as well on music alone as on your day job,would you?
     
  11. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,957
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    Western Canada
    Subversive Questions Department:
    If you could support your family as well on music alone as on your day job,would you?[/QUOTE]

    I would love to one day quit my job to support my family with my favorite hobby, but I know that's a pipe dream. I'm too old to be famous enough to pull in the kinda dough, (based solely on my talent), it would take to maintain my current life style. My day job pays well, comes with dental & extended health coverage, vehicle allowance, fuel card, an expense account, international travel opportunities, regional major events, a pension, and stock options. Could probably name off a few more but you get the idea. The odds of pulling this in through my music is very slim.

    What are we doing right to attract paid unsolicited gigs? Not sure. There are so many different music scenes everywhere. We're just 4 guys, all older (ages 39,40,52,55), mature with good paying day jobs and we have our lives in good order. We built our set lists around good dance music that we all grew up on, and we know the majority of the people out there our ages, also like. No personal favorites that we each have to do, we play what works and fills the dance floor. I guess we fit the last of the baby boomers, and the generation X demographic. We don't get wasted on stage, we remain professional, we practice regularly, sound pretty good. We're far from experts at our trade. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I recently learned that when the house is rockin and the dance floor is full, nobody seems to notice your slips and errors. I have learned that if you sound good and the crowd likes you, paid gigs just seem to come along. If you need more work, they don't seem to come along. That's what seems to be happening around here. We're not doing anything magical. Just doin our thing, being professional, having a ton of fun, and getting paid to do it.
     
  12. Mike Bruce

    Mike Bruce Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,998
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Location:
    Ontario
    Yes.

    I crash and burned from stress while working a great paying (and great benefits) day job. After my sick benefits and unemployment insurance ran out I returned to what I know best, music. For 11 years I've been supporting my family (mortgage, putting 2 kids through university, etc) by teaching private music lessons, gigging, and doing some instrument repairs. I take 7 weeks off every year, work from my home studio, am my own boss, and am happier and more respected than at any previous time of my life. I should have made the move sooner, I would have made almost as much and saved myself a lot of stress/grief.

    Though I was sort of forced to do it, it still worked out for the best. Properly planned it would have worked out even better.

    Peace, Mike.
     
  13. Dave Hopping

    Dave Hopping Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,502
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora,Colorado
    Mike-
    I had two opportunities to quit my day job and go with the band -it was one or the other each time.First time I stuck with the day job,for some of the same reasons that Keith's crew sticks with their day jobs.Second time,about ten years later,I went with the band.Even though the pay cut was a bit rigorous,it's still the best thing I ever did for myself,and the only thing I'd change would be to have taken the first chance instead of the last one.

    OK this is all a little far afield from the subject of whether it makes a difference having your lyrics onstage,so I'll bring it back on point by saying the guys who have to trade their mental and physical energy for non-musical compensation usually do have to rely on memory assists,because all that non-musical work operates against focusing on music.But I like what Keith had to say about using onstage lyrics only until no longer needed.
     
  14. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,957
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    Western Canada
    This really rings true with me. 100% in agreement as the best of me goes to my job unfortunately. You guys with all the experience are making me think hard today after reading your comments. This is no light decision. There are many who have not spoke up about failing to make it after quitting their stressful jobs to follow their music. I will be giving this a lot of thought.
     
  15. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,001
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    a lot to be said for the " I work a day job for a living" rather than " I play music for a living"...

    Imagine if all we had to do is practice 15 songs for 2 months before we hit the road to play 35 shows... and get paid to do it all....

    that's not me...

    I get a call or Email on Wed or Thurs asking if I can do a last minute fill in on Fri..and by the way..can I front 20 songs...oh yeh.. here is our set list.. of which I know half of it !

    Ok, that gives me maybe Wed night or Thursday night to prepare...in between the work days...then to the gig on Fri night... I don't know about you guys, but I'm charting the songs I don't know and writing out some lyrics and bringing them with me . This is not a Shea Stadium gig , it's a Fri night Dance, and they pay pretty good....
     
  16. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

    Age:
    75
    Posts:
    15,565
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Location:
    Pisgah Forest, NC
    Lots of interesting viewpoints pro and con, and the bottom-line answer seems to be It All Depends.

    To me, charts for a fill-in or new player (especially a bassman) are a whole different thing from lyrics on a music stand for a band's regular front singer(s). I sort of envy keyboard players, who can put their paperwork up unobtrusively, but I still cringe when I see music stands onstage, especially if it's a stage I'm on — whether as a sideman or bandleader (the latter being particularly odious). The message it sends to the audience is that this outfit doesn't quite know what it's doing.

    OTOH, some singers just flat-out can't remember lyrics; I used to fill in with an old buddy who read the lyrics every gig on songs he'd been doing for 40 years. ... Some singers feel the need for a security blanket in case they draw a blank — my wife is a case in point. I put a band together around her a couple of years back (she has an astonishingly beautiful voice), but even though she eventually learned her lyrics, I still couldn't wean her from that damned music stand.

    Singing from a lyric sheet, IMO, subtracts from the performance because the mind is processing words with energy that would otherwise go into delivering the song with feeling and soul. But on balance, it's better than not singing at all.
     
  17. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,001
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Charlotte NC

    well...learning that is a relief, I lost my mind years ago so using a lyric sheet should pose no issues for me , in fact, it may be a plus !

    I prefer the option of taking a gig and singing + - 15 songs, using the lyric sheets rather than the alternative of NOT getting the gig because I wasn't going to sing any songs...took the gigs, nobody cared, worse..they went thru my song book and picked out a few I hadn't played or sang in a couple of decades...

    It's a tuff job but someone has to do it !
     
  18. Jack S

    Jack S Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,944
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Location:
    Berwyn, IL
    I think there is a difference between a teleprompter which sits on the floor like a monitor speaker and is generally no more intrusive than a monitor, and a music stand in front of the singer. The music stand can become a focal point to the audience, especially if it is obvious the singer is staring down at it. Teleprompters usually have fairly large letters so it is easy to read at a glance. However even with large type, staring down at a music stand, for me, it is difficult to read smoothly. So if I attempt to use a music stand I know my singing suffers, so I choose not to use one, except for practice. Reading music off of a stand, for band instruments falls into a different category as far as I am concerned, especially if you have musicians who are sitting down to perform, such as a stage band. The typical stage band stands often add to the look of the stage performance and actually give the band a little added sophistication to the stage appearance.
     
  19. piaggio

    piaggio Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    223
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    pisa, italy
    and what about learning 30-40 songs -most of them requested by the audience just a pair of week before -in a foreign language, like is english for us, and sing it in front of one hundred native english speakers that know them songs a lot better than you ?


    it's what happens to us when we play for irish and english weddings in tuscany...the couple sends us the a small list of favourites they want to dance to, containing their "love song" , and we learn it, together with our usual rock'n'roll floor-fillers ( beatles, elvis, berry, orbison, creedence but also abba, and even more recent material like bryan adams or robbie williams).

    if we don't remember the words, we're ****ed up, because we can't improvise in english....our keyboardist is lucky : he brings his songs upon the piano, no one notice that.
    well, one way is to scream : "sing it with me all togheter !" and let the audience do your job.
     
  20. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

    Age:
    75
    Posts:
    15,565
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Location:
    Pisgah Forest, NC
    Haha! Tony, I already knew that! But yeah, working beats not working by a long shot.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.