Playing songs note for note vs. just getting rhythym/feel/chords

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by wtk0315, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. wtk0315

    wtk0315 Tele-Holic

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    I feel one of my weakest points as a guitarist is my seeming inability to play note for note with a song as it's recorded. And it could just be me, but I feel there are certain songs that lend themselves to "faking."

    "Voodoo Chile", either Hendrix or Vaughn version, is one of those songs for me. I just riff on the open E and however it comes out is fine by me.

    I just started trying to learn "Yellow Ledbetter." I've already put it in the "get the feel right" instead of memorizing every little riff change.

    Do any of y'all have songs that you feel similarly about?
     
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  2. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I agree with you, some songs lend themselves more to one than the other. I'd bet that most songs will sound just fine if you get the key, chords, and maybe specific riffs spot-on, but you're more or less free when it comes to solos, fills etc. so long as you keep the "spirit" of the original.

    Something like "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (I assume that's the one you're referring to given your mention of both Hendrix and Vaughan; the one with the wah riff) is probably more of a free-for-all so long as you nail the intro riff and the general spirit of the body of the song.

    On the other hand, if you play something like "Hotel California" anything but note-for-note, you're probably going to disappoint whoever's listening.

    Maybe the general rule is this: the more improvised and off-the-cuff it sounds, the more you can fudge it without that being a distraction, whereas the more "constructed" it sounds, the more one wants to hear it that particular way. There are probably exceptions either way.

    It's also worth noting that this discussion applies mostly to pop music ("pop" as in "popular"; the greater sense of "pop"). In something like jazz, keeping certain bits more or less set in stone and improvising over the basic structure in between those bits is the name of the game.
     
  3. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I think every artist begins by emulating a master. This is true for authors, painters, and musicians alike. You fashion your craft around their style, but you inject a piece of yourself into the final product. I can't think of a single song that I know where I play it exactly the same way as the original artist....and I feel that is the way it should be.
     
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  4. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

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    When I'm playing my friend's songs, in our Country band, I try to play them the way he intended them to sound. After half a dozen gigs and some rehearsals, I've added a bunch of personal tweaks and flourishes. He's a pretty generous arranger and generally just asks me to add something, rather than trying to be specific.

    At Blues gigs, I'm respectful of how the pre-war and 1940s/50s originals sounded and these tones are in my head, as I take my turn to interpret them. I might add a fairly accurate slide riff or a recognisable lead lick. The rhythm and tempo might be close to one of the earlier versions.....or maybe not so much.....

    I never play straight copies of anything. I want to express myself and sound like me.
     
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  5. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Hearing somebody play a straight cover bores me- I don't find mimicry impressive. Take the basic structure and make it your own.
     
  6. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Most of the stuff I do is Americana, ambient or worship, so I usually just try to get the form and structure of the song and play it my own way. If I'm playing with others, I usually follow the feel set by the singer/leader. On my own, I do what I want. But there are some songs I try to learn note for note. I'm trying to learn Tommy Emmanuel's version of "Deep River Blues" note for note. It's killer. Learning to cop to things loosely and make them happen in your own way will make you a better improviser/on-the-spot backup player. Learning things note for note will make you a better PLAYER.
     
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  7. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    Aside from major hook lines, I don't play anything note for note. The hooks (to me) include the intro, ending, and often the starting line and ending line of the solo...

    IMO: It comes down to your experience level. If you are not good enough to create an interesting solo on the fly that fits the song, then you should likely learn it note for note so you have the road map... even if you decide to deviate from it later.

    As I say above ... this is dependent on how good the player is and where they can take it on their own.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  8. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    Here's my .02,

    All that stuff you're having trouble copping,,, that is getting in the way of you simply playing and being in present time about it.

    Half of what playing is, is all about being in present time. If you're playing and not happy with what you're doing, then dude you are no longer in present time. That means you're locked up in brain chatter that has NOTHING to do with the playing going on right now.

    How do you stop the chatter? I know it sounds hippie but one important thing is to not question your "flow". I want to watch you freely channelling your music, not your musical anxiety, and trust me, I have seen many people have these problems on stage. More hippie talk says that we need to be very "forgiving" of ourselves, let it go till later at home when you can go through a better assessment. Have a good field recorder, like my Zoom Q3 to listen to later. Laugh at yourself in a good way,,,

    My final suggestion would be to come over to twanger central sub forum here. What they do is post weekly backing tracks to jam to and you home record, and then post it here for all to hear. Everyone is very positive in response, I don't think hate trolls last one day there, but I have yet to hear a hate troll. Contrary to that, you end up feeling very good and feeling like part of the party. As far as skill levels go, everyone gets treated the same, and yes there are people that can play their butts off as well as beginners giving it a shot.
    It's a great activity, healthy too, you will get better doing it, and that's healthy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
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  9. Dennyf

    Dennyf Tele-Afflicted

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    Learning a part note-for-note is, to me anyway, a more enjoyable way of improving my playing than practicing scales, for example. There's some solos and parts that I just really dig playing.

    But when it comes to performing, I don't worry about, or even try, really, to play something note-for-note. Rock, blues, jazz and bluegrass are improvisational forms. It's fine to pay tribute to "the masters," but it's fine to add or do your own thing too. I disliked playing in bands that expected me to learn and perform tunes note-for-note. I felt like, "hey, if they wanna hear that, it's on the record."
     
  10. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    Are you playing by yourself or with a band? I play country tunes solo. There’s no way to make a Gretsch or a Telecaster sound like a band so playing note for note rarely works. My voice is lower than most recording artists by a fourth or a fifth so I’ll be playing in a different key. That also complicates note for note. One thing I never do is lose the texture of the original. Zane Williams’ Jayton and Jill always sounds like it’s being played in a Road house in Texas despite the different intro, outro, solo and finger style rhythm.
     
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  11. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Holic

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    Different crowds/musicians/genres have different expectations. With some of the pop'ier music I've played, there is almost an expectation of hearing that famous solo from the recording. Lotsa rock and country bands I've played in want you to play those solos. A musician gave me a hard time a while back for not playing the studio solo on "Alright Now" by Free. It is a great guitar solo and maybe I should have learned it like a transcription, but I had to learn like 40 songs in a week so it didn't happen. On the other hand, I played a note-for-note transcribed solo from a Pat Metheny tune at a jazz festival one time and an influential musician in the crowd chastised me for it. Depends on the context and how much artistic pretense there is, are you playing for artists or arse-shakers?

    Another thing, with intros and outros it can be helpful to have them a little more verbatim. I normally don't want anyone improvising the intro to Alan Jackson's "Chatahoochie." If someone started "Sweet Home Alabama" with improvisation, it might not go over well. I like to mix in a little bit of studio material and original material. For instance, I love watching the crowd reaction when I suddenly start emulating the talkbox solo on "Rocky Mountain Way" with my wah pedal. I don't play hardly any of the other parts of the original solo, but I like to throw out enough material that everyone knows that I know those solo by heart.
     
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  12. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Certain songs deserve to be learnt note for note imo, then you can always improvise if you want to extend those songs or think you can improve on them. No one wants to hear one of their favourite classics watered down or ruined by questionable lead playing though.

    Learning the lead note for note is part of the process of getting to where you might be able to improve on it imo. If you can't play the lead correctly and are not making the bends etc because it's beyond your skill level then I don't think it's reasonable to think you can somehow improve on it by improvising.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  13. MuddyWolf

    MuddyWolf Tele-Meister

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    It depends on the song and the guitarist doing the cover. I enjoy hearing a song played where you hear the parts you expect to hear. That said, a painfully note for note version that sounds like the guitarist learned it from tablature from the back of a magazine is the worst thing ever and will make me down my beer and run. As a player i follow that same thought.
     
  14. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    to paraphrase something Bob Dylan once said: a record is just a recording of how the song sounded at that moment with those players. The song can sound all kinds of different ways on different days. It is a living and free thing.
     
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  15. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    Agreed. I find this especially relevant when playing something like David Gilmour's leads in Comfortably Numb or Time. For me, to get the overall feel I start by learning his solos note for note and then when you are comfortable with it.... see where you want to take it. I am in no way saying I can play just like him.....but you get the jist. ;):)
     
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  16. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Exactly, then eventually we carry that skill and feel with us and it becomes a part of our own playing style mixed with whatever else you have learnt along the way. Some times you catch yourself improvising on another song and realising it sounds familiar or a hell of a lot like such and such because it is a portion of their lead playing.:)

    Without going through that process I don't know how someone could improvise. I don't think it could come from theory alone.

    Learning lead note for note is some of the best ear training you can get along with a great way to improve on your playing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  17. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    if songs have a very identifiable solo / guitar phrase, then it calls for something close, maybe not note for note but close. It really depends on the song.

    There are many songs where the guitar parts are indeed as important to the song as the vocal line.

    You can't do your own thing on Purple Haze

    You can't do your own thing on Peaceful Easy Feeling


    We may find, as mentioned right above, that if we take some solo's and pick them apart, note by note, it becomes ear training. By doing this, as we are driving down the road listening to songs with guitar parts, we may find ourselves visualizing the fret board and "KNOWING" where those phrases come from.

    Nobody says we have to play note for note or even something close, but if we can, then why not ? If we can't, thats a different issue.

    Learning something note by note is certainly not a detriment . It requires a lot of patience and seat time. We learn about the guitar player we are emulating and we learn more about the fretboard and various positions ( pockets) .

    Its not a bad thing.
     
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  18. BobbyJames

    BobbyJames Tele-Meister

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    I'm with you - I don't see the fun in playing a song such as Yellow Ledbetter note for note - it feels a lot less musical and fun for me than learning the basics and then enjoying playing around with it how I like and feel!
     
  19. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    Jimi Hendrix didn't play Purple Haze exactly the same, every time.
     
  20. wtk0315

    wtk0315 Tele-Holic

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    Exactly. Get the chord changes right, hit the last fill in the turnaround. I haven't started on the solo yet though
     
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