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. Dennyf

    Dennyf Tele-Afflicted

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    Some solos are so integral to some iconic songs that I try to play something similar and maybe quote some actual passages. Thing is, 90% of non-musicians, (and 99% of non-guitarists) would think I "nailed" the solo.

    So there's the actual ability of the audience to discriminate the difference to consider.
     
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  2. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    We were discussing playing songs note for note, or not.
     
  3. Vermoulian

    Vermoulian Tele-Meister

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    Here's something to think about: when you're playing covers, the idea is generally to give the audience a song they know and like. With any song with a definitive recorded version, there are elements that are essential, and other elements that are not as big a deal. As long as you hit the essential elements, you can play around with the other elements without detracting from the appeal of the song. BUT... different people will have different ideas of what the integral elements of a given song are. You can never tell whether changing that one lick or that one vocal melody or that one drum fill will leave the song lacking what a given listener may really love about it. For that reason, I think that when playing covers it's always prudent to try to get as close as you can to the definitive arrangement, within whatever limitations of instrumentation and technical ability you may have to deal with.

    There are performers who play covers but are not strictly speaking cover bands or acts. The foregoing may not apply to them. If the performer's allure is his or her own style of playing and performing, then taking a song written by someone else but giving it an individualized arrangement or performance is consistent with that concept of a band. Examples would include a band that plays, say, ska, or metal, doing a ska or metal version of a song from some other genre, or perhaps an originals act that occasionally throws in a cover done in the act or performer's trademark style.

    However, anyone should be very careful and very sure that they fall into something in that second category before taking excessive liberties with well-known and -loved arrangements of popular songs. The world is full of bad cover bands that claim to be doing songs "in their own style" simply to excuse their inability to do them correctly. Everyone hates those bands. Don't be like them.
     
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  4. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    If it was a level playing field I'd learn solos note for note but it's not. The original players don't reproduce their own solos note for note, so why should I?
     
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  5. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Well said. There are performers who arrange, change and make the song their own. (Joe Cocker, Clapton, etc) Then there are covers that are sloppily done.
     
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  6. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    Cover songs should have enough precise musical quotes to make the song instantly recognizable for the audience. Any more is for the pleasure or practicality of the players - so that there are enough recognisable moments as references to coordinate the performance. The more free you are in your performance and intepretation, the more you make the rest of the band work. This can be good or bad, and depends on how the rest of the band sees the gig.
     
  7. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    It could just come from the head, the hands, and the heart. No theory is needed. Do you think that David Gilmour spent a whole lot of time charting out and planning his solos, using music theory to create them?

    I suspect that he just picked up his guitar and played.
     
  8. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think David spent a lot of time emulating his favorite players and covering songs he loved and because of that he developed a voice of his own on the guitar. They basically started out as a cover band. I also think he did spend a lot of time planning his solos which is why he pretty much still plays them note for note today. He has a bag of tricks he can pull from that he gathered over the years learning covers which is why his sound is recognisable and limited by what he knows. ie You don't hear him playing flamingo guitar because he gravitated to a blues style, had he preferred a different style of music he would sound completely different. Like all players his improvised lead is a product of his influences mixed with the preferred sounds he hears in his head.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  9. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    It would take me forever to find it, but I read that David Gilmore would do three or four passes of a solo. Often vastly different for a song. Then he'd listen bar by bar for what he liked from each of them and stich together a "composite solo" from the various bars of the versions. Then he'd learn to play the composite solo sometimes rearranging for a bad (or impossible) transition from bar to bar across the versions.

    Here's a version of it: https://tonemob.com/the-story-behind-the-solo-pink-floyds-comfortably-numb/
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I love David Gilmour's playing but he does have limitations. The limitations aren't a bad thing but he could expand on his voice on the guitar and reduce some of those limitations by learning other players solo's note for note if he wanted to. I'm not trying to say he should do that, just trying to get my point across that learning other players lead note for note can and will expand on your own playing abilities and increase the range of your voice on the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  11. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    quite possibly so! But all of the original takes from which he stitched together his final track (in this scenario) were improvised, not copied from someone else, not memorised from a record, not read from sheet music. It all just comes from his head, hands, and heart.

    This thread is about whether we should learn songs note-for-note, or not. But almost by definition, the song that you might feel you have to learn note-for-note was created by someone who was creating something new. He might have created something completely different every other time he played the song. We only hear the one that the producers decide to keep. That doesn't mean there is only ONE way to play the song; it just means that this is the way it was played that day.

    Tom Petty's "Walls" is a pretty good example. There are about a dozen different versions available on Youtube, performed by the same group of musicians. They vary widely in style, feel, instrumentation, performance key, etc. That song can't be defined by one single performance, because it was constantly changing and evolving.

    I remember the very first TDP jam session I ever attended, in Alameda CA around 1998. Someone said "let's do Hideaway!" I said "in what key?" He looked at me like I was an idiot, and said something like "E, of course!" But I had been playing that song for years in G...
     
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  12. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    yeah, I answered a different question than what you were discussing.
     
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  13. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I partly agree solos should be recognizable and if its a cover most will not think you improved on hit tune, but I don't want to be in a band that wants a mimic guitarist either.
     
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  14. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have three levels of soloing:
    A. I love the solo and do my best to play it note for note because I want to. (Sultans of Swing, All
    Along the Watchtower, first solo in Comfortably Numb.)

    B. I hit the well known high spots but don't worry much about the rest. (Second solo in Comfortably Numb)

    C. I don't care much and wanker away. (Sweet Home Alabama- if forced to play it.)

    I find it funny that many guitar players want to soar on the wings of their inspiration, but expect the rhythm player to use the correct chords, the vocalist the correct words and melody, and the drummer the correct beat.
     
  15. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have an LA Woman CD with alternate takes. I love it, my wife not so much. Shes a cover girl
     
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  16. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Afflicted

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    And when I go to a concert to hear a band I really like, I am always disappointed if the guitar solo isn't the guitar solo I really like. I think there is a line somewhere between soaring on the glorious wings of my inspiration and being too lazy to learn the solo.
     
  17. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    our discussions are free-form and free-wheeling! Like songs, they may take all kinds of turns and turn into all kinds of things. I'm happy you are here and taking part in the discussion.
     
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  18. jackal

    jackal Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    The only solo I play note for note is on "Folsom Prison Blues". Because I have to.
     
  19. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I like your approach. Sultans has to be right, but I think All Along the Watchtower begs to be interpreted. Its just one of those great songs. I think the version on Dylan/The Bands - Before the Flood is just as good, but different, than Jimi's. The Weight is another song that there are a number of great versions that are not...copies.
     
  20. Don Miller

    Don Miller Tele-Afflicted

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    Im currently playing in an original Americana/honky tonk band....the other guitar/singer wrote most of the tunes and some he recorded with a prior band...and some he did garage band demos using midi instrumentation and a couple of our local studio pros....

    Im treating these songs as an empty canvas...the prior recordings are a roadmap, but Im not going to play them note for note...I try to keep them in the same or similar vein but I'm trying to come up with as much of my own stuff as I can.....and its really been enjoyable....a chance to use all those I-IV/IV-I transition licks I learned but never used....

    I previous played in a straight cover band, originally a quartet, then a trio...the guy who sang lead would frequently take a song in G....and play it in Db or whatever because it suited his vocal range...and then gripe because I wasn't playing the hooks and open string licks correctly, and it didn't sound like the original recording...and this guy was classically trained....Id slip in my own stuff....came up with a Stones sort of arrangement of a ZZ Top song which got shot down because it "wasn't right"...

    I figure if you want note for note, you can buy the record....and like others have mentioned, those records are a snapshot in time...and perhaps an amalgamation of a dozen different versions....but if you want to hear people make music, hire a band....
     
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