Sight reading for big band

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Neill Levine, May 11, 2021.

  1. Neill Levine

    Neill Levine Tele-Meister

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    Hi all, it’s been a while.

    Any tips or good resources to help improve my sight reading?
    I was behind the 8-ball last night at big band rehearsal.
    Chords are of course ok, but I’ve got to double some of the horn lines.

    Thanks,

    Neill
     
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  2. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    practice practice practice....
     
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  3. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    Record the rehearsal so you can play against it. When I have an important lead line on a praise song, I usually jot a rough tab of it right on the lead sheet for those mornings when my memory is fleeting. Dig that big band, it must be a gas playing with them. Not many of those gigs around anymore. Are you playing a big archtop?
     
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  4. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    Work on it when you're not in a rehearsal.

    That goes both for the specific piece as well as for the skill in general.
     
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  5. Neill Levine

    Neill Levine Tele-Meister

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    Ah that’s the trouble - I don’t have access to the arrangements, only on the night.
    Yep I’m playing a Guild Starfire
     
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  6. Neill Levine

    Neill Levine Tele-Meister

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    yes the problem is that it’s true sight reading - I only have access on the playing night.
     
  7. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Good for you. A band chart book, eh? Well, you could work on sight reading anything you can get your hands on:
    Hymnal
    The Real Book
    Bach Inventions
    Beethoven piano sonatas
    ...
    Edit- and lots of flat keys, probably.
     
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  8. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    Ok, that addresses one of the two things I mentioned.
     
  9. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I joined a big-band as the guitarist four years ago with no experience. I learned that I had to set modest expectations for myself, because I was in over my head. Here are my goals:

    1. Play in time with the rest of the rhythm section.
    2. Simplify the chord shapes to two-note or three-note chords. Forget 11ths and 13ths.
    3. Accept that 99% of the time the guitar is a percussion instrument, barely heard.
    4. Even though the arrangement indicates that you are occasionally doubling the horn parts, nobody can hear you because the horns always play way too loud.
    5. When the guitar part doubles the piano, either don’t play or play it really well.
    6. The best chance to be heard is and rare passage when it is just guitar and vocalist. These passage usually involve playing a gentle rhythm backing such as for a bossa nova. Play as sweetly as possible.
     
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  10. PARCO

    PARCO Tele-Meister

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    Listen to and practice with recorded versions of the songs. I've found that when I need to read charts (especially sight read notation) that if I know the tune my playing is much more musical. If I'm reading a tune I don't know then my playing is more mechanical.
     
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  11. Neill Levine

    Neill Levine Tele-Meister

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    this makes me feel much better, thanks! That’s pretty much what I’ve been finding with the chord choices.
    Cheers

    Neill
     
  12. urbandefault

    urbandefault Tele-Holic

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    I was never good at sight reading and it was a big part of band contests when I was in high school, back in the olden days.

    The only thing I know to tell you is to practice sight reading. Practice, practice, and practice some more.

    Grab every piece of sheet music you can find. Pick one and play it cold. Then put it aside and move on to the next one.

    Repeat until you reach the level of competence that you are comfortable with.
     
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  13. billy logan

    billy logan Tele-Meister

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    OP Neill in Australia - Gee, you can't get a sneak peek at the charts? ... ok. wow ... They gonna spring unrehearsed tunes on you? evil bandleader

    Daunting :) I'd roll a big ol' Xerox machine in there.

    Has there been confusing vocabulary used, maybe for example "big II" for a C7 in key of Bb? or slang for tags, or, from the top?
    'big" for a Dominant7 - "II" is bigger than "ii" -haha- one horn guy was like, Oh yeah, of course. Different situation, alto sax guy was like, "big VI"? what's that?

    Y'already know about freddiegreen.org :) You'll succeed; you have a conscientious attitude - bl
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  14. 53Strat

    53Strat Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Photograph it and put it on you big screen at home. :)
     
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  15. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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  16. Neill Levine

    Neill Levine Tele-Meister

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  17. Blister

    Blister Tele-Meister

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    That seems like excellent advice thank you for that
     
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  18. RCinMempho

    RCinMempho Friend of Leo's

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    This. No need to suffer in today's world.

    More often than not you are a rhythm instrument in this context. As the other guys said, simple is better. You can choke all the strings in some arrangements and just get the groove needed and no one will care.
     
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