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  • Bass Player wants to change "my" songs!

    A little background: The other guitarist and I started this new band a few years ago with the idea of being a commercial cover band.  Because of certain things that happened we ended up writing songs.  We wrote two as a band and collaborated on some others.  I also started writing on my own and bringing pretty much fully formed songs to the band.  Fast forward to now: We've had to change drummers and the band chemistry/dynamic has changed.  It seems that now as soon as I start showing the guys a new song our bass player, instead of actually learning the song, will say something like "I hear it going to 'G' right there" or something similiar, when I have been working on the song for, in some cases, months, to get it where I want it, before even playing it for the band.  It's pretty frustrating to spend time by myself working to get a song right only to have someone start changing it the first time they hear it.  Does anyone else have situations like this and, if so, what have you done about it?  Thanks! 


  • #2

    Ask your new drummer if he knows a bass player.

    Seriously though, does your current bass player have a good ear for what might make "your" song sound even better than what you feel it should sound? Do you think maybe subconciously you might feel offended by his opinion or that he is downing your abilities?

    He might seriously just be trying to give some helpful advice. I doubt John got offended when Paul, George or Ringo gave their opinion to a direction that one of his own written songs should go or sound.  

    Comment


    • blue2blue
      blue2blue commented
      Editing a comment

      I get what Foose is saying, and he may have a point about input.


      That said, I well understand the feeling of working on something and feeling committed to its structure. Some parts of a song I might be open to suggestions on. But others might as well be written in stone. And it's a very personal thing.


      One suggestion for this situation (which comes up not infrequently) is to patiently entertain his suggestions, run through the song with his suggested change and, you know, be honest (but diplomatic) about how you feel about the change. 


      That said, one suggestion can, in some minds, turn into co-writing credit (whether granted or not), so maybe that's not such a great idea. You don't need a dispute over ownership of a song you've written 98% of.


      Maybe just encourage him to bring in his own songs. (If it's even that kind of band. Not every band is a democracy. That said, unless someone is paying the bills and doling out pay, most bands end up being a democracy, and democracy is often a tricky business in creative endeavors.)


  • #3

    Since there's been some collaborative writing already, it might just be assumed that collaboration from band input is always an option.  If that's the case, then from the bass player's viewpoint, you would be the one trying to change the way things are done without discussing it first.   How would you feel if the bass player (or anyone other band member) started showing up with songs and announced that changes to the song from band input was not allowed?  Would you feel maybe put down or bossed around a bit?  Not that I know your band's particular dynamics - I'm just saying, go through the mental exercise of putting yourself in the other guy's shoes.

     

    Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with what you want to do - have some songs left as-is.  But this means you're pretty much giving the other guys a take-it-or-leave-it choice for these songs.  That might result in a more rejected songs for you so you'd have to be willing to accept that - everything has trade-offs.  

     

    But it all boils down to a communication issue.  Which guys in bands excel at failing at more often than not, at least in my experience and from a million stories I've heard about other bands.   How to do this - only you and your buddies can figure this out by butting heads a few times and working it out.  You don't want to be a doormat and you don't want to be an obnoxious lead dog, either.  

     

    Best of luck - 

     

    nat whilk ii

    Comment


    • Lee Knight
      Lee Knight commented
      Editing a comment

      The more songs you write the less protective of them you become. You stop treating them like your one and only babies. However...


       


      ...discussing alternate chords while learning them can be a real bog down in the process of getting a band up and running with original material. I'd ask him to learn the songs first, then discuss any suggestions. This only makes sense. One thing at a time.


       


      Do you have recordings of the tunes? Why is learning it at rehearsal? Seems to me you might solve a lot of issues by having him learn the tune offline then playing through a few times at rehearsal. Only after that entertain his suggestions. Always with your veto power. Talk about the veto power of the writer. That's gonna be important to got out right up front.


  • #4

    I cannot stress how aggravated I get at this. I have no issue with collaborative writing, but I have no interest in non-songwriter's input except in the case of market research. 

     

    Berry Gordy actually heavily discouraged musicians from going to Motown meetings where it would be decided what songs get released. This was because he felt musicians would be the worst people to decide what a hit record was. The art of songwriter and composer is heavily underemphasizes in the modern music world; Joe public still only cares about how good you are at your instrument and for some reason it's gotten into people's heads that bands should get together and write songs together. "A camel is a horse designed by a comittee" rings true here. If you're playing to be enjoyed by listeners, you should look at it objectively from what the listener is going to respond to, not what the bassist enjoys playing (unless you are a jam band aspiring to play at free music festivals.)

     

    I draw out arrangements on midi as I feel this is the only way to tame the incoherence of the 'jam band' mentality. Guitarists, bassists, drummers and vocalists etc. should only be having a say if they're coming at it from the perspective of a songwriter - not as an instrumentalist. The Beatles are a great example of collab songwriters, though they generally wrote songs individually.

     

    Then again, I don't really know the situation. Collabs are great for objectivity and I value a person who I can discuss quality songwriting and composition with. It largely depends whether the bassist is taking into consideration the 'big picture' and how it's going to recieved. Is he/she taking into account how these chord change carry the topline and lyrical meaning? Is your bassist discussing prosody? Are they talking about hooks? 

    I'm a sharpened flat - I'm a natural.







    Originally Posted by bloodxandxrank


    ... If all else fails make the guitarist do it.....



    ^On the matter of learning harsh vocals.^








    Originally Posted by wrongnote85


    They wont go away, they'll just start making dubstep.



    ^On whether the '-core' bands will ever go away^

    Comment


    • kurdy
      kurdy commented
      Editing a comment

      This kind of B.S. is why I have no desire to be in a band. Or one of the reasons.

      The most obvious solution would be, if he is a songwriter (and it's that kind of a band), encourage him to bring in his songs. But it sounds like he doesn't really have much to contribute in this area. So it becomes a little more complicated.

      It may be tempting to tell him to just shut up and play bass, but you really have to be diplomatic in this situation. Maybe this guy feels somewhat undervalued, and wants to feel like he has something to contribute musically. A bass player's role is very important...arguably more than the guitarist. So maybe let him know how much you do value him...stroke his ego a bit. When he comes up with a cool bass part, tell him so. Let him know he's important.

      If you've done this, and he still persists, politely let him know that you respect him as a musician, but had you wanted your songs to be any different, you would have written them that way. Hopefully, he'll get the hint.


  • #5
    I've never had luck with bass players it seems they always have confidence issues

    Comment


    • rsadasiv
      rsadasiv commented
      Editing a comment

      Bluesart12345 wrote:
      I've never had luck with bass players it seems they always have confidence issues

      I've never had luck with bass players it seems they always have timing issues


  • #6
    I really like saturns take on this
    __________
    Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
    Jesus

    Comment


    • rhino55
      rhino55 commented
      Editing a comment

      Lee Knight wrote:
      I really like saturns take on this

      Me too.

      I'd add, even if you as the songwriter are a competent bass player/drummer/keyboard player, and come up with great parts, you should still give the guy some room for creative freedom.  The more you're paying the less freedom you need to give him.  

      I do a decent amount of sideman gigs.  I'm glad to take them even when they don't pay well because the creative aspect gets me off.  I am well aware I'll probably make some money for the gig, but the really rewarding part for me is the creative process and playing with some new folks.  That being said, I'm not coming in and changing chord progressions on already established material and if there is a distinguishing part that needs to be played, I'll usually get close enough for bar room ears.

      There have been other times where a manager type will contact me and it is made very clear these are the songs and you play them like this.  You will get paid X for the gig and sometimes X for however many rehearsals.  At that point it is a business transaction and you are a contractor hired to do a job.  I don't expect freedom.  The rewarding part of that type of gig is the money and you probably get to play with some real badasses.

      The bands I personally know that have survived longer than a couple years where one person does all the writing usually have a few other things in common as well.  The person who does all the writing also does most of tracking on the record.  They also pay for any expenses out of their own pocket.  They handle all booking and promotions.  The rest of band is in it for other reasons.  To me, they usually seem like they are more in it for lifestyle associated with being in a band; drugs, booze, girls, etc...

      So, the million dollar question for your band is why is the bass player in it?  

      As is always the answer in any type of band drama, clear communication is curcial.  It sounds to me like he is looking for a creative outlet.  I don't think you need to write everything together, but he might really enjoy writing songs that way, and if he knows that will happen every now and then he'll be much more open to doing yours your way.  I don't know how often ya'll gig, but another idea is put him in charge of coming up with transitions in between songs.  I'm not saying ya'll need to be a full on jam band, but having orchestrated parts that lead from one song to the next can be really cool and also really step up your whole stage show.


  • #7
    One easy rule to implement, and I've always used this in my various groups, is if someone has a part written out you always learn it first and play it well. Get the basic idea down solidly and see if it works.

    You guys need to set that in stone so it's really not a disputable issue. If he later has a better idea, fantastic! Your song gets the added benefit of some quality input. Be open to it when and if the time comes. But the whole group has to agree that everyone learns the initial part first and makes it work. In that scenario it becomes pretty obvious if he better idea comes along.

    Let's face it, better is better. But you really won't know until the initial idea is given a fair chance.

    Talk about it as a group.
    __________
    Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
    Jesus

    Comment


    • New Trail
      New Trail commented
      Editing a comment

      I agree.  When I'm really into a song it's hard for me not to write most of the parts, well, the two guitar parts and the bass part at least, and occasionally a keyboard part, mainly so I know they will work together.  The other guitarist told me early on that he likes it when I write a part for him to play.  But, yeah, I agree with you.


  • #8
    Thanks for the "kudos" Phil. Let's meet for min or 2 at NAMM, shall we?
    __________
    Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
    Jesus

    Comment


    • badpenguin
      badpenguin commented
      Editing a comment

      Hey all, I usually hang at the guitar forum, but this thread has become interesting.

      I am a former bass player, who worked with a few bands and did the occassion rewriting of parts that someone else has brought in. Which is pretty much what your bassist is doing. Ok, suggestions are good, but YOU need to stand up, and say, "Listen, let's learn the song they wy it's written, listen to the other peoples viewpoints, THEN we may, or may not, change it. After all, I DID write it." Or something to that effect.

      The bassist may seriously think he s trying to help. Then again, he may just be either showing off, or wanting to change it into something he can play easier. My best suggestion, if he still wants to change things he hasn't bothered to learn properly, change bassist.

       


  • #9
    Kick him in the nads.
    __________
    Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
    Jesus

    Comment


    • badpenguin
      badpenguin commented
      Editing a comment

      Change bass players.













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