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How do you practise?


pogo97
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Let's say you have a gig in two weeks and, for whatever reason, you need to learn a dozen new songs.

 

1) would you use a lead sheet in performance or do you memorise all your songs?

2) how would you approach the task of making the songs "gig-worthy" in the time you have?

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I have a tablet with the audio into a small mixer with my keyboard DI's into the Mixer and head phones and use Youtube videos. If I have a good number of songs to learn ,, I make up what I call bone chord charts on an index card for each song. I can learn songs much faster than I can retain them. I memorize the solos , horn lines etc. I don't use a music stand at live shows. Just set the index cart on the board. Makes for a clean stage look. Typically I will know a song by hart and can move that out of the index cars system. everything we do is live fire. Lot of ways to skin the cat but this seems to work best for me. I don't sing a lot of songs but typically try to learn the words by memory. If the work load gets to be too much for that I would just use a tablet like pat and find a low profile way to use the tablet with out a stand. As set lists build it gets harder to play stuff enough to keep it fresh on songs that are more complicated.

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Doing it right now... Just sitting down to learn "Goo Goo Dolls "Come to Me." Opened up youtube, found the version that's comfortable to play with, figured out capo placement because I seldom bother going with custom tunings live. Grab the lyrics/chords...practice along afew times and then play it solo a few times. Import it into Songbook...gig with it.

Edited by Potts
Decided to learn it in Open "C"
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I first see of Mike Masse has done it and if he has (just learning Tainted Love so he has:) ) watch his version a few times on Youtube, download the chords/lyrics onto ipad via Onsong edit the chords if necessary, run it through until I am comfortable with the basic guitar playing, learn one verse at a time until it's solid, I will also put it onto a MP3 player and listen whilst doing other stuff, when I have the basic chords and lyrics solid, will work out some nice twiddly bits ie bass runs etc finally plug into an acoustic amp through voicelive play to work out harmonies and I am good to go. Cheers Steve

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Depends on the songs. Since I sequence my own backing tracks, I always start there. Can I find the music? Do I have to do it all by ear? Do I have the luxury of music and a recording?

 

Once the song is sequenced, I know the structure and arrangement well, and it's time for the lead parts. What will I play, sax, wind synth, guitar, vocals. I've made the decision before sequencing, but not it's time to learn that part.

 

I keep a cheat sheet on one of the stage computers all the time, and memorize songs slowly. I know I would memorize them quicker if I didn't have the cheat sheet in front of me, but we do over 500 songs, and it's a lot for this brain to memorize. Nobody seems to mind an occasional glance at the computer.

 

On the other hand, I probably wouldn't take a gig with that many songs to learn in such a short time. Since I have to learn the drum part, bass part, comp parts, and ear candy parts, it's a bit time consuming, and I would rather turn a gig down than show up and do anything less than an excellent job.

 

Notes

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I'll memorize them if it's my solo or band gig, and usually read charts if I'm backing someone up. It also depends on the complexity. I just learned Time After Time (not the Lauper one) and I Thought About You. Both songs have easy chords and easy to memorize lyrics, so that's what I did - memorized them.

 

But I've been working with a guy that has so many tunes it's impossible to memorize them. Apparently he has well over three hundred, and often, just before each song he hands out the chart(usually three to five pages). Then the piano player launches into the tune before I've barely had a chance to read the title! It's a good workout for the brain, and the singer and keyboardist are great, but it's a little stressful at times. And the tunes are fairly complicated, like the Benson/Jarreau version of Summer Breeze...

 

 

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When we do dance sets, it's sometimes important to go from song to song with absolutely no delay between them. Even a few seconds can be enough to get them heading to their seats. We call them and cue them while we are playing one song, so that we can start the next one without a beat in between.

 

Notes

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Let's say you have a gig in two weeks and, for whatever reason, you need to learn a dozen new songs.

 

1) would you use a lead sheet in performance or do you memorise all your songs?

2) how would you approach the task of making the songs "gig-worthy" in the time you have?

 

I'm not much of a sight reader, but some situations require lead sheets. I approach my solo songs similar to Notes Norton since I also sequence. I don't use youtube because I have a vast library of music as a DJ.

 

I get the lyrics to songs from any of those type of websites, copy and paste into a word processing program, listen to the orignal recording and make corrections to the words. Start learning the chords by ear right befor or after that. Try singing and playing, download a free midi sequence that will need tweaking, try singing in different keys until I find what's best for my range, learn any riffs that are important to the song etc.

 

 

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I'll memorize them if it's my solo or band gig, and usually read charts if I'm backing someone up. It also depends on the complexity. I just learned Time After Time (not the Lauper one) and I Thought About You. Both songs have easy chords and easy to memorize lyrics, so that's what I did - memorized them.

 

 

I do the Cindy Lauper version and it goes over well. lol

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Back to the original premise...I am not going to master 12 new songs in two weeks, and I would likely turn down the opportunity to do so. I have tried to do the 'mass speed learn' thing when I first decided to go solo, and have found that

a) I don't retain them well, and need to keep going back to the screen, and

b) if I don't stay on top of those particular tunes, I 'lose' them quickly.

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"I Thought About You" has easy chords?

 

IMHO they are. The opening descending line in "G" would be a variation of // G Gb / F E / and is pretty much a substitution for G. You could even use / G C13 / Bm E7 / for the first two bars. From there it's a bunch of II V turnarounds (or implied turnarounds) which invariably end up on the "I". Even when you go to the C#m7b5 to F#7, that leads you to the Bm to E7 and Am to D7, and presto you're back at the G. As in many jazz songs, most roads lead back to the tonic.

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I like Tuck and Patti's version, but Cyndi's is fine too.

 

 

Anyway, I do the jazz standard, which is basically a more uptempo version of Chet's take

 

 

Funny, I always think of Chet Baker as a horn player*, not a singer...then again, 1956...when this was released, I was going on 3...;)

 

 

 

 

* fantastic/extremely underrated by modern generations...his glow and lyrical style was overshadowed by Miles' neo-bop in the 60s, and so now few people really know who he is. He was definitely right up there with Satchmo, Dizzy...one of my CJ regulars is a huge...HUGE...Chet Baker fan, btw

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Well, it's much easier to learn 12 blues songs, than 12 jazz standards. The blues songs can be put together in a matter of a few days, the jazz songs may take months or longer depending on how complicated they are. Whenever putting a band together I make it a point to start out with easy songs so the band can start gigging asap. Too many weeks of rehearsing and no gigs isn't good in most cases.

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I agree to a point about 'picking the low hanging fruit' first, but it also usually makes the band sound like every other band, because they all do the same thing....as a solo, though, to me it makes no difference, 12 songs in 2 weeks is a new song a day, pretty much, and I am not talking I-IV-V or I-iv-IV-V. I just can't absorb that much material that fast and pump it all back out at 100%

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It's a balancing act. Diane--my singing partner--will get us gigs (or just have a notion) that requires learning a bunch of songs. Last time was a pre-St.Pat's event. We learned six Irish (real Irish) songs but she also insisted we have a set of "dance" songs, which meant brushing up a set's worth of R&B which I love to play but don't keep performance-ready. The work falls on me to get the words, learn the chords and sometimes sing. And practise practise practise. Diane will sing most of them.

 

Obviously, the ones I've got in my songbook but maybe haven't played in a bit are easy enough to dust off. Learning brand new songs, though, takes a long time and very occasionally it's a train wreck when we perform them. I don't like that. We've got a WWI gig coming up in July which means all songs from before 1919. That's a lot of learning even in that amount of time. On the other hand, I'm learning piles about the music of the time (thank you! iTunes, YouTube and Wikipedia) and picking up some dandy material. In this case, I'm starting with a small collection of songs I already do or know and then building up the collection as I listen to recordings from that period. But I do want to make sure that most of them are re-usable. And it keeps me pretty busy. Sometimes I lean on her to settle for a bunch of songs we already know.

Edited by pogo97
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Still, it would be almost impossible, IMHO, to do justice to a dozen great songs in that short a period. As you said, 'trainwreck'...somewhere in there, it would all just start to fall apart...seriously, to master a dozen songs that quickly would be impossible for me. "A man's gotta know his limitations..."..and I'm not 'feeling lucky, punk..."

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Still' date=' it would be almost impossible, IMHO, to do justice to a dozen great songs in that short a period. As you said, 'trainwreck'...somewhere in there, it would all just start to fall apart...seriously, to [i']master[/i] a dozen songs that quickly would be impossible for me. "A man's gotta know his limitations..."..and I'm not 'feeling lucky, punk..."

I agree. And I have had my limitations smack me in the face once or twice. In the case I remember best, I barely-had a

that I've loved for years but never learned until this opportunity. When the time came to play it, there was an led array shining in my face so I couldn't quite read the lyrics. Disaster. It was the two things put together, but it didn't matter. Train wreck. Live and learn, c'est la vie, etcetera etcetera Edited by pogo97
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Fortunately Leilani and I have been a duo for a long time and have amassed over 500 songs. Every St Patty day we break out the same old sing along songs -- sometimes we learn a new one, if it works we keep it for next year, if it doesn't we drop it.

 

Playing the baby-boomer crowd has it's advantages, we don't have to learn a lot of new songs that will be 'old hat' and passe in a month or two. It has slowly evolved though, when we started doing this market it meant a lot of light jazz standards from what is now called "The American Songbook" and doing something as new as the Beatles will get you thrown out of there. Now they'll tell you "Harry James Is Dead" and everything from Elvis to DIsco is our mainstay. We do newer material when it gets accepted by that age group, but unlike when I played in Top40 bands, once learned they are good for years and not out of style in a month or two.

 

I would never take a job that I would be ill prepared for. If I need to learn songs, I'd figure whether I had the time to do a decent job of learning and performing them in my head before I ever said "Yes or No". If I don't have the time, I'd explain that I'd love to take the job, but with my heavy gigging schedule there just isn't enough time to learn that many songs and do a good job. If only you had come to me sooner, I would have done it. (or something like that).

 

IMHO doing a less than excellent job is worse than not taking the gig - YMMV

 

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That's why I think it's better to concentrate on 3 or 4 songs at a time rather than 12. Of course there are times one has to learn a bunch asap, i.e. putting a band together from scratch, working into a band that needs a replacement quickly… a gig that calls for a different genre than what you've been doing...

 

I'm sure most of us old timers er... veterans have been through these scenarios.

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