Topic: Learning songs ...  (Read 943 times)

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Online Bart Elliott

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Learning songs ...
« on: May 25, 2005, 03:03 PM »
Here's another question I received via email that I thought I'd share ...

Q: I have rehearsal with a pretty big Nashville artist this week.  I've done a lot of gigs in the past, but nothing on this particular level in Nashville. So your learning songs from a record with top session players.  How exact is one to be with the parts?  Sure it varies from artist to artist, but when you walk in for the first rehearsal and you have your charts ready to go, do you personally attempt to have the parts exactly like the album, close enough that no one will notice,  or just similar enough to get the point across?  That's kind of a broad question, but what's your best empirical answer?

I would learn as much of the tune, as it is on the album, as you can. If there is a live recording of the group, be sure to listen what that drummer played, and compare it to the album.

You are going to be dealing with several issues, and you'll just have to figure out what this group expects.

They probably don't care that you play every fill exactly as the CD. However, they may be used to things sounding a certain way. This may be because of the CD or the previous drummer.

The most important things to concentrate on:
  • Tempo
  • Feel
  • Form
Once you have that down, focus on learning the important signature fills and/or figures that the drummer may be playing. Anytime a fill is exposed or is big enough to set-up a different section of the tune, you might want to copy it as much as possible.

I'm currently playing with a number of headline Country artists. I add my own ideas to the music, but the bands have toured previously with a different drummer(s), so there are certain things that they expect to hear. It's not that they expect it in a way that they MAKE me do it, or even ask me to play it ... but their ears are used to hearing certain things ... so if they don't hear it, they think something is wrong or it messes them up.

My approach is that I always go for the album approach since that's what the audience is most used to hearing. I then take it up a notch, even increasing the tempo a bit, simply because the whole live sound is very different (energy wise) than a studio recording. Learning the album is best ... then you can always choose to play/copy the licks, or add your own.

Hope this helps.


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