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Jun 10, 2021 - 9:23:21 PM
439 posts since 6/11/2019

Playing with a group (regular band) question--

How detailed do you get when performing a song?

We have it down to where everyone knows in what order they take their solo. And who has the kickoff.
What about other stuff, like filler and support of the vocals?  Chords or "chunks"? Do you actually designate whether the mando or the fiddle fills V to I? I guess, does it matter?

And what about "outro's"? Is it a free-for-all, after the last chorus, everybody "Shave-and-a-Haircut?" to the I-chord?

Something tells me we should be more coordinated, but as most of you know, you'll never hear my band on the radio. Probably never even at a festival, either; however, with your help we are "Endeavoring to Persevere".

(The above is a favorite line from Outlaw Jose Wales, in case you wondered)

Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 06/10/2021 21:26:26

Jun 10, 2021 - 10:55:43 PM
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2278 posts since 8/23/2008

Don't like rehearsals, our last rehearsal was busking outside the local music shop. Couldn't remember any arrangements anyway. Singer/guitarist kicks off with some strumming then gives me or the banjo player a nod for instrumental breaks when ever he so desires, I actually encouraged him to call more instrumental breaks. I'll join in with vocals if I can remember the words of the chorus. Dunno what "chunks" is. Glad we ain't got a mando because then I can do all the fills. Dunno what 'fills V to I' are, I do em all over the place and never the same way twice. Outros, what ever happens. Thats an idea, we could do local radio, and we was booked for a few festivals but cancelled due to covid. I hope we don't get too serious with arrangements and vocal harmonies because I'm not going to remember them, and I like it as a 'jam band'.

Jun 10, 2021 - 11:38:49 PM
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doryman

USA

182 posts since 2/10/2020

Hi Scott,

Are you just playing together in a jam-with-friends setting, or do you hope to play out and about at some point? My "band" is about a minimalist as it can get. During normal times, we gig about once a month at various local taverns and we have a sound system. So, yeah...big time!!! We've made tens of dollars. For performances, every song on our set list has a practiced and designated intro and outro and we know who is going to sing and take leads for every song and we know if the lead is going to be verse or chorus. We practice harmonies. I'd say we are one step above a free-for-all.

Jun 10, 2021 - 11:50:09 PM
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2278 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by doryman

 a free-for-all.


Yeah, thats what I was trying to say, and we have great fun doin it...............

Jun 10, 2021 - 11:56:25 PM
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1531 posts since 4/6/2014

Any bands i have played with seem to evolve there own versions, (given enough time playing together), usually based on a well known recording. i haven't played much "original" stuff, if i do i just improvise with the chords and go with the flow.

Jun 11, 2021 - 4:12:01 AM

12160 posts since 9/23/2009

I've played alone in public, and I've played in one little amateur band that didn't play that much. Playing alone, I basically improvised by ear all the time and was happy with that because it was just me. Playing in the band...the banjo guy always would lead off, but it turned into chaos from that point...lol...I never could see the mando guy, and he was really good, but if he didn't feel like taking a break he would just give a look to the banjo guy, who would then turn to me on take that break on fiddle...this was only a second or so, but it got me really messed up to just not know if or when I was supposed to jump in and start playing...or singing...same with singing...like who's singing what? I never knew how we were ending anything or anything like that. It just made me very nervous...lol. So...in my inexperienced, amateur and humble-by-necessity opinion, a band needs to know exactly what they're doing together. I guess if they play enough and get to know each other's playing enough, etc., they might get to a point where they can be more relaxed about it all, but from what little I experienced with it, I would've felt a lot better if we all knew what each other was doing.

Jun 11, 2021 - 5:06:15 AM

5244 posts since 9/26/2008

If you play together often enough, you can get a feel for who has the intro and outro (in our band or is often the same person who then doesn't take a break) without having to work it out. The guys who play banjo and mandolin live and breath bluegrass and can play whatever whenever (two guys switch from guitar to banjo depending on the song/set or who's available for the gig) and so they are good at taking turns and not stepping on anyone's break. 

Edited by - ChickenMan on 06/11/2021 05:13:38

Jun 11, 2021 - 5:44:41 AM
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90 posts since 1/21/2017

I guess it depends on how serious you want to be about it. I really enjoy the process of working out arrangements, probably because I'm not good enough to just wing it. My situation is the same as doryman. If you're hoping to get gigs where people are paying to see you, I think it makes a difference. The audience can tell.

Jun 11, 2021 - 6:02:01 AM

2339 posts since 10/22/2007
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Of the the six, piano, lead guitar and I can break. But it's mostly old pop and country favorites. So there may or may not, be a break/solo at all. We kinda have songs that feature one of us. For instance, Wagon Wheel, gets the fiddle guy(me) out there. Folsom Prison Blues, gets that signature guitar break. Otherwise I just fill. Piano, lead guitar, and fiddle, could play all at once and still not sound too bad because we are sonically different. But I typically underplay. I figure it's better that they ask for more, rather than them telling me to back off.

We don't rehearse. Sometimes I wish we did. We could bring fresh material into the list easier. But I'm just a sideman.  I'm there on time, and in tune. 

Edited by - farmerjones on 06/11/2021 06:14:35

Jun 11, 2021 - 6:16:05 AM
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90 posts since 1/21/2017

That's not to say that I always REMEMBER the arrangements, but at least I have something to shoot for. If you had to pick one thing, I'd say at least have a good ending. There's nothing worse than a train wreck ending.

Jun 11, 2021 - 6:48:24 AM

439 posts since 6/11/2019

Thanks for all the responses and war stories, I really enjoy reading them all. "There I was..."

John, we're about where you are. On our "go-to" songs, everybody knows what to do without prompting. We had to take notes at first cause we would forget about split breaks and kickoffs.
I like a good kickoff. I don't think the "running start"--coming in on top of a guitar strumming a chord, sounds very snappy. On less-practiced songs, whoever is singing directs traffic. We nail our endings in unison, but the "come-home" licks to get there are all different.

We have played at the old folks homes and in churches. There's some very local country/bluegrass venues where several bands play maybe 4-5 songs apiece. We were striving to play those in the before-times. The audience pays in one, but we aren't necessarily aiming to get paid. Just want to feel the drive to get more polished.

Maybe I'm being too obsessive and nit-noid about it. We have fun, but I hate playing a filler lick while the mando is playing one. Sounds like everybody here is a lot more loose about it.

Jun 11, 2021 - 7:28:03 AM
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Earworm

USA

203 posts since 1/30/2018

The band that I'm in never seems to get together to practice or just jam together at all. We just show up on stage and play for dancers. I guess you can't get much looser than that. I would like to get together sometimes to just play as a band, but it never seems to be possible, and I don't seem to have enough clout to influence how things run. And of course the pandemic messed up even that. Is this what they call a "jam band"? because is sure seems like we're just showing up to jam on stage, which is not exactly what I expected.

Edited by - Earworm on 06/11/2021 07:30:20

Jun 11, 2021 - 9:08:27 AM
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2339 posts since 10/22/2007
Online Now

I'm still amazed on what passes for good. A Bluegrass jam seems to have a tighter structure/framework/rules, than what we do. But maybe it's so it works.

As far as Pop and Country, remove Frank Sinatra, and the like. Remove the Beatles. What is left is a I, IV, V jam by studio rats. It makes Bluegrass and it's structure formidable, akin to Jazz. Respect to Ol Bill.

Jun 11, 2021 - 12:13:42 PM
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doryman

USA

182 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by coryobert

That's not to say that I always REMEMBER the arrangements, but at least I have something to shoot for. If you had to pick one thing, I'd say at least have a good ending. There's nothing worse than a train wreck ending.


It's also good to shoot for all playing in the same key!

Jun 11, 2021 - 2:08:52 PM
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RB-1

Netherlands

23 posts since 9/28/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Thanks for all the responses and war stories, I really enjoy reading them all. "There I was..."

John, we're about where you are. On our "go-to" songs, everybody knows what to do without prompting. We had to take notes at first cause we would forget about split breaks and kickoffs.
I like a good kickoff. I don't think the "running start"--coming in on top of a guitar strumming a chord, sounds very snappy. On less-practiced songs, whoever is singing directs traffic. We nail our endings in unison, but the "come-home" licks to get there are all different.

We have played at the old folks homes and in churches. There's some very local country/bluegrass venues where several bands play maybe 4-5 songs apiece. We were striving to play those in the before-times. The audience pays in one, but we aren't necessarily aiming to get paid. Just want to feel the drive to get more polished.

Maybe I'm being too obsessive and nit-noid about it. We have fun, but I hate playing a filler lick while the mando is playing one. Sounds like everybody here is a lot more loose about it.


To begin with the last, no, your NOT obsessive.

And we're not talking the odd mistake here or a difficult spot that can remain a hit or miss for a longer time, while the rest sounds coördinated and nicely arranged.

No, it's a basic, respectful attitude towards the music you're performing.

It makes a lot of sense to learn in a jam, but it doesn't make any sense at all trying to play in a band while one has not yet developed the skill of listening to what the other members are doing and having a mental picture of how one's own part would be fitting in with the overal band sound.

From your description I gather this is exactly what you're striving for.

I know the frustration of playing with people who simply can't hear this (yet).

The nr. 1 reason for me not yet playing fiddle in a band situation is that I need way too much concentration on my own attempts at sounding good, that I would have no idea at all what anyone else is doing.

This is the difference between playing alongside or actually with a band.

In my opinion some people don't get this difference and as a result their band sound suffers more or less badly.

I'd rather hear a beginning band playing something simple, but with 100% interaction than 4 individuals showing off their 'musicianship' but obviously without  any interconnection.

Of course there is -as we would call this in my native language- 'a sliding scale' as in, 'not 100% good or bad', but you'll get the idea. (I hope wink)

Jun 11, 2021 - 2:23:42 PM
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doryman

USA

182 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:

The nr. 1 reason for me not yet playing fiddle in a band situation is that I need way too much concentration on my own attempts at sounding good, that I would have no idea at all what anyone else is doing.


Exactly!  Long time banjo player here...new to the fiddle. I can pretty much remember the exact moment when I started playing banjo with others, rather than just playing while others were around me, also playing.   I'm not saying that I'm great at it, but a jam is 100% more fun when everyone is playing with everyone else.  

Jun 12, 2021 - 5:43:19 AM
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2372 posts since 10/1/2008

Well .... if there is only one guitar then the guitar does not take fills. Depending , of course , on how many melody instruments are in your band. The fill can be handled in two definite patterns. One the person that is going to take the next break play the fill in the preceding verse. Or the player that took the last break plays the fill in the following verse. If you are playing a multi set gig pass the breaks clockwise from center so things stay in the same order. You can even trade eights this way.

Jun 12, 2021 - 8:51:01 AM

439 posts since 6/11/2019

Richard, thanks, these are good tips.

We already have an order that we do our breaks, depending on who is singing lead (so they have a little time to recall the lyrics of next verse). I like the pattern idea!

We have only one guitar, he plays rhythm and picks. But we have an upright that keeps us honest while he solos.

Jun 12, 2021 - 9:54:17 AM
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2339 posts since 10/22/2007
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NFN once upon a time I knew an extremely gifted banjer player. He showed me how to share breaks. He'd play the first four bars, I'd play the second. Or vice-versa. Good fun if you're able. Theoretically, you could break it up more. It would sound like a call and answer.

While I'm here, there's another Country anomaly, where part of the song changes key. I've heard Rhonda Vincent do this where she was a duet with Bobby Osborne. I understood it was completely for ease of vocal range. But other songs the key change seems written into the piece. It certainly makes a piece stand out.

Jun 12, 2021 - 10:55:14 AM
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439 posts since 6/11/2019

I like a split break. It works out nice to pass off between musical phrases (which are usually in 4 or 8). Makes you sound slick.

I also like the key change. Modulate up one. Steve, I assume in the Rhonda Vincent song you mean that they come back down. That's kind of how I play "Flop-eared Mule", but it goes from D to A and back.

We do "Country State of Mind" starting in D and go up to E for the last verse, but we stay there to the end.

Jun 12, 2021 - 2:45:31 PM

1531 posts since 4/6/2014

As far as endings go, just tip the guitarist a nod... They play a deceptive cadence for the last 4 bars. Then go for a perfect cadence for a 4 bar end tag.

In it's simplest and most boring form...... IV///|V7///|IV///|V7///|. Then the end tag IV///|V7///|I ///|////||, but there are endless and beautiful variations. That gives everyone 4 bars warning and 4 bars to decide how they will end.

Edit That's just one way....

Edited by - pete_fiddle on 06/12/2021 14:48:32

Jun 12, 2021 - 6:33:31 PM

439 posts since 6/11/2019

quote:
Originally posted by pete_fiddle

As far as endings go, just tip the guitarist a nod... They play a deceptive cadence for the last 4 bars. Then go for a perfect cadence for a 4 bar end tag.

In it's simplest and most boring form...... IV///|V7///|IV///|V7///|. Then the end tag IV///|V7///|I ///|////||, but there are endless and beautiful variations. That gives everyone 4 bars warning and 4 bars to decide how they will end.

Edit That's just one way....


Thanks, Pete--I also like instrumental endings...instead of singing the last phrase twice to fine'...

Thanks again to all for the inputs; I am signing off for vacation...going through KY and WV for awhile.  Leaving the electronic gizmos home. 

Tracking thru Cairo and Paducah tomorrow...Richard, I will honk as we go by.  Quilting wife wanted to stop at Hancocks but we have to make Glasgow by suppertime.  Cheers!

Jun 13, 2021 - 7:08:13 PM

2716 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Playing with a group (regular band) question--

How detailed do you get when performing a song?

We have it down to where everyone knows in what order they take their solo. And who has the kickoff.
What about other stuff, like filler and support of the vocals?  Chords or "chunks"? Do you actually designate whether the mando or the fiddle fills V to I? I guess, does it matter?

And what about "outro's"? Is it a free-for-all, after the last chorus, everybody "Shave-and-a-Haircut?" to the I-chord?

Something tells me we should be more coordinated, but as most of you know, you'll never hear my band on the radio. Probably never even at a festival, either; however, with your help we are "Endeavoring to Persevere".

(The above is a favorite line from Outlaw Jose Wales, in case you wondered)


When performing a song, I try to use what I notice and like, as a listener, (and dancer). For me that quite often does include awareness of arrangement, details, and the effect.

IMO, good arrangement is a separate musical skill or art into itself.  Sometimes it's the arrangement that makes a performance shine; doesn't rely on great composition or amazing picking, virtuosity; can make fairly simple playing sound much more interesting. (help keep from getting too repetitive and staid)

What about other stuff,

There is a lot of other stuff and details beyond coordinating start/end or order of whose turn. Thinking in terms of the whole song. Starts with overall feel/mood. Guiding the dynamic flow of the music, movement, push/pull, using space, dynamics, intensity, texture, layers, voicing. Sometimes might be about dynamically tell an overall story, dramatic effect, build excitement/suspense, a climax.

Lots of tricks and techniques, tools to that end; more tools give more diverse options. Many are not overly complicated to work out, and execute. The complexity is often more about everyone on the same page, knowing how and when; expectation and communication. Might be improvised, memorized or written; depends on background, experience, skills, motivation, type of musician.

Jun 13, 2021 - 8:59:50 PM
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2716 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Earworm

The band that I'm in never seems to get together to practice or just jam together at all. We just show up on stage and play for dancers. ...

... Is this what they call a "jam band"? because is sure seems like we're just showing up to jam on stage, which is not exactly what I expected.


Depends, but just showing up on stage is more along lines of informal pickup band. Typically that description alone is not what most would define as a "jam band". Different context.  Some dance musicians do incorporate some jam band concepts into playing. I've been in some of those; somewhat involves different paradigm and skills.

Sort of brings up side topic of what is a jam or jamming?

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 06/13/2021 21:01:48

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