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Improvised vs Rehearsed Solos

Nick Wyver

noisy
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Agreed. I don't have the discipline to be in a Tribute Band ;)
My boredom threshold is too low.

Once upon a time, way back yonder, I used to play in a function band. The solos that I can remember (there weren't many) included Will You, Let's Stick Together, Respect and probably one or two others. I played all of them as on the record. Since then, I've only played in covers bands and solos are all improvised. No one's ever complained (or even mentioned) that they're not the same as on the record.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,589
My boredom threshold is too low.

Once upon a time, way back yonder, I used to play in a function band. The solos that I can remember (there weren't many) included Will You, Let's Stick Together, Respect and probably one or two others. I played all of them as on the record. Since then, I've only played in covers bands and solos are all improvised. No one's ever complained (or even mentioned) that they're not the same as on the record.
Especially if you can make a better job! :)
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
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3,916
My Covers Band never approached songs with a slavish aim for note for note copying. Yes follow the structure but we weren't averse to moving things around a little bit, in a vein attempt to keep things interesting for ourselves.
But sometimes you can play with a band and the bandleader wants a solo as it is on the recording. Not longer or shorter. Just as as it's written. Nothing I like but ......

When I play a solo I have prepared it before. I prefer to play my "own solo" (ad lib). Just 10-20% of the solo is improvised. I love to play sax in songs were there is no horns/sax. You have many tribute bands in UK. Why?
 

Halfers

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But sometimes you can play with a band and the bandleader wants a solo as it is on the recording. Not longer or shorter. Just as as it's written. Nothing I like but ......

I can see why some songs might require that. An iconic Guitar solo etc. We never really bothered with that, aside from a few small exceptions.

As with Nick's point, we never had any comments about not playing X part of a song or solo. If they had we'd probably smile and say 'We look forward to hearing that part when your band plays it' :p
 

TimboSax

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My Covers Band never approached songs with a slavish aim for note for note copying. Yes follow the structure but we weren't averse to moving things around a little bit, in a vein attempt to keep things interesting for ourselves.
As for solos, yes the little guitar solo in Mr Blue Sky was a note for note job, as was the Sax solo in Modern Love. Most of the rest was impro stuff. Very often we'd find a song had morphed slightly over time, mainly because after learning the basic structure we'd never listen to the recording again and we'd kind of got into a habit of playing the song in a particular way. Never did us any harm.

Yep, we often "improve" songs by shifting the structure (or, as you say, it morphs over time). And yep, there are some songs where the solo is almost part of the melody, so they're note for note.

Actually, that might be it for me. It grates with me for some songs when the vocals don't match the original, maybe that's the same for me with some solos.
 

TimboSax

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As with Nick's point, we never had any comments about not playing X part of a song or solo. If they had we'd probably smile and say 'We look forward to hearing that part when your band plays it' :p

I've never had someone commenting on us not playing something as per the record. But many times I have had people coming up to me after a gig saying "You nailed that one!" Note for note doesn't have to be slavish - otherwise why have different versions of the same classical piece?
 

Halfers

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I've never had someone commenting on us not playing something as per the record. But many times I have had people coming up to me after a gig saying "You nailed that one!" Note for note doesn't have to be slavish - otherwise why have different versions of the same classical piece?

I've always taken the phrase ' you've nailed it' as an expression of admiration of an excellent performance.

EDIT: As in (for the case of a cover) the essence, power, presence, of the song has been captured in the performance. It could, of course also mean you played it note for note perfect. Just for clarity I've got nothing against that approach, for those who wish to do it. But it's not personally why I play music.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,589
Most of them know that it's an easy way to make decent money. If you are relatively or completely unknown, original music is a fast-track way to bankruptcy if you try it on a big enough scale.
I know guys in a well-known tribute band in the UK. They get paid more for each gig than I ever did with well-known artists.
 

Pete Effamy

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2,589
It's all personal preference with the tribute/covers thing at how far you go. Some go to the nth degree with clothes, make-up, wigs, voice etc - I've not been in a band that went that far..
 

Halfers

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I know guys in a well-known tribute band in the UK. They get paid more for each gig than I ever did with well-known artists.

Also, some of the bigger venues around will accept high standard Tribute Acts but very rarely accommodate high standard Cover bands.
 

Pete Effamy

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2,589
Speaking of Steely Dan earlier, I seem to remember a story about one of Larry Carlton's solos and him taking the chart away over the weekend and then coming in and nailing a great solo in the first take. To be honest, I couldn't give a monkeys whether he 'routined' it or just blew over the chords to internalise them or worked one out. Better that than a 2nd rate solo, and the Dan harmonies can be a "beach".
I think lots of Pros do some and some. If they do, it makes me feel as though I'm only a universe away rather than galaxies :)
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
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3,201
You have many tribute bands in UK. Why?

Well, apart from Nick's suggestion that Brits prefer to spend most of their time looking backwards while wearing what may be described as spectacles with a slight rose tint ;), live music in the UK has been in freefall since the 90s. Audiences have continually plummeted as the cost of getting to the venue, the cost of entry and the cost of drinks once inside have continually risen.

So often you can't get home the venue as public transport often doesn't exist by the time the gig finishes - assuming there's any public transport at all to get you there in the first place. Even in London the tube is closed by midnight. Yep, the main transport system in the country's capital city closes down at the same time most other countries nightlife is just getting started. If you want a drink you better have a friend who'll drive you home or deep pockets for the taxi ride. Back in 2009 I missed the last tube home - 23:30! It cost me £80 for a taxi.

Then you have decades of what can only really be called propaganda regarding the worthlessness of art; how something's importance is measured purely in outright profit. This creates a society that stops caring about such things as music, that stops protecting or investing in such things as grass roots music and music venues. Again, the exact opposite of my experience in other European countries. And if someone from one of our European neighbours is thinking 'what's he on about, it's really bad here', I assure you that it's a whole different level of bad here.

In the 90s, cover bands were already becoming the only sort of band most venues were prepared to book. In my hometown of Manchester is was possible for an original band to play at a different venue every night of the week at the end of the 80s. In the 70s you could play a different venue every night for a month. By the middle of the 90s at least half of the venues I used to play at were gone, By the 2000s most had disappeared. All that was really left were pubs, where if you didn't play covers, you didn't play. Even if you did play, you were lucky if each musician got £10.

Then someone somewhere came up with the idea of having a tribute band rather than a band that just plays generic covers. Whether they intentionally realised it or not, they had come up with a way to attract an audience that could actually afford to buy a ticket - appeal to the nostalgia of middle class, middle aged people who have a disposable income. Play venues where you're unlikely to encounter drunken violence - another thing that put off so many people from venturing into cities - that are easily accessible by car, to see high quality musicians play your favourite music, usually watched from the comfort of a well-padded theatre chair.

In this country, if you're over 30 and still want to play popular music to an audience, there are only really two options (assuming you're not a working session musician) - play covers in a pub band or play covers in a tribute band. Rightly or wrongly most people assume the musicians in a pub band will be of a certain proficiency level that is not sufficient to play in a tribute band. Also, as has already been said, it's still possible to make money in a tribute band, and that attracts a lot of musicians, which means people putting together tribute bands have more potential players to choose from and that usually (but not always - boy, do I have some stories on that subject ;) ) results in music played to a high quality.

It turns out Brits do still love well played music - unfortunately the only genre that seems to be able to sustain itself is the tribute scene.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,589
Well, apart from Nick's suggestion that Brits prefer to spend most of their time looking backwards while wearing what may be described as spectacles with a slight rose tint ;), live music in the UK has been in freefall since the 90s. Audiences have continually plummeted as the cost of getting to the venue, the cost of entry and the cost of drinks once inside have continually risen.

So often you can't get home the venue as public transport often doesn't exist by the time the gig finishes - assuming there's any public transport at all to get you there in the first place. Even in London the tube is closed by midnight. Yep, the main transport system in the country's capital city closes down at the same time most other countries nightlife is just getting started. If you want a drink you better have a friend who'll drive you home or deep pockets for the taxi ride. Back in 2009 I missed the last tube home - 23:30! It cost me £80 for a taxi.

Then you have decades of what can only really be called propaganda regarding the worthlessness of art; how something's importance is measured purely in outright profit. This creates a society that stops caring about such things as music, that stops protecting or investing in such things as grass roots music and music venues. Again, the exact opposite of my experience in other European countries. And if someone from one of our European neighbours is thinking 'what's he on about, it's really bad here', I assure you that it's a whole different level of bad here.

In the 90s, cover bands were already becoming the only sort of band most venues were prepared to book. In my hometown of Manchester is was possible for an original band to play at a different venue every night of the week at the end of the 80s. In the 70s you could play a different venue every night for a month. By the middle of the 90s at least half of the venues I used to play at were gone, By the 2000s most had disappeared. All that was really left were pubs, where if you didn't play covers, you didn't play. Even if you did play, you were lucky if each musician got £10.

Then someone somewhere came up with the idea of having a tribute band rather than a band that just plays generic covers. Whether they intentionally realised it or not, they had come up with a way to attract an audience that could actually afford to buy a ticket - appeal to the nostalgia of middle class, middle aged people who have a disposable income. Play venues where you're unlikely to encounter drunken violence - another thing that put off so many people from venturing into cities - that are easily accessible by car, to see high quality musicians play your favourite music, usually watched from the comfort of a well-padded theatre chair.

In this country, if you're over 30 and still want to play popular music to an audience, there are only really two options (assuming you're not a working session musician) - play covers in a pub band or play covers in a tribute band. Rightly or wrongly most people assume the musicians in a pub band will be of a certain proficiency level that is not sufficient to play in a tribute band. Also, as has already been said, it's still possible to make money in a tribute band, and that attracts a lot of musicians, which means people putting together tribute bands have more potential players to choose from and that usually (but not always - boy, do I have some stories on that subject ;) ) results in music played to a high quality.

It turns out Brits do still love well played music - unfortunately the only genre that seems to be able to sustain itself is the tribute scene.
Well put. Rather on the button of what I've seen and experienced too. The 'problem' with a tribute band, is that it functions the same as the regular band (minus large units of album sales) in that you tour. Properly. Here, there and everywhere. A mate of mine did 300-odd gigs on the road a few years back. That's no life for a grown up!
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,589
Also, some of the bigger venues around will accept high standard Tribute Acts but very rarely accommodate high standard Cover bands.
Just easier to sell. An Evening of Elton John with Reggie Black will be virtually guaranteed a decent take-up. It's the same with all the touring shows now like Buddy or whatever. Easy to sell. Easy to stage.
 
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