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(@phinnin)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 138
Topic starter  

Question for you band veterans out there:

How do you handle band members that play instruments that "suppliment" the band's sound (Harmonica, Horns, keyboards to some extent)?

We added a harp player, and although we think he's a good fit, he plays every second of every song. That flavor isn't a awesome when its constant.

Anyone have any input on how to handle this without pissing him off?


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

Pitch in and buy him a set of shakers and tamourine.

Okay seriously: Someone should take charge of arrangement responsibilities -- and the rest of the band needs to give that person enough authority to do that job. This might be the same person who "leads" the band. For a small group, it probably should be. This is a thankless job until maybe the rest of the band realizes that proper arrangement (who plays what and when) will make the band sound better if done well. Never assume a band member will self regulate - few do unless they are true musicians who actually have an ear for the band and not just their own playing. "The band sucks, but I sound good" is an egocentric attitude that cannot be permitted. It usually takes professional attitudes from all members (hard to come by) or a strong, respected leader to take the talents of individuals and turn them into a really good band.

And seriously, switching over to rhythm instruments on some tunes is one way to help compulsive players/participators cope with not being needed in the arrangement 100% of the time. And other times, they simply need to learn to sit out -- or be made to do so. If a player can't understand this, they are not much of a musician -- find someone else.

-=tension & release=-


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(@classico)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 65
 

well, i don't know... a strong fearless leader could be the right thing for some bands but i think that if you let everyone in on decision making you'r making them think about the band and not just about themselves... which will solve alot of ego problems...

i suggest to keep it simple and just talk to the man, shere your thoughts with him and be honest (also encourge him to be honest with himself, it's always better to be aware of your true situation) keep it out in the open because your band is not the place for secrets, it will eventually make evryone allot happeir if you stay true and open about your thoughts and it will encourge them to do the same and open up to you. bear in mind that you don't want to piss everyone off so you want to remind them that if they want to get better they should take what you say as constructive critcisem, also say only things that you think will help them get better don't just go out on statments like "you play this really bad", give people the tools to get better and tell them "you could play this one allot better if you just..." get my point?

also note that this are my thoughts, i've been on a couple of bands and this is (i think) a much more enjoyable method of managing and being part of a band.
and in the end, you really want to have some fun right? :D
good luck


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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5134
 

Yep, half the battle is knowing when not to play....

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


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 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

One of the guys I play with was in a group recently with the same problem. They had a harp player that had to play every note in every song and it got old really quick. He ended up quitting, for several reasons one being the harp player.

I guess talking to him would be a good start, but it may not be that easy.

I'm not sure democracies in a band environment work well. I'm sure in certain situations it would be most of the time someone has to step and take the leadership role otherwise you will flounder trying to be everything for everybody.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@jerboa)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 79
 

One thing about 'flavor' instruments, is that it is no fun to stand around for half a set until you are needed for that one song. It isn't an experience that main instruments have very often (hey, bass player why don't you sit out these next 2 songs...)

Can you find other things for your harp player to do when the harp isn't needed? Can he sing at all? Maybe use him as a backup singer. Adding the rhythm instruments isn't a bad idea either. Basically, just finding something so that he can feel involved in the music when the harp isn't needed.

For myself, I am mainly a sax player. In my band, out of a book of 100+ songs, I think we have maybe 12 that have large sax parts. The rest of the time, I provide vocals (backup or lead on a few songs), and the odd maraca/tamborine/etc. flavor rhythm. Granted...I've done this myself, with the understanding that if it doesn't fit our leader will tell me (and I remind her of that every practice :) )

There are two kinds of people in this world:
Those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and those who don't


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 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Or the easier solution...lose the harp!!

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@fingerbanger)
Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 22
 

I know a few people like your harp player. Played with a few people like that. I agree that knowing when not to play is half the battle. Someone is going to have to tell him to cool it or get rid of him.
Here are a few things that could apply to both veteran and begining bands. I found it on the internet so please take it with a grain of salt.

*36 Rules For Bands*
1. Never start a trio with a married couple.
2. Your manager's not helping you. Fire him/her.
3. Before you sign a record deal, look up the word “recoupable” in the dictionary.
4. No one cares who you've opened for.
5. A string section does not make your songs sound any more “important”.
6. If your band has gone through more than 4 bass players, it's time to break up.
7. When you talk on stage you are never funny.
8. If you sound like another band, don't act like you're unfamiliar with their music (”Oh does Rage Against The Machine also do rap-rock with political lyrics?”)
9. Asking a crowd how they're doing is just amplified small talk. Don't do it.
10. Don't say your video's being played if it's only on the Austin Music Network.
11. When you sign to a major label, claim to have inked the best contract ever. Mention “artistic freedom” and “a guaranteed 3 record deal”.
12. When you get dropped insist that it was the worst contract ever and you asked to be let go.
13. Never name a song after your band.
14. Never name your band after a song.
15. When a drummer brings in his own songs and asks to perform one of them, begin looking for a new drummer IMMEDIATELY.
16. Never enter a “battle of the bands” contest. If you do you're already a loser.
17. Learn to recognize scary word pairings: “rock opera”, “white rapper”, “blues jam”, “swing band”, “open mike”, etc.
18. Drummers can take off their shirts or they can wear gloves, but not both.
19. Listen, either break it to your parents or we will; it's rock ‘n' roll, not a soccer game. They've gotta stop coming to your shows.
20. It's not a “showcase”. It's a gig that doesn't pay.
21. No one cares that you have a web site.
22. Getting a tattoo is like sewing platform shoes to your feet.
23. Don't hire a publicist.
24. Playing in San Marcos & Alpine doesn't mean you're on tour.
25. Don't join a cover band that plays Bush songs. In fact, don't join a cover band.
26. Although they come in different styles and colours, electric guitars all sound the same. Why do you keep changing them between songs?
27. Don't stop your set to ask that beers be brought up. That's what girlfriends/boyfriends and lead singers are for!
28. If you use a smoke machine your music sucks.
29. We can tell the difference between a professionally produced album cover and one you made with the iMac your mom got for Christmas.
30. Remember, if blues solos are so difficult, why can so many 16 year olds play them?
31. If you ever take a publicity photo, destroy it. You may never know where or when it will turn up.
32. Cut your hair, but do not shave your head.
33. Pierce your nose, but not your eyebrow.
34. Do not wear shorts onstage. Or a suit. Or a hat.
35. Rock oxymorons; “major label interest”, “demo deal”,” blues genius”, “$500 guarantee”, and “Fastball's second hit”.
36. 3 things that are never coming back: a)gongs, b)headbands, and c)playing slide guitar with a beer bottle.

Let that boy boogie woogie, cuz' it in em' and it got to come out. -John Lee Hooker-
There is no substitute for experience. So get out there and break some strings on stage. -F.B.-


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

I like number 26.

Good, successful bands are not democracies, but usually led by one or two strong personalities who know what they want. Even if lead by only two, chances are those two will have a falling out at some point. We have a lot of famous examples among good bands in which everyone thought the members were "best friends" ... 'til that nasty break-up. Same story other and over.

Unless you just goofing around, a band is a business. Businesses without leadership do not succeed. Business without willing followers do not succeed. It is so much easier to be a solo act.

-=tension & release=-


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(@noteboat)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

The bands that I've been in have done one of two things:

1. Been a democracy. Everybody gets a vote. I don't care for this musically... I think it's because a camel is a horse designed by committee. When a band tries to please everyone all the time, it ends up not being very good.

2. Been a dictatorship and made great music.

Every good band has only one musical leader - even bands who say they don't. What they really mean (even if they don't realize it) is that their leader is so good he or she is invisible - the truly great band leaders make their vision seem like a consensus. But every tune has their stamp on it, and it works because of it.

I like Fingerbanger's list. But #25 was written by an "artiste" without a mortgage. Cover bands - at least the good ones - make money; all original acts do showcases (see #20) :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Here are some more band rules:
1) Don't misspell any words in your band's name. Many bands opt to switch the letter 'I' for the letter 'y'. This is cool if you're into everyone with 1/8 to 1/6 a brain assuming that you are a crappy jock/rap/metal band. For instance, Limp Bizkit, Strait Up, and Korn are all these type of bands. Are any of them good? Check and mate.

2) Avoid using food products in your band's name. Chances are you'll misspell it anyways. Also, chances are you'll pick some crappy food over a tasty one.

3) Don't wear your band's own shirts. No exceptions or excuses accepted. Don't think the "but I'm on tour and we haven't been able to wash our clothes, it's the only thing clean I had to wear" story is gonna fly… wear the dirty shirt, you're a rocker my friend.

4) Don't play reggae unless you are in Bad Brains.

5) Cowboy hats are for cowboys only. That is why they are called cowboy hats. You aren't Madonna nor are you trend setting. And unless your main transportation is a horse just don't wear a cowboy hat, or you're a total poser cowboy.

6) This one here is a no brainer and it's mainly, but not solely, directed towards the ska bands. DO NOT insert the name of your genre, or something related to your genre into your band's name. You don't see any good bands attempt this. (except Metallica, but they have songs about satan so it's cool) The best solution to this problem is to not start a ska band in the first place, cos not only are ska bands just itching to break this rule and prove their dorkdom, but nobody's scoring gash with a ska band anyway.

7) Avoid using the words theory, project, or plan in the title of your band name.

8) Don't play funk. Don't even joke about playing funk.

9) Mc Hammer pants aren't cool anymore, don't wear them. Yeah, Fred, we're talking to you.

10) Visors on band members (or anyone for that matter) earn yourself a bitch slap. If you have your visor sideways, upside down, or both your penalty increases to additional groin area pummeling.

11) For shows, props are generally a bad idea. They usually stimulate the audience's what-the-hell sensors. If you do decide to use one, make sure it's small and you don't spend most of your time playing with it. Unless of course you are the Beastie Boys, it's 1986, you're opening for Madonna, and you have a giant two story penis on stage.

12) If your band has a cozy fan base of say, five, skip out on the huge rock star banner. It is key to grasp the idea that people don't operate on the if-they-have-a-banner-they-have-to-be-good mentality.

13) Never ever have all members wear the same shirt. This is a ridiculous concept and should not be explained.

14) If you're playing your hometown, don't say, "What's up (town)". This phrase is reserved for the out of town and/or touring bands. You might make them mad by stealing their pep speech.

15) If you're playing outside of your hometown, don't say, "What's up (town)". This phrase screams shoot me in the face.

16) Preaching is for church, shut up and rock.

17) Cordless guitars are only ok if your first name is Eddie, your last name is Van Halen, and you kick ass at playing a guitar with a power drill. If this is not the case, don't venture there.

18) Playing your guitar up by your neck makes you look like a geek. Period. If you need an example, take a cue from a few of the greats… look at Slash's guitar height, or maybe take a peek at where Duff let the bass rest, or possibly look at just how low Krist Noviselic rode his rock axe.

19) If you play bass make sure you have only 4 strings. If you play guitar make sure you only have 6 or less. If you play drums know that if your set looks like something Tommy Lee would play while hanging upside down, you are a jackass. You don't need 12 cymbals fruitcake.

20) Gold hardware and/or wood stained anything is a no-no. Ditto for neon anything.

21) White cordless mics were used by Vanilla Ice, don't travel the same road.

22) Unless you are an immortal rock god, spitting or throwing water into the crowd instantaneously eliminates any chance you had at getting laid that night. It may ensure you getting your ass kicked though.

23) Covering new wave songs, oldies, or current Top 40 songs means your band sucks mad horse dong. The "hey wouldn't it be funny to cover that N'sync song and make it punk" idea is about as funny as a knee to the crotch.

24) If all of your songs are about how much you miss your girlfriend, do us all a favor and instead of touring, stay home geek.

25) Kick out the fat guy, he's the reason you are never gonna be big.

26) If you're fat, kick yourself out, you're blowing it for the rest of the band.

26) If you're a metal band, make sure that you are a metal band before you say you are a metal band. A pretty fool proof test is to ask yourself if you think Rob Halford would be into your band back in the days when Judas Priest was the shit.

27) If you have a DJ make sure he at least has two turntables. We actually recommend no DJ, but if you gotta go there...

28) We take that back. No DJ's. This DJ in bands stuff has to stop now.

29) Shave. Beards = blowing it.

30) Don't wear backwards baseball caps, unless you're the Beastie Boys.

31) Use a pick. If you play slap bass you need your fingers broken.

32) Don't tell the crowd what they can and can't do. You're not in Fugazi. If you want to be a cop, get off the stage and go join the police academy champ.

33) Unless you're the headliner you shouldn't be playing hour and a half sets, keep it short. The idea that, "Hey these people don't seem to like us, maybe they just didn't like those songs, let's play some more until we play one they like" is never accurate. Get off the stage. We want to go home.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

Chris -- Sound like you've got some serious musical baggage going on there. Were you attacked by a calliope during childhood?

-=tension & release=-


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 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

gnease,

I have more than musical baggage but glad you noticed...I unfortunately didn't write those I got them off a website years ago but after I laughed pretty good there are alot of those I can agree with, so I guess I do have musical baggage or something.

It's funny how so many people were aroused by that list, even though I posted in in jest.

I may be warped, well I am but I still think the list is funny.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

Even though at first I thought you wrote it, I didn't take it seriously. The only thing surprising is that one part that got by the mods.

-=tension & release=-


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

I saw it too. Having lived with teenagers for years and being friends with a bunch on Facebook and seeing what they post, never mind remembering my own (continuing?) adolescence, it didn't impress me much. The term is, however, disrespectful to women at best.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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