Articles Do The Tighten Up - Communication Breakdown

Do The Tighten Up - Communication Breakdown

posted: 03/09/09 @ 05:45:pm

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Do The Tighten Up – Communication Breakdown

Rehearsals are about learning or writing new tunes, tightening up your existing repertoire, and working out the specifics of how your band plays together. Naturally, this takes time, but you can eliminate many frustrated hours if everyone speaks the same language, or at very least, if one person can interpret for the rest of you. If you’ve ever been a part of, or witnessed a rehearsal of trained professional players, you know how quickly things can happen—an entire show’s worth of material can be perfected in a matter of 3 hours. Yeah, the skill level may be higher than your average garage band, but it’s also a result of having a shared frame of reference. When the band leader says: “Take it 4 bars before the modulation, and this time catch the kick on the “e” of 3—and let’s try it with a 12/8 feel,” everyone knows what the hell he means, and jumps to it.

Okay, so it’s unlikely that your band will enroll at Berklee College Of Music, but it’s a good idea to sit down together and develop a standardized glossary of musical terms. First, make sure everyone relates to the form of a tune the same way; terms like intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, interlude, tag, and ending are all standard. Make sure everyone is clear about what each section of a tune is called, this way you can go right to it to fix things without having to play through the entire tune every time.

Remember the major scale—“Do, Re, Mi,” etc? Every note in the scale gets a number—1-8, with the in-between notes being called “sharp 4” or “flat 7” etc. Use these numbers to communicate chord progressions, chord structures, harmony parts, lead lines—any pitch-related information can be described this way. If your song is in E, the first step is to number the E major scale: E = 1, F# = 2, G# = 3, A = 4, B = 5, C# = 6, D# = 7. If the song goes from E to G then A, you’d describe the progression this way: “1 to flat 3 to 4” (G is flat 3 because it is one half-step below the natural 3 of the E major scale). You’ll be amazed at how quickly information can be exchanged using this system.

It’s important to understand the chords in a song—more than just the letters. If you call something an “A chord”, do you mean A major, A minor, A7, Amin7, A “power chord”? Be specific. If you don’t know what all those different chords are—learn them!

Learn about rhythms. Understand the difference between quarter notes, eighths, triplets, sixteenths; know what different feels are called: a shuffle, a half-time feel, double-time feel, straight eighths, swing eighths, etc.

<rant> Some people think music theory is lame, that it’s for geeks that can’t play—as if knowledge somehow robs you of your ability to “feel the music.” That’s George W. Bush logic right there—the kind of thinking that drives the dumbing down of our world. Have you seen the movie Idiocracy? At this rate, you won’t have to wait 500 years for it to come true. Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s fucking ignorance! </rant>