Covering Songs that Have Percussion

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
So, I play in a 5 piece band. Bass/drums/keys/guitar/lead singer. Some of the songs we do have percussion intros (ie, bongos/congas/cowbell/etc).

One example is Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Allright" which of course has that conga and/or bongo thing with the piano intro. After some trial and error trying to simulate it on toms, or hi-hat or whatever, and just decided to play a funky beat over the intro. (Sort of similar to the feel of Levon Helm's "Cripple Creek" beat.) Yeah I know that sounds weird. Trying to simulate congas on the toms and/or tom rims never sounded right to me when I tried it and nor did I want to haul around a set of congas or bongos, if even portable ones. It seems to have worked out fine playing a funky beat.

Another example is "Rapper's Delight" which has the congas/cowbell percussion intro. Same thing- after trying it different ways, I play a funky beat incorcorating the cowbell. It seems to work fine, and we recorded our demo with me doing this.

Now we are considering the "Cheerleader" song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGflUbPQfW8 and this song has lots of congas, the beat is often just bass drum and conga with no snare (so it sound to me). Again I'm wondering what would sound best. Quarter notes on the bass drum and some rack toms/rims? Again, never had much luck simulating congas with rack toms. I've wondered about getting a set of those portable congas that are pretty much just the heads, but it's something else to lug....

Wondering what are some approaches you guys take when doing these kinds kinds of tunes when there is no percussionist in your band...


Thanks...
 

Macarina

Silver Member
But YOU are the percussionist.

I am finding these scenario's exciting and scary at the same time. In fact I have something very similar, but don't want to derail your thread.

My trying to accomplish something like this is sit behind the kit and just play the part over and over and play different parts of your kit. Play different beats.

I might go to youtube to see if someone has done something similar. Usually that's a whole lotta nothing, but ways to show you how NOT to play it. Maybe watch some live versions of the performance. I've seen a lot of bands take different approaches to classic songs and many times they are just as cool or better.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I would use my snare drum with the snares turned off. Accented rim shots.

Listen to "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood. I realized that in this song the drummer probably uses a timbale,
but the snare drum with snares turned off will give you a very Latin, conga feel.

If I had to play a lot of songs that needed conga and bongos, I'd get a digital pad and use electronic sounds.

.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I would use my snare drum with the snares turned off. Accented rim shots.

Listen to "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood. I realized that in this song the drummer probably uses a timbale,
but the snare drum with snares turned off will give you a very Latin, conga feel.

If I had to play a lot of songs that needed conga and bongos, I'd get a digital pad and use electronic sounds.

.
Great idea, I should have thought of this. Will try the snare drum with snares off/rimshots. Thank you!!
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
But YOU are the percussionist.

I am finding these scenario's exciting and scary at the same time. In fact I have something very similar, but don't want to derail your thread.

My trying to accomplish something like this is sit behind the kit and just play the part over and over and play different parts of your kit. Play different beats.

I might go to youtube to see if someone has done something similar. Usually that's a whole lotta nothing, but ways to show you how NOT to play it. Maybe watch some live versions of the performance. I've seen a lot of bands take different approaches to classic songs and many times they are just as cool or better.
Thanks for the ideas!
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I would use my snare drum with the snares turned off. Accented rim shots.

Listen to "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood. I realized that in this song the drummer probably uses a timbale,
but the snare drum with snares turned off will give you a very Latin, conga feel.

If I had to play a lot of songs that needed conga and bongos, I'd get a digital pad and use electronic sounds.

.
This is what I usually do if I need to emulate something that's played on latin percussion. I'll turn the snare off and play with my hands (it might hurt at first, especially as you do rim shots to create different sounds), or sticks if I need a little more voume or punch. Playing the snare with your hands will allow you create many different sounds from the one drum, will cover the bongo/conga parts, and it looks pretty cool too!
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
This is what I usually do if I need to emulate something that's played on latin percussion. I'll turn the snare off and play with my hands (it might hurt at first, especially as you do rim shots to create different sounds), or sticks if I need a little more voume or punch. Playing the snare with your hands will allow you create many different sounds from the one drum, will cover the bongo/conga parts, and it looks pretty cool too!
You guys rock! I don't think my hands would hold up doing this, BUT it occurs to me I could use "hand sticks" on a snare with the snares off: http://www.steveweissmusic.com/product/regal-tip-conga-sticks/multi-use-drum-sticks
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I've often played the opening of "Feeling Alright" with my hands on the snare, snares off, conga style, including slaps and accents. Then I quickly pick up the sticks and switch on the snare for the lead-in to the chorus. This only works because we do the first verse quietly, just the piano riff, vocal and 'congas'.

On most other songs with percussion I just ignore the percussion, and the audience never seems to notice.

On a similar tack, our band has been learning the entire "Rumours" album by Fleetwood Mac, and there are clearly some drum overdubs in some songs - for example in "You make loving fun" the basic beat continues while there are low tom accents at odd times. I tried doing both, but it messes up the feel. I now just play the basic beat, perhaps with an extra kick or two, and again, no-one notices. They're all focused on the lead singer.

Another example is the cowbell in "Honky Tonk Woman" Does anyone play that as well as the drum beat, or do you get someone else in the band to play the cowbell for the intro?
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I've often played the opening of "Feeling Alright" with my hands on the snare, snares off, conga style, including slaps and accents. Then I quickly pick up the sticks and switch on the snare for the lead-in to the chorus. This only works because we do the first verse quietly, just the piano riff, vocal and 'congas'.

On most other songs with percussion I just ignore the percussion, and the audience never seems to notice.

On a similar tack, our band has been learning the entire "Rumours" album by Fleetwood Mac, and there are clearly some drum overdubs in some songs - for example in "You make loving fun" the basic beat continues while there are low tom accents at odd times. I tried doing both, but it messes up the feel. I now just play the basic beat, perhaps with an extra kick or two, and again, no-one notices. They're all focused on the lead singer.

Another example is the cowbell in "Honky Tonk Woman" Does anyone play that as well as the drum beat, or do you get someone else in the band to play the cowbell for the intro?
Thanks for the ideas.

I used to play "Honky Tonk Woman." I used to try to play the cowbell with the left hand, mounted on the hi-hat stand. Along with everything else. I think I eventually just played a few bars of the cowbell alone and then dropped it. Our band plays "Blurred Lines." I've tried all kinds of combinations...cowbell with the right hand, along with snare/bass but not hats; trying to add the hats with the left hand, etc. I've seen videos online where guys pull off a great version of it. Our lead singer doesn't want to play the cowbell for that song. The last few times we played it out I just dropped the cowbell entirely and played the hats/bass/snare.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
So, I play in a 5 piece band. Bass/drums/keys/guitar/lead singer. Some of the songs we do have percussion intros (ie, bongos/congas/cowbell/etc).

One example is Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Allright" which of course has that conga and/or bongo thing with the piano intro. After some trial and error trying to simulate it on toms, or hi-hat or whatever, and just decided to play a funky beat over the intro. (Sort of similar to the feel of Levon Helm's "Cripple Creek" beat.) Yeah I know that sounds weird. Trying to simulate congas on the toms and/or tom rims never sounded right to me when I tried it and nor did I want to haul around a set of congas or bongos, if even portable ones. It seems to have worked out fine playing a funky beat.

Another example is "Rapper's Delight" which has the congas/cowbell percussion intro. Same thing- after trying it different ways, I play a funky beat incorcorating the cowbell. It seems to work fine, and we recorded our demo with me doing this.

Now we are considering the "Cheerleader" song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGflUbPQfW8 and this song has lots of congas, the beat is often just bass drum and conga with no snare (so it sound to me). Again I'm wondering what would sound best. Quarter notes on the bass drum and some rack toms/rims? Again, never had much luck simulating congas with rack toms. I've wondered about getting a set of those portable congas that are pretty much just the heads, but it's something else to lug....

Wondering what are some approaches you guys take when doing these kinds kinds of tunes when there is no percussionist in your band...


Thanks...
My cover band plays Feelin alright. I play a conga beat on my 10 and 12" toms when the drum kit is not playing or is less prominent. In fact I start the song with the conga beat on the toms immediately following the previous song and the band gets into it when ready. It never fails to get heads bobbing and toes tapping with just that beat.

For me I listen to what is prominent. If it isa a cowbell or congas or whatever I try to emulate it with what I have at my disposal.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I play Honky Tonk Woman all the time and use cowbell throughout except during the chorus and guitar solo. I love nailing the intro like the record.
 

Dignan

Silver Member
My band plays Feelin Alright and Honky Tonk. I've never tried the snare (with snares off) but will this week at practice. We play the "Traffic" version of the song which I don't think has congas or at least they aren't as prominent.

For Honky Tonk Woman, I play the cowbell pattern with my right and and keep 8th notes on the hats with my foot. As Bo said, the cowbell beat has to open this song up. Unmistakable
 

tcurtis

Junior Member
In my cover band, I've started incorporating electronics (spd-s) for the more involved percussion sections. Of course there's the hassle of ensuring it works throught the PA/House.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
This is what I usually do if I need to emulate something that's played on latin percussion. I'll turn the snare off and play with my hands (it might hurt at first, especially as you do rim shots to create different sounds), or sticks if I need a little more voume or punch. Playing the snare with your hands will allow you create many different sounds from the one drum, will cover the bongo/conga parts, and it looks pretty cool too!
Rim shots with hands on a snare are surprisingly painless, in some ways it's easier than playing congas. If you are careful there is a little gap, where your knuckles never touch the rim or the head, where as with an unrimmed instrument your knuckles will always make contact. It helps to have the proper profile and curved rim, though. You might want to tune it higher to lower the rim.
 

Holden

Member
I play Honky Tonk Woman all the time and use cowbell throughout except during the chorus and guitar solo. I love nailing the intro like the record.
Hi Matt,
Does that mean you are playing cowbell Instead of hi-hat for intro and verses? Or are you somehow playing both cowbell and hi-hat at the same time.

Also, do you speed up through the whole song like the record, or keep the tempo steady?

Thanks,
jeff
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Another example is the cowbell in "Honky Tonk Woman" Does anyone play that as well as the drum beat, or do you get someone else in the band to play the cowbell for the intro?
I feel the cowbell part makes that song and is essential, so I forego my HH during the whole song and just do the cowbell figure, even through the solo. The extra space and the simplicity of the part works well without a hi hat IMO.

But does your bass player lay out on the verses? Not many bass players lay out on the verses. Just like not many bass players play bass chords to "Red House".
 

Derek

Silver Member
Try snares off, cross sticking with your left hand. You can mess around with old bolero style stickings (double strokes, single strokes including rim shots, ping shots or various parts of the head or the rim itself). You can also switch how much damping you do to the head with your left hand. You may be surprised at how many diferent sounds you can get out of just your snare drum.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Another example is the cowbell in "Honky Tonk Woman" Does anyone play that as well as the drum beat, or do you get someone else in the band to play the cowbell for the intro?
You can't NOT have cowbell for the intro.

I play the intro cowbell pattern, and then switch to the hats for the rest of the song.

My band also plays Love Shack, and for that I play the cowbell in synch with the bass drum part in the verses. 1 - 3 - 1 - and-3 and so on.

And for songs that have a quiet ending...chimes baby, chimes!
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Hi Matt,
Does that mean you are playing cowbell Instead of hi-hat for intro and verses? Or are you somehow playing both cowbell and hi-hat at the same time.

Also, do you speed up through the whole song like the record, or keep the tempo steady?

Thanks,
jeff
Hi Jeff - yes, I am not playing the hi-hat when I'm playing the cowbell. There's enough going on with the other players that you don't really need to hear both the hi hat and the cowbell at the same time. The whole band is responsible for the groove so I let their parts happen without me further covering them up.

And no, I do not speed up throughout the song, I'm holding it steady all the way through. I might let it creep forward naturally, but for the most part I don't.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Just like not many bass players play bass chords to "Red House".
Isn't this the worst? This bass line is a giant pain to play, a real stretch over the fretboard, but such a cool part! And it works so well since the guitar playing "trades" with the vocals. Walking a basic blues is a corny-sounding substitute.

Our lead singer doesn't want to play the cowbell for that song. The last few times we played it out I just dropped the cowbell entirely and played the hats/bass/snare.
Here's hoping you'll get to drop the entire tune! :)

But seriously, if you do "invent" a part, in order to copy percussion parts (which is often necessary), don't forget that other players may also alter their parts, in which case, your well-copied groove may not work so well, musically. Be prepared to let it go if necessary, and play the hand you're dealt.

Btw, playing your snare with your hands, as you would a conga, is going to be quiet compared to sticks.
 
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