Playing covers vs. playing originals... or both?

MikeM

Platinum Member
Original vs cover matters a great deal if you're trying to compose your own part. I'm not talking about unleashing a barrage of chops willy-nilly, but choices like whether something should be half time, common time, or switching them up half way through a verse ... Those are compositional elements one can decide on an original in a way that doesn't work on a cover. One is sticking to the script while the other is writing it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The whole creativity thing...it seems like some drummers need to be able to feel that they can be creative whenever they damn well please. Why this requires an original composition is beyond me. Creativity can be very nuanced, and doesn't have to smack a person in the face.

What is the purpose of the creativity in the first place? Is it solely for creativeness and a sense of freedom alone? That seems silly.

Is the creative aspect needed so the drummer can change things on the fly if they want? That doesn't seem very considerate to pull out onstage with no notice to anyone.

So why does a song have to have an element where the drummer can get creative at any given point?

What is the definition of creativity anyway?

I think people are swapping terms here. I think people really want to have the option to be spontaneous, and are terming it creativity. While I think it's true that spontanaiety is creative by default, I don't feel that spontaniety is required to be creative.

My point is that cover or original, you have to pick your places where spontanaiety would work. You just can't put it in anywhere....unless it's so nuanced that it doesn't rock the boat. And if you can be spontaneous without rocking the boat, all's good. As long as the boat isn't being rocked, be creative and spontaneous to your hearts desire. Again, it doesn't matter if it's original or cover, they're all songs
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I see the classical analogy come up and I don't think it's a fair analogy. Classical music is similar to jazz, where groups play their own arrangements of a song.
The gist of it is this: the model in classical is one where a composer works in solitude writing the parts and defining what the players are going to play. It's typically very structured and coordinated.

Contrasted with jazz where only a loose framework is established with the players filling the considerable gaps.

Of course there are cases where deviation happens, but as a general rule I think this holds up well enough. In classical, you almost never have individual players leaving the reservation in the same way they do in jazz.

IMO, creativity exists in many forms and spans a wide range.

Some creative effort is front-loaded in the composition process with individual expression and improvisation being seriously frowned upon. Even if the composition is your own and you're playing it the same way every night (Rush, for example), I can't bring myself to think they're being any less creative - they're merely delivering it to you in a way true to how they conceived it.

At the other end of the spectrum, some groups don't define much even while recording it, and don't feel beholden to the recorded version when playing it live, instead leaving it open to creative interpretation every time.

Both methodologies are cool by me. I couldn't call one more creative than the other, but they are definitely creative in different ways - and at different times in the process.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
Both are equally valid philosophies or art.

Take, for example, Ludwig's Ninth vs a jazz improv solo over the form of the tune.

You certainly could listen to the Ninth more than once without feeling like the creativity has been drained from the piece.
I see the classical analogy come up and I don't think it's a fair analogy. Classical music is similar to jazz, where groups play their own arrangements of a song.

You can listen to Horowitz, Ashkenazy, and Kempff play the same solo piano sonata by Beethoven and you can instantly tell who's playing by their interpretation and arrangement of the song. The differences may be more subtle than a jazz arrangement, but they are still there. People without a classical background always seem to think that everytime a musician plays Op. 106, it is the exact same arrangement, played in the same way.

Back to covers: when most people think of covers and cover bands, we think of people playing classic rock songs from the 70s and 80s exactly (or very close) to how they were played by the artist. I know a great deal of people are interested in seeing those bands, and I don't want to discount the work and talent that goes into them, but they do not interest me. For example, I cannot stand the Rolling Stones, and I care even less for bands trying to sound like the Rolling Stones. Yet, I recently saw a group playing their own arrangements of Rolling Stones songs, and I actually enjoyed it. Not because they are more talented or more creative than a band playing covers, but because there was an authenticity to it, the songs were arranged to fit into the band's style and it allowed the band to have a cohesive sound. With cover bands, they seem to stretch themselves to play so much material accross a wide range of styles (which absolutely takes talent and creativity), but they never develop a style of their own.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
You're missing the point, spontaneity is another shade of creativity.

A part you create in your basement and parrot live isn't spontaneous, its planned. Past tense creative.

If you play the same solo note for note, night after night is that creative, even if you came up with it all in your basement? To the ppl hearing it for the first time yes, but ppl who saw last nights show... no.
Both are equally valid philosophies or art.

Take, for example, Ludwig's Ninth vs a jazz improv solo over the form of the tune.

You wouldn't say someone was "planning" or "parroting" the ninth. Using that word shows an inherent bias as it is hardly complimentary. Rather, Beethoven wrote the ninth and others perform it.

You certainly could listen to the Ninth more than once without feeling like the creativity has been drained from the piece.

If one adopts your idea then writing a book is "past tense creative" as well, no? How about a painting or a screenplay?

So, while spontaneity might be valued in certain art forms. It is NOT the same as creativity because many creative works of art were slaved over by their creators for hundreds of hours.

The "jazz" POV is equally valid. Here the performer has added compositional duties. He is allowed to create within the confines of the structure. Is it better or worse? It certainly depends upon the skill and sensibilities of the performer/composer.

There are incredible musicians playing covers. Just as there are terrible musicians playing originals.

It's like arguing whether red is better than blue. It's totally subjective. Just pick a color and get on with it.
 

dmacc

Platinum Member
Shouldn't confuse musicality / professionalism and style within the context of creativity.

Just because someone wants to be creative does not make them an overplaying / non-listening / non-team player. Just the opposite in fact - if you want to be successful at it. For those that can't parse this out - you're in trouble.

Some genre's leave the door open more to creativity than others. Regardless of original music or not.

Playing covers to me means playing the same freaking songs a million / gazillion times over that have been done a million / gazillion times. No song to me is good enough to want to keep doing it. You can screw with an arrangement as much as you desire. You can come up with as many different "patterns" for "parts"" as you wish..... Regardless, if you're playing the cover you'll eventually need to make it sound somewhat representative of the recorded track the people are used to or many aren't going to take to it for very long. People want to hear a cover band because they know the material.

Playing originals - that not many are interested in hearing - opens up the door to you being the creator. It has absolutely nothing to do with not listening, not being a team player and not being musical. If anything - your responsibility to be able to do all of that becomes evident quickly if you can't.

If you're confusing this with style of music - you've somewhat lost your way.

Some music opens the door to more creativity. If you think Jazz is anything short of not listening, not a team player, not musical. Please go do your homework.
 

FritzDrummer

Senior Member
You're missing the point, spontaneity is another shade of creativity.

A part you create in your basement and parrot live isn't spontaneous, its planned. Past tense creative.

If you play the same solo note for note, night after night is that creative, even if you came up with it all in your basement? To the ppl hearing it for the first time yes, but ppl who saw last nights show... no.
So you just proved my point that it was creative...? When you initially wrote it, it was creative.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Creativity...say you thought of something creative in your basement. It's creative because it was really clever in some way.

When that same exact clever part is used musically, in an appropriate place at a live show, I'm thinking it still should be a creative part. Not spontaneous to the player anymore, but still creative and clever in the same exact way. People are hearing it for the first time. They don't know it's not spontaneous. It sounds like it to them, because it's new to them.

Creativity and spontanaiety don't necessarily have to accompany each other all the time.

For the purposes of this discussion as it relates to the topic on hand, my take-away (sarcastically) is that in original music, the drummer can do whatever they want, whenever they want. In a cover band, the drummer is bound by death to play the part exactly like the other guy did it. :)

Which obviously is not true at all. Both drummers likely follow the same general guidelines, don't step on the singer, blah blah blah.

My biggest creative limitation is ME, not the "cover" songs I play. Which are really interpretations unique to our particular band, the way we think they should be played. I get sick of my own ideas, that's no fault of the music I play.

Original music is like a blank canvas. You can put whatever you want on it.

Cover band music is more like paint by number, you still paint like the original guy, but you have a certain plan....but you can still insert a lot of extra stuff and don't necessarily have to follow the lines exactly as laid out, if you know how to paint on your own.

The songwriter is irrelevant to me as a performer. I base my part on however the other guys are playing their part, which isn't always exact to the original. The song structure is just a skeleton, a general guideline. It's up to the musicians to flesh it out in fine style.
 
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KamaK

Platinum Member
If you play the same solo note for note, night after night is that creative, even if you came up with it all in your basement?
As Mr. Warhol so kindly established in the 70's with a bunch of pictures of soup cans.... Yes. In a bizarro way in which neither you nor I can fully comprehend, apparently it 'is' creative.

Creativity debates extend far past simple repetition into fringe areas, like the work of minimalists like Phil Glass and Lou Reed's album consisting entirely of guitar feedback.

I've learned to respect another man's 'creativity' in the same way I respect that his drum-kit is awesome, his wife is beautiful, and his children are smart.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
I have to disagree here slightly. Creativity is creativity whether done in a basement, a recording studio, or on stage live. Was Queen not creative when they came out with Bohemian Rhapsody because they weren't live? Was Jump by Van Halen not creative for using a Synth instead of an electric guitar because they did not do it live? I personally feel creativity is creativity no matter where it happens or whether or not it is rehearsed before hand. I just don't feel spontaneity determines creativity.

You're missing the point, spontaneity is another shade of creativity.

A part you create in your basement and parrot live isn't spontaneous, its planned. Past tense creative.

If you play the same solo note for note, night after night is that creative, even if you came up with it all in your basement? To the ppl hearing it for the first time yes, but ppl who saw last nights show... no.
 

FritzDrummer

Senior Member
Spontaneity by default is creative, creativity.

When you work something out in your basement, you've 'created' something, but parroting it over and over isn't really being creative while performing.

When playing the same part over and over there's a fine line between you creating the part, or someone else. Playing a rehearsed part vs coming up with something 'on the spot' is like comparing fresh bread to old bread, the old bread is tighter for sure.






... or jazz. Masturbate with the melody.
I have to disagree here slightly. Creativity is creativity whether done in a basement, a recording studio, or on stage live. Was Queen not creative when they came out with Bohemian Rhapsody because they weren't live? Was Jump by Van Halen not creative for using a Synth instead of an electric guitar because they did not do it live? I personally feel creativity is creativity no matter where it happens or whether or not it is rehearsed before hand. I just don't feel spontaneity determines creativity.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Does creativity have to be spontaneous?
Spontaneity by default is creative, creativity.

When you work something out in your basement, you've 'created' something, but parroting it over and over isn't really being creative while performing.

When playing the same part over and over there's a fine line between you creating the part, or someone else. Playing a rehearsed part vs coming up with something 'on the spot' is like comparing fresh bread to old bread, the old bread is tighter for sure.




If I felt like jerking-off on stage for 2 hours, I'd join another hippie jam band or prog-art project.
... or jazz. Masturbate with the melody.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I see cover bands the same way I see corporate restaurants; they are super professional, busy, and provide a quality product,

Conversely, an original band is just like opening an independent restaurant: it's often more exciting and creatively satisfying,
To further the analogy...

That independent restaurant has a 90% chance of being closed in 6 months, filing for bankruptcy and owing a crapload of back taxes because the owners thought all they had to to was cook some food and people would flock to their restaurant.

If they would have been trained in the corporate environment, they would have at least stood a chance.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
You bring up a good point. Does creativity have to be spontaneous?
Creativity doesn't require spontaneity. Does it?
In my examples above... yes, they're all spontaneous.. One is spontaneous in my basement, one is spontaneous during the sound check, and one is spontaneous on the stage.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Indeed.

When I want to be creative with a cover band, I go home, work out the parts, bring my parts to rehearsal, and see if my creativity trips up the other members.

When I want to be creative with an original act, I feel less inclined to introduce new things at rehearsal, and will try stuff live as long as I know it doesn't require other members to be accommodating and change what they play.

If I felt like jerking-off on stage for 2 hours, I'd join another hippie jam band or prog-art project. There are appropriate venues for going on creative expeditions.

All three of the above scenarios are "creativity", and none of it needs to piss off other members or the audience.
You bring up a good point. Does creativity have to be spontaneous?

It would seem to be judging from what I'm gathering here.

But it doesn't have to be. Like you said, take the creativity home and work on it and see if it works.

Creativity doesn't require spontaneity. Does it?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
But if it can't? Being part of the team trumps individual personal satisfaction every day, in my world anyway.
Indeed.

When I want to be creative with a cover band, I go home, work out the parts, bring my parts to rehearsal, and see if my creativity trips up the other members.

When I want to be creative with an original act, I feel less inclined to introduce new things at rehearsal, and will try stuff live as long as I know it doesn't require other members to be accommodating and change what they play.

If I felt like jerking-off on stage for 2 hours, I'd join another hippie jam band or prog-art project. There are appropriate venues for going on creative expeditions.

All three of the above scenarios are "creativity", and none of it needs to piss off other members or the audience.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I can certainly be creative in my jam band because we don't even know what we're gonna play until we actually sit down to play it. We've been doing this for the past two years. We all agreed that the band was for personal development as a musician, and we've all become quite apt at coming up with something out of nothing. If somebody wants to play gigs and do all that other stuff musicians wanna do, then we can join another band with a group of people who want to do that. I have a cover band that I play the gigs with, I jam with the jam band, I jam with some older guys once a week playing older C&W / Folk type covers, then I also jam every other week with some guys who like to play harder rock tunes like in the vein of Sabbath and Judas Priest, etc.

I would recommend a jam band like this to any developing player who wants to get better and more creative. Drop the gigging idea and just jam with no songlist or agenda. Get a group together, even just 3 people, and just jam.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I guess I'm just in an ornery mood lately, but I have to take issue with the so called lack of creativity that's being pinned onto the whole cover band thing. It mildly gets my goat on a few different levels. Maybe they are unjustified, feel free to blast, but here they are:

When I hear people say they want to be able to be creative onstage, and that they can't do it with covers, I feel that if they can't do it with covers, they can't do it with originals. Most bands don't do covers note for note, not even close. I know I play the songs how I would have recorded it, without losing the elements that made it work in the first place. But note for note? No. IMO there's just as much room for creativity in a cover tune than in an original tune.

Also when I hear people say they want to be "creative" on the bandstand....I have to wonder if they go off into their own world and are not team playing anymore. If I have the urge to get creative....when no one is expecting it....how will that impact the other players? Drums don't float over the top of things, if they move, the whole song moves. I assume being creative must automatically mean that whatever is being creatively played, will fit in with everyone else. Just like in any other song right? Even a cover song. I don't see any difference.

Another thing, being creative, to me is a single person thing. On a bandstand, I feel a team mentality works best. So being creative comes at a team cost....unless the person knows how to satisfy his team....and themselves...at the same time. Nothing wrong if that can be done. But if it can't? Being part of the team trumps individual personal satisfaction every day, in my world anyway.
 
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