Tribute bands are the new symphonic orchestra

juheimbu

Junior Member
I've been thinking about this topic on and off for the last couple of years, and thought it would be interesting to see what folks here have to say about it. To be clear, I've had this thought on a number of occasions, but haven't really explored it in any depth.

This is what first got me started thinking in this direction:
Here in St. Louis, there's a group of musicians who put on various tribute shows throughout the years. The lineup changes from show to show, but the core stays generally the same, and there's LOTS of overlap. For example, they do a long run most years around Christmas of Pink Floyd tribute shows, called "El Monstero" which sell out most nights. They also do Led Zeppelin (Celebration Day) and The Rolling Stones (Street fighting Band).

About symphonic orchestras:
The traditional symphonic orchestra is dedicated to faithfully interpreting and recreating music written in the art music tradition. (I don't say "classical" here because it has a specific meaning, and doesn't correctly categorize all of the music performed by professional orchestras, whose repertoire does, indeed, include classical music, but also includes Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist, etc.) This music, in many cases, was written by someone who died many years ago, well before the advent of even primitive recording techniques could be brought to bear on their music. So, the orchestra performs the music as written, and the conductor helps shape the overall sound of the work, and imposes his or her own interpretation on the music.

About tribute bands:
Tribute bands, unlike the orchestra, focus on the music of one artist, exclusively, and from popular music, not art music. But, they are dedicated to the faithful recreation of music by this one artist, so much so that they will dress up to look like the artist, and even adopt the mannerisms of the artist on the stage. Tribute bands do not, generally, play from written music, but use recordings of the artist as their template for performance on stage.

So, what:
There are some clear differences, stylistically, and in the approach to perparation and performance, but I think tribute bands follow closely in the mold of the traditional orchestra in their outlook on music and how it should be performed or portrayed, in this way: they're both interested in faithfully recreating and interpreting music they did not write, and perhaps could not write.

I don't mean to say they're the same, by any means, but despite some of the stark differences I noted above, they have the same goal, and the goal is what drives them to practice, learn, and perform their various music.

It seems a bit half-baked as I read it through, but there it is. Thoughts?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
You're very correct, and wise to note the similarity!

That symphonic music is read from notation, and tribute bands use recordings, is more a matter of available technology. If audio and video recording technology were available when symphonic compositions were being composed, wouldn't A/V representations have been produced? In a sense, the conductor has been replaced by recordings.

But, they are dedicated to the faithful recreation of music by this one artist, so much so that they will dress up to look like the artist, and even adopt the mannerisms of the artist on the stage.
You could say this about symphonic music culture, too. Don't orchestras dress the part, and adopt the mannerisms of the orchestras that originally performed that music?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You could say this about symphonic music culture, too. Don't orchestras dress the part, and adopt the mannerisms of the orchestras that originally performed that music?
Well, I haven't really seen alot of powdered wigs and Eduardian clothing being used lately, though.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
It's a ridiculous assertion. You might as well say that a raw frankfurter is the new lobster thermidor, because they're both food.

Baroque, Romantic, and Impressionist music are all considered to be classical music, unless you want to assert that Bach, Beethoven and Debussy didn't compose classical music.

Ridiculous.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Well, I haven't really seen alot of powdered wigs and Eduardian clothing being used lately, though.
Sorry, I had no idea the dress was that different! Still though, there's a uniform and code of conduct.

Con, all due respect, but I don't follow you. The purpose is to recreate music faithfully, and be historically accurate. I think that's all the OP was trying to assert.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I think the OP makes a good point about the similarities between an orchestra and a tribute band with regard to exact reproduction of music.

( I just hope we don’t start calling an orchestra a “tribute orchestra”. )

.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Here on the West Coast (San Diego) we are somewhat of the tribute band capital it would seem. I've played in Fleetwood Max, Blow by Blow (Jeff Beck tribute), a Bon Jovi thing, Johnny Cash, sheesh man! There's been a few that I got called for. The best were the Journey and Jeff Beck tributes.


Every drummer has their own voice. Emulating someone like Mick Fleetwood requires some listening and diving into his bag of tricks and that will make for a good stylistic study for someone looking to improve that side of their drumming. It's great introspective stuff and you always want to embrace the music from their vantage point, so to speak.

That being said I make sure the people who hire me for these gigs know that I'm going to capture the spirit of a player's feel and voice as well as play the big "signature fills" but as for note for note precision I think that having a bit of flexibility and malleability in a song gives it some life, rather than just doing the whole "paint by numbers" thing.
 

juheimbu

Junior Member
You could say this about symphonic music culture, too. Don't orchestras dress the part, and adopt the mannerisms of the orchestras that originally performed that music?
Yes, but they don't have the focus on a singluar artist. Occassionally, you'll see an all Beethoven bill, but most of the concerts feature works of different types from different composers. It's a minor distinction, but a notable one. I don't think a modern symphony could survive if the only played the music of a single composer. Some tribute bands, notably the Australian Pink Floyd, are able to make a living reproducing the work of a single artist.

Every drummer has their own voice. Emulating someone like Mick Fleetwood requires some listening and diving into his bag of tricks and that will make for a good stylistic study for someone looking to improve that side of their drumming. It's great introspective stuff and you always want to embrace the music from their vantage point, so to speak.

I think this is a bit of what I'm after in my thought process, and what led me to this conclusion. Tribute bands really steep themselves in the history and music of the bands whom they emulate. It's a deep study similar to what classical musicians do in various conservatories (here, I'm using the term 'classical' loosely. Happy, Con? :) )
 
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