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Old 05-17-2010, 12:20 AM
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Default Song structures

Does anyone here have experience with playing songs that have odd-numbered sections different from the typical 8 or 12 or whatever?

I've been playing in a band for a few months now and the lead singer has written some really great songs, however, some of his verses are weird 10 measure phrases...or a 5 measure pre-chorus, etc. Since I'm used to counting in the 'standard' 8 measure verse, chorus, etc. it throws me off a little sometimes. Our singer readily admits he has no clue how to count music yet he comes up with lyrics that somehow fit the standard format sometimes. It just that when it doesn't it, feels weird.

Does anyone else play songs with unusually-numbered sections? I know a few songs exist like this. For example, I think The Beatles' 'Do You Want To Know a Secret?' has an unusual 14 measure verse.

Is it best to just not count and 'feel' the music in these situations?
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:54 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

I'd say count it until you feel it. I still count certain tricky parts just to make sure I don't derail the train.
Whatever works to keep you on track.
Train, track..hmm...
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:11 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

sometimes what seems to be 10 versus with lyrics can be 4 verse in 6/8 or even 8 in common time, try and make a drum track that really makes the lyrics stand out, sometimes its not always the best thing to just play with the rhythm of the lyrics.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:34 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

Dream Theater don't do the standard 8-12 bars. It's more like 2 minute intro, 45 second verse 45 second Chorus, 10 minute instrumental section, chorus, 5 minute outtro (Did I spell that right?). Obviously I'm not in the band but I play along to their cd's quite often so......

I think it's really cool that you guys do that!! To be honest I'm tired of the 8 bar verse,chorus x2 then double chorus out in under 3 minutes. Everyone does it and it's old. Also if I were you, I'd encourage the singer to not limit constructing his melodies to a 4/4 time sig. but to venture into 3's or 5's or something neat.

my 2 cents.

-Jonathan
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:45 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

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Originally Posted by Pass.of.E.r.a. View Post
Dream Theater don't do the standard 8-12 bars. It's more like 2 minute intro, 45 second verse 45 second Chorus, 10 minute instrumental section, chorus, 5 minute outtro (Did I spell that right?). Obviously I'm not in the band but I play along to their cd's quite often so......

I think it's really cool that you guys do that!! To be honest I'm tired of the 8 bar verse,chorus x2 then double chorus out in under 3 minutes. Everyone does it and it's old. Also if I were you, I'd encourage the singer to not limit constructing his melodies to a 4/4 time sig. but to venture into 3's or 5's or something neat.

my 2 cents.

-Jonathan


I actually suggested that a while back. I said we should do a song in 7 or something. I tried to explain to him what that meant and I think he popped a fuse somewhere. As I alluded to earlier, we're still trying to explain 4/4 to him...even though he writes stuff in it.
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Old 05-17-2010, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I'd say count it until you feel it. I still count certain tricky parts just to make sure I don't derail the train.
I agree - count until you understand the song. I played with a singer of this ilk; she'd bring in these weird, half formed ideas that we'd have to beat into shape and they didn't always neatly square off.

As you start to understand the logic and flow of the song you'll probably want to make changes to your original lines.
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:12 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
I agree - count until you understand the song. I played with a singer of this ilk; she'd bring in these weird, half formed ideas that we'd have to beat into shape and they didn't always neatly square off.

As you start to understand the logic and flow of the song you'll probably want to make changes to your original lines.


I have counted it out...it's how I discovered this song that I'm currently working on has a 5 measure pre-chorus. I have a rough MP3 demo from our singer that I've been working out a groove for, and yes, I have changed a few things after listening to some playbacks.
But having a 5 measure bridge sounds odd. It totally fits the music though...

Funny thing is that I didn't realize it was just 5 measures until I started charting it out.
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:14 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

I'd agree with counting until you have the feel of the odd bars down.

Once you start doing it all the time, it won't feel so weird.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:41 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

Back in college i used to play guitar in an acoustic band and the singer would just add random beats! Do there would be the odd bar of 5/4 or 2/4 appearing at somepoints.

I often think of some off numbered sections as 4 + 1 for instance. It totally depends on how the chords/lyrics work but i find that works.

Have you tried charting the tunes out with an idiot chart? This may help u keep your place.

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Old 05-17-2010, 08:55 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

I've played with two guitar players now who both did a lot of writing and neither had any clue about rhythm or music theory. However, both were very clever in the way they composed. They both put wrote using bars of 3, 5, 7, and 9, and various combinations of those without even noticing anything unusual about it. Odd times for those guys were somehow more natural than 4/4 and they didn't sound contrived about it either.

The arrangements were similarly odd.

Talk about a lucky drummer (me)! Those guys were great to be in bands with. That is, until it came time to try and improvise... oh well, can't have everything!
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:39 AM
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Default Re: Song structures

Quote:
Originally Posted by brady View Post
I have counted it out...it's how I discovered this song that I'm currently working on has a 5 measure pre-chorus. I have a rough MP3 demo from our singer that I've been working out a groove for, and yes, I have changed a few things after listening to some playbacks.
But having a 5 measure bridge sounds odd. It totally fits the music though...

Funny thing is that I didn't realize it was just 5 measures until I started charting it out.
Sounds great to me, Brady. I love it when non-analytical musicians intuit like that. A more schooled singer might have squared it off because it was "logical".
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: Song structures

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
I've played with two guitar players now who both did a lot of writing and neither had any clue about rhythm or music theory. However, both were very clever in the way they composed. They both put wrote using bars of 3, 5, 7, and 9, and various combinations of those without even noticing anything unusual about it. Odd times for those guys were somehow more natural than 4/4 and they didn't sound contrived about it either.

The arrangements were similarly odd.

Talk about a lucky drummer (me)! Those guys were great to be in bands with. That is, until it came time to try and improvise... oh well, can't have everything!

Luckily, all of these songs are in 4/4...well, one is 6/8. Trying to navigate odd times AND unusual verse lengths would really be a nightmare at this point.

Mike, the two guitar players you spoke...they didn't happen to jam occasionally at Danny's in Kirkland, did they? I used to play a scaled down drum kit there for the acoustic blues open mic they used to have on Monday nights. They were a blast to jam with.
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:10 PM
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Default Re: Song structures

You just have to learn to count through the passages. Different time signatures, uncommon musical passage lengths, etc, are all important things for drummers to be able to handle. In the one pop band I'm in, we have verses that are 9 bars long, verses that are 15 bars long, etc. There are also random 2/4 measures thrown in, or shifts between 4/4 and 6/8, all in what is just a simple pop band. People often don't realize how much this stuff is out there, but heck, even "I Love Rock N Roll" has some odd time stuff going on throughout.
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