Being talked to while playing

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have a hard time understanding things my bandmates say to me while we're playing. The drums are right in my ears, the people talking are a few feet away, the guitars are right in the same frequencies as voices, my brain is immersed in my part, and I'm not particularly in the mood to converse, so I really have a hard time understanding what people are saying to me sometimes.

For instance, on a gig without any rehearsal I got called to do, on one song, the guy was saying, "Don't slow down"... Well, I only heard the "slow down" part, so naturally I started easing back (This guitarist is the type who is definitely in control). He wanted me to pick up the tempo. Instead, I laid it back. Duh.

I don't like it when people try to talk to me while playing. Sometimes it's necessary, but it can be a problem. I don't want to sit there going "What? Huh?" So I usually just nod my head yes and try and figure out what they are trying to tell me.

How do you guys deal w/ this?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I used to be in a band with this one certain lead singer...This guy was a real hammer... he'd come up behind me during a guitar leads and start spewing all these cocaine fueled paragraphs right in my ear...It was totally distracting..... I can't carry on a conversation and play the drums too well, the rhythms don't line up. I don't have that much brainpower lol...
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Huh.....what did you say?? I'm playing drums..I can't possibly hear a thing you're saying.


Honestly, I don't get how anyone could expect the drummer to hear anything one would have to say while playing.
 

major_panic

Senior Member
Playing in a church with a constantly rotating roster, we've thankfully developed hand signals to communicate all manner of things, for example:

the flat palm meaning the bridge,
the c shaped hand meaning the chorus,
the fingers representing each verse,
stomping the foot or pounding the hand in the fist to represent building up,
downwards hand wave to represent fading down,
the 'come hither' for speeding up
and the 'slowly smoothing sand on the beach' for slowing down.

So when those of us who play in church do outside gigs, we know the deal.

Thus there's no need for anyone to talk to the drummer whilst the band is playing.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I dont think anybody other than drummers themselves can really imagine how much louder it can be to be surrounded by cymbals, all angled towards you and be sitting with a snare between your legs.

...
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Generally, people just mouth things to each other, don't they? In an old band the bassist used give me a concerned glare whenever I sped up. No words needed :)


I can't carry on a conversation and play the drums too well, the rhythms don't line up. I don't have that much brainpower lol...
Like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGXGpa458Ig

Seriously, I relate. I can't concentrate on talk while playing or even between songs ... my brain seems to only hear words as sounds ... like the dog in the Larson cartoon that only hears its name and blah blah (Google images ... search terms: far side dogs hear).
 
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ambientgreg

Senior Member
I'm not that bugged by people attempting to communicate something to me during a song,but no I don't always understand them either. And sometimes I just ignore them if I know I'm playing just fine. It depends. I'm probably more annoyed when bar patrons attempt to talk to the bass player or the guitarist /vocalist during a song, because I know they can't play and listen to whomever simultaneously and sometimes if I see them coming I give them a heads up "what's up?" gesture so that they'll come talk to me. It's actually less distracting to me than it would be to them.

The worst is a church gig where I have no less than 3 or 4 people gesturing at me all at once, and THAT'S when I just put my head down and play with what I'm HEARING, not what I'm seeing. (Sorry ,that's another thread altogether).
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

Some standard sign language used by most people on the bandstand:

1) palm pushing upwards- raise tempo

2) palm pushing downwards- slow down

3) twirling fingers like a knob- reduce/increase volume

4) hand making circular motion- keep going, play another chorus

5) sharp nods of the head- starting counting - something is about to happen..

6) raising guitar neck/ saxophone/arm - songs about to end, be ready to crash.

Beyond this, what else is there to say in the middle of a song?

( ok, raise lil finger if you gotta take a wiz...)

...
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Just to confuse matters, I've seen ...
1) palm pushing upwards- raise tempo
2) palm pushing downwards- slow down

refer to volume, and
4) hand making circular motion- keep going, play another chorus
refer to increasing tempo.
 

Homeularis

Gold Member
This whole thing makes me giggle. The visual of someone trying to have a conversation with you while youre banging away in the middle of a jam just makes me laugh.

The whole "nodding your head and trying to figure out what the hell theyre trying to say" thing is a straight up gut buster.

Good quality humor my man. Thanks. :]
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Just to confuse matters, I've seen ...
1) palm pushing upwards- raise tempo
2) palm pushing downwards- slow down

refer to volume, and
4) hand making circular motion- keep going, play another chorus
refer to increasing tempo.
Pol, are you a lawyer?


.....
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
The flat open palm with the thumb in front is actually a sign language "B" The C is... you guessed it! A "C"! I find the C is pretty much universal for Chorus in any group.

One that I've used in the past a bit is the "R" shape which is just a crossed index and middle finger waived back and forth. It means "ready".

In my new band I find we use a lot of mouthing to count off parts.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
After an incredibly fast 'n' sketchy setup for a dance gig I had a conversation with the designated sound guy during the first song:

Me: (playing a delicate Viennese waltz)
Sound guy: Hey man, why can't I hear anything from the overhead or the kick mic?
Me: Is the phantom power on? (one-two-three two-two-three....)
SG: Umm... nope.
Me: Turn it on, then! (inserting a tiny-and-appropriate variation)
SG: Right-o. (Turns phantom on) I wonder why it wasn't on...
Me: Me too. (keep playing...)


That's routine for ya.... but things might've been a bit different had we been playing something that's actually challenging.
 

braincramp

Gold Member
My bass player used to do this all the time..my reply was always the same..1.squint, 2. raise and lower shoulders. 3. on 3 between hitting snare on 2 and 4 I would raise left hand and point to my left ear. 4. shake my head no.. even though I could obviously see the one dancing he was refering to : )
 

yesdog

Silver Member
The band I'm in uses inner ear monitors, it just the stupidest thing when someone turns around and tells you they are going to play a different song that is not on the set list. I keep telling them if you are going to call a different song, hold up one or two or three fingers and have the audible songs numbered. If they want to play a certain song show me which number I can look at the audible song list and go, Three fingers then its song number three on the list. I explained that system to the band and they said it was stupid. I think its stupid for the band leader to tell everyone what the next song is. Then you get everyone taking there ears out and going what? It is very unprofessional and looks stupid. We always follow a set list but if you got the crowd going and want to keep them going some times you need to change songs up. I do not understand why they don't have an alternate set list that is numbered.. Do they really think I am going to here what someone is saying while playing drums and having ears in. Its just plain stupid.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
The band I'm in uses inner ear monitors, it just the stupidest thing when someone turns around and tells you they are going to play a different song that is not on the set list. I keep telling them if you are going to call a different song, hold up one or two or three fingers and have the audible songs numbered. If they want to play a certain song show me which number I can look at the audible song list and go, Three fingers then its song number three on the list. I explained that system to the band and they said it was stupid. I think its stupid for the band leader to tell everyone what the next song is. Then you get everyone taking there ears out and going what? It is very unprofessional and looks stupid. We always follow a set list but if you got the crowd going and want to keep them going some times you need to change songs up. I do not understand why they don't have an alternate set list that is numbered.. Do they really think I am going to here what someone is saying while playing drums and having ears in. Its just plain stupid.

I love this post. God is it so true of so many things we drummers must put up with????

And the last line in the book read "The drummer remained perplexed."
 

joeysnare

Silver Member
actually my guitarest and i made a game out of this, we mouth or mime out certain things to try and throw each other off during harder parts of our songs, in practice only of course. but it usually ends up i make him crack up during a solo then i start laughing and drop a stick lol.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Pol, are you a lawyer?
Hardy har har ... Abe, I was a glorified legal secretary for a while however my intentions were not, to wit, deigned to replicate legislation but herewithintohitherfore ipso facto an attempt to provide economical feedback.

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