Rehearsing On Your Own/Play Alongs with Bad Tempo

danondrums

Well-known member
When the original song that you're learning in a cover band has bad meter, how do you approach?
I like playing along to original recordings, but Pride and Joy for instance has some of the worst tempo of any professional song ever.
I refuse to play along to it and instead set the metronome for the average tempo of the tune.
Anyone else have similar approaches or songs that they know have highly varying time?

Ever deliver a drum track to a cover song created from a click track and give it your bandmates and ask them to practice to that instead of the original?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Honky Tonk Woman has worse time, it speeds up mercilessly! In that case, you play it that way, that's just where the song goes. Trying to straighten it out doesn't sound quite right. I play that in two bands, and if I feel I've kept a steady tempo throughout the song, then I haven't done it justice.

I play Pride & Joy in the same two bands, and it's one of those songs that can flow, or not - it works either way. But it shouldn't get too slow, or too fast, there's a middle ground where it feels good. That's also the case for most songs. No matter how perfectly something is played at an unusually slow or fast tempo, it won't feel good. Some songs have a wide range of tempi in which they sound good, and others have a narrow range, where you've got to stay close to record tempo in order to sound good.

Bermuda
 

danondrums

Well-known member
Honky Tonk Woman has worse time, it speeds up mercilessly! In that case, you play it that way, that's just where the song goes. Trying to straighten it out doesn't sound quite right. I play that in two bands, and if I feel I've kept a steady tempo throughout the song, then I haven't done it justice.

I play Pride & Joy in the same two bands, and it's one of those songs that can flow, or not - it works either way. But it shouldn't get too slow, or too fast, there's a middle ground where it feels good. That's also the case for most songs. No matter how perfectly something is played at an unusually slow or fast tempo, it won't feel good. Some songs have a wide range of tempi in which they sound good, and others have a narrow range, where you've got to stay close to record tempo in order to sound good.

Bermuda
Thanks Bermuda! That's a really helpful and great approach!
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I wonder if the original drummer conceived the song needing tempo changes and played it deliberately that way.

Typically my band doesn't really follow my beat so I end up playing along with guitar players. Tempo changes a bit because of that.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Typically my band doesn't really follow my beat so I end up playing along with guitar players. Tempo changes a bit because of that.
Yeah, if someone can't follow a metronome, they can't follow a drummer, so I need to follow them. Then the same guy who can't follow a metronome complains that the beat isn't assertive enough. Frustrating.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
The Stones’ version of Route 66 speeds up a lot too. After a few experiments, our band has decided to run that one at the final, faster tempo throughout, to kerp it driving along.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
I refuse to play along to it and instead set the metronome for the average tempo of the tune.
I'm assuming you're playing from memory. Once you get it down with the metronome, play without it. Whether these songs speed up intentionally or not, it's how people know them. Playing them too straight may take away from their appeal. Either way, it's good to be able to sometimes play something tight and other times play it looser.

And I just can't play to music with soft meter. I can like it, even love it, I just can't play to it - it's too much work.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
I was going to say Honky Tonk but Bermuda beat me to it. I also play this in two bands and push the tempo up just as the Stones do. After all, it's the way the song goes.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
When the original song that you're learning in a cover band has bad meter, how do you approach?
I like playing along to original recordings, but Pride and Joy for instance has some of the worst tempo of any professional song ever.
I refuse to play along to it and instead set the metronome for the average tempo of the tune.
Anyone else have similar approaches or songs that they know have highly varying time?

Ever deliver a drum track to a cover song created from a click track and give it your bandmates and ask them to practice to that instead of the original?
Interesting. I guess I never encountered that problem, so I never needed to address it. That got me to thinking, WHY have I never encountered that problem.

I think, for me, when I'm playing along with a song, I actually don't worry about minor time fluctuations. I'm not making covers for YouTube, I'm just learning the parts, transitions, and arrangement. So my time may not match exactly on a grid, but I just don't worry about it, and I've never come across any songs that were so bad I couldn't play along with them.

I checked Pride and Joy with LiveBPM, and other than the fact that it starts about 119-120 on the guitar intro, most of the song centers around 126, with fluctuations up or down about 3-4 BPM. All the fluctuations seem to fit naturally around the song structure to me, and I think that's why it never bothered me. I honestly never noticed them before! lol I just listened to the song, the guitar part, and that awesome shuffle.

IDK, maybe I am just less disciplined (probably true) or my time is just more rubbery (also probably true). In any case, it takes a really abrupt or extreme tempo change to bother me.
 
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danondrums

Well-known member
For me I guess it's a little strange. My brain feels like I'm playing with a bad band every time I play along to that track and I'm constantly needing to adjust. In contrast to say dance music where I forget about everything and pound that quarter note pulse to death in a state of happy bliss. Luckily I have no need to play along to that song ever again, so it's a non-issue at this point, but it was interesting as I was digging deep into it.

Maybe this is the answer to push/pull strokes question in the other thread where he's looking for a metronome with bad time.
Just playing along to tracks with fluctuating tempos...
 
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ottog1979

Senior Member
Right?! Just for fun (I've done this once in a while for band mates that insist that perfect tempo is absolutely necessary. It's certainly preferred mostly but not always), with a little help from Live BPM:

Green Day - She (actual BPM is double those numbers)
Capture 1.JPG

Aforementioned Honky Tonk Women
Capture 2.JPG

SRV - Pride & Joy
Capture 3.JPG
 

ermghoti

Silver Member
Well Stairway is not a good example to prove your point because it does speed up very deliberately.
That's why it is a good example, IMO. Tempo can flow, a variation is not necessarily a flaw. Page and Co. laid tracks playing together and off each other, without a click, and let each part exist however they thought most effective. It's likely, in 2020, STH would have been quantitized into a single tempo, or a couple of consistent tempos, because the music factories won't accept organic music.

tl;dr, do it wrong once, it's a mistake, do it wrong twice, it's jazz.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
What's wrong with songs changing tempos during the song? It's more common than not I suspect in the global context of all music.

  • Larghissimo – very, very slow (24 bpm and under)
  • Adagissimo – very slowly
  • Grave – very slow (25–45 bpm)
  • Largo – broadly (40–60 bpm)
  • Lento – slowly (45–60 bpm)
  • Larghetto – rather broadly (60–66 bpm)
  • Adagio – slowly with great expression[8] (66–76 bpm)
  • Adagietto – slower than andante (72–76 bpm) or slightly faster than adagio (70–80 bpm)
  • Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 bpm)
  • Andantino – slightly faster than andante (although, in some cases, it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante) (80–108 bpm)
  • Marcia moderato – moderately, in the manner of a march[9][10] (83–85 bpm)
  • Andante moderato – between andante and moderato (thus the name) (92–112 bpm)
  • Moderato – at a moderate speed (108–120 bpm)
  • Allegretto – by the mid-19th century, moderately fast (112–120 bpm); see paragraph above for earlier usage
  • Allegro moderato – close to, but not quite allegro (116–120 bpm)
  • Allegro – fast, quickly, and bright (120–156 bpm) (molto allegro is slightly faster than allegro, but always in its range)
  • Vivace – lively and fast (156–176 bpm)
  • Vivacissimo – very fast and lively (172–176 bpm)
  • Allegrissimo or Allegro vivace – very fast (172–176 bpm)
  • Presto – very, very fast (168–200 bpm)
  • Prestissimo – even faster than presto (200 bpm and over)
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
What do I do?

I look out the window of the rehearsal space, read the name on the side of the touring vehicle, then I ask that person how slow or fast he wants the song. It's worked well so far. 🙂
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I figure a 3-4 bpm shift is "human"...meaning that the song has to breath....bigger than that is where the band members, and audience members, will get "the look", like, "what just happened".

I feel like certain styles actually call for some metric shifts to give the style a characteristic feel. Some don't. I would not sweat the tempo shift of a song like "I Gotta Get Drunk", but would definitely sweat a shift in Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel...
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
Only song I've played that I thought benefits from a gradual increase in tempo is Piece Of My Heart, at least when comparing the tempo of the climactic chorus with the tempo at the start of of the song. I think it gives a bit of drama.
 
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