Stage Etiquette

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Bermuda's comment in another thread about playing time feeling slower than listening time really struck a chord with me. I mentioned it to the rest of the band so they won't drive me should I start a song at a seemingly lazy tempo while under the influence of adrenaline, since chances are that it will be fairly correct. A shared understanding with these things is good so everyone is on the same page.
Agree here too. Sometimes it's good to take a breath and get clear before starting off another song so I don't get caught up in the adrenaline and rush the next tune.

I'd rather push the groove harder than just run the song faster. I'm not so good at frantic sounding things. I cringe every time I'm at a blues jam and someone calls One Way Out or a Boogie. I'd rather play a mid tempo thing and push the groove to get folks on the floor. My hats off to anyone who played punk and can do that frantic thing.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I'd rather play a mid tempo thing and push the groove to get folks on the floor. My hats off to anyone who played punk and can do that frantic thing.
Same here - mid tempos are my fave and I don't think quickly enough to do frantic.

However, sometimes when I'm having fun I can get way on top of the beat and keep pushing things up a notch with fills and transitions. I am also ore easily pushed faster when others get excited than I'd like. I hate it when I feel like I'm in the pocket and have the playback tell me I was rushing.

If I have my head screwed on and work hard at sticking to tempo, then I have to be careful to avoid that feeling of putting the brakes on and dragging (even if it's only in relation to someone who's rushing). I find I have to be vigilant and snuff out any rushing the second it starts because once I let the tempo get way it ends up a lively ride!

The irony is that it's not uncommon for bands I've played in the get the best responses when we speed up ... no doubt there's a chicken and egg thing going on between getting excited and pushing the tempo. So I'd rather dig in with excitement as you do than to speed up.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I did a casual once with a drummer who had marked down every song's tempo and would look at the set list, set a metronome, listen to it, put it down, and only then count off the song. Good thing it was a casual in a small place and someone else's gig. I would never tolerate that in a real band. Perfect way to kill the vibe unless you have the most glib frontman ever, and even at that it's still too much break between songs
I know that just because of what we're playing my band is going to be relegated to playing in a lot of artsy-fartsy venues. This is surely not my kind of scene, I'm more of a dive bar kind of guy. Even so, I would NEVER bring a metronome to a gig. That's what rehearsal is for. What we're shooting for is to get our songs down tight enough that we'll be able to play on time because we just know the tunes that well.

That gig must have been annoying for you.
 

Neil

Senior Member
Hi Guys,

Well the band always prefers to play songs up tempo from the recording, although no set tempo is ever agreed. I tend to go buy a rule of thumb of detaching myself from the music and having a listen to the vocals. By this I mean if I hear the vocals are too rushed or are maybe dragging, then I will, discreetly, up the temp very slightly.

Here's an example of our cover of hard to handle: Very up tempo, if I started any slower I would've received the hurry up. These guys like to have the songs at a good pace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bD3ILAAuXU&feature=related



Regarding a metronome I always practice to one when at home but as a band there is a train of thought that a metronome kills the song and makes them too regimented.

I find it slightly hypocratical when I get band members 'fighting' each other over the tempo and I'm being given the hurry up when they're not even playing time with each other. What I'm still undecided on is if I hear the song being started way to slow or way to fast, do I then come in at the time I decided is correct or play at the pace the song has been started. I'm not the band leader but I'm also not a mind reader..

Disclamer: I know it sounds like a bashing them, they're all really great guys and I'm far from perfect.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
I have an iphone App metronome that has the option to include a set list and their respective tempos. So when you practice and the band is really in the groove check out the tempo and record it. Then if before you play each song tap the tempo on you app/metronome and then you'll start at the right tempo. Thereafter, it's unlikely you'll fall too far outside the optimum tempo.

One good tip is to sing the chorus of the next song in your head and in the gap between songs just click your sticks quietly or gently foot-tap the hihat or play your legs so that when you actually start the whole band has subliminally been listening to a count in.

Davo
 

Neil

Senior Member
I think for the audience they lock into the lyrics but dance to the beat, if the lyrics are unintelligable they won't enjoy the song. If the beat is to fast/slow or constantly changing then they won't dance.

I think I'll surreptitiously playing along to a metronome at rehearsals to ensure a rough ball park bpm

Even so, I would NEVER bring a metronome to a gig. That's what rehearsal is for.
I agree on this point, there is something to said for a live sound where the music is sitting/ahead/behind the pulse to give that organic vibe.

I've gotten fired for asserting myself to a person who played things different from night to night. I was in the wrong for not understanding that this was his band and if he wanted to lay something way back, then he didn't need some know it all drummer trying to "correct" him. So it can be a risky conversation if there are fragile egos or single minded bandleaders.
This is crazy though, does sound like you're better off without them, a little too much pride with that guy I think.
 

Fiery

Silver Member
This is crazy though, does sound like you're better off without them, a little too much pride with that guy I think.
I've had a chance to tech for a very busy and in-demand drummer in the local pop/folk/wedding band scene, for a show with one of the most popular singers and in front of a 25+ thousand audience (biggest indoor venue in town, sold out). Among the most important advice he had for playing in such an environment was to "...always follow the singer['s tempo]. If you don't follow the singer, your drumming sucks and you're out of the band."
That's just the way it is with money-making gigs.
 

jer

Silver Member
I don't have much of a problem correcting a tempo instantly rather than gradually - in my experience, this type of jarring will get the rest of the bands attention immediately and often help prevent it from happening again.

Obviously, Fiery has a valid point about follwing the guy signing the paycheque.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Here's an example of our cover of hard to handle: Very up tempo, if I started any slower I would've received the hurry up. These guys like to have the songs at a good pace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bD3ILAAuXU&feature=related
With all due respect...The tempo you started was probably fully twice as fast as the original tempo. If it was slower you would have gotten the hurry up? Then their sense of tempo is way off. Unless you are playing fast on purpose. If you are trying to replicate the vibe and feel of the original, the tempo needs to be cut in half almost. That song sounds great played live at the original tempo. It's the comfortableness of the players that can make the slower tempo groove. Just for fun, next practice you should try playing it at the correct tempo, just to see if your guys can relax enough to play it without thinking they are dragging.

When I joined my last band, their previous drummer let the tempo run away all the time (that's why they were looking to replace him). When I first started playing with them, the singer was so used to uneven tempo/time that he would tell me to speed up. I knew better, so I held the right tempo. Later I told him, "Dude, you have to trust me here. This is my area of focus and expertise. You are so used to "bad" time that you need to acclimate yourself to what good time and tempo sound like". Again, the playback recording verified my statements. I specifically picked the song he told me to speed up on (Grand Funk's "American Band") and played it back for him. He agreed that it sat right where it should. He hasn't said a word to me since.

You really have to project and give them that confident feeling that you KNOW where the tempo should sit and you are the undisputed AUTHORITY on tempo. But hey, if someone in the band has a more developed sense of time than me, I have no problem deferring to them. As long as the count off is right, I don't care who counts it. But so far, in every band I've been in, basically speaking, no one has spent more time and energy on the subject of tempo/meter than me, so that's MY domain, and I make no bones about wanting to be the tempo meister. They can play their leads and really decorate the song, hot dog it up, and be a rock star, just allow me to keep the speed of the song where it's supposed to be.

When songs aren't too rushed, the vocalist has the space in between the notes to really enrich it with inflections.

Neil, tempo-wise, are you happy with that version of Hard To Handle? Does it sound rushed to you?
 

Neil

Senior Member
Neil, tempo-wise, are you happy with that version of Hard To Handle? Does it sound rushed to you?
It's rushed, most definately, I tend to tense up when playing quickly and make mistakes/lose a bit of confidence etc etc however I then get nervous about starting to slowly due to the risk of getting the dreaded 'faster' mouthed at me.

Here's an example of a song I don't start (playing on my dreaded e-kit, which was the subject of another thread)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W50wEd1D9Q0

What I would like is for someone to critique and give an opinion on if this song is too fast, I think it is and I think it illustrates my point on the problem that is in the band. I.e. we're playing songs for ourselves to get the feeling right for us, rather than the audience.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Play with a click, then they can't bitch about anything.... ;)
I play every show with a click, and once and a while the Guitarist will say to me after that song "A" or "B" may have felt slow or fast, but it's all in his head, and I love being able to tell him that. "Sorry pal, it's the same tempo we always play it"
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I agree on this point, there is something to said for a live sound where the music is sitting/ahead/behind the pulse to give that organic vibe.
A little bit of swerve but this misconception about playing ahead of, or behind of, the beat is behind a lot of the problems with tempo that people have.

Tempo is the rate at which the measure repeats. Where the beats fall within the measure is a different matter and is often called groove or swing. Drive also exists within this area, separate from tempo.

You create drive by shifting some beat(s) within the measure forward. But never all of them. About the only way you can do that is time shifting a track after the fact. If you moved everything foward, you will cause the other musicians to chase it, causing the runaway freight train of escalating tempo we've all experienced at one point or another.

Depending on the pattern or groove, different beats can be shifted. You get different feels in a 2/4 pushing either the 1 of the 2 ahead (typically with a corresponding regression of the other beat to balance out). In a 4/4 pattern, typically either the 1 of the 2 can be pushed ahead. But something has to hang in there as an in time anchor. You can count the tempo from either the anchor point, or one of the displaced beats. But you have to figure it from the same beat in every measure (or pattern of measures if you're doing some really complex stuff).
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I agree on this point, there is something to said for a live sound where the music is sitting/ahead/behind the pulse to give that organic vibe.
That has nothing to do with a click though.

You can have a click and still push or pull the pulse. You don't even have to lay right on the click, just use it as a refernce point to keep the band from getting too far off.

Nor do you have to use a click through an entire song. Lots of people use them just to get the tempo, count the song off, and then the click is turned off.

If you're problem is the bands tempos are all over the place, it's an easy solution.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
And be prepared for guitarists claiming the metronome must not be working right!!

It's a bit of an adjustment getting used to working with clicks, but it ends a lot of stupid arguing.
Exactly! I remember the first time I started working with a band that used sequences to fill in, so I had a click for every song, all the way through. The first couple of gigs I could swear the machine was screwing up!

Most drummers will be click-savvy, but we will all likely spend some time gently introducing bandmates to the notion of practicing with a click and developing the vigilant ear that tells you you're starting to drift while it's still minor.
 

specgrade

Senior Member
Hi Guys,

Well the band always prefers to play songs up tempo from the recording, although no set tempo is ever agreed. I tend to go buy a rule of thumb of detaching myself from the music and having a listen to the vocals. By this I mean if I hear the vocals are too rushed or are maybe dragging, then I will, discreetly, up the temp very slightly.

Here's an example of our cover of hard to handle: Very up tempo, if I started any slower I would've received the hurry up. These guys like to have the songs at a good pace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bD3ILAAuXU&feature=related



Regarding a metronome I always practice to one when at home but as a band there is a train of thought that a metronome kills the song and makes them too regimented.

I find it slightly hypocratical when I get band members 'fighting' each other over the tempo and I'm being given the hurry up when they're not even playing time with each other. What I'm still undecided on is if I hear the song being started way to slow or way to fast, do I then come in at the time I decided is correct or play at the pace the song has been started. I'm not the band leader but I'm also not a mind reader..

Disclamer: I know it sounds like a bashing them, they're all really great guys and I'm far from perfect.
I have played that song a lot and I have to say that was "hard to handle". I'm surprised no one from the audience hasn't commented about the tempo. Sorry, but, damn....

How does your vocalist not run out of air? Do you guys ever record yourselves?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Neil, yes it was fast but the music had a good vibe and you got a fair few cheers at the end. So things aren't tragic, just needing a tempo tweak. Also, unless you're in a high level band you can be sure that someone in the group will give you the hurry-up when you're actually playing the right tempo.

Thing is, the road to preventing tempo issues - be it starting too fast or speeding up - is a long one, and many never reach the end of that road. In the old days you'd hear fast tempos and speedups all the time in live albums by major bands. The scene is a lot less forgiving with tempo errors these days (although it seems to happily forgive lack of creativity and originality - go figure).

Q. How do you know that there's a drummer at your door?
A. The knocking speeds up.

At gigs, you have to just let it all hang out for better or for worse. So really accurate and even tempos need to come from within through practice.

My band has the same issues. I've always had the same tendency myself. For a while in the 80s my long term ex bassist eventually bullied me into getting tempos right and holding them (most of the time haha). Since returning to drumming after a long layoff my tempo issues returned.

My latest project is getting on the pad and running through the "problem" songs in our setlist (with the song playing in my imagination), played with a metronome to train my body and mind to feel the song played evenly. I'm pretty confident that it will help, but it may take a while ... and if I do get it right, you can be sure someone will be getting excited and tell me it's too slow :)
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
I agree, keep going. The audience is not going to know the difference and it sounds worse if you try to change horse's in the middle of the stream. It happens occasionally with me and it's like knocking on cement when I try to explain that everyone in the band is a time keeper.
 

toddy

Platinum Member
maybe you should work on how your body moves when you're playing. I find if your body acts in a way that emphasises the tempo then it is a lot easier for other people to take subtle physical hints from you. maybe it will help you to also remember the tempo of the songs too, who knows.
 
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