Note for note or in the style of?

Boogie

Zombie Two, DFZ
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Depends. Have I played Journey/VH/Ozzie/Zep stuff? Yeah, when I was a kid. But in the 80s, that was the contemporary music. Since then, the cover bands I’ve been in played older and newer music than those above, and most of it doesn’t have to have the ‘trueness to the song’ those others require. The 50s/60s stuff doesn’t have to be because the audience for that music doesn’t give a [email protected]: they just love hearing those songs live again. And being in a country-ish band was interesting since I didn’t know much of the music, so I made most of it my own except for the solos. My co-guitarist and I worked pretty well together and could make just about anything gel with the crowd, which was fun, confidence building, and inspiring. The crowd can make or break a performance.

Can you still have a douche-nozzle come up and point out you repeated the 3rd verse of Just Got Paid and ruined his favorite song? Sure, even if the band totally lit the place on fire all night.

P.S.
Playing in an original trio/quartet for the past 5 years has been liberating. The stuff I play - and how I play it - is so weird, it can’t be in the style of anyone. Haters can cram it…it’s my way.
 

11top

Cousin Eddie's cousin
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Many years ago I was playing in a covers band and when we took a break one of the guys in the audience came up to me and said “You played the intro of Black Magic Woman wrong!” I think i may have replied that it’s LIVE music and if you want an exact rendition go home and put the CD on, in a polite way of course.
I have learnt hundreds of songs over the years and can’t remember every one note for note, but I get pretty close and normally put in the signature riffs everyone expects to hear, but in the modern times with a million tutorials on youtube for every guitar song you can imagine, is it still acceptable to play your own version or has it got to be note for note?
Bearing in mind the original artist probably doesn’t play an exact replica of the studio version.
I’d like to know your opinions.

I have this argument with my band members all the time. “That’s not like the record man.” Drives me nuts. How about a little poetic license? I personally think it’s cool when a band makes a cover it’s own, by changing it up to make it unique live. Hell, the original artists do it live all the time.

A cool thread topic. I’m in your camp, bro.
 

aphantomvaper

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Great topic! If it's Jingle Bells, note for note is expected. If its an SRV or a Santana solo, make it your own.

Some people not musically inclined don't understand how difficult it is to play music. Can I play like Buckethead? No. Can I emulate it? Yes! that's enough for some.

Carol of the Bells note for note expected.

Are you Experienced good luck playing that note for note!

I keep noting Christmas Songs because well, it is the Season.

First solo I ever wrote? Note for note...but who would know except me??
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
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Interesting topic.

I've had guys in my band suggest a song and somebody else would think the song is boring and pitch a fit.

I've always said if the song has cool elements to it but is boring to play, change it up a bit and make it interesting.

On the flip side of that, there are a handful of songs that are covered frequently that get butchered and I find that incredibly annoying.
 

RickP

Established 1960, Still Not Dead
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Both.

In some songs, the solo parts are as prominent as the lyrics. When doing covers, you’re doing covers, so it’s about making the audience believe it. You have to put yourself aside when the song calls for it and be an entertainer. Play it note for note… if you can! In others, especially technically challenging or “guitar” pieces, it’s much less likely anyone but that guy who came up questioning your notes (one in a thousand) would notice anything at all. There is more leeway there, in my opinion, for improvisation.

There is a fluid balance between “it’s about the song,” and “it’s about the audience,” and “it’s about fulfilling my need for enjoyment as a musician.” You could randomly pick between them, I suppose, but the most enjoyable music I’ve experienced from both sides of the guitar has always been from playing with or listening to those musicians who could balance the three. I strive to be that guy.
 

Huggy B

Space is the place
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As a Jazz cat I and most others live for the exploration of improvisation and every solo should be unique and built off the musical moment.

On the other hand, in the post tribute band era, playing note for note is kinda a must now for doing covers. You mention Carlos, well I did some Santana tribute shows in the mid-2000's, 20 songs, including his instrumentals, and although Carlos has Jazz improv roots, he does try to stick close to his old classics, and for a hack covering him, I had to do as much note for note as humanly possible or get the wrath of devoted fans.

It's something I truly despised even before that, when I was in full blown cover bands and had to tackle EVH & Randy Rhodes in the 80's when doing it note for note was the standard even more than now. One of the main reasons I gravitated to Jazz & improvisational music over time.
 

Aahzz

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As a Jazz cat I and most others live for the exploration of improvisation and every solo should be unique and built off the musical moment.

On the other hand, in the post tribute band era, playing note for note is kinda a must now for doing covers. You mention Carlos, well I did some Santana tribute shows in the mid-2000's, 20 songs, including his instrumentals, and although Carlos has Jazz improv roots, he does try to stick close to his old classics, and for a hack covering him, I had to do as much note for note as humanly possible or get the wrath of devoted fans.

It's something I truly despised even before that, when I was in full blown cover bands and had to tackle EVH & Randy Rhodes in the 80's when doing it note for note was the standard even more than now. One of the main reasons I gravitated to Jazz & improvisational music over time.

It definitely makes sense to stick as close to the original as possible in a tribute show. Well, unless it's a Dead or Phish tribute, and if it's that you better nail the tone and style if you're going to keep most of the fans happy.
 

Martin Lenihan

New Member
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Many years ago I was playing in a covers band and when we took a break one of the guys in the audience came up to me and said “You played the intro of Black Magic Woman wrong!” I think i may have replied that it’s LIVE music and if you want an exact rendition go home and put the CD on, in a polite way of course.
I have learnt hundreds of songs over the years and can’t remember every one note for note, but I get pretty close and normally put in the signature riffs everyone expects to hear, but in the modern times with a million tutorials on youtube for every guitar song you can imagine, is it still acceptable to play your own version or has it got to be note for note?
Bearing in mind the original artist probably doesn’t play an exact replica of the studio version.
I’d like to know your opinions.

Rock N Roll, which is derived from the blues and jazz is fundamentally improvisational music. It requires some imagination and spontaneityl. I don't play Allman Bros. tunes note for note and neither did they!
 

Boogie

Zombie Two, DFZ
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I brought what I thought I needed to bring to any given song and I was never told by a band mate that I chose wrong.

The liberation of doing originals means you only have to bury your ego and play for the song. It’s very cathartic. Playing with a bassist that could teach Les Claypool a few things means I’m second fiddle and need to compliment the sonic scape. It’s all about his fantastic and crazy creations where sometimes I just bring simplicity and contrast. I spent a lot of the first couple of years feeling unworthy of his and the drummer’s talent, but then gave myself the latitude to bring my own energy. Some worked, some didn’t. But what did was magical. I am SO grateful for that time to expand into the best I’ve ever been as a musician.
 

DreamTheaterRules

Not falling for the banana in the tailpipe
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Wow, some strong opinions there. Didn’t think that would get such a response.
LOL, well I tried not to get "strong" but the thought that it's boring to nail a guitar solo by one of the great guitar players sorta rubs me the wrong way.

Again, I've never said anyone shouldn't do what they want, in their band or recordings. I've never said it was wrong to do it that way. But I strongly resist the thought that it's wrong to do it note for note.

I was trained in classical music when I was younger. There was ONE way to learn a song and that was perfectly note for note. When I started playing Hendrix and Trower and all in my teens, it was a complete reversal of that mentality. But when I learned to play songs by my guitar heros, "learned" meant playing it JUST like they did. There was a time when I'd play Van Halen and play note for note but add a few things of my own, but I got all of his stuff in there.

But if I was to show up tomorrow to play in a cover band doing VH and Ozzie and Rush and (the stuff I like) solo's, I'd brush up and be ready to play them as they were played. If someone wants to show up and play some of the original, all of it, or none of it, that's up to you and the band. I'm only stating what I do, and not that it's the only way or the right way.
 

Davey

Just Jammin'
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When I was younger and beginning guitar, I was always trying to nail it note for note with little success I might add.
I can appreciate playing it exactly as the original as thats what a lot of people expect to hear.

As I've grown older, I dont play live anymore, so I'm more in the boat of making it your own and as I was once told "really explore the studio space this time, I mean, really.....explore the space!"
 

Maxime Bousquet

perfect reality sounds
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If I listen to a live, I don't want to hear the same things as the album, I want to feel the character of the guitarist! otherwise what good is a live show! Think outside the box, that's it.

in short, do it yourself since it is you who do it !
 

shinksma

What? I get a title?
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Here's my take:

Certain solos are iconic enough that playing note for note is desired by almost everyone, assuming the whole band is trying to re-create the song as a true cover. If you are doing a Ska-interpretation of Hell's Bells, then do what you like... ;)

E.g.: Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. When David Gilmour plays it live, he does the first solo note-for-note to the album, because it was crafted specifically that way, and most cover bands would do the same. But the second solo is where he has often done what he likes and diverges significantly from the studio solo - he follows the overall structure, and starts almost always the same as the studio recording, but over the years he has played around with it a lot. Now, when they are recording for a CD/Video, he tends to fall back to the version he derived from the Delicate Sound of Thunder live recording, which is basically the studio version extended with a few extra variations.

And it really does depend on if you are trying to be a tribute band or just playing a cover that has your own flavor throughout the song (not just the solos). A tribute band should probably do what the original artist tends to do: if Alex Lifeson plays a particular solo note-for-note every single time (e.g. Closer to the Heart seems to be a candidate), it probably isn't a bad idea to do the same. If he makes it different every time, then even the tribute band has leeway to make it their own.

And finally, I will note (pun intended) that I don't play my own solos note-for-note to the studio recordings. I try to get the same feel, and I will use many of the same riffs, but I like truly improvising every time. It gives me an opportunity to make it unique to that performance, which may end up being superior to the studio recording, especially in the context of that particular performance.

So: if you want to do it note-for-note, knock your socks off, but if you want to truly improvise in the space originally envisioned by the artist, or even beyond, then you should do so!
 

Geo408

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I spent a few months in a pretty high profile tribute band, where I had to play the solo’s note for note, and get the right tones and effects…it was a lot of work! I also had to dress for the show as well. I had played in cover bands and toured with a few acts, so I knew how to “fit in”. Even in tribute bands there’s room for improvisation, but you have to know where you can do it. I rehearsed with them for 2 weeks, before we did a gig so I was comfortable by the time we hit the road.
It was an intense 3 months, and after every gig I’d be critiqued by some fans who noticed that I missed stepping on the wah-wah at the exact time, or that the delay wasn’t set perfectly. It was a learning experience, to say the least. But by and large they loved the show, because they loved the music. A few folks appreciated my improvised solos, because I played them in the style of the band we were covering.
The lesson learned was begin the solo like the guitarist originally did, and end it like he did, and everyone is happy. What you do in the middle is fine, as long as it fits in, stylistically. Even in a tribute band, there’s room to be yourself, as long as you respect the the music, and the fans.
 

DISTORT6

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I spent a few months in a pretty high profile tribute band, where I had to play the solo’s note for note, and get the right tones and effects…it was a lot of work! I also had to dress for the show as well. I had played in cover bands and toured with a few acts, so I knew how to “fit in”. Even in tribute bands there’s room for improvisation, but you have to know where you can do it. I rehearsed with them for 2 weeks, before we did a gig so I was comfortable by the time we hit the road.
It was an intense 3 months, and after every gig I’d be critiqued by some fans who noticed that I missed stepping on the wah-wah at the exact time, or that the delay wasn’t set perfectly. It was a learning experience, to say the least. But by and large they loved the show, because they loved the music. A few folks appreciated my improvised solos, because I played them in the style of the band we were covering.
The lesson learned was begin the solo like the guitarist originally did, and end it like he did, and everyone is happy. What you do in the middle is fine, as long as it fits in, stylistically. Even in a tribute band, there’s room to be yourself, as long as you respect the the music, and the fans.
You can’t get away without at least telling us WHO you paying tribute to!:D
 
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