Hello fellow players,
Ive been feeling poorly this week so Bob Hempker is going to do a guest newsletter today. Its all yours Bob.
Ive been playing steel guitar most all my life, thats what I know and thats what Im going to talk about. When I have to fill in for somebody on the road or record in a studio or even just playing live in a club with a new band, I have to learn the material pretty much on the fly.
We dont usually get a rehearsal. When you show up for a gig you sometimes dont know who else is going to be in the band. In a recording studio setting, you dont always know who the other players are going to be either.
In a recording situation, youre not recording a known hit song, youre creating a hopefully future standard from original material. In such a situation its up to you, the producer and everyone else involved in the recording project to create something that will stick in the minds of listeners.
If you think about it, there are only two elements involved in music, the performer and the listener. As the performer its your job to play something that is pleasant, enjoyable and ear catching to the listener.
In any playing situation, you have to be organized and approach your job in a systematic way. In a live band situation, the band members decide who is going to play what parts and we have to do it quickly because you cant have a dead stage. People may get up and leave if you do.
The same thing goes for the studio because somebody is paying for the studio time. Either you catch on pretty quickly or you wont be called back to play in the future.
My approach to intros, especially in traditional country music, is to play the last line or the last four bars of the melody of the song. We refer to that as a Sears and Roebuck intro. It works well in a live situation.
When we dont kick off with a Sears and Roebuck intro, usually its a standard song that everybody knows the arrangement to and everybody just plays the song as we all know it, the way it was done on the recording. Two examples of this would be John Andersons Seminole Wind and Merle Haggards Mama Tried. These are songs most everybody knows and knows the arrangements.
Sometimes the singer will kick it off cold, meaning that he just starts singing, then the band comes in. So dont forget that this is a viable technique. A good example of this is Ferlin Huskys Since Youve Gone.
There are times during a live gig when somebody in the audience will yell out the name of a song that you dont know or havent played in so long you cant remember. The way I handle this is to rely on another band member who knows the song to tell me the key and flash numbers.
We do that for each other. I might be me flashing numbers for the next song. So its very important to know the Nashville number system if youre going to survive.
The ability to create something brilliant on the fly is what distinguishes run of the mill players from the studio dogs who get the high paying jobs. Unfortunately Im not one of those guys.
Its important to know how to harmonize your scales in every key and three basic inversions. This enables you to find parts with the guitar player, fiddle player or whatever other lead instruments you may be working with.
Knowing and practicing harmonizing these scales in every key is vitally important and should be a regular part of your practice routine.
Say youre going to play Crazy Arms and youre going to it kick off, you can play a harmony part with the fiddle or if there are two fiddles, you can play a third part, or a unison part with one of them or play all three parts because youve got three fingers and you can by knowing how to harmonize your scales.
If there is no fiddle player in the band, then the steel guitar is usually expected to play the intro. Thats where knowing your harmonized scale comes into play. If you play it in three parts, your melody line would be on top and the other two parts would be underneath that. This can make the song sound very full and rich and makes the band sound like youve arranged it even though you havent.
One of the most important things in any playing situation is to watch and listen, not just to yourself but to everybody on the stage.
The singer may sing a verse when hes supposed to sing the chorus, but youve got to follow the singer and youve got to blend with the other people on the stage. This all requires you to pay attention with both your eyes and your ears. The gig isnt all about you, its about playing with other people and again, pleasing the listener.
How many times have you heard one guy in the band playing louder than anybody else and looking around to see of anybody is watching? This is very immature in my opinion. An example is a drummer twirling his sticks and the tempo going up and down. I fired a drummer one time for twirling his sticks.
I was checking out Bobbes Intros, Fills and Turnarounds instructional video set which is what got me started on this subject. The next time I do a guest newsletter for Bobbe, Ill get into fills, turnarounds, solos and endings and how to play with other people and fit in with a band.
You can check out all of Bobbes instructional videos at www.steelguitar.net/videos.html and believe me, they are all great to play along with while youre practicing which is something every player should do on a regular basis. I have a practice schedule that I follow and you should too.
Check out our monthly specials at http://www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and well try to save you a lot of money.
This has been Bob Hempker filling in for,
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM 4PM Monday Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday