When your guitar player starts a song way too slow or fast..

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Post Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:54 pm

What do you do... I've been playing for over 20 years now in a million different bands and always have the same problem... i usually wait for the breaks in the song and try to speed up the tempo there... what do you do??


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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:15 am

When your guitar player starts a song way too slow or fast..

...I simply slow him down, or speed him up!

Or I can try to conduct him, stomping my hi-hat in "eight's" in order to get him back on track.
(I don't have this problem very often with my guitar player, I stress to add... :wink: )
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:50 am

uhhm, i have had this problem several times with my guitar player. sometimes he gets the idea that he is expressing himself creatively when he decides to start our song off 1/3 slower than normal because he is "feelin it". unfortunately you will be the one to sound like an ass if you make attempts to adjust. so my solution has been to just bite your lip and deal with it and when the show is over you need to instead adjust his ego. i'm sure you all know how that goes. communication before the show makes communication in the show a slight bit easier.
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:10 am

I've solved this problem in my band by ALWAYS starting a song with me giving the tempo by means of quarter notes either playing the hi hat w/foot or just by hitting the sticks :)
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:20 am

....is to listen to the vocals. If the singer is comfortable, then the tune is at proper speed and tack. End of discussion.

I had this same situation Saturday night- did a corporate casual with a well-established band. This band has been notorious among drummers in town to be a nightmare because two members of the band disagree vehemently as to where tempos should be. One guy wants things really fast, the other wants things loose and relaxed. To someone who is not experienced this can be unpleasant and you'll feel like you went through a meat grinder at the end of the night.

Anyway, I solved all that by playing to the vocalist's phrasing. If they can sing and are happy, then the job is done. That night, everyone went home happy.
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:46 pm

If it's WAYY off, I'll hold the rest of the band from coming in (as well as myself) and that gets the attention of the culprit. They look back, left alone on their extended intro, and I reel 'em back in to tempo as fast as possible and we all come in again as planned.

I haven't really had a big problem with this in my current band, but I know one thing that helped. I wrote down all of the click tempos for my guitar players. The week before the show, everyone went through each song at least once every night at the proper click tempo.

Come Saturday at our show, we were tighter and all of the songs were VERY close to the proper tempos.
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:03 pm

lol good question! it'll prob happen all the time. if in a live situation you gotta bare it out. but in practise dont be no woose. if i feel the tempo is wrong and its not my fault illl stop and tell them that they are all really gay and should learn to keep tempo better. then reclick the tempo :D lol always works for me lol. of course i do it pleasently :)
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:08 pm

Been there lots of times.

Usually the songs ends with a lame comment blaming 'the drummer' and I usually make a note to 'explain' to the banjoist that he/she DOES NOT blame me for his/her **** ups.

Korg make a great little metronome, really cheap, I don't go anywhere without it. When depping for live dates, I always get agreement from the 'plucker' on the tempo and make a note. So when they bitch about the tempo, I can 'explain' that they agreed it.

Doesn't always work since they are proper musos......
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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:32 pm

When this happens to me, I try to slow it down or speed it up as quickly into the song as possible and keep it there, so as not to draw attention to the change in tempo. It seems like the longer I wait to push or pull the guitarists the more obvious it is, if it gets really bad to where I've gotten too far into the song, I try to keep it right there.

Or like Devilspain stated, if it gets really bad, I'll stop and just let em know that hey, we need to be tighter, back off on the tempo "speedy"!! lol..

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Post Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:58 pm

I just play at there speed. If they give me shit I through a stick at them, not hard though (it happen once)
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Post Tue Oct 10, 2006 11:28 am

It depends.

If it's way too fast or slow i will usually speed it up or slow it down accordingly, but in a way that would seem natural to an audience.

If it's just a little off i've leave it alone and usually see if it was intentional afterwards, sometimes if our guitarist has a really demanding song to play after that one he may slow it down a little so as not to burn himself out. I have no set in stone tempos, but when they get too slow/fast fills can sound rushed or lacking.
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Post Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:28 pm

BillRayDrums wrote:playing to the vocalist's phrasing. If they can sing and are happy, then the job is done.

to me, that's the key. You can tell how the vocalist is reacting to the tempo- if it's not working, then it really is the drummers responsibility to fix it. A gradual adjustment to the tempo shouldn't be too noticeable; you ought to be able to nudge it back into the appropriate zone pretty smoothly. Keep the singer happy!

I wouldn't stay at the wrong tempo if it was obviously hurting the song- I think adjusting it would be the best way to go.
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Post Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:37 pm

I agree with several previous posts; Depends on the situation... I usually follow the bandleader. If that is someone other than said guitarist, my solution has always been to count the song in myself: the vast majority of bandleaders I've worked with have expected this from me anyway. I play in a show band with a set list of 190+ tunes, so I have to keep a list and a metronome handy to make sure the tempos are consistent each night.

My view is this: your primary job as a drummer is to keep time. To set the tempos is the drummer's job by default, unless the bandleader does it. I'm kind of bossy about this and arrangements onstage, but I was actually asked to do it this way by the bandleader, and the band likes it.

It's very convenient to use a metronome for political reasons, as well as practical ones: people (or gutarists) will question your sense of tempo incessantly; they will not argue with a machine. I sometimes don't need it, but just having it visible keeps the guitarists off my case. Go figure...

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Post Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:49 pm

i have had the same problem sometimes, you just kind of have to go with the flow. if you blow up on stage it doesn't look that professional and can cause problems with the rest of the set. try to get the tempo back and run with it.
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Post Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:07 am

ganeshgiri wrote:your primary job as a drummer is to keep time. To set the tempos is the drummer's job by default

The drummer is there to play music, just like the rest of the band. It's everyone's job to keep their own time. The second you acquiesce to becoming a human metronome is when you become no better than a floorscrubber.