Advice From Session Guitarists Needed

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Sadhaka, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    Hey Guys/Gals,

    Can anyone offer advice on how to get deeper into the session world?

    I live in Sydney, Australia and would like to do more session work. I like the pressure and spontaneity of jamming and reading and making great music to a deadline, and the amount of learning that one gains in these situations.

    I am a accomplished guitarist, holding a bachelors degree in performance from the Sydney Conservatorium and have won several competitions around Sydney on Classical guitar.

    I play electric and steel string as well as classical and would consider myself very good at rock and blues especially. Of course, being a TGP'er I have a good collection of guitars etc.

    I can read notation quite well.

    So anyway. I know that session players can be a tight knit group. Did you send out resumes to all the studios around town or were you 'found'.

    Cheers for any help or advice,
    Sadhaka.
     
  2. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Member

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    go where the work is.

    Learn popular music.

    Become friendly with any session musician you can. Some might even let you tag along.

    Offer your services for free.
     
  3. henry_the_horse

    henry_the_horse Member

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    A saying goes "You don't chose the industry, the industry choses you".

    Get in touch with producers. Send them your demos. Most of the music industry engineers and excecutives, including some producers don't read music notation very well, or at all. Record demos playing in different styles, or gather some session work you have done before (the quality of the recording is not as important as the quality of the performance), send them the demos with your card or resume (professional resume with some quick mention to your academic degree and a lot of info on your previous session work). Don't wait them to call back. Inquire and ask for a meeting.
    Arrange for lessons with a jazz guitar teacher who is also a session player. Jazzmen get specially along with serious music (classical) trained musicians. Ask him to help you work on chord charts reading, improvisation and swing. Make good friends with him. Wait for him to turn down some session gig and recommend you instead. If he's not doing session work anymore he can recommend you with an other collegue or student who is. Expect to play some free sessions before claiming your deserved pay.
    Another route is the Union. Musicians' Unions have job offices with databases. You will have to subscribe the Union for this. In my country they ask to declare your equipment, education, genres, styles and standing photo.

    As for sessions gigs, there are some basic etiquette rules if you want to keep them coming (not for getting them in the first place):
    Arrive in time. Get 45' to 30' earlier to provide you with plenty of time to park the car, unload equipment, tune and set everything up.
    Tune at your home and then retune at the studio.
    Get an expensive electronic tuner with variable diapason and full musical scale [A0-C8] sensitivity. Carry along a portable music stand as most small studios don't have.
    Get familiar with playing to a metronome click or electronic click as you are likely to record that way.
    Set your instruments with fine craft and expensive strings (Savarez, Thomastik, Hannabach, etc.). Your equipment must be of excellent quality (cables, regulated power supplies, etc.)
    Get an assortment of picks from different gauges and sizes.
    Take music paper and pencil to sessions for quick charting on the moment.
    Never discuss with the producer or any other musician.
    Don't speak if you are not asked to.
    If you can, ask for payment in advance. Most agreements are for the producer or artist to pay you when the project is over, but you must pay bills, so agree to at least have they pay you at the end of the month.
    Expect the producer to tell you what to play as if you were a sequencer or Band-in-a-Box software.
    Do not overplay.
    Play as few notes as you can.
    Work on your rhythm guitar and comping skills.
    Listen to every Steve Cropper or Lee Ritenour collaboration to other artist records you get your hands onto (e.g. Stax, "Comfortably Numb") and try to learn from them.
    Attend every jam session you can and get onstage. Attend specially those where industry session players hang around.

    I don't remember what else. If I do I'll edit this post.
    Regards,
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  4. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    Thanks guys for your replies.

    Henry, who - nay - what are you? I've read your posts all over this forum and they are always well thought out, constructive and very informative. Please tell me that you are not under 30 years old, for if you are I might fear for the type of beast that you may be!

    BTW, Heard any good Piazzolla lately?
     
  5. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Henry is a monster !!

    Fear him.................................................
     
  6. henry_the_horse

    henry_the_horse Member

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    Thanks, Sadhaka, for your appreciation and kind words. I'm just a classical trained musician like you, working also on the popular music field, 32 y.o., fan of the Beatles, as you may have already noticed. What happens is that I have wasted (yes, wasted) lots of hours looking for information in the net or in books and magazines. That doesn't mean I'm like the song "a fine musician and practice everyday", as I lack any discipline. But sometimes I identify with somebody looking for information and if I can spare him/her research time so he/she can practice more on the instrument and become a better musician I am very glad.

    Regarding Piazzolla's music, I'm not very keen on him or tango music as I'm not really from Buenos Aires, where tango is local. Nevertheless I played Piazzolla's music in a jazz/tango quintet while studing at the nat'l conservatoire, a decade ago. Whose music I'm really fan of is Gustavo Leguizamón, folkloric composer and pianist who also had a deep love for jazz (Bill Evans, Duke) and classical (Bach, Schönberg, Bartok, Ravel, Satie and Debussy). He has left very little recordings but a great songbook of music performed and praised by many artists.

    Violetlove, thanks for your kind words too. Coming from a musician like you, I'm really flattered.

    Regards
     
  7. CHyde

    CHyde Member

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    That is a lot of helpful info. Great reply!
     
  8. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Och Henry, I'm not a musician , I'm a hack. I just have to analyse stuff a lot to find my way through the maze.
    But I have read a bunch of your posts, so I do know you are a monster. I was having a wee joke ya see, though.
    Biggest problem with "teh internets" is that people take stuff so literally.
    I'm Mr Flippant.
     
  9. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    32 eh? Same age as me! In fact we sound quite similar :)

    Did you study Classical Guitar? Have you played the Arenjuez Concerto? If so, we are probably very similar!!!

    I'll see you around on the forum dude.
     
  10. henry_the_horse

    henry_the_horse Member

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    I have also read your posts and they seem to be written by a very knowledgable musician. If you are an amateur musician, then that makes it even more impresive.

    I studied classical guitar at the conservatorium, but bailed out in second year. I was also doing a bachellor in composition at the university and could cope with both studies. Then I sinked myself into a master degree and haven't gone back since.
    I still play classical everytime I can and give lessons. Have not played Joaquín Rodrigo's music, some Julian Bream's Bach transcriptions, Gaspar Sanz, Luis de Milán and Luis de Narváez. The Concert of Aranjuez requires an orchestra! Have you performed it with an orchestra? That's remarkably impressive. If you have a recording of that performance I would like to listen to it.
    What I recommended you to do for getting session work is exactly what I did: finished school, contacted a jazz teacher, etc.
    See you around on the forum, Sadhaka. (Ka mate, ka mate! ka ora! ka ora! I know this is NZ and not AU but your nick reminded me of it ;) )

    Regards
     
  11. Aj_rocker

    Aj_rocker Member

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    so, i have a lot of live experince doing session (not much studio stuff yet) but i what i have found is - The Artist/MD/ Manger is ALWAYS RIGHT if they they talk complete BS and are wrong. And yes i know players who have argued with the artist and the rest of the band only to be told to grow up with it and deal with it. True story.

    Also i have found if you really listen to what they want and not what you want to play always works well too.

    Learn the songs: sounds simple but if you really nail it your be coming back again soon.

    I like to make up with people (artist, management) even if im in the right and there wrong, but what i said (or how i said) came across wrong/negtive/pushy/etc.

    thats all attitude.

    Gear, i broke a string at a gig and didnt have a spare, which was really a no no, luckly its become a running joke with the artist and the manager. apart from that having great gear which you know how to use is number one. If you carry a bag of pedals make sure you know what you can do with each pedal in that. I'll talk gear in another post if you want (or pm me!!)

    Reading music. i havent been asked to do that however i have been asked to read charts and come up with a part using the chart. so knowing voicing and have a good vocab in a range of styles is recommend, e.g. knowing what voicing to use for soul and knowing why you wouldnt use them for rock or blues.

    Lastly Tv, Radio, performing: i have done all three and tv you have to use play for the people in the room (allowing thats theres a live crowd) and ignore the fact that there is millions of people watching. Radio is more like a practice but if its you and the artist, you need to be able to rearrange the song to fit the crowd/band. i.e. i did a gig with just the artist and a percussionist and i played more open chords, where as with the band (me, with horns, bass and drums) i play more bar chord.

    i think thats enough to think about, i will say i have been playing sessions since may 06 so a short time but i have done tv, radio, and lots of gigs.


    AJ
     

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