Band peeps: Who’s primarily responsible for song tempo?

crazyboutguitars

Supporting Member
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441
Touché
I’ve been playing professionally and semi pro for 35+ years and you’d think my timing would be impeccable, but a few years ago I got the silly urge to take some jazz lessons from a local recording jazz artist, cause as everyone knows, jazz draws huge crowds, right? Anyway, it was like learning guitar all over again, and since he was big on time signature he insisted I get a metronome. That lasted for several months and it helped tremendously, but I got bored with reading charts and hearing a dang metronome and went back to my wayward path of rock and roll.
I had forgotten how important good meter was until I recorded some demos recently. The click track was what reminded me. By having that on the recording the drummer was able to add his parts after I had recorded the rhythm and vocal tracks. I haven’t used a metronome in years, but I definitely will use a click track when recording.
 

Steve73

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4,898
I am too lazy to read the whole thread but my two cents from gigging over a couple decades. I would say that whoever starts the song is responsible for the correct tempo. Once the band is in, everyone should be listening to make sure it isn’t getting pushed or dragging, not just the drummer.

That said, if the singer deviates or screws up a cue, you need to follow them. The melody is the focus and if the band doesn’t quickly adjust to the singer, you got a train wreck on your hands!
 

crazyboutguitars

Supporting Member
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441
Nothing goes out the window and not everyone with good meter practices with a metronome, which is just a tool for helping overcome weaknesses in the ability to naturally play in time and feel where measures begin and end.

I've only ever been in a couple of situations where I could even do that, but most of the time it's been like herding cats and getting everyone to listen to the whole band and not just themselves.
Point taken.

Just for kicks and giggles, why not download a metronome on your phone and see how well you do. Have someone start it and muffle it after 10 seconds of playing in time. Make it simple - 4/4 timing at at moderate pace. Play for another minute and a half and un muffle it (unmuffle? ...is that a word?). Are you still in? Most people will be way off, others slightly off, which means a weakness has been exposed. I can’t do it perfectly

Our drummer has worked with the Drifters and Hank Williams Jr, as well as numerous local acts in Memphis. He can get pretty darn close, so he’s in charge of keeping time for us. He’s the closest we can get to a metronome.

Here’s a non sequitur: I know NamaEnsou must mean something. You gonna give us a clue?
 

fetchmybeer

Member
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1,514
Drummer. If the singer has hiccups in his delivery, the band adjusts, but the drummer keeps the tempo. If the singer is the one keeping time, you may as well have no time at all. When I feel I'm off, I don't look for the singer to bail me out. I listen for the kick and the snare. Band has to be on, and the singer can move over that.
 

NamaEnsou

Supporting Member
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6,787
...download a metronome on your phone and see how well you do. Most people will be way off, others slightly off...
Both of the exes I spent time with on stage had excellent meter, and I'm so thankful to them for putting up with mine.

NamaEnsou must mean something.
Ensou is performance, or to perform, and nama is natural state, or live. Nama Ensou = live performance. I've played a lot in Japan and picked the word up that way.
 

NamaEnsou

Supporting Member
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6,787
...whoever starts the song is responsible for the correct tempo. Once the band is in, everyone should be listening to make sure it isn’t getting pushed or dragging, not just the drummer...if the singer deviates or screws up a cue, you need to follow them...if the band doesn’t quickly adjust to the singer, you got a train wreck on your hands!
Exactly the kind of player I can get along with. Every bit of it is spot on.
 

crazyboutguitars

Supporting Member
Messages
441
Both of the exes I spent time with on stage had excellent meter, and I'm so thankful to them for putting up with mine.

Ensou is performance, or to perform, and nama is natural state, or live. Nama Ensou = live performance. I've played a lot in Japan and picked the word up that way.
Good band name!
 

bigtone23

Member
Messages
5,736
I am too lazy to read the whole thread but my two cents from gigging over a couple decades. I would say that whoever starts the song is responsible for the correct tempo. Once the band is in, everyone should be listening to make sure it isn’t getting pushed or dragging, not just the drummer.

That said, if the singer deviates or screws up a cue, you need to follow them. The melody is the focus and if the band doesn’t quickly adjust to the singer, you got a train wreck on your hands!
This post mirrors my response, down to the TL:DR...
As a drummer, I feel my job is to make sure the tempo doesn't fluctuate in a distracting or energy dropping way.
 

Maguchi

Member
Messages
145
When there are parts where you want to intentionally slow down or speed up, the band member designated in charge of that tempo change for that song needs to signal the other band members with body motions e.g. guitar or bass neck, arms etc. This is worked out beforehand so everyone knows where to look for that tempo change. Which member signals for each song or tempo shift can be changed from song to song to keep egos in check & for the type of song & situation.
 

NamaEnsou

Supporting Member
Messages
6,787
When there are parts where you want to intentionally slow down or speed up, the band member designated in charge of that tempo change for that song needs to signal the other band members with body motions e.g. guitar or bass neck, arms etc. This is worked out beforehand so everyone knows where to look for that tempo change.
It's really not much different from walking through the woods in a group. No one needs to be told the guy they're following just changed directions, and with musicians used to paying attention, pretty easy really.
Ironically some of the musicians I've had the most trouble with were the "hey, we never worked that out in practice" types, and the ones who did very well at it were either attentive pros or hobby level players who actually understood how much they still had to learn, making them eager to progress as musicians.
 

BlackT-Shirt

Member
Messages
888
I’d consider this a dumb question, but recent events compel me to ask it, as I was told the other day that one band relies on its lead singer to establish and maintain the song tempo. Meaning that, if there are any variations in the song tempo, they consider it the lead singer’s fault (apparently from starting a vocal phrase a micro-second too early or extending it a micro-second too long). I totally do NOT get that concept; in every band I’ve ever been in, it was clearly the drummer’s job (assuming he/she starts the song) to get the tempo right and (regardless of who starts the song) to stay on the right tempo. How, really, could it be any other way?
Thoughts?
Keef.
 
Messages
52
Do you mean keeping the settings on my pedal the same?
When you select a tremolo speed try to keep it constant and jot down the setting along with the key and bpm with any other levels on the set-list. The drummer gets used to it, but if you select any old speed every time, it makes a difference to a drummer.

Perhaps you could sit behind the drums and see for yourself... Get a beat locked in and after a few minutes, change the tremolo speed or intensity and return to the kit. You will detect the difference regardless of the groups' tempo. The tremolo rate sets up a pulse. Especially the Intensity Control. Too much tremolo even gets confusing for the audience. A Little Dab'll Do Ya!

Plato once told Aristotle that when an equal in the band mentions something, you have to take it serious, otherwise the collegiate atmosphere is ruined. But then, they poisoned him for corrupting the youth of Athens.
 
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Messages
52
When there are parts where you want to intentionally slow down or speed up, the band member designated in charge of that tempo change for that song needs to signal the other band members with body motions e.g. guitar or bass neck, arms etc. This is worked out beforehand so everyone knows where to look for that tempo change. Which member signals for each song or tempo shift can be changed from song to song to keep egos in check & for the type of song & situation.
In the good ol' bad ol' days, there was Guitar-Choreography... And Step-In-Time! These guys would have been headlined as a "Show Band" rather than an orchestra or combo.

 
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