Listening to music as a guitarist vs. listening as a producer

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by T For Texas, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. T For Texas

    T For Texas Member

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    I've observed there are two completely different ways to listen to the music your band is making - as a guitarist vs. as a producer.

    My latest blog post covers this topic and I'd be interested if you agree.

    http://guitarplanet-david.blogspot.com/

    I think if more of us guitarists listened as with the ears of producers, the quality of our music would improve dramatically.
     
  2. Ocelot

    Ocelot Member

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    I agree with your points, but to me it's not listening like a producer, it's listening like a Musician - which guitar players should be doing in the first place. You can be a monster 'guitarist' and an absolutely terrible musician. The song/record is what's important, not the guitarist's ego.
     
  3. thesjkexperienc

    thesjkexperienc ^^^ I made this guitar^^^

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    Excellent blog!

    Dont: You think you must be playing thru the entire song - never sitting out for a verse or passage

    Do:Focus on the DYNAMICS of the songs - where should they be down low and chilled vs. up and intense.

    The latter, to me, is one of the most important things for a band and it is amazing how few use dynamics.

    I would have added a few band/producer combos to listen to as examples. For example Michelle Branch as a song called Breath (I think) and the production is just amazing! The Beatles and Pink Floyd are fantastic for learning about not playing too fancy as well as not needing to fill every empty space.
     
  4. franksguitar

    franksguitar Member

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    As someone who has a studio where other musicians come in and record where I produce and engineer as well as being a guitarist who can play 3 other instruments (not necessarily on client recordings) you have to play a role to get the best performance for the song as well as the correct chordal intervals to play to avoid clutter if you have 2 guitars or keys whatever as well as dynamics and space in the music so it breathes and make suggestions to the band. I always accentuate the bass and drums and add a bit of compression and lead vocal and adjust other levels accordingly by panning and levels that fit in the mix as well as EQ Too many recordings these days are so pumped up to the max missing the dynamics in mastering and those loud recordings cause ear fatique. I still do analog tape 16 and 8 tracks to digital or just digital using tube preamps
     
  5. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    I agree, or call it listening like an arranger...or better yet, listening like a listener.

    I mean, the goal is always to do something musical that furthers the emotional impression that the whole piece makes on the listener. Anything any individual is doing as a cog in that machine that is extraneous or worse, that gets in the way of furthering that goal, is the wrong thing to be doing. Do less is almost always a good thought to keep in mind as an ensemble player.

    I get that it's only natural to have at least some part of your ego tied up in your musicianship. But it's best if everyone has his or her eyes on the prize -- how the piece as a whole affects listeners. Take pride in your contributions to that goal, even if the contribution is laying out.

    Sometimes it can be a little challenging, when you're in the throes of rehearsals and everyone's contributing arrangement ideas, to step back and listen to the whole. Rehearsal tapes can help, but also having a producer or having someone function as the nominal producer or arranger can help too -- so that someone's actually responsible for stepping back from the heat of the moment and for concentrating on the whole.

    I know sometimes for me I've written a song with one arrangement in mind. Taken it to a band we're we've worked our way to some new arrangement ideas with everyone contributing, which is great, but in the course of teaching everyone the song, singing, playing, I wind up with a lot on my mind during the actual rehearsals and only going back and listening to the rehearsal tapes do I realize -- hey, what I'm doing in the verse there is just muddying up the works.
     
  6. shooto

    shooto Supporting Member

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    nice...thanks!
     
  7. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    I've always listened as both.
    Even when I was very young when I listened to music I listened to everything that was going on.
    I never just wanted to be a guitarist, I always wanted to know how to record, arrange, and produce, well before you could put together home studios easily.
     
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Supporting Member

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    Let's talk seriously about that "don't play" thing.

    Most of my playing is in jazz quartets (on double bass). If everything works well, by the end of the night we will have worked through every combination of solo, duo, trio and quartet that the ensemble has in attendance. Not usually for entire tunes, but for parts throughout the night.

    It keeps things interesting. It keeps things dynamic. Audiences like it. I think they feel on some level that they have been respected.

    + + +

    Even in a rock band, this could work if you let it. Go ahead -- drums and guitar for a moment. Keys and bass, drums out. Etc. What happens? What does it mean, musically? How does it feel when xxx comes back in?
     
  9. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    It really helps your producing listening skills to have some serious voice training. Owning your own studio helps too. I think that might be why I feel like I'm not on the same page with most of the members here. I'm not really guitar centric with my listening at all whereas many people here seem to only be into that.
     
  10. twoheadedboy

    twoheadedboy Member

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    I play guitar only in the context of writing and recording, so I think I'm stuck in producer mode most of the time.
     
  11. kugelblitz

    kugelblitz Member

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    Yes! I just linked to this article on my jamming group's facebook group. This is exaclty what we've been trying to get 'certain people' to understand. We jam with up to 5 guitars, so it's really important that everyone 'listens like a producer' rather than tries to blow everyone away with their awesome playing all the time.
     
  12. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    bingo & have a cigar
     
  13. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    One of the things with me is, I played during the rock era and learned a lot during that time.
    Back then it wasn't about guitars, it was about songs. And in reality, rock n roll started out about vocals, not guitars.
    Guitars were the support instrument for vocals back then.
    So I was seriously studying guitar at a time when the guitar in the band was a support instrument for the vocals, before guitarists started getting any center stage time.
    Well before Mr Clapton changed all of that.

    So I have always tended to think of the guitar that way, and leads that way. To this day my leads, no matter how dazzling and flashy, are always above all other things melodic and appropriate for the song.
    My point being that during rock guys tended to listen to the total music, not neccesarily one instrument.
    That is how guys like Clapton and Jimmy page got recognition, guitar players started noticing what those guys were doing.
    It would be something like "damn, did you hear what that guy was doing in the background?"
    It seems like the more rock faded away and things like metal and hair bands rose up in its place guitarists more and more gradually replaced vocalists as the nucleus of the band.
     
  14. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Yowch! 5 guitars, what are you playing Nigerian Juju music?
     
  15. kugelblitz

    kugelblitz Member

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    Ha, no just a bunch of guys who want to jam. 1 drummer (sometimes 2), 2 bass players, 3-6 guitarists, depending on attendance, plus people rotating vocals. We just get together and do improv or cover songs (mostly rock). Usually only a few people know each song, and the rest just jearn the key/chords and join in. So the problem we have is some guitarists thinking they need to play constantly, and be the loudest guitar. We get volume creep as people keep turning themselves up to be heard over the cacophany. It's been a bit of a process trying to explain to people that they don't need to be playing distorted power chords or ripping distorted leads ALL the time, through EVERY song.

    T for Texas, I like the post as it lays the key points out clearly and simply.
     
  16. macmeda

    macmeda Silver Supporting Member

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    Nice blog.
    In the car today I flipped on the radio and the song was in a space between notes part of the song. There was no music playing but I knew instantly it was Elton John. Sure enough when they came back in it was. It was momentary but the space somehow revealed who it was. That proves to me the importance of how and when not to play.
    Don't exactly know how that worked but it did.
     

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