It sounded funny when they said it but...

May 10, 2012 10:22 AM

Years ago, when I was young, I was in a band for a bit, playing bass. One day, at practice, the drummer said he was listening to some of our stuff and this one song, he had this idea for a guitar solo at the end of the track. So he starts explaining it to the guitarist/singer/songwriter (and the only one with any real talent in the band). So he kinda goes "doo da doo, do do doo da doo" and makes this litle wiggling montion with a crabbed left hand. Well I laughed my head off, as it was completely untuneful and the little hand movements were hilarious. What? he asks. Sorry mate, its the little hand movement your making, it just made me laugh. Guitarist laughs and drummer says, yeah, I know what you mean, but then, I am a drummer. So the guitarist says "Do you mean like this?" and plays a bit, and the drummer goes "thats exactly it."

So we play the song and at the end we just carry on and the guitartist pulls out this solo that is amazing, and has the bit exactly as the drummer said and he was so fucking right it was untrue. At the end, we were all like "wow mate, that was amazing, nice one drummer dude. " I even said "sorry for laughing mate, it wasn't the idea but the way you were trying to explain it."

So, mefites musos, bring on your tales of "that sounds/looks stupid" and then you were blown away.
posted by marienbad (4 comments total)

in high school I was playing some music with friends, and we were all mostly unaware of anything like music theory. Two of us really weren't sure what string corresponded to what note. Only one guy knew any chords. So he played a couple little riffs and this chord progression, and then the singer and I had some great ideas as to where it could go, as a song. Only... we had no way of conveying the ideas. We tried drawing pictures, hand gestures, humming, or just yelling at each other.

nope. never worked.
posted by dubold at 2:12 PM on May 10, 2012

Mine are basically all to do with singing.

I never really sang until fairly recently, at least after my voice broke, and assumed I couldn't. But circumstances nudged me into singing, so I realized I had to get better. But the amount of woo involved in singing instruction is astounding.

HOWEVER a lot of the things I thought were woo really aren't. For example:

-- your voice really is like an instrument you have to learn to play
-- you really can radically change how it sounds and how on pitch you are
-- very small things can make a very big difference in your voice. For example, how tired you are, what you just ate.
-- the whole breathing thing is fundamental

I think I assumed that if you thought about/practised your singing you'd end up sounding fake. But actually it's kind of the opposite... the more I've got into the technical weeds of the singing, the more relaxed and 'like me' the singing has gotten.

The hard thing about teaching singing is that there's not much of a shared vocabulary. So singing teachers say things like 'support your voice' that seem to mean nothing until you work out what they actually do mean, in terms of which muscles you should be contracting and so on.

Anyway, that's been a big revelation for me. As a first approximation the Bret Manning CDs are pretty good. There's no woo in there at all, but they are pretty darn repetitive and he has the Richard Simmons vibe going on.
posted by unSane at 10:03 PM on May 10, 2012

Many years ago I was asked to put together a special musical number for a religious service. Now you can go to a nice sheet music store and find lots of sacred music arrangements, but I have a fair bit of music theory training and enjoy doing my own arrangements, so I met up with one of the other singers and we started trying things out.

Now this other guy, he could sing but he had zero musical knowledge beyond that. So he says to me, "hey, what if we have a chorus of singers singing the last half of of Hymn A on repeat while a soloist sings the main melody from Hymn B"

I looked at the two hymns in question. Hymn A was in E minor, but Hymn B was in D major. Reader, I did not think this would work, and was beginning to suspect my colleague was messing with me. Nevertheless I sat down with the music and did some quick mental calculation/modulation to see if it would be feasible. We tried it out...

...and it was weird. I mean I had transposed the melody of Hymn B into the relative-major key of Hymn A, and it worked for the most part but there were some strange dissonances, passing tones that I wasn't so sure about. But the other guy, well he thought it was the bee's knees and I was having a hard time dissuading him. It was more his gig than mine anyway so I decided to play along.

We got some other singers together to form the chorus and practiced it out. It was starting to sound better, though the chorus singers were a little shaky and confused when the soloist came in with the slightly ill-fitting counter-melody from the other hymn. But for better or worse this was what we had.

The day came for the service and eventually we got up to sing our little number. The weird little chorus-solo happened at the end of the song so we had a few verses of just Hymn A to warm up. Things were going well and then it was time for the last first and the crazy mashup...

...and it WORKED. Boy did it ever work. It was amazing. It was florid, and surprising, and emotional. Several people got misty eyed. Even the one grumpy old guy in the congregation who had never been nice to me before came up to thank us for the song.

That day I learned that good ideas sometimes come from people who don't have the limitation of knowledge in a particular field, sometimes they just think something sounds cool and, despite all odds, it actually ends up being really, really cool.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:22 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think all of my stories are the other way around.
posted by davejay at 8:08 PM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

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