Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 69

Thread: The Grateful Dead Method

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    sparks, nv
    Posts
    791

    Default

    My approach with any new tune is to noodle it to death with various licks, tempos, rhythms, etc. for a few hours at a stretch until I feel I've made it "mine". But then when playing it with others I've found I could only use a portion of what I worked on due to the differences in playing solo or with others.

    I'm a big proponemt of playing things in your own style, not neccesarily the way it was written, otherwise it just feels like I'm copying rather than creating. Even the most standard bluegrass tune can stand a few innovations.
    mandollusional Mike

  2. #2
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default

    Hear, hear! #I too enjoying "noodling" a bit and it's something that I'm finding less and less people to noodle with. #I wonder if all the emphasis on learning things properly and some of the tools can can used to imitate songs have taken away the ability to just rely on your ears, brain and instinct.
    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  3. #3

    Default

    I also "noodle" around with a tune. After a while it sort becomes my version of the song and becomes a part of me, not just a memorized duplicatation of the original. I guess this is how someone develops their own style. I rarely read tablature and usually play by ear so this method has become easier over time. I think I get a better feel for the song this way. I might check the tablature out later to see how my version compares with others versions and sometimes make changes if I'm not satisfied with what I'm doing.
    Just might get some sleep tonight

    http://www.geocities.com/tenn_jed_1999/

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    sparks, nv
    Posts
    791

    Default

    For myself, the "ear, brain, instinct" thing only came after much learning by imitation and gaining the confidence to just cut loose and enjoy creating. It's always a hoot to go back to a tune you learned long ago from tab, and have since added your own twists, just to hear how far you've come from the original.
    mandollusional Mike

  5. #5
    Registered User ira's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    holliston, ma
    Posts
    2,217

    Default

    saw the dead last night (man do they sound happy and amazing and warren haynes..what can i say but wow!). and they continue to play with their songs, altering and moving them dynamically. good enough for them...good enough for me. though i still try to learn songs in the way they were written as well. i think the combo of playing the traditional/original version, and learning to take off helps me to understand the song, what i want to do with it, and music in general in a more full and satisfying way.

  6. #6
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default

    Well, all of this reminds me of an interesting jam experience I had a couple of weeks ago. #At a local bluegrass festival, late on Saturday night as the regular bluegrass jam was breaking up, a couple of young musicians stopped by to pick. #Both were outstanding players and had learned a considerable amount of Chris Thile/Nickel Creek tunes. #I assumed that if these folks were that good, they would be good at "noodling" - wrong! #It seems that all they could do was to imitate what they heard on record, but could not apply any of it in a jam situation.

    I still say just trust your ears, brains and instincts.



    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  7. #7
    Registered User ira's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    holliston, ma
    Posts
    2,217

    Default

    amen!

  8. #8

    Default

    If ya play a tune from tab without adding any of "your" stuff to it then music wouldn't be near as fun to listen to or play. #I, for the life of me, can't help but add my own twists to songs I learn! My version's of songs are complimented and critisized by the folks I play with, just depends on whether they like the sounds bouncing around in my head!!!



    Look up (to see whats comin down)

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    sparks, nv
    Posts
    791

    Default

    And don't forget 'looter: the farther away you are, the better you sound!

    That's still cracking me up!
    mandollusional Mike

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,913

    Default

    Mandolooter, that Givens still sounds awesome, even way out here in CA!



    I always tweak the songs I play. But what cracks me up, is that I find myself getting opinionated about how the song's supposed to go. (As if I were somehow its author)

    I change words. I substitute chords. I come up with entire stories about what these songs mean.

    I do this because unless I have a clear understanding of what I'm singing about, I am completely at a loss to remember the words and changes.

    - Benig




  11. #11
    Grimm Pickins Dave Caulkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Springfield, VT.
    Posts
    159

    Default

    Ahhh.... The joy of the "jamband" approach...

    For years, this was the way I approached everything and I always was surrounded by players who indulged this trait of mine. However, nowadays if I want to rework a piece I have to do it in my own time and space.

    My current group, a folk-rock band (think Joni Mitchell, bluesy Clapton, and acoustic Zeppelin coming together) approach tunes in a very 'matter of fact' manner. This is not to say that they are exact covers or not open to interpretation but the solo sections are usually single verse structures. This is a learning experience for me, as even in a formal setting I played jazz. Our singer is a classically trained guitarist and doesn't really feel comfortable in a jam setting yet (ironic, as I learned the opposite way... too much structure scares me).

    After a decade of playing with jambands, jazz-cats, and Deadheads, it's a change I welcome, if only for the change of pace. I'm sure I'll return to the open space of progressive interpretation (probably via jazz) but for now this is where I am.

    Later,

    Dave
    1984 Flatiron A5-2
    1930 (?) Regal Tenor

    Toil without song is like a weary journey without an end.
    H. P. Lovecraft

  12. #12
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (Benignus @ Aug. 02 2004, 15:44)
    I do this because unless I have a clear understanding of what I'm singing about, I am completely at a loss to remember the words and changes.
    Benig - I know exactly what you mean. You may recall our discussion about the lyrics to "Wayfaring Stranger" - my version is "Where Gods we deem ...."

    I know that this sort of thing really irks the bluegrassers, but I can't help it. It seems to come out more at a festival when you've played the same tune over and over without any variation. For me personally, I think this is a way to make a song more personal and just plain fun.

    Now back to notion of "noodling" - do you think that this type of music is more interesting to musicians than it is to the listeners? I get that sort of comment when this topic comes up, but it sure seems like folks the Dead made a real career out of it.
    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  13. #13
    Registered User ira's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    holliston, ma
    Posts
    2,217

    Default

    i don't think of it as noodling, but as exporation. the dead are similar to freeform jazz guys. there is a basic tune, but through exploration, it can be made into something slightly or drastically different based on the exploration and interplay of the musicians. this can be done in a long form way, or in a single verse solo structure. it is just a different way of looking at your music.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    sparks, nv
    Posts
    791

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (mandopete @ Aug. 03 2004, 09:14)
    - do you think that this type of music is more interesting to musicians than it is to the listeners?
    Ahhh, therein lies the rub, guess alot depends on the "noodlers" and just what they are doing to keep it fresh and cohesive at the same time. If everybody is goin' in the same general direction it sounds OK, but if they're just goin' off into space with no real interaction then it's kinda tedious, IMWO.
    mandollusional Mike

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,913

    Default

    My string band is walking the fence between the Dead/Jamgrass approch, and more traditional verse/chorus/break structures.

    We will quite often 'hang around' and 'go modal' on the tonic before and after the breaks, or as an intro in place of the typical kick-off. Truth is ... we're really just stalling until I can remember the next verse!

    Sometimes we'll just jam on a key, usually A. Last Sunday one guitarist asked, "Is that A-major or A-minor?" ... "Both"

    The crowd loves it, but we do commincate well, and try not to over do it. We were told by a recent venue that we are an exception to the jam-band norm of shapeless chaos.

    Pete,
    I do recall that discussion on Wayfaring Stranger - a song I don't have the 'guts' to perform. (After MandoJohnny took the young Mr. White to task over that personal interpretation.)

    John Henry is a song with which I have taken many liberties, adding chords to flesh out the melody, and picking just certain verses that I felt told the best story.

    I was playing it one moring on the breakfsat stage of a local festival. Another singer asked me why I didn't sing certain verses. I explained about how I needed a story to hold onto. She then proceeded to break down the slang terms and jargon in some other verses, giving me insight into how they supported tha greater tale of John vs. The Steam Drill.

    My point ... sometimes the evolution of a song will come from outside influences, as much as from within.

    - Benig

    (Darn, I'm long-winded)




  16. #16
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (Benignus @ Aug. 03 2004, 09:52)
    We will quite often 'hang around' and 'go modal' on the tonic before and after the breaks, or as an intro in place of the typical kick-off.
    I like this idea - a combination of a more traditional form with space for jamming in between. I have a couple of somgs where I am trying to do this, but the band is having trouble switching in and out of approaches. I tell them (the bass player in particular) to just "play what you feel," and not worry too much about form. The trick is to get the musicians to listen to each other and act as a group - very much easier said than done.
    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  17. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,913

    Default

    " ... The trick is to get the musicians to listen to each other and act as a group - very much easier said than done."

    Yep. I have trouble explaining this idea to folks at jam circles. I guess that a lot of people feel more secure knowing they can count off so many measures of A, so many measures of D, etc.

    But with this approach you really have to listen to whomever has the next lead, and follow them to the next change. Bold kick-offs, clean picking, and intuitive phrasing are important ingredients to making this work.

    It does surprise me that this approach is difficult to explain to BG pickers. There is only one rule. Don't go anywhere until someone takes the lead! Common sense really.

    - Benig

  18. #18
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (Benignus @ Aug. 04 2004, 06:14)
    But with this approach you really have to listen to whomever has the next lead, and follow them to the next change. Bold kick-offs, clean picking, and intuitive phrasing are important ingredients to making this work.
    That is the key, isn't it? I hadn't thought too much about it, but these are the key elements to making the "jam" approach work. Thanks for the insight Benig!
    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  19. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    sparks, nv
    Posts
    791

    Default

    " ... The trick is to get the musicians to listen to each other and act as a group ..."

    Gee Benig, where have I heard this before?

    mandopete - That's exactly what he was tryin' to teach me jammin' at the last Strawberry, LOL.
    mandollusional Mike

  20. #20
    Registered User ira's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    holliston, ma
    Posts
    2,217

    Default

    the "conversation" musically between the players needs to be like any conversation. listening to each other, answering back in kind, staying on topic even if there are connected tangents, and taking your turn when appropriate, taking care not to be too short or verbose. eye contact and body language are key as well for success in the interaction.

    jamming in a free mode requires politeness and willingness to take a stand within the constraints of the situation.

    just my 5 cents,
    ira

    (sorry i am a speech-language pathologist, so this just seemed like a good comparison).

  21. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,913

    Default

    LOL! Yep ... I'm pretty stubborn about that issue. If ya' can't handle personal interaction ... go sing karoke!

    Credit where its due ... I had a very difficult time getting this sort of improvisational interaction to work when playing mandolin in my group - rather than guitar, where I controled the chord changes. The advice above about kick-offs, and boldly phrased statements came from last month's 'Driving the Group' thread. It all works, too!

    - Benig

  22. #22

    Default

    Some of my bands best stuff are tunes that we learned, not from the original recording, but elsewhere...jams, campfires, grandmothers, pilgrims....

    Without the mental constraints of imitation, we dig in and explore. Collaboration sets in.

    People say "Who's arrangement is that?" Answer: "I dunno..."

  23. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,913

    Default

    "Some of my bands best stuff are tunes that we learned, not from the original recording, but elsewhere...jams, campfires, grandmothers, pilgrims.... "
    - LCM

    I couldn't agree more! I much prefer learning a song directly from another player. The oral tradition method has worked for hundreds, if not *thousands of years*. If if ain't broke, don't fix it.

  24. #24
    Registered User ira's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    holliston, ma
    Posts
    2,217

    Default

    going experimenting ala gd method tonight. opening our second set: aint no sunshine 'into' thrill is gone into knockin on heaven's door into evil ways.... should be fascinating.

  25. #25
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    139

    Default

    Dude! You gotta tape that! I'd love to hear it!
    The closest we usually come to something like that with the folks I jam with is "Friend of the Devil>Blackberry BLossom>Friend of the Devil". Simple, but fun.

    Chris

Similar Threads

  1. Grateful Dead tunes
    By mando_toss_flycoon in forum Rock, Folk Rock, Roots Rock, Rockabilly
    Replies: 104
    Last: Apr-10-2019, 5:45pm
  2. David lemieux, archivist, grateful dead
    By Rick Schmidlin in forum Jams, Workshops, Camps, Places To Meet Others
    Replies: 6
    Last: Feb-04-2008, 5:06pm
  3. Grateful Dead
    By Lane Pryce in forum General Mandolin Discussions
    Replies: 12
    Last: Mar-28-2006, 5:31pm
  4. grateful dead?
    By edawg in forum Rock, Folk Rock, Roots Rock, Rockabilly
    Replies: 27
    Last: Jul-27-2005, 10:33pm
  5. Grateful Dead
    By J. Mark Lane in forum Rock, Folk Rock, Roots Rock, Rockabilly
    Replies: 18
    Last: Mar-03-2005, 3:13pm

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •