#1
What does a session musician do?

like I'm confused as to whether they write the songs with the artists, or just turn up and play?


How do you get into the session business?

thanks
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#2
Quote by ScottB.
What does a session musician do?

like I'm confused as to whether they write the songs with the artists, or just turn up and play?


How do you get into the session business?

thanks



turn up and play their part, but how you get into this region i have no idea.
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#3
Quote by GangsterLi
turn up and play their part, but how you get into this region i have no idea.

How do they know what to play though?
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#4
they just get hired on to play along i suppose they could write some tunes, but a producer hires them in if someone doesnt have a guitar player or whatever, or they can secretly get late night calls to do solo's that the band member cant pull off
#5
Quote by ScottB.
How do they know what to play though?



its either written for them, or you write it. like Eddie Van Halen wrote the guitars to Micheal Jackson's Beat It. And The Red Hot Chili Pepper's solos on Stadium Arcadium arent all written by John Frusciante.
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#6
they have the music put in front of them
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#7
yeah either they have the music put in front of them or producer might know someone is good at a certain style
#8
Learn to sight read sheet music. That'll go a long way to being a session musician. Playing different genres is another essential.

The ability to read sheet music is what separates guitarists from guitar players. I'm currently a guitar player but I'm working heavily on becoming a "guitarist" in that respect. I can read and play basic sheet music, but that's about it.
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#9
What can i say from personal experience and talking with more seasoned players that often work as session musicians is that the main thing about it is that you must be a bit of a jack of all trades. First of all there can be two types of session work you can do: studio and live. Studio is about participating in recordin and in some cases writing too. When it comes to just recording most of the parts you must play have already been written, often in another instrument and you must be able to translate it on guitar following some style and feel guidelines given to you by the artist. There are also cases where you might be filling in for a member who has left the band shortly before recording when everything was already done so you pretty much have to clone his sound and role. In some case you might end up working with the artist too, especially if there are some incomplete songs he might feel you input will help developing or in songs where there should be a guitar part and he didn't come up with anything so far. You always have to remember though that the other guy has the upper hand on what you are doing so if he doesn't like something and says it in a rough way, and you can't immagine how often that can happen, you shouldn't take it too personally. As for live session work you have to work on already recorded songs where in case it's a guitar heavy song you just have to learn the parts or in case it's a more synth or bass oriented one you must come up with filler parts whose prominence is usually dictated by the artist and the reason you got hired. An example of the latter situation can be the live recording of Nine Inch Nains as far as the early material is concerned and you can notice the style and personality of the guitarists when they come up with riffs in those synth heavy songs.

As for getting in the business it's all about being in the right place at the right time really, but you have to start by showing what you got with your band. In my case and the ones I most commonly hear about, it was about showing musicianship and versatility during a recording session with my band. Shortly afterwards the studio producer called me up to help out with a few demos for some singers and then when those demos got out I received some extra calls. Obviously if you make a name for yourself with your work it will help in finding well paying sessions with more creative freedom since your name will attract additional interest in the artist, but the most important issue is to be versatile and also quick in coming up with at least basic ideas on the spot.

Also take a look on the lessons here on this site, a while back someone posted a few articles on the subject and I remember where pretty good.

Good luck on this, if you manage to get this gig going it will help you a lot not only on an economic level but will also improve your musicianship quite a lot.
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#10
with session musicians, it's pretty much their job to know what to play.

On my dads last album he had this amazing blues/jazz/acoustic/lap-steel player come in a track melodies and hooks for his all acoustic songs.

Basically the producer says to the player "this song is in the key of 'x' with an *insert interval order* progression, give us a *insert mood of the song*-ish run.

And then they just played the song 4 times through, so he could hear it. Then played it 4 more times with him laying down his stuff. And hey presto everyone was happy and they moved onto the next song.

Sometimes, they'll give you what to play, sometimes they'll ask you to improvise and occasionally the artists and ses. musicians work together to creete the best song.

To give you an idea of his prowess, he tracked the whole album in only twice as long as the album itself (not including his initial previews and general tom-foolery).

Point being to be a session muso you need serious theory knowledge and playing ability, as well as a certain amount of self-production ability to allow yourself to adapt to other players styles.

As far as how to become one..."study music in all it's forms, 24 hours a day for the next 15 years then we'll talk" is the attitude most producers/artists/labels/teachers/people in general have. Basically, get a degree, get a masters, study abroad, study under already highly esteemed musicians and learn more than one instrument and you might have a chance.

It's worth while though, this guy was in the studio for a little over 4 hours and made more than I do in twelve 40 hour weeks.
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#11
Going to a musical university is almost a must. Alot of times there are advertisements their for students to lay down a piece of music in the studio for something. You can also lay contacts there.

Without that, it's almost impossible. IT's not about ur guitarplaying, as much as it is to "know" people.

Check how Dave Weiner got in vai's band. Vai placed an ad in Berklee (boston music school) on a board, to ask for another guitarplayer or something, Weiner replied, and Vai took him after he saw his guitarplaying.

Seriously you need that, or be extremely lucky that every time you go out, you meet producers, but I won't count on that lol.

It's just that, If I were a producer. I don't know you. And I'm not psychic, so I will never call you, cause I dont' know who you are. And they don't pick out random phone numbers from a phonebook and ask people if they can play guitar.

It's pretty obvious.

As far as guitarplaying goes. You need to be the best in every technique. Not so much advanced, but clean. Everything you play must be played perfect. Cause else it takes long to record well. And time is money, and this is so goddamn true. If soemone can do soemthing in 10 minutes what you would do in 2 hours. Ur fired. AT least I'd fire you. Even if u are a super guitarplayer. Most studio work is for pop music and stuff. Noone cares if u can do 10 arpeggios or play as good as vai.

They either want you to fill up gaps. or play along with the progression. and lay a melody. Take a look at pop based rock music. Like Miley cyrus; listen to those guitar parts, that's perfect example where studio musician's come in.


Basically listen to al music with "real instrument's" where it's credited to just the singer. That's all studiowork.

You also need to be a cool guy. A producer will most likely call a guy he remembers. So if u chill around with producers, make sure to leave an impression. Or else you won't hear from him ever again.

The music world is a game, and you just need to know how to play it.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 23, 2008,
#12
Yeah, I know a guy or two does session work and the advice I've heard.

Read music. Very well. Remember, people writing expect you to be able to do the "guitar" bit - they might write things that are very inconvenient or in some cases, impossible, to do on a guitar, and you have to make the parts fit their vision correctly.

You have to be able to emulate a range of styles. If the producer says "Do it like Clapton/Page/Angus/Stevie Ray/Metallica..." you have to be able to do it like that.

And it has to be played right, every time. In time, clean.
#13
Yes, and I'd like to add;

A producer calls his friends first(if it's a cool guy), then his contacts he worked with previously - then he goes ask people at big music institutes/students - then he calls famous guitarplayers.

Fact is; most things they want you to play isn't very hard; they just can't play it themselves. They go for a student first rather then a famous player. Cause a student costs maybe 5 grand and a famous guitar player 50 grand. Unless a producer specifically wants a famous player for credit and advertising stuff, or his unique style. But most of the time, the producer already has his vision set, and just needs a performer.

He's not going to find you on myspace or ultimate guitar or whatever; Lol.

On the positive side; Guitar is the only instrument, that synths can't get right. Nowadays alot of orchestration and piano stuff comes from midikeyboards;

Guitars drums and bass have most chance in this field.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 23, 2008,
#14
How do they find these guys? You think they troll conservatories for classical guitarists?

On the positive side; Guitar is the only instrument, that synths can't get right. Nowadays alot of orchestration and piano stuff comes from midikeyboards;
Still doesn't sound exactly right. Most producers would prefer an orchestra to a synth (but an orchestra would be damn expensive). In that fall out boy song they used a session stringed section.
Last edited by demonofthenight at Nov 23, 2008,
#15
Quote by demonofthenight
How do they find these guys? You think they troll conservatories for classical guitarists?


As a matter of fact.

2 friends of mine are on the conservatorium in Amsterdam. And frequently teachers recommend players, or players from the school get invited to provide music for live theater stuff and tv shows.

They also have their own "advertisement boards" to ask for players to work on musical scores for tv shows or tv commercials.

They do troll, cause if u need good muscian's in all styles in a short time span. First place you would look is A musical institute right. Pretty Common sense.

And true; if a producer has enough money for orchestra they will use it. But they will also find all those players in 1 visit to a classical music conservatory, since he knows for 100% certain, they have experience, he has wide option too choose, and they can all sight read which makes it fast and cheap, with good quality.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 23, 2008,
#16
Quote by GangsterLi
its either written for them, or you write it. like Eddie Van Halen wrote the guitars to Micheal Jackson's Beat It. And The Red Hot Chili Pepper's solos on Stadium Arcadium arent all written by John Frusciante.


what are you talking about they werent all written by him (john)? all of them were either written by him or improvised
#17
I am a professional session musician. I did a composition theory degree which helps. You also have to have connections and be greasy. Well cya
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