#1
Hi guys, not an issue but something up for discussion.

Firstly note this is not about the ability to read music. That's a great skill to have. However......

What are your opinions on using music stands during a live performance?


And before anyone jumps up and yells exceptions, I realise that it's a necessity for orchestras and the like. They NEVER practice (don't have to) and it's practically the only way to co-ordinate that many instruments at once. Additionally no need to jump up and yell "but x band/ensemble do it all the time and it sounds great!", I'm going to talk about non-high-level musicians here. With your "x band/ensemble" if the sheet music fell off the stand they probably wouldn't give a toss.

I'll give you background on what's spurred this line of conversation recently between myself and my muso friends.

As some of you know, I do some paid session stuff in addition to my more permanent bands. A lot of these have required learning between 6 and 20 for a one or two off performance. (Yes paid otherwise I wouldn't bother). I always memorise all the songs, and have them ready before any meeting up of band peoples. But I've noticed lately that I'm the only one showing up without a music stand, or who have actually memorised the songs at all. Instead I'm being put with a group of people playing with their sheets at practice, and still playing with their sheets during the live performances.


Now I've personally never been a fan of using music stands during a live performance, whether I'm in a band, or if I'm a spectator.

If I'm in a band, I should have learnt the songs before I got on stage, and quite honestly, usually I get so "into" it while playing that I easily lose my place if I have to follow what's on a piece of paper infront of me. In the rare case I have a "mental blank" as to what chord comes next, I'll either fake it, logically think through what's next, ask the bassist, or just not play (artistic dynamics .

If I'm watching a band, I like to see two things. Firstly I want to see the band have eye contact with the audience, to put on a show. Secondly I want to see that they're having fun with eachother. If you have both these in place, the show is going to be fun to watch at least, even if it's not "technically perfect". With time practicing they will be perfect and boom, it's a good show.

But introduce sheet music stands and the following occurs:

- I still don't use sheet music. So it will lead to situations where everyone, including the singer are looking at their stands and I'm just jamming out. Some people have commented that I looked like I was having a lot more fun than the rest of the band, and I'll also walk away with the most complements. Why's that? Well I was the only one looking at the audience, the rest were focussed on a piece of paper infront of them. Yes, that's great, but not in the best interests of the band.

- If we just consider logistics, a lot of stages are small enough already. Chuck a couple of music stands on and you have even less space.

- If a member loses where they are, it takes them longer to find on the piece of paper where they're up to.

- In the worst case scenario (and exactly what happened last monday), one of the members didn't bring their sheet music for a song. There wasn't enough space to look at another member's sheet for the song so it was just cut from the set. A song that we'd played before.

- Another situation arose where I spent a long time figuring out a song, it was pretty complex. Showed up for practice and nobody could follow the sheets provided. Accordingly it was not practiced, and I had just wasted an hour for no particular reason.


But I guess what peeves me the most about using sheets is that it's just LAZY. You either learn the song or you don't. It's not that hard to learn a song, a couple of people on this forum (myself included) have learnt 30 songs in a week, and then performed them on stage without sheets. If you merely grab some chords off the internet (or even do a one time transcribe without playing it later), you haven't learnt the song.

If you haven't learnt the song, it's not professional. It'll just come off as amateur, because, that's what it is. No ironing out of nuances in the song, it's just going to be straight of that piece of paper.

Another argument that I'd like to put forward in relation to everyone going off sheets is that the "organic" feel of a band can be lost. In most cases, it'll sound like a bunch of musicians playing the same song at the same time, rather than playing one song together as a unit.

The latter comes with familiarity of the material (ie. learning the song) and playing it out with each other. Realistically if everyone's going off the sheets, you'll at best have the same structure, with some improv here and there, but it just won't sound "professional".

That's my rant. Discuss.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#2
I think it depends on what style of music your playing, nothings lamer than seeing some one with sheet music or lead sheets playing rock n roll or heavy metal, but the same concept still caries weight with jazz or classical, Liszt was famous for not using sheet music and thereby being more exciting to watch and the condition has carried on to all concert pianists since
#3
It depends on the music. If it's your standard rock/pop/jazz fare, it should be pretty memorable.

But also, some instruments just need the music in front of them, due to the nature of their parts, which are often not memorable. I've seen an acoustic pop rock group with a string quartet. The string quartet needs to read the music.

If the parts are pretty intricate and nonrepetitive, then there needs to be sheet music. And if that's the kind of music being performed anyway, it would be fitting with the atmosphere.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
#4
Quote by Xiaoxi

If the parts are pretty intricate and nonrepetitive, then there needs to be sheet music. And if that's the kind of music being performed anyway, it would be fitting with the atmosphere.


I'm pretty sure if concert pianists can get through without sheet music a string quartet can as well
#5
Quote by Bad Kharmel
I'm pretty sure if concert pianists can get through without sheet music a string quartet can as well

to an extent but when you think about the pianist, if he/she makes a mistake, they know how to fix it, they aren't using anyone else as a que. on the other hand a string quartet may be working off eachother in a complex way.

I guess my point is that it is much easier to recover from a mistake when only one person has to recover and synch to themselves as opposed to four (or even more) people having to synch back together....

however I do agree that sheet music is often irritating. even when I was in middle school or when ever it was that I was in the school band, I memorized the sheet music rather than playing along with it, and my teacher hated me for it cuz I would often not take out my music.
Quote by Dirk Gently
Some pieces are only meant to be played by people with six fingers on their fretting hand. Sorry.
#6
I think its probably better to have it memorized, but If you don't have the time sheet music is better than no music
#7
Quote by Bad Kharmel
I'm pretty sure if concert pianists can get through without sheet music a string quartet can as well

Nope, a pianist in a solo position would have memorable parts. But accompaniments are not memorable. If the piano was an accompaniment in the back of the orchestra, you can be sure the player is reading. And aside from the notes themselves, other instructions such as dynamics and articulations would be too cumbersome to memorize, especially in an ensemble situation.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
#8
I don't quite understand the bit about orchestras not practicing...? Did you mean that?

Anyway - you make valid points and ideally a band should learn their dots IMO but in the real world where people have daytime jobs and gig a couple times a month, in bands with ever changing personnel, there is a necessity for using the sheet music.

I often get called to dep for guys in the function band scene (guitar) and I'll often sight read a new chart on the night - even if I know the set I'll use the sheets to make sure I don't get the structure wrong - many bands play the same songs but cut a chorus here, add a sax solo there etc.

I don't think reading makes a band more or less professional, however the sheets are to be used as a guide, and musical experience and talent should then take over and bring the sheet to life. When bands just play their parts, heads down, eyes open, ears shut, brains off, this is when the music suffers.

A lot of charts you find have poorly arranged parts so what I often do is take my music home, get onto Spotify/Youtube and figure it out myself, often writing a new part.
Also - Xiaoxi made a good point in post #3.
#9
Quote by Matt.Guitar
I don't quite understand the bit about orchestras not practicing...? Did you mean that?

For professional orchestras, yes that is the case most of the time. They can read well enough that they might have just one or two rehearsals before the performance, with no need to practice at home. The program changes on a weekly basis, so they have to be that responsive. Furthermore, film score sessions are usually recorded on the spot by sightreading, perfected by the 2nd or 3rd take.

Even amateur orchestras will not practice at home. Most people are too lazy to do it at home and will practice the part during rehearsals, which may be 5-6 weeks worth, so they can get away with it.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
#10
I've never had to perform any guitar based music on stage that was so complex I could not memorize the song within a couple hours absolute maximum - most songs only take a couple runs through. I also dislike when others feel the need to bring their sheets for what are, more-or-less, the exact reasons you already listed.
#11
Well, when singing with my choir, we didn't use music stands per se, but we sang holding folders with the sheet music... we were supposed to have it memorized, but encouraged to have it in case of a doubt, and there were the few cases where we'd perform sight reading, or at least with a few members sight reading

In the band situation, I've used them in specific situations... for instance, at the conservatory I studied, there was a popular brazilian music performance class for singers, and the teacher invited other musicians from the school to play at the gigs... sometimes over 40 songs with just a couple of rehearsals... we'd have the singers bring charts and lead sheets, specifying the structure, and we'd play with it. I think Matt makes a good point. It's not something you should make a habit out of or something, but something that can be used on certain ocasions as an aid.
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
#12
Well, basically I find myself agreeing with every point in the OP, both for and against.

As a general rule, I think with rock and pop songs, the band presence, the "live feel" and the organic interaction between members should considered nearly as important as the music. To be quite frank, most rock audiences can't really tell the difference between average playing and great playing, and would much rather have an average band rocking out and looking and feeling the part, than a great band reading.

Jazz, classical, art music gigs, where the music is basically the focus, then I see no problems with the stands being there. Ideally the tunes should all be memorized, but for busy musicians I can see that being very difficult. In the cases you mention where people forgot music or couldn't follow the charts, that's inexcusable. I imagine if you had been in charge you wouldn't work with those guys again. You'll get work, they'll lose it, over time it'll add up.

Speaking of learning things off by heart quickly, I once saw a guy learn 20 new tunes to performance standard in an evening, and transposing and rearranging 10 more that he knew already.
#13
Orchestra's play other people's work. They also are part of something bigger, and thus the individual parts are not hard to read most of the time.

That being said, I can play stuff better when I memorized it, cause I'll be conscious with the music itself more, and have an easier time to substitute things on the spot.

I can still sightread sheet music, and tabs and use my ears. It's not that each method takes 5 years to learn or something, so just learn every relevant method.

And playing without sheet live is better. Music is communication, and the best speakers in the world are the ones who can also bring things across (Charisma).

If it;s purely for the music, then w/e, but I find that personality comes through in almost every form of (good) music.

Anyway, off course people can memorize stuff, they are just lazy or don't have a well developed "musical memory".

Dream theater can memorize their parts, which shows off in the perfect unison between guitar and keyboard in those weird non-memorable chromatic parts they have.

Though Rudess reads, I thinks he knows most form his head as well, cause I've seen him improvise a cohesion between multiple individual lines at the same time.

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 29, 2012,
#15
Quote by Freepower
^ Rudess has music on his keyboard.

And even they struggle with Dance of Eternity.

Check this out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ASr3wy1fCE


Quote by xxdarrenxx


Though Rudess reads, I thinks he knows most from his head as well, cause I've seen him improvise a cohesion between multiple individual lines at the same time.



The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
#16
When you perform on stage, you no longer are only a muscian, you become an entertainer, and whether it be an actor, comic, or magician, the first and foremost rule always applies - "know your material'.

Standing behind a music stand all night projects an image of impersonal coldness to the audience.

Relying on sheet music (in a non-classical performance) as a prompt and security blanket tells the audience you didn't do your homework.
I'm the only player to be sponsered by 7 guitar companies not to use their products.
#17
Quote by AlanHB
Hi guys, not an issue but something up for discussion.

Firstly note this is not about the ability to read music. That's a great skill to have. However......

What are your opinions on using music stands during a live performance?


.


Doesn't make a difference to me. I've seen some pretty incredible concerts where there was some sheet music on stage. Still sounded awesome, didn't look bad, or take away from the show in any way.

So id say that for most musical situations it's a non-factor. assuming your there to listen.

and i'd say that in any professional show I've seen where there was sheet music, it was NOT a matter of laziness or unpreparedness. What I've seen is highly experienced musicians doing the thing they do.... play music, and yeah sometimes that involves music notation during the performance.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Mar 29, 2012,
#18
I have this weird habit in which, if I read the sheet music of a song I play, I can instantly play it right, and "remember" how to play it exactly like if it was on memory.

But take away the stand, and just relying on muscle memory makes it harder for me and I get lost too easily.
So basically I always bring a stand, unless the song is too easy and memorable.

I'm trying not to do that too much though.
#19
Quote by Xiaoxi
For professional orchestras, yes that is the case most of the time. They can read well enough that they might have just one or two rehearsals before the performance, with no need to practice at home. The program changes on a weekly basis, so they have to be that responsive. Furthermore, film score sessions are usually recorded on the spot by sightreading, perfected by the 2nd or 3rd take.

Even amateur orchestras will not practice at home. Most people are too lazy to do it at home and will practice the part during rehearsals, which may be 5-6 weeks worth, so they can get away with it.


But to say they NEVER practice is ridiculous!


There are a lot of sweeping generalizations being made in this thread such as reading = laziness/un-preparedness etc.
#20
Quote by Matt.Guitar
But to say they NEVER practice is ridiculous!
Ok, out of an entire season (year), if they have a particularly obscure and difficult Stravinsky-an score, they may spend 15-30 minutes practicing the hardest few bars. So 15-30 minutes out of a year, technically not never.

You have to understand that it's not a bad thing that professional orchestral players don't practice outside of their rehearsals. They are trained to do exactly that...being prepared on the spot.

This is coming from someone who has been in orchestras for many years and regularly work with this kind of setup.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
#22
Quote by Matt.Guitar
I find what you are saying hard to believe.
Every professional orchestral player I've met does tons of practice!

...practice in general or specifically practice orchestral parts?

I think they mean the former.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
#23
Both really.
All the players I've worked with will prepare at home before the first rehearsal by signing the music out from the librarian, or at least turning up to the rehearsal early to look at the parts.

No professional would run the risk of messing up a passage, potentially losing his job, just because he was too arrogant to look at the music beforehand.

#24
Quote by Matt.Guitar
Both really.
All the players I've worked with will prepare at home before the first rehearsal by signing the music out from the librarian, or at least turning up to the rehearsal early to look at the parts.

No professional would run the risk of messing up a passage, potentially losing his job, just because he was too arrogant to look at the music beforehand.


I don't know what orchestra or who you're talking about, but this is rarely the case. No one would lose their job messing up one line during a rehearsal, so no need to be overly dramatic about that. Usually, harpists and timpanists are the only kinds of people who has to look at the music earlier to get the right tunings. And again, sometimes the music isn't even available before the rehearsal, which is almost always the case in film scoring. Don't believe me? Take a look:

http://vimeo.com/39179413

It has nothing to do with arrogance. This practice is understood by both sides. The composers acknowledge limitations of ensemble, and if they're good, they knows how to write music that can be practical. The performers have the technique to run through most things decently right away, and use the rehearsals to perfect the music as a group. That is why practicing orchestral parts alone usually doesn't do much for them.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
Last edited by Xiaoxi at Mar 29, 2012,
#25
There's also the idea that being overly expressive isn't usually an asset when playing as part of a group. Solitary practice is more useful for solo and small ensemble work than it is in an orchestra where everything you practice is more dependent upon how your group is playing and what your conductor instructs.
#26
Haha yes I was a bit dramatic then - sorry! Though you do hear stories of people getting fired for messing up.

In my job I often have to sightread parts in recording sessions similar to your video, though not quite as high budget! A lot of the time the engineer will piece the whole thing together by sections once it has all been recorded. You often record one section at a time and the magic happens in the recording booth - though I wouldn;t be suprised if that session orchestra did it all in a few takes.

Most guys employed by a full time orchestra have access to the music they will be playing and can sign it out to look at.

It really comes down to experience - a seasoned, old timer professional may not need to look at the dots beforehand if he knows the music and has performed it before, or is confident that there is nothing in it for him.
A young new comer to the orch might be swimming in unfamiliar territory with new repertoire coming from all angles and would spend more time looking at things.

I hope I'm making sense - I'm pretty tired!
#28
Quote by Freepower
Lol, dammit darren, did you edit that in or did I just fail to read? I assumed you knew but had just forgotten.


fail read

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
#29
If I'm playing guitar I can remember parts well, so I wouldn't use a music stand

But, when I'm playing clarinet, I do have a music stand and sheet music, because strangly I can't remember hardly anything on a clarinet . . . Weird

From a audience perspective I'd prefer no music stands, I think it looks more proffessional and gives you room to move around the stage area to keep the audiences attention, instead of being rooted to the spot behind a stand
#30
for fingerstyle stuff, it takes FOREVER for me to memorize the music - alot longer than it takes my fingers. I can play many fingerstyle with no problem with a tab sheet, but without it id have to spend 5 minutes remembering the picking patterns in different parts, even if i know the chords/fingerings exactly, which is usually the case.