#1
let's say you want to jam with a drummer and want to cover some well known songs. Let's say you know a song very well but drummer only knows it moderately.

How would the drummer know when to switch up the drum beat when it's the chorus as there would be no vocalist to hint that he/she is about to get to the chorus?

Do you make eye contact to let them know the chorus is coming up?

Or is it more practical to have the origial song in the background to make it easier?

I'd imagine you'd have to have a powerful PA system to get the song audible over the drums and guitar.
Last edited by musicandthewave at Aug 26, 2015,
#2
Just give them a nod a little before the changes. Give them enough time to switch but don't do it a whole rotation early or they might change too early.

If you have another amp or if your amp has a Line In you could hook up an mp3 player or phone or whatever if you have a 1/8th inch to quarter inch adapter like this:

If you're playing with a drummer I think it's better to not play with the actual recording so that you can lock on to the drummer instead of just playing along with the song, but it might help him learn the song in the first place if he can play along to it. You could also try letting him listen to the song with headphones on so at least he can hear it and you just play along with him.
#3
Well, there are many ways of doing it. But if the song is a basic pop/rock song in 4/4 time signature, most of them follow a similar structure. The verse riff lasts 4, 8 or 16 bars before moving to chorus (or pre chorus) that will most likely also last 4, 8 or 16 bars.

If the drummer is somewhat familiar with the song, and there's nothing special in the song (I mean, it's a straight forward rock song), the drummer should be able to play it pretty easily.

Groups of four is what it's all about. That's just how most songs go. There's four bars of something (maybe a couple of repeats of those four bars), then four bars of something else. It's really not that hard. Also, many times drummers play fills (or at least hit the crash cymbal) every 4 or 8 bars (well, playing fills every 4 or 8 bars all the time would be pretty annoying).

But if you want to be sure about getting the transitions right, eye contact is a good way of doing it. You can also change your playing a bit, for example if the verse in the song is softer than the chorus, start adding more intensity to your playing just before the transition, and if the drummer can use his ears at least a bit, he will notice it and start playing a fill that matches the change in dynamics. That's just how it works.

You can communicate musically, and that's what jamming is all about - listening to each other.


If you are familiar enough with the style you are playing, you can play a lot of songs off top of your head, even if you have not heard them in a long time. Sometimes even if you haven't heard the song before. Many pop/rock songs are pretty predictable.


I think drummers are usually pretty good at listening. They will usually pick up the groove of the song pretty fast (even if they don't know the song at all), same with the dynamic changes, and also in most cases the song structure will be pretty obvious.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Aug 26, 2015,
#4
Answers

How would the drummer know when to switch up the drum beat when it's the chorus as there would be no vocalist to hint that he/she is about to get to the chorus?
All drummers need to learn to count. In fact if he can't count bars then he's not a drummer.


Do you make eye contact to let them know the chorus is coming up?
It will help in rehearsal but it looks crap on stage.


Or is it more practical to have the origial song in the background to make it easier?
Yes, esp. if you have a headphone set up for rehearsal.


I'd imagine you'd have to have a powerful PA system to get the song audible over the drums and guitar.
No, you need to learn to play more quietly when the singer is singing - this is what professional groups do - just listen to some.
#5
PSimonR gets my vote. As far as playing live, if you can't hear the singer you are playing too loud. The bands volume will be dictated by the room you are playing in and size of your PA system. It sucks to have to be playing a gig or even a jam session and having to give signals to the drummer when you should be free to concentrate on what you are doing. Ask the drummer to learn the song in advance. If there is 4 measure intro, a 16 measure verse, into an 8 measurer chorus everyone playing should know that ahead of time. You shouldn't have to conduct other players like an orchestra conductor. It's tough to play with just a guitar and drums with no singer but it's all a learning process and everybody has to start somewhere and I admire you for getting together with someone else and playing. I know you said this is a jam session but you should be on the same page doing songs both of you know. Discuss it in advance so the drummer can listen to the songs you want to try before you get together. Email MP3 files before you get together.

Another thought is that maybe even if you don't plan to be a singer you should try doing it just as a reference vocal. Who knows what may come of it. You may find you sing better than you thought. Being a singer at any level even background vocals doubles your value in any band. Personally I'll take a mediocre guitar player who sings harmony or just simple backgrounds over a better player who just wants to play some rhythm and play solos.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Aug 27, 2015,
#6
Play the chords and the melody at the same time.

Then all you need is the drummer.
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