What You Can Learn From Cover Songs

 
       
 
Apr 04, 2017, 12:45 PM

I noticed this article by Dave Simons on the left side of the Home Page. It cites some examples and, other than saying you can learn something, doesn’t say much about specifics. I wondered if a conversation here might explore it more fully.

https://www.bmi.com/news/entry/hit_cover_songs_deconstructed

‘Cover’ means to play a Song by other people. Frank Sinatra told Pia Zidora (and Pia told me…and 900 other people in the audience);

“If you’re going to play other peoples’ Songs, play the Classics.” Frank Sinatra, via Pia.

As Pia sang I pondered why that was sound advice. Classics ARE Classics for a reason. They did something right to have that widespread and sustained popularity. ‘Covering’ them is likely to find that audience within any listening crowd, if you don’t ##### it up. Almost any passable rendition is likely to be warmly received.

So what is it they do right? Find yourself a Classic and analyze it.

How long is the Introductory Movement before the vocal starts Verse Movement 1?

How long does it take to get to the Chorus Movement, especially THE Hook, the title line?
Does the title sum up, succinctly, the gist or main idea of the Song as you understand it from the lines in the Verse?

How closely does Verse Movement 2 match Verse Movement 1,
  in number of syllables/notes to sing,
  the Melody,
  the Rhyme-Scheme,
  the Rhythm of how the words fit the beat?

Do the words and music of Verse 2 lead you back naturally to a repeat of the Chorus?

What happens next?
  Is that a 3rd Verse?
  Or a Bridge of Instrumental or Vocal delivery?
    Does it work, serving the function of refreshing your interest?

And what happens next?
  A final giving of the Chorus?
  A repeat of the Verse-Movement with new words, Verse 3, or repeating V1 or V2?

How does it end, the Coda (Final Movement)?

What’s the overall time of this Song that became a Classic?
What does it do right that makes it listenable to this day?
What Can You Learn From Cover Songs?

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Apr 04, 2017, 02:28 PM

Well, Gary, it is true. There´s a LOT to learn from classics. Above the advantages you have already mentioned, a musician can learn how to arrange a song by covering a song and playing it… to come close to the original.

For example: When Brian Wilson - one of the most influental Songwriter and Producer of the 20th century started, he listened to the Harmonies of the Four Freshmen over and over again, working their style out note by note, forcing his Brothers to lern and sing the harmonies with him in their bedroom. While younger brother Carl did the same thing with Chuck Berry´s guitar riffs. Four Freshmen harmonies and Chuck Berry´s guitar riffs… led into the founding of The Beach Boys.

The Beatles did cover Songs of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and so on, so did The Rolling Stones… all three of them developed their own style, created “classics” themselves and influenced Generations of new musician´s on their Songwriting, Arranging, Producing and Performing Style…

And by learning to listen to arrangement´s and to repeat them on an Instrument, is a good way to get your own music out of your head on an Instrument.

The Major drawback? Not everyone who can make exact copies of someone´s elses work, becomes a good songwriter…

But the tactic should work on lyrics as well…

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Apr 04, 2017, 06:11 PM

Here’s an article on Bridges from BMI’s Career Advice Page.

https://www.bmi.com/news/entry/the-how-and-why-of-building-bridges-in-your-songs

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Jun 10, 2017, 09:02 PM
Gary E. Andrews - 04 April 2017 12:45 PM

I noticed this article by Dave Simons on the left side of the Home Page. It cites some examples and, other than saying you can learn something, doesn’t say much about specifics. I wondered if a conversation here might explore it more fully.

https://www.bmi.com/news/entry/hit_cover_songs_deconstructed

‘Cover’ means to play a Song by other people. Frank Sinatra told Pia Zidora (and Pia told me…and 900 other people in the audience);

“If you’re going to play other peoples’ Songs, play the Classics.” Frank Sinatra, via Pia.

As Pia sang I pondered why that was sound advice. Classics ARE Classics for a reason. They did something right to have that widespread and sustained popularity. ‘Covering’ them is likely to find that audience within any listening crowd, if you don’t ##### it up. Almost any passable rendition is likely to be warmly received.

So what is it they do right? Find yourself a Classic and analyze it.

How long is the Introductory Movement before the vocal starts Verse Movement 1?

How long does it take to get to the Chorus Movement, especially THE Hook, the title line?
Does the title sum up, succinctly, the gist or main idea of the Song as you understand it from the lines in the Verse?

How closely does Verse Movement 2 match Verse Movement 1,
  in number of syllables/notes to sing,
  the Melody,
  the Rhyme-Scheme,
  the Rhythm of how the words fit the beat?

Do the words and music of Verse 2 lead you back naturally to a repeat of the Chorus?

What happens next?
  Is that a 3rd Verse?
  Or a Bridge of Instrumental or Vocal delivery?
    Does it work, serving the function of refreshing your interest?

And what happens next?
  A final giving of the Chorus?
  A repeat of the Verse-Movement with new words, Verse 3, or repeating V1 or V2?

How does it end, the Coda (Final Movement)?

What’s the overall time of this Song that became a Classic?
What does it do right that makes it listenable to this day?
What Can You Learn From Cover Songs?

In his introduction to a book of transcriptions of his solos (which, ironically, he couldn’t have written himself, being totally ‘ear’—-couldn’t read or write notes) Wes Montgomery wrote:

‘In museums the world over, one sees students studying the works of the masters’...

He wasn’t wrong—-and did it himself in his own way (his first gig was playing Charlie Christian solos note-for-note——and look where it led!).

One must study the masters, learn from not only their triumphs but their interesting ‘failures’. (Stephen Sondheim, tough as nails on his own work and that of others—-including his own mentor, Oscar Hammerstein) has much to say on this in Finishing the Hat. I also highly recommend Alec Wilder’s American Song: it analyzes and critiques many great songs and the composers’ methods.

But beyond books, one must study the masters on one’s own, use what fits what WE do, put influences in a funnel, and with our own experiences, talents and voices it will come out us.

I also recommend ‘studying with yourself’: keeping an eye on your tendencies, pet ideas, phrases, intervals, rhythms. It builds a vocabulary, gives insight into what one’s ideas ARE. It can even be a negative paradigm: OK, I’ve done THIS enough. Let’s try something else.

The nice thing about music: You can always come home…

[ Edited: 10 June 2017 09:06 PM by joel fass]

‘Charlie Christian got me in a world of trouble’—-me

 
     
joel fass Joined Jun 03, 2017
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Jun 11, 2017, 09:57 AM

GREAT ADVICE. If you want your songs to BE CLASSIC, study the classics.There is a reason they reasonate with people throughout time. Find that out and apply it to your own. Great idea there Gary.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jun 16, 2017, 09:13 AM

We learned Jolene last night and it was enlightening. I’m not much of a singer and don’t ‘get’ what is hard and challenging or what is easy or what constitutes someones key or sweet spot as I am equally…adept…up and down the fret board. LOL

So, really easy song to sound good on guitar wise. Perfect tune for our duet. SO, I learnted that Dolly did it capo 4 and that it was a bit of a challenge for my singer last night. Then, we tried Miley’s version, capo 3. Kinda cool to find a super star had to move it down a half step.
Then, we recorded both ways and found that capo 4 sounds much more dynamic for THIS song for L (my singer). She was warmed up by then and nailed it.

The verses are good writing, great story and I learned it comes at the singer FAST and steady. It was a challenge but L nailed it after a half hour or so. We could do it live right now but she’s more the perfectionist than I am (and has the harder job here!).

We’ve discuss, constantly, what is too simplistic, too repetitious. Dolly has some of each here. She sings “Jolene” 7,832 times in under 3 minutes BUT the verses make it work, really, really well. It fits. And the music is ‘do it in your sleep’ level but, again, the verses, the chorus, the story, I think this one fits as a classic. We had a a blast working it and we’re trying to see where I can double or go low and add some more depth to it.

Very happy it’s in our repertoire now.

 
     
Larry Gude Joined May 23, 2017
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