Drop a Half Step for Live Performance ?

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Drop a Half Step for Live Performance ?

 
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guitardave
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Drop a Half Step for Live Performance ?

Postby guitardave » June 18th, 2006, 9:48pm

Drop a Half Step for Live Performance ?

I sing lead on about 45 classic rock cover tunes per gig.
I'm thinking about drop tuning a half step.
I'm concerned it will change the "flavor" of certain songs.

Will anyone notice?

Who does?

Who doesn't?

Pro's or Cons?
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CoreyP
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Postby CoreyP » June 18th, 2006, 10:29pm

Singing 45 songs per gig? I recommend lots and lots of hydration - damn! I've never been especially put off by bands tuning down unless it was dramatic, more than a whole step is offputting if it's a song I know, a half step I would think is more than fine, especially if it means you're giving a stronger vocal performance.
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Derek Smalls
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Postby Derek Smalls » June 18th, 2006, 10:30pm

In the last two bands of which I've been a member (both cover bands), we dropped a half step for the songs that were recorded down a half step and played songs at standard tuning that were recorded that way. I think people do notice and potentially more so if you're playing 20 or 30 year old songs that people are used to hearing a certain way. Although most fans won't be able to pinpoint that you're a half step down, I think that they may notice that something just doesn't sound right.
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guitardave
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Postby guitardave » June 18th, 2006, 10:44pm

Thanks, and yeah, I chug Gatoraid like it's going out of style.

I think my interest may be to incorporate songs that are "just outside" my normal range and to sing songs that were recorded a half step down.
(without bringing an army of guitars to the gig)

We just tried a few tunes at practice,
It sounds a little lame to me.
I should try a 15 song rehearsal first.
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ddspeaker
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Postby ddspeaker » June 19th, 2006, 12:13pm

I agree on the older classics having to be natural tuned if that's the way they were originally recorded and played on the radio. I'm not too sure if the audience will pick up on that through a long series of a set list such as yours though!? They'll become trained.

I play mainly originals but I've been tuned a half step down for over 15 years and when we do play some covers in the set no one knew. The ear plays funny tricks on you. If you played "Brown Eyed Girl" as the opening song, at regular tempo but tuned down a half step, people think you're playing it slow. I've seen this before.

Why don't you just go for the gusto and play Doom or Goth Metal!! That way, no one knows what the hell your tuned to!

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Postby Gertrude » June 19th, 2006, 12:17pm

are you talking about tuning your instruments down a half step, or just changing keys?

regardless, i don't think the average non-musician listener would even notice. personally it wouldn't bother me at all even if it was noticeable; i don't think there's anything wrong with changing keys.

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Postby Beckers » June 19th, 2006, 12:28pm

Dave, I feel your pain. I sing all the tunes myself, so about 45-50 a night, roughly. I've only ever dropped the key for one song. I don't know if the average Joe in the crowd would notice it or not, but it drives my ear nut's! My 2 cents...

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Postby zeppelined » June 19th, 2006, 12:30pm

Going through and listening to live versions by the original band, it can be surprising how often they played some songs a half step down. There's a world of difference between hitting the notes in the studio after a week of rest, and hitting them 2 hours into the set on the 3rd month of a tour. Or in your case, the 40th song of the night on the second gig of the weekend. There's no shame in it. I think you should judge on a song by song basis whether or not it sounds too noticeable. If it allows you to expand your setlist, go for it. If it allows you to finish the night as strongly as you started it by avoiding serious vocal fatigue, go for it. With Vertigo, so far we've only dropped one song because a few of the notes were hit or miss for me, and we discovered that U2 played it down a half step live themselves.

I don't think audiences generally notice. I've always played 'She Talks To Angels' in open G, because I hate tuning to Open E. It's a pretty significant key change, although I actually end up singing it higher than the original, but no one has ever noticed.

By the way, if there is an easy song that not enough cover bands are playing around here (at least that I've heard), it's that one. It'll take 10 minutes for the band to learn, but audiences eat it up like candy.
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Postby bassman78 » June 19th, 2006, 12:31pm

UGH!!! This has been a pet peeve of mine for some time. Drop tuning a half step has always befuddled me. Arguements I hear are: its makes it easier to sing (if a half step is making the difference, either the singer needs help or pick another key) and the flat keys that everything gets played in makes the tone more rich (not sure I buy that as far as rock-n-roll is concerned, but ok). I personally don't care to retune my guitar a half step. When I'm teaching and a student brings in a song recorded a half step flat, I transpose it, which is why its a pet peeve...

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Creamy Algorithms
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Postby Creamy Algorithms » June 19th, 2006, 12:36pm

E flat makes the songs a little heavier sounding which I like. Every band I ever sang in I made everyone re tune to Eb, I think it just sounds better. I doubt 99% of the people you play to Dave will pick up on it. Besides alot of the older stuff was in slightly different pitches due to vari speeding of the recording decks.

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Postby ddspeaker » June 19th, 2006, 12:38pm

Beckers wrote:Dave, I feel your pain. I sing all the tunes myself, so about 45-50 a night, roughly. I've only ever dropped the key for one song. I don't know if the average Joe in the crowd would notice it or not, but it drives my ear nut's! My 2 cents...


It definitely drives my ear nuts when tuned natural! I know that feeling. 15 years of tuned down a half step , natural just doesn't sound right to me anymore?

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Postby BillisCool » June 19th, 2006, 1:16pm

You can't play songs like Pride and Joy or Superstitions in E. It's just weird. :)

Funny though, In my one band we do them in E and the other Eb... I would surely notice the difference, but I'm not sure that the people dancing do.

Mostly it comes down to a vocals thing, wherever the singer wants to hang out.
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bassman78
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Postby bassman78 » June 19th, 2006, 1:19pm

BillisCool wrote:Mostly it comes down to a vocals thing, wherever the singer wants to hang out.


If the singer is having a problem over a half-step, I would think it is more breath support than the song being in E and not E flat...

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BillisCool
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Postby BillisCool » June 19th, 2006, 1:24pm

bassman78 wrote:
BillisCool wrote:Mostly it comes down to a vocals thing, wherever the singer wants to hang out.


If the singer is having a problem over a half-step, I would think it is more breath support than the song being in E and not E flat...


There is something to be said for that, but it's probably not appropriate in this discussion. At some point, your voice just can't comfortably go higher... and even more so on a higher octave. Perhaps for some that happens to be the difference between E and Eb.
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Creamy Algorithms
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Postby Creamy Algorithms » June 19th, 2006, 1:26pm

BillisCool wrote: At some point, your voice just can't comfortably go higher... and even more so on a higher octave. Perhaps for some that happens to be the difference between E and Eb.


And there you have it.


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