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Discussion Starter #1
Any resources or tips for accompanying singers (like playing a line in the background)
Is it a harmony thing?
Any tips/resources for getting it right greatly appreciated
 

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Any resources or tips for accompanying singers (like playing a line in the background)
Is it a harmony thing?
Any tips/resources for getting it right greatly appreciated
Don't step on the vocals. Find the space between sung lines to play a lick. Realize that this situation isn't about you.
 

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If it’s a “Jazz singer”, stand there, play 8 bars. She forgets if the band is coming up on the bridge or another A section. Play in odd keys for no reason. Nothing but the American songbook and maybe Peel Me A Grape. Carry her PA and maybe some kind a large bag, usually a knock off of some designer, that has her sheets of lyrics and a pair of really high heels in it. It may have a change of clothes in it too depending on which singer it is that night.
 

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Any resources or tips for accompanying singers (like playing a line in the background)
Is it a harmony thing?
Any tips/resources for getting it right greatly appreciated
Good singer or bad singer?

Someone you like or despise?

Want to make good music or just noise?

So many options, so little time.


Seriously though, don't just play because you can. No need to play behind a singer unless the song actually calls for it. Sometimes good players ruin songs because they don't have the good sense when NOT to play.
 

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Any resources or tips for accompanying singers (like playing a line in the background)
Is it a harmony thing?
Any tips/resources for getting it right greatly appreciated
Find recordings online.

Listen to recording of Jazz and Blues vocalists which have a horn in the group. (maybe other repliers can suggest particular albums ?) You'll hear what they are doing....

...if your genre is similar, listen to Sade tunes; especially Diamond Life album - I never loved her backing quartet... but gotta admit they were tight, could carry a groove and knew their roles.
 

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This really depends on the singer and the space she/he needs. I back singers every week at church and my first goal is to see what space if any they leave between phrases. If its little or non, I'll play soft long chord tunes under the vocal, filling in what a piano (which we dont have) might add. If she/he leaves alot of space I'll add some lines. As others have said you need to really focus on what compliments her/his song line. You want to be as much in the background as possible. Also, ask the singer what they want. Some like lots of added stuff some don't want to hear you at all. K
 

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Think of it as call and response, you answer what is sung with a complimentary line. Imagine that the singer scats their own fills and play that. After your solo make certain that you end it neatly, making it obvious to the singer where 1 is going to be, give them eye cues, try to avoid their getting lost. In general: the head starts when they start no matter when that is, and be kind to the vocalist.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Ask them what they want but very often you can do well to stay out of the way.

Rarely would it work to play in harmony, though some counterpoint can good - think the opposite of what the melody is doing so if the melody has lots of shorts notes, play some long ones. If the melody is sustained or has gaps, then you can play bit more (but don't over do it and stay lower in dynamic (and often Lowe in pitch unless you can go higher without getting in the way).

Bluesier songs can work well with riffs. Well known rock & pop songs stick to the original or play tambourine - don't noodle on those..

Never play unison unless it's some kind of an arrangement that demands that. (Exception can be songs like One Note Samba - unison or harmony on the bridge can work)

For older stuff listen to Lester Young and others playing with Billie Holiday.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Unless it's a pop song with a known riff/fill, I stay out of the first verse and chorus, generally waiting to play for a solo. After my solo, then I might fill around the vocals on the last verse/chorus; paying strict attention to what the singer is doing to bring the song to a close.

Also, be prepared to play any song they sing in another key.
 

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Currently I'm in a small group with primary role of backing up the vocalist & improv solos. Over the last few years I have developed the following:

1. Don't overplay, less is always more.
2. Never step on the vocalist musically
3. We usually do tunes closely similar to Real Books: Lay out on first time through, therefore adding layers as song develops
4. Long tones are valuable! Play close attention to ascending & descending lines. Doubling on flute, in lower registers, greatly enhances this affect
5. Protect your vocalist!!! If the backing material is "thin" leaving them exposed or uncomfortable, provide that support!
6. Be ready to rescue your vocalist!!! It so rarely happens, but if they forget their lyrics, loose the form, song begins in wrong key, or even they have to cough or sneeze! Be ready in a micro second to step in & fill the gap!
7. There are obviously tunes that will have expected accompaniment lines (Old example: Don't Get Around Much Anymore) know them & hit your spots

It is an honor & joy to stand next to talented vocalists & view myself as their "Wingman"
 

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I shall refuse to namedrop, but the great singers will often let you if you are doing it wrong. Sometimes with helpful advice, other times by just firing you. The only time I was fired (well not exactly fired but not rebooked) was by upstaging them, ie getting more applause for my playing than they got. Never do that.
 

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Lots of excellent strategies already posted so I’ll just leave this here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gqNRBc99GKk

May be to your benefit to listen to Lester Young. If it is just you acting as a soloist or accompaniment in a small band, nobody compliments vocals better than Pres. It’s best to be mello and look for natural lulls in the changes to insert small, simple licks.
 

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6. Be ready to rescue your vocalist!!! It so rarely happens, but if they forget their lyrics, loose the form, song begins in wrong key, or even they have to cough or sneeze! Be ready in a micro second to step in & fill the gap!
Excellent point.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Accompanying a singer -= tips/advice

A lady is setting up a trio - herself singing, a pianist, and me on alto sax.
I've never accompanied a singer before, so I wonder if anybody can point me to some resources or give me some tips.
I'm up for it, but a bit unsure
Thanks
 

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Re: Accompanying a singer -= tips/advice

congrats on being asked to play, they must like what they hear.

First of all it is difficult if not impossible to give you tips without knowing what you are playing, I am guessing you will be playing a mix of stuff, so before I rush off into a whole heap of irrelevent stuff I will just give you some basics which you probably already know.

As a trio you need to sit down and work out the songs you are going to do in what style and what key, you can decide if there will be extended instumental breaks and if they are on the piano, sax or both, how many bars etc.
Once you know the song style and key google and youtube are possibly your best friends, that is unless you opt to go for something like the real fake book series where you and the pianist have a basic music score to work from which may or may not need additions or subtractions but you will have something to work with, the piano score will help you find harmony lines you can play whilst the singer is singing but remember to play PP under the singer. If you have nothing then lots of free dots can be had using a google search or you can transcribe stuff you like from youtube.

Unfortunately your question is a bit open to get many replies but I am sure some members on here may provide links to free arrangements that you can download.

all the best and enjoy the ride

Kenny
 

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Re: Accompanying a singer -= tips/advice

In general: don't play too much or too loud behind a singer, only come up front if you get some solo space, otherwise stay a bit in the back.

I started 5 years ago a thread about this topic too (with a sound clip example), I guess the thread will have some valid information for you too:
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...ee-destroys-one-of-Eva-Cassidy-s-master-works!!!
 

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Re: Accompanying a singer -= tips/advice

General tips for working with a singer:

1) Remember the singer is the most important part of the song - don't step on her

2) Most songs have 'holes' usually at the end of a line of lyrics, play something her that either echoes, compliments or contrasts with the vocal line but never overshadows her

3) If playing while she is singing, watch your volume and your tone, remember your place is to accompany not overshadow

4) If you get a solo, it's your turn to be the most important voice in the band. Be mindful of where the singer ends before your solo, make what you start your solo with fit (again, either by echo, compliment or contrast).

5) At the end of your solo, end it in a way that makes it easy and logical for her to sing her first line after her solo. Think of the end of your solo as an intro

Those are the basics in my world.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Re: Accompanying a singer -= tips/advice

Currently I'm in a small group with primary role of backing up the vocalist & improv solos. Over the last few years I have developed the following:

1. Don't overplay, less is always more.
2. Never step on the vocalist musically
3. We usually do tunes closely similar to Real Books: Lay out on first time through, therefore adding layers as song develops
4. Long tones are valuable! Play close attention to ascending & descending lines. Doubling on flute, in lower registers, greatly enhances this affect
5. Protect your vocalist!!! If the backing material is "thin" leaving them exposed or uncomfortable, provide that support!
6. Be ready to rescue your vocalist!!! It so rarely happens, but if they forget their lyrics, loose the form, song begins in wrong key, or even they have to cough or sneeze! Be ready in a micro second to step in & fill the gap!
7. There are obviously tunes that will have expected accompaniment lines (Old example: Don't Get Around Much Anymore) know them & hit your spots

It is an honor & joy to stand next to talented vocalists & view myself as their "Wingman"
 
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