Quick way to learn a bunch of cover songs

n0kx

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What are your techniques for learning cover songs? Especially a bunch of songs at once?

I was recently asked to join a cover band and there are 60+ songs (of various genres) that I need to learn.

I played in a punk rock band for 6 years and we only played a few cover songs so learning them was never really an issue. And the songs we covered were in our genre so there's a similar feel there.

For me, I think I need to see the structure of the song (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro) and to have an *idea* of how each section is played. For example, maybe verses and choruses are played similarly but in the bridge it's a ride cymbal with a different kick pattern. And any notable drum patterns that should be in the song, like Phil Collins' tom fill for "In the Air Tonight."

I think if you can get the general "essence" of the song that's a win. You can add more of your own flare to it as you get more comfortable.

I feel like I basically need to make a thinned down version of sheet music to help me learn these quickly. Something that just gives me the structure, the general idea of what's played in each section, and any notable drum parts.

Does anyone do something along those lines? What helps you most?
 

Ian S

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60+ songs to learn (all of) by when? ..I hope you only have to know 8 or 10 by this weekend.

I've never been in your position, but if suddenly I was, I'd do the following:

- obtain the sheet music for each
- create an audio playlist containing each
- listen to playlist while viewing sheet music (repeat as needed)
- take yellow highlighter to 'unexpected' or 'unusual' parts that may throw me first time playing
- take playlist and sheet music to practice room and play along with
 

jptrickster

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I generally notate intro. Chorus. Bridge. Outro.
I make my own notes/write out any tricky parts I may not remember , glance the cheat sheet before the song.
Alexa is my faithful assistant. She can start, stop. rewind and fast forward on command!
 

n0kx

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I generally notate intro. Chorus. Bridge. Outro.
I make my own notes/write out any tricky parts I may not remember , glance the cheat sheet before the song.
Alexa is my faithful assistant. She can start, stop. rewind and fast forward on command!

This is kinda what I'm thinking too. A little cheat sheet where I can see the gist of the structure and what's being played in each section.

I'm very visual so I'm thinking for the sections I make a simple colorized "notation" of what's to be played so I can get an idea at a glance.
 

n0kx

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60+ songs to learn (all of) by when? ..I hope you only have to know 8 or 10 by this weekend.

I've never been in your position, but if suddenly I was, I'd do the following:

- obtain the sheet music for each
- create an audio playlist containing each
- listen to playlist while viewing sheet music (repeat as needed)
- take yellow highlighter to 'unexpected' or 'unusual' parts that may throw me first time playing
- take playlist and sheet music to practice room and play along with

Thankfully, I have some time to learn them but the sooner the better.

I wish I could find sheet music for all of the songs but it's been a struggle. And different sources seem to have different versions of the songs.

I'm pretty much doing what you're suggesting (some sheet music has been found) but I'm really wanting to narrow all of that down to some "quick glance" charts where I can get the idea (or be reminded) of how the song is played. At least until I've played them enough times where I don't have to think about it anymore.

I didn't know if a "quick glance" sort of thing existed for drums. Almost like how guitar tab is to sheet music.

Thanks!
 

bpaluzzi

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It's also worth checking what the band's expectations are -- I play in a few cover bands, and the expectations are basically "album perfect" versions of songs. Don't have to play every single fill exactly the same, but any signature ones should be there, and all starts/stops/hits. The charts I make balance readability with completeness. For most songs it's a Word document with occasional in-line notation. Occasionally I'll have a song that is easier to just write an actual sheet music part:


Screen Shot 2022-06-09 at 11.10.08 AM.png




Screen Shot 2022-06-09 at 11.08.20 AM.png



Screen Shot 2022-06-09 at 11.09.31 AM.png

Screen Shot 2022-06-09 at 11.09.47 AM.png
 

jptrickster

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This is kinda what I'm thinking too. A little cheat sheet where I can see the gist of the structure and what's being played in each section.

I'm very visual so I'm thinking for the sections I make a simple colorized "notation" of what's to be played so I can get an idea at a glance.
Colorized notation is a great idea wish I'd thought of it!
 

Steech

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What are your techniques for learning cover songs? Especially a bunch of songs at once?

I was recently asked to join a cover band and there are 60+ songs (of various genres) that I need to learn.

I played in a punk rock band for 6 years and we only played a few cover songs so learning them was never really an issue. And the songs we covered were in our genre so there's a similar feel there.

For me, I think I need to see the structure of the song (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro) and to have an *idea* of how each section is played. For example, maybe verses and choruses are played similarly but in the bridge it's a ride cymbal with a different kick pattern. And any notable drum patterns that should be in the song, like Phil Collins' tom fill for "In the Air Tonight."

I think if you can get the general "essence" of the song that's a win. You can add more of your own flare to it as you get more comfortable.

I feel like I basically need to make a thinned down version of sheet music to help me learn these quickly. Something that just gives me the structure, the general idea of what's played in each section, and any notable drum parts.

Does anyone do something along those lines? What helps you most?
I also use notation:

Intro > First VersDRUM SOLO > End
 

n0kx

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Update:

So, with this new cover band, every song basically becomes a jam session and I don't have to know the songs precisely. (A 3 minute song becomes around 10 minutes.) I mainly just need to have the gist of the beat for each song down.

Like snare on 2 and 4 and kick on 1 and 3, for example. Or maybe it's a 6/8 song with the snare on 4 and the kick on 1. And then I can throw in fills and spice it up however I like.

So I've made a chart like this in Google Docs and it worked fantastic for the first show:

set.jpg


I'll scroll to the next song on my phone, take a quick glance, and I'm good to go.

There are a few songs where I do need to put some practice into the beats and the songs aren't as straight forward. Like Come Together by the Beatles, Purple Rain by Prince, etc... But even those we'll end up jamming and weave in and out of verses, choruses, solos, etc...

Anyway, maybe this will be somewhat helpful to someone trying to think of a quick way to play some songs they aren't very familiar with. Granted, it helps if the songs are pretty straightforward.
 


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