A very different yet still music related post is coming your way today. As the title subtly suggests, I will be lending my first hand experience and knowledge that I have collated over the past two years of selecting songs that will be performed as part of a band or in more technical terms an ensemble. As simply as I can out it without boring your guys and just briefly giving you some backstory of music, two years ago when it came to picking subjects for sixth form, I had absolutely no intentions of wanting to study music. However with some gentle persuasion, I chose to study this subject and two years later, next month I am off to study music business at university and have no regrets about this. Although during this time span of doing music at sixth form, there was two sides to the subject. My absolute favourite, the written side where you would have to compose essays based on topics such as freelance and the development of music over time and the other side was the practical side, which included performing cover songs or completely original compositions as a soloist and as a band. And because I am a band enthusiast we are going to be focusing on what songs worked effectively for me working as an ensemble so if there is anybody going into college or sixth form and thinking about choosing music, you will find everything you need to know about the practical side to this subject.
Panic! At the Disco – The Ballad of Mona Lisa
The first song on the list of established songs that I would recommend for any band or musician to cover is of course The Ballad Of Mona Lisa by none other than Panic! At the Disco. The most recent song that I covered as part of an ensemble, this song can not be any more suitable for a wide range of instruments. Even as a piano player, in past band rehearsals, I sometimes feel as if this instrument isn’t suitable or adjustable for all genres, however for this song it couldn’t be more perfect. If you are familiar with the song, you would know that there are several melodies especially during the intro and outro, which coincidentally work so well with the piano or should I say keyboard which is what I prefer performing with, creating such elegant melodies that can be easily executed still with the sound coming across professional and realistic. To put it in a nutshell, ‘The Ballad Of Mona Lisa’ to cover as a band is so diverse in terms of musical instruments for example with the most prominent instruments in the song being the drums and guitar and you can even extend this to having no singer or vocals in the song which is what my band decided to do because the song can still be performed effectively even without this role seeing as the instrumentals are so heavily prominent, particularly the drums which indeed help to keep the timing to the song. If you are part of a band, I suggest highly that you put your own musical spin on this song. It’s definitely so enjoyable to perform.
Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
The second song on my recommendation cover list is the forever classic ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. Because this song is very renowned and known practically by all individuals this is the best excuse to cover this song. For any musician at any instrumental level, this song is adjustable to anyone’s instrumental capabilities and there are always more elements that you can add or take away. For example during the time when my band was rehearsing this song which must of been about a year ago now, I was beginning to feel more confident with my instrument therefore I was constantly changing up chords and notes and gaining inspiration for YouTube tutorials, always making my individual part slightly more complex by adding more elements which actually worked really well in unison with the guitar because there was several notes, riffs and melodies that the guitar and piano could pair up to do together which in my opinion really paid off during our final graded performance. If you are a guitarist, this song is suitable for you especially during the bridge section of this song with a guitar solo featured during that moment of the song. So if you are a guitarist and you are looking to show off you skills whilst still playing as part of a band, suggest this song to your band ages straight away.
Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger
The third song on this list is a throwback to nineties the with ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ by Oasis. Out of all the songs mentioned, at first I really badly struggled getting to know my segment as part of a five part ensemble. Recommended by my piano teacher at the time, they suggested to use chord inversions which means that instead of playing a basic chord you would usually adjust what the root note of the chord would be therefore in turn effecting the placement of the other two noted that make up that chord. This was suggested because if I did this then the chords would flow better because they would be closer to each other using this technique. At this time I had only been playing the piano/keyboard for a couple of months so I was still unaware of some techniques such as chord inversions which is the reasoning behind why I struggled so much during rehearsals. However with some extra practicing outside of school times i adapted to this change and realised that this technique was highly helpful because it made playing the song more easier in terms of the chord placements. Therefore because of this initial problem I would recommend that if you are part of an ensemble that has been together for more than a couple of months and everyone is at the same position within their instrument levels then I would suggest this song for sure but if you are a band that has just been former or who are starting out, it may be best to wait a good while before attempting a more complex song such as this one.
The Penguins – Earth Angel
The forth song featured on my band cover recommendations list is ‘Earth Angel’ by The Penguins. Usually whilst taking music, you will be set units where you have to pick four songs as a collective band that display a wide range of differentiation in genres and they will also have to be songs that came out at a variety of different periods which I think is very evident within the song re commendations I am sharing with you guys that me and my band had to pick over the course of our two years doing music. With this song indeed being my last ever ensemble performance it was a really great decision. Especially with the pairing of the bass and keyboard whilst performing for me definitely portrayed the very relaxed and down to earth feel this song has about it. Although I was for sure challenged during the rehearsal stages of practising this sing because literally during event rehearsal session my individual part was being made harder by adding more complex chords. However by this time I had been studying all aspects of music for almost two years at this point so I was confidentially able to execute my own part to a distinction standard. I really enjoyed performing this song because not only did it demonstrate me and my ensembles musical knowledge, but it also showed that no matter during what decade a song came out and what phase and genre was popular at that time, during this modern time we were still able to understand how music evolved over time. Highly suggest that any band should give this song a go because the turnout when performing this song sounds amazing.
John Lennon – Imagine
Lastly the fifth song I am going to recommend to any aspiring band or to anybody taking music is the classic ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. I can’t even begin to explain how many times I have had to either rehearse and perform this song, but it is an absolute staple of a song to choose to cover especially if your unit may involve the evolution of music over the decades. I believe that it must of been about roughly a year ago since getting to know this song and still to this day I remember how to play it without practising. Out of all the songs mentioned this was one of the more technical songs to progress learning with it using a technique which involved using a rocking motion between chords which aims to break the chord up to give that famous piano part heard heavily in the intro and generally the verse’s of the song. This concept for me didn’t take me long to pick up on because it’s not that hard to understand and get your fingers used to playing in comparison to a standard chord. As a band when performing this song I believe we did exec ute it well the first time around because of the pace and the tempo is moderately slow so this did help to prevent less mistakes being heard.
Just to mention a few, they are a handful of songs that I have done in the past in which I would recommend to music students or aspiring bands looking to record or perform a few cover songs. If you people liked this blog post, sometime in the future preferable before I go to uni would you like to see another post which would be related to this one in reguards to my time taking music in sixth form, however it will be full of my tips on how to compose songs from scratch because if you are taking music in the UK, I can almost guarantee that the unit Composing Music will be on your subject syllabus. I would definitely love to do this post idea seeing that I can remember clearly the time in which I had to do this unit and the struggles and success that came along with it. If you have any further questions about taking music as a subject specifically BTEC music, be sure to leave as many questions as you would like and I will answer them with all my knowledge I have collated after these two years.