When we hold a workshop, we start out by talking about the roles for each instrument. Knowing the role of each instrument goes far to inform what everyone should play.
But even without that understanding, we have clear examples of the kinds of things we should play all around us: original studio tracks. If your playing doesn’t line up with basically the kinds of things you hear on records, you may be overplaying.
Session players are the ones that get the call to play in the studio while the tape is rolling and there are a bunch of people sitting around charging by the minute for their time – when you need to get it right the first time. Toto is a band that formed out of session players – so in many ways, they are a textbook.
This is a breakdown of a famous song of Toto’s from the 80’s called “Rosanna” which you can read all about at the wikipedia page. Other than the fact the announcers talk too much over the tracks, this really does go far to break down just how little is needed, yet how significant each contribution is. If your playing is significantly different than what is on here, it’s time to rethink some things.
A couple things jump out at me listening to this:
Jeff Porcaro on Drums – he is famous for just playing the groove and not playing a lot of fills. My kind of drummer, and exactly what you need most Sunday mornings.
Steve Porcaro on Keys – This really is textbook keyboard playing. Something as simple as a roll down at the right time can shift the whole song.
Steve Lukather on Guitar – Note just how tasteful his playing is when called to play rhythm. Don’t be afraid to step out a little when asked to solo.
Vocal Harmonies – Everything should start out with melody. You build harmonies slowly. Blend is everything. You can actually get away with a lot of harmonies if you’re tasteful and intentional.
Finally, everybody uses contrasts to make certain things speak, and other things lay back.
What jumps out at you?