Teaching the Worst Band in The World
When this clip went viral in 2010 Atlanta’s Hush gained the label “Worst Band in the World”. Five years later this clip is still hilarious. It also highlights that playing in a band is not easy.
The song they are (trying!) to perform is Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. This is a good choice for bands that do not have a lot of experience playing together. The song is a slow tempo. There are only two sections of music to learn. There are not too many chords you need to know to play the verse or chorus. Yet it all goes tragically wrong gaining them the tag of worst band in the world. View their performance below.
So why did they get it so horribly wrong? Here is why.
Introduction – Worst Band in the World
The band has not discussed how to start the song. The recorded version starts with the band all coming in for a short introduction. A standard practice when the band members will begin the song together is to have the drummer count in. This is done by the drummer clicking his sticks together. The click will also establish the speed of the song known as tempo. No one has clearly defined the start or tempo of the song. Everyone is guessing. They do play the right amount of bars before the vocals enter. But all band members are not aware of beat 1 of the bar sits. This poor start is due to lack of listening to the song and discussion in rehearsals of how they will start.
Avoid being the worst band in the world and make things clear to all band members. Discuss who is starting the song. Make sure the count in is the same tempo that the song is to be played. It doesn’t always have to be the drummer either (especially this drummer). Recognise who has the best skills understanding tempo and have them lead the band into the start of the song.
Verse – Worst Band in the World
The one thing everyone has got is the correct chords and notes. Even the singing is not too far off pitch if it were isolated. The problem stems from the parts all being played at different times. This flows on from the problems we saw in the intro of the song. Band members are unaware of where beat 1 of the bar sits. This can be combated by band members moving in time with the song. Creating an awareness of rhythm through visual cues of movement is a great way to get a band in sync. This takes less than 2 minutes of a rehearsal.
Be aware that when dancing or moving to music we move in time with the tempo of the song. That simple head nod to the beat is enough to establish tempo. A band that moves together will stay in time with each other. If all members were able to improve their awareness of tempo their playing skills would gain confidence. The greatest difficulty of performing with other musicians is performing the musical parts at the right time.
Simply this band has the worst band in the world tag due to rhythm errors and lack of communication. Making them aware of these issues and putting them into practice is key.
Chorus – Worst Band in the World
Going into the chorus provides a moment that never fails to crack me up. The band pauses just before the chorus starts! They are all waiting for someone to make the first sound. Highlight of the video. This continues the issue of timing. Some visual communication between band members here is needed. Any member can be assigned to count the chorus in if the band is unsure.
The bass player rushes through the bass line to close the chorus. He can be heard having the same issue in the verse on the passing note. This error is not only an issue with his timing but also with playing off the beat. Playing off the beat is known as syncopation. It is a more challenging aspect of playing in time. Movement can again make a beginner musician aware of the beat placement. “Listening” to the movement your body makes clues you into where the on and off beats sit.
Guitar Solo – Worst Band in the World
The first solo for Comfortably Numb is played over the chorus. The band is actually at its most together during this section of the song. The lead playing unfortunately is not!
The initial flaw is he plays the first phrase of the solo too soon. I think he is trying to perform the solo as recorded. This shows from a few of the licks he is trying to perform. This shows the difficulty of bringing your part in at the correct time. To improve this skill he should closely listen to the recorded solo and begin to sing it before playing it on guitar. This will help with when to come in. It is much like printing out the words to a song. You still need to sing those words at the right moments. Singing the solo over a backing track is even better as you don’t have the safety net of the recording.
Secondly, his string bends sound like a dying cat. When bending a string it makes the pitch of a note higher. Usually we want to bend the string to the next note in the scale. The guitarist could practice this by listening to the note he is trying to bend up to then performing the bend. He is at least putting fingers in support of pushing the string up. This shows he has the idea of the technique correct, just the execution is lacking.
Second Verse and Chorus – Worst Band in the World
The worst band in the world are playing better in this second half of the song. We have four beats to the bar most of the time. Listen for when the bass player loses touch with where beat one is towards the end of the chorus. When a mistake like this is made you can not continue. Hold out, find beat one and start again.
Outro – Worst Band in the World
Lack of awareness of how to finish the song similar. If a band does not understand how to start the song you can almost guarantee they don’t know how they will finish. The panicked looking around at the end of the song could be avoided by the drummer giving a cue with a small drum fill to lead the band out of the song. Band members need to stay in communication with each other throughout the song with either musical cues or visually indicating to each other section changes or stops.
Wanna start a band? Get you instruments can be purchased from KC’s Rock Shop for students attending the Boronia location, or Guitars and Things in Frankston for those attending the Carrum Downs premises.
We thank these businesses for being loyal supporters of the Eastern Suburbs School of Music.