When talk show bands play an impromptu song, how do instantly play in the same key?

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When talk show bands play an impromptu song, how do instantly play in the same key?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

They are each great musicians, so they know the formula and progressions of a song just by knowing it or hearing it a couple of times. All it takes is the band leader to shout out the key to everyone and they’ll each know their parts well enough to make the song recognizable.

My bands in the past would get requests and make the shapes of letters with our fingers and hands if we weren’t able to shout it out.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They have in-ear monitors that the band leader communicates through. And even their “impromptu” performances are mostly rehearsed. And there’s an agreement that “if we ever need to just hit a random note make it a X”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I used to see this with the Roots a lot during some bits on Fallon. From what I remember, usually just a couple guys start and lay the base and establish the key, then the others can come in and follow from knowing what the key is.

This is a lot how jazz improvisation works too. So long as the key is established either through calling it out or a player playing through it, it’s “easy” from there for others to contribute in musical ways.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s either prior agreement, or quick communication.

Ever seen Back to the Future? “Ok, guys, this is a blues riff in B” is all the band needed to feel their way through Johnny B Goode. Musicians with fast hands and fast brains can really do that. 🙂

[Edit: Obviously, they’re not going to be 100% delighted with that first take, and if you give them some rehearsal time their performances will tighten up a lot!]

Anonymous 0 Comments

They’re not impromptu. But if they were, the bandleader would tell the musicians what key to play in.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are hand signals—one finger up is one sharp (G), one finger down is one flat (F) and so forth. Don’t know if these still get used. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most if not all improv acts, be it music, comedy, etc, are not truely improv. There is a lot of rehearsal, so it just takes a quick signal and everyone immediately knows what key it is. Or they just improv always on the same key

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is a great example of what I mean . . . Bette Midler and Johnny Carson start singing Rainy Day acapella, and then the pianist comes in after several seconds, so they’ve already established their pitch. But the pianist is dead on.

I would be scared shitless to start playing after someone is already singing . . .

But I also know the Johnny Carson band was the highest echelon of musicians.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAuUGNs0oH0](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAuUGNs0oH0)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Saw some commenting that it’s not actually improvised. While certainly there are a lot of tricks used by some bands to make something rehearsed seem spontaneous, I would like to provide the following counter point.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are many ways to let the band know what key but a big one will be with hand signs. 3 fingers pointing up will mean 3 sharps in the key signature( A Major or F# minor) and 2 fingers pointing down will mean 2 flats in the key signature(Bb major or G minor)