The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106314   Message #2195811
Posted By: Jeanie
17-Nov-07 - 06:27 AM
Thread Name: Do you sing from Memory?
Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
I think it depends very much on where you are doing the singing. In a concert-style set-up (i.e. specific performing area) where there is a paying audience, then I think all songs should be performed from memory (whether the performers are being paid to sing or not). In a set-up which attempts to create an "everyone sitting round in the back parlour" atmosphere, then it would be acceptable for people to sing from printed words. Personally, I am only really happy performing in public from memory.

Traditional songs were, by their very nature, always performed from memory and passed on in that way - and I think that is why it instinctively feels somehow odd to sing them, or hear them being sung, using the written word.

I think that if you forget a verse (or two), it is far better to carry on with the next verse you know than to double back on yourself to see if the missing verse(s) re-emerge into your brain. I remember an agonizing time listening to a man singing a song he had written himself, something about a boat going out of the harbour. He (and the boat) kept going round in circles, out of the harbour, and out of the harbour again and again... It felt as if we had crossed the Atlantic a hundred times over, rather than just the Channel, before getting to the destination !

It's a sad truth: audiences (whether watching a play or listening to a song) may appear to be hanging on your every word. Hopefully they are, most of the time, but when slip-ups are made, they are only really noticed by the audience if the performer draws attention to them. Best to just carry on regardless and only you will know what went missing.

- jeanie