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To introduce songs, or not, and how?

GUEST,Tunesmith 05 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM
Ian Fyvie 05 Jul 09 - 01:12 PM
PHJim 26 Jun 09 - 03:19 PM
Jess A 11 Jun 09 - 11:57 AM
Marje 11 Jun 09 - 11:09 AM
PHJim 11 Jun 09 - 10:49 AM
Ian Fyvie 08 Jun 09 - 10:38 PM
Don Firth 08 Jun 09 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Jun 09 - 01:05 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 08 Jun 09 - 12:31 PM
Ian Fyvie 07 Jun 09 - 10:03 PM
The Sandman 07 Jun 09 - 05:51 PM
SDShad 07 Jun 09 - 04:35 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 09 - 03:18 PM
Ian Fyvie 07 Jun 09 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 07 Jun 09 - 02:15 PM
Ian Fyvie 07 Jun 09 - 02:02 PM
Ian Fyvie 07 Jun 09 - 01:52 PM
Eve Goldberg 07 Jun 09 - 01:28 PM
Don Firth 06 Jun 09 - 10:23 PM
Art Thieme 06 Jun 09 - 08:47 PM
Bobert 06 Jun 09 - 05:23 PM
glueman 06 Jun 09 - 05:16 PM
Don Firth 06 Jun 09 - 04:43 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 06 Jun 09 - 04:43 PM
Diva 06 Jun 09 - 04:39 PM
Ian Fyvie 06 Jun 09 - 03:20 PM
Anne Lister 06 Jun 09 - 02:57 PM
glueman 06 Jun 09 - 12:42 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 06 Jun 09 - 11:58 AM
Anne Lister 06 Jun 09 - 11:52 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 06 Jun 09 - 11:08 AM
glueman 06 Jun 09 - 10:34 AM
Marje 06 Jun 09 - 09:51 AM
Anne Lister 06 Jun 09 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 06 Jun 09 - 07:17 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jun 09 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Jun 09 - 06:07 AM
Mr Red 06 Jun 09 - 05:56 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jun 09 - 05:39 AM
BB 05 Jun 09 - 02:53 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 09 - 02:31 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 05 Jun 09 - 02:30 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 09 - 02:27 PM
Uncle_DaveO 05 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM
PHJim 05 Jun 09 - 01:19 PM
Artful Codger 05 Jun 09 - 07:36 AM
33 1/3 05 Jun 09 - 07:24 AM
glueman 04 Jun 09 - 11:05 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Jun 09 - 09:25 PM
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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM

I'm always amazed how Vin Garbutt can introduce a serious song in a irreverent, jokey way, and, then, some how, getting the audience to accept his serious rendition of the song! But, then Vin is a sort of genius.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 01:12 PM

Good posting from Marje.

If you're landed with a performer whose just regurgitating patter - have some fun with a bit of light baracking! At a friendly singaround you'll get it all the time from mates.   No problem - and good experience.

Being a 'responsive' audience in this way (without going OTT) you're also letting the guest know that YOU know they're just dishing out a 'Line' to you, an audience, which they don't much care about. And that's disrespectful.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: PHJim
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 03:19 PM

Another great "patter" guy is Todd Snider. Listen to his Digger Dave story that he tells with Moondawg's Tavern.

http://favorstar.com/song/download/mp3/Moondawg%27s+Tavern+With+Digger+Dave+Story/


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Jess A
Date: 11 Jun 09 - 11:57 AM

Another 'it depends' answer from me. I'm probably repeating what lots of others have already said but for me the chat in between sets is an opportunity to share a little bit about the material (background, source, motivation for singing it...), make more of a connection with the audience, if they're the listening interestedly type, and also when playing in a multi-instrumental band, a way to cover the gaps where people are changing instruments and checking tuning.

That said I also hate it when (unless the performance is half stand-up, am sure somebody else has already mentioned Vin Garbutt...) the introductions outweigh the music. Or when the chat doesn't add anything, in terms of information or a connection with the performer.

Plus there are some gigs where the audience wants background music not a 'sitting still listening to every word' type concert, and there I feel really uncomfortable saying more than a few words - it just feels wrong. That said, I don't really enjoy that type of gig myself.

Earlier on, Tom Bliss said 'And, yes, you should certainly NEVER spoil the drama by telling the story of the song in the intro (it's amazing how many people do make this mistake though)! '... I'm not sure I agree with this 100%. I'm not advocating telling the whole plot of every song in a set. But there are times when there is so much going on in a ballad that you only have to miss a few key words to miss the point of the story, or other times when the imagery is a bit obscure and a bit of explanation beforehand helps. When I'm in an audience I quite like having a clue what the story is about before the song starts, not all the time but sometimes... so even with explaining storylines I'd still say 'it depends' as to whether it is appropriate or not.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Marje
Date: 11 Jun 09 - 11:09 AM

I can see that the professional or semi-pro who tours and does paid gigs is in a different position from people who regularly perform in the same handful of clubs in their local area. In the former case, there's no particular reason to vary the introductions and patter, as the audience will be largely new, whereas the local floor-singers would do well to avoid too much repetition.

But even so, I appreciate it when the professionals are clearly tailoring their chat to that particular audience and situation. They may decide to link the song to some current event, whether it's MPs' expenses or the X-Factor finals; they may link the song to the local area or its history; or they may make a link between their song and one that's already been performed by a floor singer. This sort of thing shows that they're treating the evening as a one-off, individual performance, rather than one of 20 identical gigs, and that they're paying attention to where they are and who they're with, which always helps audiences to warm to them.

Marje


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: PHJim
Date: 11 Jun 09 - 10:49 AM

I noticed that Art mentioned Utah Philips above. Utah and Gambel Rogers were two performers whose intros were as interesting as the songs. I don't think I'd be terribly disappointed if I went to one of their shows and heard no songs, only stories. (Well, maybe a bit, since they were both great singers and songwriters.)


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 10:38 PM

"So—what do your audiences want? What do they expect from you?"

Isn't that the real joy of playing to an audience - balancing these two things with what you sppecificly want to include?

Having said that I would not want to play to an audience that want's all the well known folk stuff.

I played at a new bar session a friend started a year or so back. Before I started a group of 'listeners' started asking the usual "Do you do Wild Rover? Do you do Mr Tambourine Man? "No" I said " I"m a singer songwriter" "Oh. Do you do Oasis?

Some audiences are not going to get what they expect from me when they see a label 'Folk SInger' - and I don't really want to supply what such audiences expect.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 02:19 PM

Circumstances.

If you are the only singer and you are singing four or five sets a night three nights in the same place for eighteen weeks in a row, and you have a high percentage of repeat clientele, you'd jolly well better keep your "act" flexible and varied. Add to this that, after that eighteen week gig is over, your next one is in a place two miles away and most of your audience follows you, and—well, you see why versatility is essential.

In 1959, Bob Nelson and I were "barnstorming" in the San Francisco Bay area, and while we were there, we saw some of the "big name acts," the ones that were responsible for the "Great Folk Scare." We actually saw the first professional gig of The Smothers Brothers at The Purple Onion. They did the same songs with the same well-rehearsed intros every night they sang. But—they didn't have that much repeat business. The Purple Onion, like The Hungry i, and other North Beach clubs that were featuring "folk music" (actually, comedy acts using folk songs as a vehicle for their humor) were primarily tourist attractions. Tourists would go to The Purple Onion one evening to hear the Smothers Brothers, to the Hungry i the following evening to hear The Limeliters, then someplace else to hear stand-up comic Phyllis Diller.   Little repeat business, new audiences every night.

Later, when the Smothers Brothers records started coming out, they did the same routines that Bob and I had heard word for word. Then, a few years later, when they got their own television show—yep, the exact same stuff.

That's what people expected from them and that's what they wanted.

I was not a comedy act. In fact, I had a small reputation as being something of an academic as well as an entertainer; yes, an "entertainer," but I don't think that made me any less a singer of folk songs and ballads. But reputation as a bit of a scholar notwithstanding, I kept my intros (it any) short, informative, and varied.

So—what do your audiences want? What do they expect from you?

(By the way, these comments are general, not addressed to any specific person here)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 01:05 PM

Well, if I was going round and round the same local singarounds on a regular basis, seeing largely the same faces most of the time, and only doing two or three songs, not only would I myself want to ring the changes, both in terms of songs and intros, but I wouldn't need to tee-up my songs, because everyone would soon know them (and probably be bored of them too)!

But at most of my gigs, a majority of the people there have not seen me before. I'm not going to leave out an important story or a good gag (finding gags that fit the stories is not as easy as you'd think) just because a few people may have heard it before. If that's going to stop people coming, then I'm not going to loose any sleep over it, and if me doing proper intros is going to annoy people, then I'm very happy for those people to stay away (their grumpy faces might spoil the atmosphere)!

Not many get to see me more than twice a year or so, and there are certain songs that I usually want to play (because the shift CDs) and that people want to hear, because they're the favourites, and are usually requested anyway. Plus there's no point in doing a lot of songs that you've not got on CD, because every one you do is a potential sale lost, (no sales = no food nor petrol), so that keeps the repertoire reasonably tight.

Of course you alter the stories to fit the slot. The more people on stage, usually, the more brief you need to be. With Piper Sons we hardly did any intros at all - and we keep then tighter in the duo than I do when I'm on my own.

Would the aversion to intros apply to 'proper' storytelling, I wonder? Should a story teller tell the tale in a different order, and maybe change the charactors names, and even the key events, every time?

I'd find that hard to do, because all my stories are about real events - and the more atmosphere and background I give the more interested people usually become (as long as I've prepared the spiel properly and don't loose my thread.

Certainly it's much better to do a good scripted intro than a weak ad lib.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 12:31 PM

"you owe it to them to be well prepared."

I`m always well prepared AD scripted


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 10:03 PM

I think a song should generally have an intro (except when a spontaneous performance feels right) - but that's personal, not a dictat!

I simply differ with those who advocate saying the same thing in the same way like a script.

If a song needs something particular said about it - surely there's no problem varying the wording or expression. And does the song need the same thing said about it for every audience? What about different emphasis for different occasions for example?

If I can relate a song to a news item, for example, or something else contemporary I'll do so.

It just needs a bit of lively thinking and avoiding the rut Don referred to.

And Shad, I'd get bored with any 'act' however brilliant. Once you've seen it, you've seen it...

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 05:51 PM

of course the best intros are the spontaneous ones,this is obvoius to the audience if the act is more than one person,from the reaction of the other performer,however its a pretty difficult thing to do regularly.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: SDShad
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 04:35 PM

"Performers - do you see yourself as doing and ACT?

If yes, then you're probably going to have a rehearsed intro. The problem is that if someone comes to see you again quite soon afterwards. it's going to be so obvious you're an act from the scripted repetition."

Not necessarily. If you "act" is "moody, antisocial, introspective jazz genius," you're going to play your trumpet facing away from the audience and never say a bloody thing to 'em. And your name is going to be Miles Davis. :-)

And, in the other direction, having some sort of pre-planned intro to give before a song that deserves one doesn't prove that you're up to that for-some-reason-dreaded-and-dratted practice of "doing an act." It might just mean that you think a lot about your material, and figure it'll come across richer to the audience if you tell them something about it first.

Me, I was a debater in high school, so it's second nature to have something I've at least rehearsed in my head before the gig to say before some songs, although at other times it'll occur to me to just come up with strings of words on the spot when it seems warranted. Life ain't one-size-fits-all, but guess which kind of intro comes across as more "together." :-)

Shad


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 03:18 PM

When I was the most "wall-to-wall" active, back in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, I was doing two or three nights a week in one coffeehouse or another.   Fortunately, these places paid, so I was making a halfway decent living at it. I had a working repertoire of maybe 200 songs. I usually sang four or five sets a night, generally eight or ten songs each. I tried not to repeat until I'd sung through the whole list, which didn't take all that many nights at that rate. And, blessings be, there was a lot of repeat business; the same people kept coming, so a) I must have been doing something right, and b) if I was going to keep them coming back, I couldn't afford to let myself get boring.

So—I would figure out my sets ahead of time, early in the week, and make sure to shuffle the order a bit and decide what, if anything, I would say about each song. So when someone heard me sing a song they'd heard me do before, it was in a whole new context. AND none of these pre-planned sets was locked in stone. I might make a few last minute switches, depending on circumstances.

Forethought. No matter how busy you are, don't let yourself fall into a rut.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 02:41 PM

Tom

I'm doing 150 singarounds a year; yes only 3 songs per night so one song of a repetiore of 40 doesn't get aired as often as one from a Guesting performer.

However I do say something original for every song for every performance. If I did frequent bookings I would still try to convey the song information naturally, and not in a scripted fashion.

When I'm doing a set or do the odd booking, I don't even plan a running order of songs, and may stray outside the selection if it seems right.

I remember playing at 'Raise Your Banners' one year and towards the end of a current song thinking "Would the audience like 'song x' or "song y' next?"

As several people have said, much of it is Horses for Courses. By experienced singers, guesting and non guesting, informing relative beginners how they present songs, etc.; then aspiring beginners can see that lots of approaches work - and make a choice which might suite their personality and prospective audiences.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 02:15 PM

I'm a bit loath to join in again, specially as I've said this lots of times before, but Ian, please could you try to spare a thought for the poor working musician, who's doing 1-200 gigs a year. When you introduce a song night after night after night after night, you soon find the 'ideal' intro. Yes, most of us try to ring the changes, but if that's the story, that's how it's going to come out.

I have people coming again and again to see me do my 'act' and, yes, they largely hear the same old same old - but they give every appearance of enjoying it.

To be honest there's nothing much i can do about it, except tell a string of lies, or say nothing (as you'd prefer) and miss out most of what people seem to be paying to hear.

Ok, it's not 'folk' by your definition, but it's kinda life, really.

Tom


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 02:02 PM

PS to last....

Don puts it excellently - I should have read his posting before replying to Rifleman!

Ian


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 01:52 PM

Um...the origin of a song or tune isn't going to change from gig to gig

But do you have to say it exactly the same way as if you're knocking on doors flogging double glazing, Rifleman?

Why not impart the info as if you're tellin a friend rather than a Sales Prospect!

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 01:28 PM

This has been a really interesting discussion, especially hearing from people who would prefer to have as many songs squeezed in as possible and don't really like introductions or patter in between songs.

I talked a lttle bit about this before, but the reason I go to a concert is to be taken on a journey. The journey might be musical, but it also is about me allowing the performer to take me wherever they want to go. And usually, if the performer is at all attuned to their audience, where they go has everything to do with what the audience is ready for. They might sing exactly the same songs as the night before, but the journey will be different because they are singing to different people, possibly in a different place, they feel differently that night, and so on.

Last night I went to see the excellent French Canadian band Genticorum. They are fantastic musicians who play beautiful songs and tunes. I loved the music. But what made their performance was not just their amazing musical chops - it was also the way they interacted with the audience, the stories they told about the songs, the way they joked around with each other.

So for me, in addition to hearing the musician's interpretation of the song live, I want to get to know the performer in some way. That might be through the way they play the music or interact with the audience while they are singing/playing, but it also is likely to be through the things they say and do in between songs.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 10:23 PM

Early on, I got hired to sing for a men's group. The guy who introduced me said, "Don knows hundreds of really raunchy songs!" NOT! At the time, I knew all of about fifteen songs, all from Burl Ives or Richard Dyer-Bennet records.

I coulda killed the S.O.B!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 08:47 PM

Utah Phillips was my mentor. He showed me how jokelore and actual folk tales might be used to set-up and frame a song---to defuse the seriousness of a given song---and even bring an audience not educated to the history within the song to a place where they were, then and there, more receptive to this strange new thing called a traditional folk song. More often than not, a tale like "The Split Dog" would lead into a tearjerker like "Old Shep." A tall one like "The Great Turtle Drive" could easily lead into any song of the American west.

The extent to which I did that, without it being too obvious, determined whether or not I was completing my job as I saw it.

When a person introduced me with a line like, "This guy is gonna have you rolling in the aisles!!!"--- he would sure hear about it from me later on. I wanted to kill those intro purveyors.

I was a FOLKSINGER who just happened to toss in funny stuff once in a while. I was NOT a comedian who sang a few folk songs.

There were certain sets I did where the comedy of the night just took over----but it was purely accidental and linked to where the audience preferred to go---and to how much I had to drink.

My comedy was comic relief from the very real tragedy that life can be at it's base---. And it was to HIGHLIGHT the grand song tales that came out of that basic tragedy that life is ere to--in the end.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:23 PM

Well, I'm pretty much the county's bluesman and so folks don't know much about the blues so in a 1 hour set there will be about 10 minutes of intros and stories so folks will have some reference as to what the music is about... I enjoy that part and make the intros and stories as interesting as the songs themselves... Plus, they add to the entertainment aspect of my set...

Bobert (alias Sidewalk Bob)


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: glueman
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:16 PM

"OK, Glueman, I note you still haven't answered my questions"

It's not evasion, I'd have thought the difference between a live performance and a recording is self evident. The things the performer puts of her/himself into the material in 'real time' are what compels me.
I don't see it as an exposition of an old tune so much as an interpretation, a new voice meeting traditional material. As a rule I'd say a typical folk performance is fairly derivative and doesn't take a song as far as it might, it tends to be a performer's idea of what a folk revival song should sound like to a folk revival audience rather than a blank canvas taking the material into new places. That's a generalisation of course, some performers sound as though they are singing something for the very first time and make the hairs on your neck stand up, others make it sound like a school lesson


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 04:43 PM

"The problem is that if someone comes to see you again quite soon afterwards, it's going to be so obvious you're an act from the scripted repetition."

True. But the simple solution to this problem is to know your material well. Don't script what you are going to say. Know it well enough to be able to ad lib it, and either shorten it or lengthen it depending upon the audience and the occasion.

In this respect, make every performance new and different.

There are many performers who get up in front of an audience and blunder around blindly, having not really worked out what they are going to sing or what kind of intros to do, if any. This can lead to aimless babbling or standing there staring at the song list taped to the side of your guitar trying to figure out what to sing next. Not good! So at least to a certain extent, if you are going to entertain and inform people, you need to be an "act."

I am of that school of thought that says "if your are going to take up peoples' time, and especially if you're going to ask them for money as you do so, you owe it to them to be well prepared."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 04:43 PM

If yes, then you're probably going to have a rehearsed intro. The problem is that if someone comes to see you again quite soon afterwards. it's going to be so obvious you're an act from the scripted repetition.

Um...the origin of a song or tune isn't going to change from gig to gig


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Diva
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 04:39 PM

I like to know where songs and tunes have come from and think that it is basic good manners to acknowledge your source.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 03:20 PM

A question.

Performers - do you see yourself as doing and ACT?

If yes, then you're probably going to have a rehearsed intro. The problem is that if someone comes to see you again quite soon afterwards. it's going to be so obvious you're an act from the scripted repetition.

That jarrs with the folk ethos for me - another reason why I prefer singarounds where, although you're going to see the same poeple from club to club - no-ones going to come out with repetetive patter. Amongst friends they'de probably get a humorous quip if they tried!      


Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 02:57 PM

OK, Glueman, I note you still haven't answered my questions (about what the point of a live gig is for you and how you can read liner notes to recordings you haven't got) so I'm assuming we've just hit a moment of mutual incomprehension.
For myself, I'll stick with knowing how many people tell me how much they enjoy my intros and how much I enjoy other people's intros, and remember how we're all different in what we enjoy. As a performer I think I would have sunk without trace by now if most of my audiences preferred me not to chat between songs.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: glueman
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 12:42 PM

"why not simply stay home and play those recordings?"

For many years that exactly what I did. Then I thought it's my music as much as these other peoples, so why not take the stuff you like and leave 'the scene' to go hang - which is pretty much where I am now. You'd probably find we agree on all kinds of practical issues, like which music is 'good', I just can't be arsed with all the folkie trimmings and attitude.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 11:58 AM

Fairport actually meant Sir B. Mackenzie's Daughter's Lament for the 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straits of Loch Knombe on the occasion of the Announcement of her Marriage to The Laird of Kinleakie as joke, and as a joking attempt to get into the Guiness Book of Records(it did, infact, make it in as the world's longest tune title)Fairport has a sense of humour and so do we here....


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 11:52 AM

Glueman - the notes for the songs that you can read at home presupposes you own a recording of the songs. Some of the songs in any given performer's set haven't been recorded yet, and of course not everyone in the audience has the recordings.
As to paying for as many tunes as can be fitted into the gig - why not simply stay home and play those recordings? Then you wouldn't have any other interruptions to your enjoyment. I still don't understand what the point of a live gig is for you!


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 11:08 AM

Campin I really don't need to justify myself or my band to you or anyone else...but might I suggest you acquire a sense of humour...?just a suggestion, and it does help if you're a performing musician!


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: glueman
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 10:34 AM

"what are you getting from the live experience as opposed to sitting at home"?

Hopefully not a history lesson. I CAN get that from my sleeve notes at home. Personally I pay for as many tunes as can be fitted in to the gig. If a verbal presentation is done with wit no-one can argue but it's so often a dry exposition of fact, in other words record notes without the ability to turn over.
If there's a danger of someone banging on without wit and guile - especially if it's flavoured with narcissism - I tend to go to the bar with as loud a stage sigh as I can muster.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Marje
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 09:51 AM

I usually say something to introduce a song, and appreciate it when others do too. What I like less is when the singer (usually a guitarist) spends ages telling jokes that have nothing to do with any of the songs, just while he noodles and retunes. I'd rather he just tuned up faster and got on with it.

A good introduction doesn't need to be very learned - it's often worthwhile to hear something about where the song comes from, etc, but it can be just as interesting to know what it is about the song that has made the singer choose it (the tune? the story? certain lines or phrases? an unforgettable version by someone else?).

If it's a song with a story, it's worth alerting the audience to this and perhaps giving them something to listen out for, e.g. "This is what can happen if you sleep with the boss's wife!" I also like the way Spiers and Boden introduce one of their ballads by asking the audience to imagine certain celebrities playing the leading characters. Any little touch like that helps the audience to focus on the story, so they'll enjoy the song more - but don't tell the whole story, that's what the song is supposed to do.

Marje


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 08:45 AM

I suppose for me the introductions are what makes a concert or folk club a social occasion as opposed to listening to recorded material at home. It's a human interaction in all of its glory (and the opposite) in which I can find out more about the performer(s)and see them as real people, capable of a history and of making mistakes or forgetting words. As I've already said, my experience of a concert in which there were no introductions was a deeply flawed experience in which there was no context for any of the songs or tunes.

So, those of you who are saying "no introductions" or even "minimal introductions" - what are you getting from the live experience as opposed to sitting at home with the recordings? This isn't meant as a confrontational question, simply a request for information because you've clearly got a very different take on the whole thing than me!


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 07:17 AM

One of my favourite writers did a book signing, at one of my local bookshops, a few years back. In the course of his address he said: "I'm an information junkie". This is a phrase which has stuck in my head because, I realise, I'm one too! This is why I like introductions - especially if I get to learn something new.

To me, learning new and interesting stuff is as important as anything else. This is one of the things which attracted me to folk in the first place!


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 06:39 AM

for our next piece, our fiddle player will perform
Sir B. Mackenzie's Daughter's Lament for the 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straits of Loch Knombe on the occasion of the Announcement of her Marriage to The Laird of Kinleakie.

or would we have lost the audience's attention?


That sort of contemptuous attitude about what Scottish instrumental tunes mean is fortunately a lot less common than it used to be. (I spent several years of hard work systematically combating it).

If that's the way you feel about the composer, why are you playing the music at all?

For starters, look up the stories behind "The 79th's Farewell to Gibraltar" and the "The 91st at Modder River". Then try to tell me that doesn't affect how you play or hear those tunes.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 06:07 AM

I'm amazed by the number of s/chanty goups who sing forebitters and call them s/chanties.

In jest, I asked one 8-piece group the other day how many of them owned or could actually sail a boat. Served me right, one of them was a qualified skipper! (howls of delight from the audience)


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Mr Red
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:56 AM

non-folkies need to know a shanty is a WORK song and the rhythm was originally geared to certain kinds of work. And maybe that shanties are not always sea songs, ie Pit Shanty (said when sober).

It always amazes me that when the tall ships arrive and there are shanty crews singing their little hearts out, there is not a sail unfurled or a hawser in sight, (that hasn't been coiled or belayed). The Hull Shanty Festival 10 years ago were told about this so next year they demonstrated shanties - on the quay, with a rope going nowhere! Not on a ship, not heaving the spars and sails. I ask you!

Context?


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:39 AM

I don't think there are any hard and fast rules on introducing; too many considerations: songs, singers, audiences, circumstances, unfamiliar terms…… I do believe that, whatever the reason, if you are going to introduce your songs (and music on occasion), they have to be well thought out and definite – concise, informative and (where suitable) entertaining.
With me, some good, well-done introductions have stayed in my memory longer than the performances of songs they introduced; like the one to a set of mouth music - the story of a be-kilted Hamish Henderson explaining the meaning of 'Tail Toddle' to a blue-rinse American lady tourist at The Edinburgh Festival. Or one MacColl often used to explain the provenance of 'Keach in The Creel'- a story of a 16th century Italian apprentice painter using beetles with tiny candles on their backs to divert the attention of the master-painter whose daughter he wanted to seduce – magic!!
Bert Lloyd was also a genius at the 'art of talking'.
Irish piper, Seamus Ennis was, by far, the best 'introducer' I have ever heard. His introductions – never 'patter' - were a mixture of background, technical and factual information, history, reminiscences, jokes, tales observations…. etc. and were as much a part of his performance as was his playing and singing. Even on the rare occasions he was not on top form I can never remember coming away dissatisfied from one of his performances.
One of the best nights we have ever spent was at Cecil Sharp House, when Malcolm Taylor asked us to bring along some Irish performers we were recording to give an evening of whatever we chose to do.
We brought three;
Tom McCarthy, a multi-instrumentalist from Clare, played and talked about how he came to the music and described where and how it was done in his native Clare and all the people he had met there and on the London/Irish music scene.
Fergus McTeggart, a brilliant musician from Fermanagh, demonstrated and explained some of the technicalities of his instrument, the fiddle.
Mikeen McCarthy, Kerry Traveller, sang and told stories and related his experiences of travelling in the first half of the 20th century in rural Ireland, as a horse-dealer, tinsmith, farm labourer, street singer, ballad seller….. a lifetime on the road.
Pat and I were there in case the evening dragged or lost direction – our presence was totally unnecessary – two-and-a-half hours of pure pleasure.
A long time ago I came to the conclusion that introductions are not only acceptable, but often essential to the understanding and appreciation of many of the songs, and, within reason, it really doesn't matter how long they are if they are well done, relevant, entertaining and/or informative.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: BB
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 02:53 PM

Rifleman, I said right at the beginning of this thread, "Introductions are not for all people, circumstances or venues, but they have their place, and with skilled introductions can make a real difference to people's perceptions."

Even with tunes, it's *sometimes* interesting to know where they came from or the circumstances of their writing, although probably not in as much detail as you gave above! Perhaps just to say that it's a medley that Fairport put together is enough for most audiences. Personally, I quite like to know if it's a tune that's been written for a particular occasion like a wedding, or written by someone whose name I might know, or comes from a particular area of the country, or whatever. It doesn't *have* to be a lecture or even more than a few words, but it can put a tune in context, in the same way it can for a song, which can make it more interesting than just a string of tunes.

Horses for courses again.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 02:31 PM

Addendum:

Unless, of course, it's a recording of a live performance, audience and all. That's a whole different thing.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 02:30 PM

for our next piece, our fiddle player will perform
Sir B. Mackenzie's Daughter's Lament for the 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straits of Loch Knombe on the occasion of the Announcement of her Marriage to The Laird of Kinleakie.

or would we have lost the audience's attention? *LOL*

actually we do perform this great Fairport fiddle medley, the version we do (yes there are serveral versions) is Bonnie Kate / Up the Chimney / The Kilfenora Road / Biff, Bang, Crash / Tail Toddle / Boston Tea Party.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 02:27 PM

I dunno about that. I've always felt that introductions really didn't belong on the record itself, they belong in the liner notes (or the little booklet included with a CD). As some folks mention above, when you've heard the same introduction to the same song over and over again, it can begin to pall a bit. Most of the time when I put on a record or CD, all I want to hear are the songs themselves. If I want notes, I'll reach for the record jacket or the insert booklet.

Your mileage may vary

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM

In my first CD I dispensed with introductions, with the exception of one two-liner.

Since that, several of my customers have said, "Dave, in your next CD you should include your introductions! That's what makes you distinctive!"

Go figure.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: PHJim
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 01:19 PM

I was just thinking of some performers who give long introductions, but who do it so well that their audience doesn't seem to mind. I realise that there are people who hate this and know that they occasionally have someone yell out,"Sing the song!", but I enjoy their stories as much as the songs. Some performers who fall into this catagory are Fred Eaglesmith, Tom Rush and Hayes Carll.
The danger of these stories is that they aren't as entertaining the second, third and fourth time around and when they're included on a recording I tend to fast forward over the introduction.
I have seen Hayes Carll several times and his shows are completely different each time. His introductions sound completely spontanious.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 07:36 AM

Pip: Or you could write the introduction as a haiku. Shades of Lewis Carroll's introduction to "Hiawatha's Photographing".


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: 33 1/3
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 07:24 AM

Yes if it is saying something germaine to the story that is not evident in the song.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: glueman
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 11:05 PM

Introductions should be brief or better, non-existent. If a folk song is as different from everything else as people say, the audience will be able to tell - and not because someone spoke for ten minutes beforehand.

The best patter is by performers who get the audience on side by taking the mickey out the situation, not by buttering them up. Liza Carthy's recent intro went - I'm going to start with a really miserable song tonight, and it'll all go downhill from there. None of the audience were disappointed.


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Subject: RE: To introduce songs, or not, and how?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 09:25 PM

As in all the rest of life, it's judgment....Judgment....Judgment ....Judgment!

The size and makeup of the audience, the weather, where your spot is in the program (if you're not ALL of the program), whether the previous acts have been so-so or SUPER, whether the audience is chomping at the bit, wanting you to get out of the so the star, who's next, can perform, and maybe so they can go home.....all those things and lots of other things have to go into how to introduce songs.

Dave Oesterreich


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