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What do you want from me?

WyoWoman 11 Jul 99 - 10:37 PM
Rick Fielding 11 Jul 99 - 11:32 PM
WyoWoman 12 Jul 99 - 12:05 AM
gargoyle 12 Jul 99 - 12:05 AM
Jeremiah McCaw 12 Jul 99 - 07:52 AM
Rick Fielding 12 Jul 99 - 11:06 AM
Mudjack 12 Jul 99 - 11:37 AM
WyoWoman 12 Jul 99 - 11:19 PM
mountain tyme 13 Jul 99 - 12:27 AM
Joe Offer 13 Jul 99 - 09:08 AM
WyoWoman 13 Jul 99 - 02:58 PM
Legal Eagle 13 Jul 99 - 03:15 PM
Rick Fielding 13 Jul 99 - 05:36 PM
Peter T. 14 Jul 99 - 10:37 AM
Res 14 Jul 99 - 11:43 AM
Richard Bridge 15 Jul 99 - 04:58 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 Jul 99 - 12:46 AM
Rick Fielding 16 Jul 99 - 01:01 AM
WyoWoman 01 Oct 00 - 03:00 PM
WyoWoman 01 Oct 00 - 03:24 PM
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Subject: What do you want from me?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 10:37 PM

I've always had this question -- and others -- and it suddenly occured to me that this is the perfect place to get some answers.

I'm a singer. I've sung with various bands over the years, but hadn't done much singing for some time until a couple of years ago I decided to "come out" again as a singer.

It's always been hard for me to start working with instrumentalists, particularly a band that's been together for a while. It seems to me that the players, who almost always are men, just walk into the situation with their chops immediately up and ready to go. Singers have this handicap, in that, if we sit in our rooms singing to ourselves, or with a CD or tape, we can sound just fine, but that's not at all the same thing as walking into a group of men and saying, "Let's do it in D..."

Now, I'm talking with someone about singing with a band again -- this time a Big Band (I get to be Ella Fitzgerald! Oh, joy unalloyed!) -- but it's the same situation. These guys have been playing together since God was a tyke and I've not actually done any of the songs with with anyone but a pianist here and there or, occasionally, a guitarist. I feel like a dork walking into this situation, even though I have confidence in my singing, once I get through the initial awkwardness.

So, my question, oh ye bandsmen great and small, is, What do you want from the vocalist? What works best -- to take one of the guys aside before the first rehearsal and try to work out the tunes first, or to just walk in cold and go for it? What drives you craziest about vocalists, and how can I avoid making mistakes that will slow us down?

What has your experience been working with vocalists, and is it just my paranoia, or is there actually a good deal of condescension and even hostility toward the singers, particularly the "chick singer?"

(Don't get me wrong, I actually do end up having great experiences because they see that I can come through with the goods. But, the initial interactions are almost always kind of clunky...)

(I hope all that made at least a modicum of sense...)

WW


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 11:32 PM

Hi There Wyo. Having led bands, big and small over the years I think one bit of info that might help is this: You've got it right already!
Generally the guys have had tons more experience than you because they've had tons more spare time. (I might get an argument here, but I feel I'm on solid ground) Here's a few things that might make the process easier, and I trust you when you say you can "deliver the goods".
1. And this is crucial!! Get at least 3 or 4 songs written out on charts - in YOUR key, with proper chords and a melody line. Have the appropriate number of copies needed and hand them out. You will soon find which members of the band REALLY know what they're doin', and which ones suddenly are worrying about keeping up with you! I can't emphasise this enough. It will show the band that you know the REAL rules that professionals expect and will put you on an even footing without any aggressiveness that might hurt feelings. Any local pro can do this for you and it will probably cost about 50 bucks.
2. Keep a Sony Pro Walkman with you at all times. Don't go for a cheaper model, and don't go for the DAT one.(you want to be able to play things on anybody's stereo)
Ask the band leader to play their repertoire so you can tape it, and tell him that's because you want to learn the songs RIGHT. He'll be impressed. Then learn them on your time - not theirs.
3. Buy your own mike (with low impedence cord, and hi impedence adaptor). Sure SM57 is still preferred my most vocalists.

Well, there you go. It involves a little investment, but I absolutely guarantee you that if you take care of those things and don't scrimp, and if you're timing and pitch are spot on - the word will get around so fast you won't believe how well you'll be treated. You can also counter the "chick singer" jokes with "drummer" and "bassplayer" ones.
Although I'm a dyed in the wool folkie, I love old time swing, and I wish you luck.
rick


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 12:05 AM

Rick-- Bless your little cotton socks! This is great stuff.

I do have a mike and cord someplace (moved since I bought 'em). Do I need to have my own amp, and if so, what kind? SM57 is a model number or what?

I actually got my hands on a great jazz/swing fake book, so I need to see what tunes the band already knows and see if they're in my collection, then see if the keys are right. If I take someone the chart, with keys and melody line, s/he can fairly easily transpose the keys, yes? (Actually, I could maybe do that with my "chord-finder" book, huh?)

I really appreciate this information.

Best, WW


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: gargoyle
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 12:05 AM

I have been brought up - and I truly believe

The accompaniment always FOLLOWS the vocalist....you lead and we will follow.

If you take a breath or extend a note we FOLLOW....

If you forget a line.. we "vamp" and then FOLLOW when you are back.

In the "musical dance" we are performing - you are the lead.

The vocalist is primary the accompaniment is secondary.


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 07:52 AM

Shure makes the SM series of mikes. They're pretty much the industry standard. There are better mikes around, almost always at higher prices, but generally the Shures have the best combo of sound, reliability and durability (so tough they can be used to drive nails - an exaggeration, I'm sure, but I've seen SM58's that look like they've been used that way). Definitely the workhorse. Used ones might be found in the $100 range.

Now to uncertain ground; and disagreeing with someone of Rick's stature and experience is little more than just plain dumb on my part. A quibble, really. SM58's seem to be generally used as vocal mikes and SM 57's as instrumental, although there's very little difference between them (and I'm told some country performers are starting to use the 57's for vocals).

Oh-oh! that all was "tech talk", weren't it? I believe that's a fining offense.


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 11:06 AM

Oops Jeremiah, you can disagree with me anytime you want to. Especially when you're totally right! "58s" are of course the vocal mike, and "57s" the instrumental one. Don't know what I was thinkin'.
Wyo. Getting the songs originally from fake books is fine. The point I was trying to make is you should "customize" the music to your own needs exclusively. Even to the extent of having your name and contact information at the top of every sheet. This is mostly about showing the band that you are not a third class musical citizen right from the get-go. Everything that you do that says "I'm top-notch" will earn you respect from the band. I assume you've read the stories about women band singers in the 30s and 40s and how they dealt with a very difficult life style, but if not, hunt a few down on the "net".

You don't need an amp. Once again, the mike is partly practical and partly to show the bandleaders that you won't work with crap equipment.(and that you've solved the problem yourself rather than just complaining) Stuff like this goes a long way, whether you're in a tiny town or New York.
Gargoyle is SO right about the function of band and vocalist. You'll know you've found a good band when they do what he outlines.
Love to hear a progress report.
rick


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Mudjack
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 11:37 AM

Tempo Flag, I used to watck Rose Maddox sing to many pick up bands and she always had her hand behind her back showing the band the beat.Like slapping her hip but they usually stayed on the beat. I've talked to several pickers who backed her up and they all agreed that she had high standards and would not tolerate mistakes.
Wyoming folks should be able to pack a six shooter, that would keep the band on their toes.The band wiyh experience will stay with you as long as you don't stray to far away from the phrasing and keep a desent tempo..
Good luck with the new gig.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 11:19 PM

Thanks all, I'll keep you posted. And maybe I'll get one of them cool, double-duty mikes that turn into six-shooters. They have 'em here, no doubt.

WW


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: mountain tyme
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 12:27 AM

I agree with all of the above. Great advise. The singer sings and its up to the band to try to play whatever is needed. A Sure SM57 or SM58 can be gotten new anywhere for under $100.00. The new Sure SM58 Beta is an upgrade but is more costly. We do old music and have chosen the Sure SM55 for its classic look, better pattern for stand alone and its upgraded state of the art guts. I have watched Rose Maddox belt em' out many times. Her power and attitude demands that the band does it her way. She does it right and who has more experience than her. Go for it Wyo!! Lots'a luck!


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 09:08 AM

Click here for Shure microphone pictures and specs - couldn't find the Shure SM55, though. Could it be the 55SH?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 02:58 PM

Thanks, Joe. I emailed them to see if there's a local distributor. Didn't see a way to buy them over the 'Net. Did I miss something?

WW


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 03:15 PM

Of course you could argue that the point of a rythm section is to play the rythm and the lead instruments and voice should learn to stay in time. It all depends on whether you are the vocalist or the bass guitarist (or drummer). Some shanty singers are awful, and shanties are worksongs that have to have that pulling rythm just so.

If you want to save half the price of a Shure SM58, try an AKG D880. I got my daughter a Sony Shure copy for GBP 17.50 (a heavily discounted new Shure SM58 is GBP 80) and after a little soldering it worked well, not a smooth as an SM58 but passable. I also got her an old AKG D190E (takes you back, eh?) for GBP 25. Mikes, like power amps, should be heavy or they sound tinny.


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 05:36 PM

Legal is right in his mike stuff, however I'll re-iterate that the reason I suggested The Shure was at least 50% for show. Pro musicians (of all ages) relate to it and will take you seriously more quickly, and that did seem to be your initial dilemma. Same with the Sony Pro-Walkman.
It's kind of like seeing something other than Heinz Ketchup in a restaurant. There are certain standards that people relate to whether they are 100% or not backed up by reality. Another example would be when a professional musician asks what kind of guitar someone plays, They don't expect a brand name, they expect only a model number or name. eg: "L5" or Tele, or "175". It's kind of a "hippnes" thing. So, silly or not, knowing stuff like this may help you be accepted more quickly.
rick


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 10:37 AM

At the opposite end of the spectrum, last night I wandered in by accident in a local place to 20 minutes of the worst singer I have ever heard doing "standards" with her group. She was eerily bad. Here are a few thoughts from that encounter:
(1) Unless you are really good, stay away from Ella Fitzgerald Songbook arrangements of classic songs. Anyone who knows them -- and is there anyone who is interested in this kind of music who does not? -- will instantly compare you, unfavourably!
(2) Stay away from "The Rainbow Connection" and "With a Little Help from my Friends" ("What would you do if I sang out of tune?": Just wait, honey);
(3) Don't push the songs. Pushing is a dumb form of energy, compared to the energy required to focus intently on the songs themselves.
(4) Most of these songs have a verse (Intro) that this lady had obviously never heard of!
Actually, this lady was very interesting. I thought for a moment she was a parody. I had sort of dismissed the 1 and 3 discussion in the audience participation thread, but she had the worst case of it I have ever heard. She never even got to 3. It was like she suddenly realised she had to go pee at the beginning of every bar. Weird.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Res
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 11:43 AM

Couldn't agree more with Gargoyle. This is one place that the "chick singer" doesn't have to dance backwards. Res


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 04:58 PM

About one and three. Martin Carthy says with some humour that all English traditional song is in the time signature of "one". And the next beat is the same but prhaps at a different tempo.


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 12:46 AM

In about 1976 I auditioned for a heavy metal band. Here's how it worked. They handed me the lyrics, and I listened while the bass player falsetto-ed his way through the song, which was in the complete wrong key for my voice, After a couple of run-throughs, I tried it. Sounded like Axel Rose with his nuts in a wringer.

Rick is right. Bring some tunes you can knock dead,in your key, and work from there. Microphones? Believe it or not, I don't use a Radioshack model. I have a cherry red Audix microphone that's about 12 years old, and nothing else suits my style as well. It's heavy enough to drive 10 penny nails.

LEJ


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 01:01 AM

Lonesome. That little tiny lavalier (tieclip) mike that you folks put out is one of the best things ever made to amplify guitars, banjos, and dulcimers. I have an AKG at 250 bucks and a Sony 55 B at a lot more that are only marginally better, and that might just be psychological! Rick


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 01 Oct 00 - 03:00 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: What do you want from me?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 01 Oct 00 - 03:24 PM

This pause for refreshing was brought to you in response to this thread:

Anyone had to audition?

We shall now see if my blue clicky mojo is working ...

ww


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