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Power and Performing

Jeri 16 Dec 00 - 10:27 PM
Rick Fielding 16 Dec 00 - 10:56 PM
Jon Freeman 16 Dec 00 - 11:03 PM
Sorcha 16 Dec 00 - 11:10 PM
Troll 16 Dec 00 - 11:24 PM
Sorcha 16 Dec 00 - 11:38 PM
Allan C. 17 Dec 00 - 12:02 AM
Matt_R 17 Dec 00 - 12:08 AM
Jeri 17 Dec 00 - 12:50 AM
Matt_R 17 Dec 00 - 01:04 AM
Sorcha 17 Dec 00 - 01:37 AM
katlaughing 17 Dec 00 - 01:43 AM
Amergin 17 Dec 00 - 03:03 AM
Allan C. 17 Dec 00 - 07:46 AM
Clinton Hammond2 17 Dec 00 - 08:05 AM
John P 17 Dec 00 - 09:00 AM
Uncle_DaveO 17 Dec 00 - 09:16 AM
Allan C. 17 Dec 00 - 09:32 AM
Jeri 17 Dec 00 - 10:37 AM
Jon Freeman 17 Dec 00 - 10:42 AM
Alice 17 Dec 00 - 11:44 AM
Allan C. 17 Dec 00 - 12:39 PM
Bat Goddess 17 Dec 00 - 06:43 PM
Matt_R 17 Dec 00 - 06:51 PM
Jeri 17 Dec 00 - 06:58 PM
Jon Freeman 17 Dec 00 - 07:11 PM
Matt_R 17 Dec 00 - 07:13 PM
Jeri 17 Dec 00 - 07:49 PM
Naemanson 17 Dec 00 - 08:20 PM
MMario 17 Dec 00 - 08:23 PM
Matt_R 17 Dec 00 - 08:26 PM
Dave Wynn 17 Dec 00 - 09:02 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Dec 00 - 09:34 PM
Jeri 17 Dec 00 - 10:00 PM
GUEST,robert and stephanie 17 Dec 00 - 10:09 PM
Matt_R 17 Dec 00 - 10:14 PM
Guy Wolff 17 Dec 00 - 10:24 PM
katlaughing 17 Dec 00 - 11:46 PM
Matt_R 18 Dec 00 - 12:02 AM
Jon Freeman 18 Dec 00 - 12:21 AM
blt 18 Dec 00 - 03:58 AM
Naemanson 18 Dec 00 - 04:36 AM
KingBrilliant 18 Dec 00 - 07:24 AM
MMario 18 Dec 00 - 09:00 AM
KingBrilliant 18 Dec 00 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Fortunato 18 Dec 00 - 11:00 AM
Naemanson 18 Dec 00 - 11:11 AM
mousethief 18 Dec 00 - 12:44 PM
Hollowfox 18 Dec 00 - 01:03 PM
Jeri 18 Dec 00 - 05:30 PM
Naemanson 18 Dec 00 - 05:33 PM
Jeri 18 Dec 00 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,LEJ 18 Dec 00 - 07:05 PM
Hollowfox 19 Dec 00 - 12:46 PM
Clifton53 19 Dec 00 - 01:51 PM
Dave Wynn 19 Dec 00 - 06:45 PM
Matt_R 19 Dec 00 - 07:10 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 19 Dec 00 - 07:40 PM
KingBrilliant 20 Dec 00 - 06:03 AM
Naemanson 20 Dec 00 - 06:27 AM
MMario 20 Dec 00 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,Mary in Kentucky 20 Dec 00 - 11:58 AM
Jeri 20 Dec 00 - 12:15 PM
Uncle_DaveO 20 Dec 00 - 02:15 PM
Matt_R 20 Dec 00 - 02:18 PM
Hollowfox 20 Dec 00 - 02:58 PM
NightWing 20 Dec 00 - 04:18 PM
Jeri 20 Dec 00 - 04:38 PM
Bert 20 Dec 00 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Bill 20 Dec 00 - 06:07 PM
blt 21 Dec 00 - 12:55 AM
Jim Krause 21 Dec 00 - 05:15 PM
Luke 21 Dec 00 - 05:40 PM
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Subject: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 16 Dec 00 - 10:27 PM

No, this is about neither electricity or Viagra.

I just had a discussion with someone about the feeling one can get when leading a song or tune, or actually performing on a stage.

I sing songs in a session. I never thought I'd enjoy perfoming. In my fondest dreams, I'd hoped to one day be comfortable singing in front of others. What happened is I've come to love it. When I sing and hear other voices joining in, I feel powerful - I feel like I'm lifted up by the combined voices.

My discussion partner said that one of the most amazing and scary things was being on stage and singing, and the whole room going so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, and knowing that for that song, the audience is completely focused on you.

I guess there are at least two sides to this - the give and take of energy, and the attention you get for doing something worth paying attention to. For me, both of these things are something new, and my reactions intense.

So, do you know what I'm talking about? Does it happen to you? For those of you who've been performing for a long time, does the honeymoon end, the feelings wear off?


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Dec 00 - 10:56 PM

Know exactly what you mean Jeri. The first time I performed on stage was in High School. 'Course I was still very much into my "desperate to be loved" stage, and my shyness was at an all time high. Funny thing happened. When I got on stage, all nervousness disappeared, and I felt REALLY comfortable for the first time. Only other thing that gave me the same feeling was playing baseball or being completely alone. Don't know if it was a feeling of power or not, but it sure was a feeling of being "home".

Rick


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 16 Dec 00 - 11:03 PM

How about has anyone had the experience when you feel that for the one song you are singing that the audience is almost in your power?

Jon


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Sorcha
Date: 16 Dec 00 - 11:10 PM

Yes, Jeri, I know exactly what you mean, and I live for those moments. I LOVE performing. I HATE competing. Audience feed back is perhaps the greatest thing in my life. And, the only thing better for me than "total attention" is "total participation".....when the entire audience is participating in some way in my/our performance. Singing, dancing, tapping toes, smiling, etc.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Troll
Date: 16 Dec 00 - 11:24 PM

It never wears off. It doesn't happen every time or even all that often but when it does there is no greater high.
You own the stage, the audience, the world. Once it happens to you, you can never go back to the humdrum world .
That stage is home.

troll


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Sorcha
Date: 16 Dec 00 - 11:38 PM

Hey guys--just a thought--it's not just a "ME" thing is it? I mean, it's not just that ME is the center of attention......I don't feel that way at least. For me, it is that the way I am getting the music across to the audience is working. Of course, I like being the Center of Attention at times, but I don't think this is what we are talking about is it?


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 12:02 AM

I can think of few things that both scare me and thrill me at the same time as perfoming. I am usually a wreck during my first song. (One of the hardest things in the world for me to do is to do a one-song-only spot!) After the first round of applause, I begin to feel better at ease. In fact, unless the lighting is too bright, I am able to relax enough to actually look at some of the individual faces in the audience. That usually happens during the second song. It is then that I am able to get a reading on how well (or if) I am connecting with the audience. If the connection is there, then the door is open to the possibility of ensuring that the audience is completely focused on me. That, in turn, gives me the focus I need to (I hope) take the audience where I want it to go.

Yes, there is power in that. But the power is simply a reflection of the energy given by the audience. If they aren't focused enough to give that energy, then I feel powerless.

By the way, I fully expected to be totally awful on the Mudcat Radio show (see June 21). I have never been on a radio show before and was almost certain that without direct audience feedback, I would flop. Perhaps a saving grace was that there were quite a few people in the studio that night and so I played to them, for the most part. I don't know how I might have done if I were simply playing to a microphone.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 12:08 AM

"Arms Wide Open" --definately. You wouldn't believe the power you have over people when singing it.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 12:50 AM

Matt, the power I'm talking about isn't power over people, it's more power willingly shared. When things go right, you give them your energy, and you get it all back many times, and everybody feels it, I think. Everyone gains and no one loses.

As far as the attention, Sorcha, for me it feels like I'm not necessarily the center of it, the song is. Singing a song is like pointing at what you'd like people to pay attention to, and everybody's looking. For a little while, I feel like I'm more than just me.

...all this from someone who's never sung on a stage.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 01:04 AM

Um...well...I just sing. I haven't philosophized about energy transfers yet. Guess this is too deep for me.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Sorcha
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 01:37 AM

Keep singing and playing and you'll get there, Matt. It's the music that has the power, not the performers. I suppose that is why I have never liked contests.....contests are about the performer, not the music. I can't deal with that. For me, it is the music and the audience connection.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 01:43 AM

Song circles

Circles of sound

Ever-widening

Encompassing

Being At One, together

In ripples of sound

In the circle of Life.

Nothing quite like it, Jeri, my heart soars and sings, along with every fibre of my being when I make that connection and it always feels as though I am singing my absolute best because I get such a lift from the energy which is circling back and forth.

There is an exercise in Tai Chi called Push Hands. Two people stand face to face and without actually touching hands, do a kind of Tai Chi back and forth "dance", for lack of a better word. Anyway, you are each supposed to *feel* the other person's energy and anticipate what move s/he is going to make with their hand(s) next and meet them there with your hands. When done by experienced persons it is an elegant and beautiful thing to watch. I have seen similar power in that giving and receiving as in singing, at times.

Allan, you did beautifully, in person and on the radio. With experience in HearMe/PalTalk, even a microphone can become an audience:-) and I am sure you would do well regardless, in fact you did early on in HearMe, didn't you?

kat


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Amergin
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 03:03 AM

I know that feeling. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you know that every eye and every ear is paying attention. It is a feeling that I can't quite explain, but I do know that it is the best high I have ever experienced, not even sex comes close to to this feeling.

Amergin


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 07:46 AM

I love kat's Tai Chi analogy. Yes it is like that. (And thank you for the compliments - I had quite forgotten my early sojourns on HearMe). Jeri, it goes beyond the music. A robot could produce the notes. It takes a performer to produce the feeling of that music. I have heard you do it.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 08:05 AM

If the "honeymoon", as mentioned above, ever does wear off, I'm quitting music!

;-)


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: John P
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 09:00 AM

There is nothing quite like being on stage and really connecting with the audience. There is a circular engergy transfer that happens -- the audience picks up on what the performer is doing and sends back the energy 100-fold. This enables the performer to keep it flowing and to increase the intensity. I have also found that when I am really connecting with the audience, I play a lot better. It is almost impossible for me to make a mistake when I am really getting the energy back from the audience. Not only am I uplifted emotionally, but my playing is uplifted as well.

An interesting thing I have found is that this energy feedback loop can take different forms -- I have felt it in a tavern where everyone in the place was up and dancing, pounding on the tables, and screaming after every song. And I have felt it in a room that is completely still, with everyone sitting and carefully watching and listening to everything that happens on stage. Very different manifestations of the same thing.

And no, it never goes away or becomes old hat.

John


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 09:16 AM

I never feel so completely alive as when I am singing for an audience.

How in world did I let that slide from about age 33 to 67?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 09:32 AM

Dave O, probably the same way I did from 1982 to 1999. Real life got in the way.

I forgot to say in my previous posts that the feeling never goes away. Not only that, but it is different each and every time - even if the venue remains the same. Every audience, no matter the size, has its own collective personality, aura, or whatever you want to call it.

I guess one of the hardest things is to perform before people who are basically ignoring you.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 10:37 AM

I'm glad to hear the feeling doesn't fade. Still, the wonderment that it's there at all may. I suppose people can expect it to happen and try to make it so. Maybe it's easy enought to figure out what you have to do, or maybe trying to hard makes it difficult.

Kat, I like thinking about circles spreading outward, as if the singer is a pebble dropped in a pond, and the people around him catch the music and emotion, and the ripples spread.

Matt, I don't know that what you said just isn't a different interpretation or expression of the same energy. I can't tell because you said so little. It sounds all metaphysical, but what it really comes down to is grabbing someone's attention, and having them understand and feel whatever you feel when you sing. Singing in front of a group intensifies it, but you can get the same thing singing to just one person, I think. The first time we feel it may be when we start singing a song our family or friends know, and they all notice, and really start to listen or sing along.

John P, we had a thread about the feeling of floating when the playing was really good. Maybe I can find it in a bit, or maybe someone has a link.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 10:42 AM

Here it is, that floating feeling. It is another amazing experience.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Alice
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 11:44 AM

Yes, Jeri, I feel that power when performing, and it keeps getting better as time goes on. The feeling doesn't fade.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 12:39 PM

That bit about dropping a pebble into a pond...yeah, it is like that, but dropping one into a bucket of water will give you a better visual because you can see the ripples return to the center.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 06:43 PM

I perform best when I'm physically close to my audience. All it takes is one person to respond to what I'm doing -- wow, what a feeling. And I respond to that response and my performance is multiplied.

Once, when performing in a very noisy session (Jeri knows the session!), I stopped mid song because not only did no one seem to be listening, but I could neither hear my accompaniment (sitting next to me) nor felt some of the other accompaniment (ah, yes, Jeri can also figure out who...) were paying attention. I'll NEVER do that again. I heard from the people who *were* listening -- they wanted to know what they did wrong that I stopped the song. That's when I realized that I wasn't doing this just for my enjoyment; I have a responsibility to my audience (my gawd, MY audience!), too.

There is nothing more enjoyable and satisfying than an appreciative audience!

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 06:51 PM

I don't have audiences. I like to sing WITH people and not FOR people.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 06:58 PM

Unfortunately Matt, you're wrong. I've heard you sing FOR people, and those of us listening were your audience.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 07:11 PM

Matt, please explain how the tapes you kindly circulated of you singing can possibly be considered to be you singing with people rather that for people.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 07:13 PM

I'm singing with myself.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 07:49 PM

Another thought - my context is music, but I think this connecting with the listeners happens with all types of performing. I was one of the listeners at Barry's party when CamiSu pulled us all into a story she told. I've heard very good public speakers, and forgot everything but the sound of their voice and their words while they spoke.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Naemanson
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 08:20 PM

I have performed in large groups, small groups, duos, trios, and alone. I have been in a few plays in community theater. I know what you are talking about. You walk out on stage and feel the music within you and as it pours out you can feel the people around you soak it up, energize it and pour it back. You connect in a visceral way with each person out there. The hall gets still, so still that you believe you are alone in a forest, and the music fills the spaces within and without. And when you finish, you look out at the rapt audience and the silence flows on as they hold on to that feeling. And then they break that silence and the applause is so sweet for you know it isn't for you but for the feeling you have just shared.

This level is hard to find but not impossible. And there are times when it isn't so intense but it is still there. And as far as I know, it never goes away.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: MMario
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 08:23 PM

I just had both an exhilarating and exhausting weekend of caroling - 3 hours friday night and four on saturday in a new venue; and two parties on saturday night, plus sunday at Dicken's in Skaneatlas. The feeling is awesome, especially when you stand on a street corner, and start singing, and first one, then another, then several more people stop, and join in with you. Or when a child stops dead in their tracks and stares wide eyed, totally absorbed in what they are hearing.

But I think the one of the most incredible times I saw this happening was at a wedding reception during a Dicken's event a few years ago. As I sang,(a love song of course) couples around the room reached for each others hands, or hugged each other, or shared a quick kiss. What was an impromptu offering for one newlywed couple ended up being shared by an entire roomful of couples.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 08:26 PM

Unfortunately, not many people soak up, energize, or pour back Oasis, The Move, early ELO, Hootie & The Blowfish. So I just sing because I like to. You can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 09:02 PM

'Scuse me, All this talk is self perpetuating. I have read quotes like:-"When things go right, you give them your energy, and you get it all back many times, and everybody feels it, I think. Everyone gains and no one loses. " and more like "-- the audience picks up on what the performer is doing and sends back the energy 100-fold" and many other similar. I (we) have just finished doing a series of Jacobean Evenings for "the Audience" and they wanted to get pissed (sorry drunk)and generally throw food about. As pro's we had to perform to this. They didn't want classy , self penned stuff or really good music (we had one of the best Mandola and Lute players in the area who played from sheet between courses (sorry removes) and they didn't give a shit. What got them right out of their seats and happy clapping was Wild Rover , What shall we do with a drunken sailor , anything by the Pogues and silly entertainment games. I think before we start patting ourselves on the back about power and performing we should qualify who we are performing to and for what remittance. I have argued many times that we are a limited appreciation society...try the clever stuff against an audience that wants crap and you are dead. Try it in a folk club or society that wants it and you're laughing. The reverse applies. Sorry for spoiling the appreciation society but reality is; big money comes from big (popular) audience and to get them I find I (we)have to perform crap (by Mudcat standards). If however you perform for free then you can pick and chose the gigs and fair play to you.

We left 'em standing and screaming for more last night but if I was to ask any man (or woman ) jack of them this morning they wouldn't remember why!! Spot. (sounding off because he doesn't like his master playing shit for lucre)


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 09:34 PM

Find a song that comes from your heart and soul.Sing it, not with your mouth and lungs,but from your heart and soul.If you have no talent,people will find it interesting.If you have talent,you take them with you to another level.At that moment you,and they,are transcendent.This is what it is all about.The rest is stage dressing.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 10:00 PM

Spot, you have a good point - the audience has to care to make it a good experience. I guess I'm lucky in a way because I'm not a performer. Where I sing - the same session as Bat Goddess, festival singarounds, parties - people are there because they want to be part of good music. I'd love to be good enough to be paid to sing and/or play, but it must be very hard to try to share music you love with people who couldn't care less. I've heard horror stories about "gigs from hell" (we had a thread on that, too) from people I know are excellent musicians. I've been part of an audience for a few, and barely restrained the urge to strangle a large number of people because I, at least, wanted to hear the music. The audience just didn't care about what music they were doing, or even that they were doing it.

I'm sorry anyone has to go through it.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: GUEST,robert and stephanie
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 10:09 PM

hi from colorado!!


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 10:14 PM

HEY, The Pogues is GREAT stuff! Not s**t at all, in MY opinion.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 10:24 PM

I love playing for people. It's funny but the bigger crowds have never bothered me.. As one who has played for rough bar crowds I think we all know when we've hit a room that might not work so well. You can feel it very quickly, but those wonderful people who are open and there to hear you, are of a more natural condition then the drunk guy who just lost his wife to devorce and would realy like to take it out on the man on stage. On the whole people who come out to hear music want to hear what we do and give us all alot of birth to do it. When the magic fills you and time stands still that is a glorious feeling and I hope all here have had a taist of it..There are skills to get through the other moments that make some of us realey profesional.I realy apriciate and respect thoughs who can pull that off as well. All the best Guy


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Dec 00 - 11:46 PM

I've seen several instances where the audience did make a huge difference. My fav songwriter duo from Montana, Willson & McKee work their arses off for their audiences. I'd been to two of their concerts which went really, really well. everyone was into and we had that give and take going round in circles. I talked Rog into going to a later one with me, the next year, different audience, parents with their children who'd already seen one performance that day and it was like pulling hen's teeth the whole time. There were a few of us who connected, but the majority were a bunch of tired, bored kids with parents about the same. They were closed off, hardly a receptive heart among them. W & K still did a good job, but they were sweating bullets from the effort and obviously did not have the good time as before. I felt for them. Interestingly enough, this concert had been set up and presented by a different promoter in town than the first two. Different location etc. also added to the downer atmosphere.

I got my brother a gig at the Reader's Feast, a combo bookstore/chic cafe, in West Hartford one time. He played his original classical piano works which have always gone well in a true concert setting. The people were rude and could have cared less what they were hearing; it was just background to them. We never played another setting of that type, again.

Naes, there were a couple of times when we experienced what you've described with my brother's classical music. One was the premiere of his symphonic tone poem, the Ode to the Rockies. He had a split second of devastation when there was dead silence at the end; then the audience broke out in Bravos and Encores. It is almost indescribale, almost as though our hearts had stopped, then had electric shock paddles put to them. Had the same type of reaction when we produced his first concert here after I moved back, with three singers and him on piano. I was one of the singers; we connected and it was another magical moment.

Just think...all those sound-connections going out into the aethers ad infinitum....gives me goosebumps.

kat


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 12:02 AM

Sometimes the same audience will get bored. I was singing some stuff on the Mudcat room on Paltalk room...did 2 songs to rave reviews before I slipped into some ELO rockabilly...then the comments stopped and the "nice songs" return. On the other hand, I've been in other rooms playing songs with heavy metal and techno folks listening...they dig my stuff from Ernest Tubb to America to Creed to Zeppelin to Dylan. Always a kind word.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 12:21 AM

Matt you went down well in Paltalk Tonight and you were treated well and in the same way as anyone else. If all you can do is bitch about life amongst Mudcatters and how much better it is elewhere, why don't you just go away?

Quite frankly I am getting sick of you.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: blt
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 03:58 AM

My experience is a combination of the altered state that has been described (which hit me from the very first time I was on stage, in high school); a kind of thin joy while performing every week in a crowded coffeehouse which ended up as not-so-thin scorn (due to similar complaints as Spot the Dog mentioned, sans alcohol); cycles of performing/not performing while pursuing a so-called income/day job and thus always feeling too rusty to relax on stage; jealousy that other singer/songwriters always seemed to get gigs and have recordings of one sort or another while I was stuck with my chaotic family issues or financial woes (and jealousy really gums up the works, let me tell you); and a kind of cooling off and growing up period when I just played when and where I wanted to, doing a lot of open mikes (much more difficult to do than two hour-long sets)--which brings me to my present state of being. I really love to play guitar and sing, either my own stuff or not, and I also really like to be on stage doing that. I think that the moments when performing is ideal are few, if only because the performing moment is based on so many things: my energy level, the type of venue, the energies that the audience brings to the gig. I don't think this ever wears out because it's not the kind of energy that wears out, but it certainly can change shape, intensity, and direction. As artists, we are naturally sensitive to how others feel, so it makes sense that if the audience is feeling good (no matter how big or small), is present, and able to reflect back to the performer these feelings in a clear way, the performer shines brighter. It also makes sense that when this doesn't happen (especially when audiences are drinking excessively and/or abusing drugs) that the performer feels murky or annoyed or numb. I haven't played in a bar for a long time, but that's meant that I've restricted myself to small cafes, often playing for tips, with very small audiences. I'm not sure that, for me, this is a bad thing, but at times I've wished I were somewhat less rigid about it. After playing in this half-public way for almost 35 years now, I still struggle with my dream of being the star of the show, even though I really know that's not why I play my guitar or sing. This discussion is exactly what I've hoped would surface at the Mudcat, and I appreciate that Jeri began it.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 04:36 AM

Spot brough up an interesting point. It is always the audience that makes that special feeling possible. They HAVE to tune in to what you are doing. I think we've all experienced what Kat described happening to W & K. But that is the down side of the cycle.

It's funny but I haen't felt it as much when I perform in groups. But when it's just me on the stage, with the lights and the audience an invisible PRESENCE in the dark, with the music straining to get out of me and leap into their arms, then is when that feeling comes from them and catches me by the heart.

Here's something I just remembered. We had just finished the last show of Fiddler On The Roof at the Chocolate Church. We had struck the set and cleaned up the stage and dressing rooms in three hours of heavy labor. I wandered back onto the stage to find one of the young actors sitting on the edge of the stage looking into the dark that filled the rest of the church. He said he was feeling the residual energy that was left. And he was right. You could feel something. We sat there a few minutes and enjoyed a communal feeling in the quiet that filled that space.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 07:24 AM

This is a very interesting discussion. I have a different point of view to some of the above. I know that I sing best in front of an audience (singarounds & festival campsites etc), but beyond that I'm fairly oblivious to whether anyone is actually listening or not. I often go off into a wierd state when I'm singing & when the song finishes its almost a surprise to remember where I am and that there is anyone there. If people are listening and liked the song then that makes me happy, but if they were all chatting or whatever then I'm still happy. Its the power of singing that gets me, probably more for me & the song itself than for an audience. Anyone else feel the same? Or have an other different experience? Its probably a selfish attitude - but I can't help that. Do you think that the sharing and communication thing is the only valid way to go, or is it OK to perform on a one-way basis (broadcasting rather than dialogueing)?

Kris


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: MMario
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 09:00 AM

I'm frequently in "broadcast mode" - but when vision, sensibilities and connection with the outside world return - sometimes you find that you have had an appreciative audience after all. and that is always a pleasant surprise.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 09:47 AM

That's exactly it MMario.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: GUEST,Fortunato
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 11:00 AM

Rick, I share your feeling of 'belonging'. My first time on stage was when I was a freshman in college. I went to the open mike at The Cellar Door on Sunday night with a partner. I recall feeling 'natural' and centered. Two songs and it was over really fast.

That was 1964. After some 36 years of performing, off and on, for me it's never been about the power, it's the connection. When the circuit is closed between myself and the audience the energy flows both ways.

regards Chance


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 11:11 AM

I never feel as though I have any power on stage. There is no power involved if you ask me. It is a connection and a sharing more than a power.

And I did not come to it naturally. I used to be too frightened to feel that connection. I wouldn't have gone on stage alone if not for my vocal coach for pushed me out there. Then one day, at one of her recitals I stood waiting my turn and watching an 11 year old kid singing her heart out and I asked myself that age old question, "What am I doing here?" And the answer was, "I am here beacuase I want to be here." With that the nerves melted away and I have been comfortable on stage ever since.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: mousethief
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 12:44 PM

Jeri-

For me it's the feeling that I've made somebody smile, or laugh, or hum along -- in short, made somebody happy. That is a power, a greater than which I don't think I'll ever need. Whether I'm leading a bunch of people singing, or getting a compliment after church on how lovely the choir sounded, or singing behind a mic with people listening, if I feel like I've made somebody happy, even if for only two and a half minutes, I feel like I've justified my existence on the planet for another day.

YMMV.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Hollowfox
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 01:03 PM

Spot, you're right about bad audiences, and having to do the gig because its your job to perform. But this thread is about When Everything Goes Right.
Norman Kennedy's interview in Sing Out! magazine so many years ago explains it for me: "You're only a link in the chain." Nine times out of ten, my favorite performers, when they talk about it at all, will say that the song/tale/etc is the important thing, not themselves as the performer. I've found this to be true even when the performer had written the piece!
Maybe this is why I've had a similar experience as part of the audience, usually when there's a chorus or refrain to join in on, but sometimes I find myself having "dived deep" (for lack of a better term) into the song or story without physically singing or speaking.
This ties in with your observation, KingBrilliant, because I've always found my best performances to be the ones where you might say I'm part of the audience as well as the performer; that the joy of doing the piece transcends the presence or absence of an audience.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 05:30 PM

KingBrilliant, I think you have to do it for the song, and because you love to sing. That's exactly what the audience picks up on. That's where the energy starts. Realizing that the audience has joined you in that feeling (and the reason for the power I was initially talking about) is what happens later.

I sing mostly chorus songs, but I've seen people do it with ballads. I've seen them close their eyes and go off into the aether someplace. It's not like their closing themselves off from others - more like gathering concentration and focusing on the song. They pull people in rather than push them away. When the song is over, people slowly remember where they are, and remember to applaud.

Naemanson, that connection is the power I'm talking about - the connection and realizing it's there.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 05:33 PM

Jeri, I guess I can agree with you if we consider the power not to be a power OVER the music or the audience but a power IN the music or the audience. I have a negative attitude towards the concept of power.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 06:00 PM

Naemanson, if you read my first post, I said it was a feeling "like I'm being lifted up by the combined voices."

I think when you have a group of people singing, the power is in the music and the people singing it - all of them. Think of it as strength, if you prefer. Nobody loses any, and everybody gains. It's not about control, it's about communication.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 07:05 PM

A very interesting discussion.There is no doubt that the music itself is the piece of art that stands or falls on its merits.But I believe that the essence of performance springs from the creativity of the performer.A song by itself may be a wonderful piece of poetry,but it remains for the performer to give his or her soul to it to breathe life into it as performance.The essence of performance requires art,artist,and audience,but without the artist the essential act of transcendence is impossible.I think that to say the audience and artist share equally in the creation of the experience is an exercise in unnecessary humility,for one is essentially the creator,the other essentially a receptor,or perhaps reflector.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Hollowfox
Date: 19 Dec 00 - 12:46 PM

Naemanson, I think the disagreement is a linguistic glitch. Too often "power" is automatically equated with "domination" these days, and domination would be a non sequitur here.
LEJ, I can only partially agree about the place of the audience. I sing and I tell stories, both, and as a singer I can sing without an audience, but as a storyteller I can tell you that an audience, whether one person or hundreds, is essential to the creation we're talking about.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Clifton53
Date: 19 Dec 00 - 01:51 PM

"Real life got in the way", Allan C., how true that statement is for some of us here. Marriage, work, children, not enough time etc.

I had a decent gig going back in the 70's, playing local bars for people who knew me, and then, life happened. Between then and now, I realized that to make music a career, one would have to do just that, make it their life. I wasn't ready, didn't know enough guitar, and had concentrated on singing songs instead of becoming a musician. All the time people were telling me to go for it, "You're really good" etc., but they didn't understand it is not that simple. I should have been learning, not getting all puffed up from a few minor successes.

A few friends and I now get together on a semi-regular basis to jam and work out songs, and I hope to get to another Mudcat gathering one of these days, but as always, 'real life' still gets in the way. I have the luxury now of playing for folks who want to hear me, and don't have to worry about pleasing an audience.

But I miss that 'center-stage' feeling sometimes, there is really no high better than that, and I envy people who are able to make their living playing music. I just keep trying to learn more, studying music and guitar, and practicing for hours when I can spare the time, as well as trying to help my son out as he has taken up guitar.

If I can occasionally take a few people out of their lives and into a song, I'm making the world a better place.

Clifton53


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 19 Dec 00 - 06:45 PM

Yup..Hollowfox...you are right ..I was feeling really petulant and down that we had just knocked ourselves out for a crowd who didn't want to listen. It wasn't their fault..When we sang and played the stuff they wanted things got better.

The thread WAS about audience and connection and positive feedback and if I didn't have anything positive to say I should have kept quiet.

It was a bad series of gigs. Nothing more.

Matt_R Yes Pogue Mahone are cool and I(we) sing them occasionally my reference was intended to reflect them as popular and therefore what this partiucular audience considered as trad music. If we had done a Kirsty McColl song they wouldn't have heard it and therefore would have bellowed over the P.A. througout. She was better than the Pogues in my opinion but didn't get the accolade they did.

I'm sad about her death....she had a unique harmony voice.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 19 Dec 00 - 07:10 PM

Ok, you lost me on that one. How is Kirsty of any relation to The Pogues except that she sang in "Fairy Tale of New York"? I mean, that's like saying Jackson Browne sang with the Chieftains, but when people go to hear traditional music, they don't want to hear the CHieftains, they want to hear Jackson Browne. I think Jackson Browne was much better than the Chieftains...Ya know, it just doesn't make any sense. They are 2 different genres, Kirsty was doing her British Isles folk stuff...mostly Scottish & English...The Pogues were doing Irish Punk. Don't try and put one person of one genre over another person of another genre. The audience may not know the difference, but it's no excuse for those of us who DO know the diff.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 19 Dec 00 - 07:40 PM

Some thoughts on the subject.
"The musical experience needs three human beings at least. It requires a composer, a performer, and a listener; and unless these three take part together there is no musical experience"
Benjamin Britten

For MattR .."Ours is the folk music of the technological age" Jimmy Page

"My moment of glory is being on the stage and singing and feeling all the love the audence sends me... It's beyond any mortal high" Elvis Presley


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 06:03 AM

Yes but what if the composer performer and listener were all the same person? Plenty of people sing in private for their own pleasure (especially in the shower it seems) - does that not count? Or is there a magic line to be drawn?

Kris


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Naemanson
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 06:27 AM

I guess I have to admit there IS a form of power in music. There have been times when a song has transfixed me so that even singing it alone I have felt that power. I don't know quite where that might be coming from. Some of those songs have special meaning for me but that is because they describe events that touch my life. Jeanie C and White Squall both fall into that category. One could be my grandfather and the other could be the story of a friend I lost. But the description isn't all that does it. The music contributes substantially.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: MMario
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 08:52 AM

I think there are some songs that are intrinsically powerful; in the cases of others sometimes you will hear a performance that colours every other rendition you ever hear. An example for me is the hymn "Here I am, Lord". The circumstances under which I first heard this were so powerful that it doesn't matter now, it can be performed by howling dogs, and I am lifted by the majesty and power of the song and its related memories.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: GUEST,Mary in Kentucky
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 11:58 AM

I'm enjoying this thread because 1) some of the thoughts are completely foreign to my experience and 2) some of the thoughts are identical to what I've experienced, just never been able to articulate .

kat, I love the Tai Chi example. I've never enjoyed solo performing, as a matter of fact, was paralyzed with stage fright a couple of times. But I've experienced a wonderful feeling when accompanying a great musician or playing in an ensemble. I don't think this feeling is unique to me or just a manifestation of my particular personality. It's probably a universal feeling.

Dave, I love the Britten quote. I've heard it said by conductors and opera company "suits", but I never knew it originated with Britten. As you know from the PalTalk sessions, I'm a very appreciative audience.

KingBrilliant, can the composer, performer, audience all be the same person? I'm thinking... We need some help from our more articulate catters. It seems to me that we're talking about different things here. If I express my innermost creative feelings through song, I really don't care if anyone hears it...but then, I can't imagine truly enjoying anything that I can't share. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 12:15 PM

I think it's something different. What I was talking about was mainly communication, and you need others to do that, whether it's an audience or fellow singers/players.

I think KingBrilliant has brought up another good thought though - the hold of and concentration on a song itself. One needs that to be able perform a song well, but one doesn't need to perform to have that concentration.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:15 PM

As to the composer/performer/listener, it ought to be clear that it could be only two, either composer/performer and a listener or a composer and performer/listener. I have a little less confidence in the three-way combination because in my experience I haven't been able to feel that power playing and appreciating my own compositions even when I've been assured of the quality. Somehow the quality of wonderment isn't there when it's my own and I'm playing it for myself.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Matt_R
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:18 PM

"...tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral/comical, historical/pastoral, tragical/historical, tragical/comical/historical/pastoral; scene individible, or poem unlimited..."


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Hollowfox
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:58 PM

No harm done, Spot, and I'm glad you didn't stay quiet because it helped define what is and is not part of the experience being discussed.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: NightWing
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 04:18 PM

Not "power over" but "inner strength"?

We're not talking about a performer having some mystical control over his audience or about the audience giving up some control to the performer, are we? Yes, this sort of thing does happen; look at demagogues of all stripes in the past and today.

What we're discussing is more like the feeling of inner strength felt by someone having a religious experience.

I've felt this in several different kinds of performances: music and non. Someone commented about not liking contests?

[Scroll up to find who said it and what they said *G*]

Sorcha said, "contests are about the performer, not the music." Well, the best I ever did in contests (admittedly a LOOOOOONG time ago) was when my audience -- the judges -- and I connected in this same way that we are all talking about. It is the communication that music -- all the performance arts -- is all about.

And yes, some judges just didn't and don't get it.

KingBrilliant asked about solo singing. In my opinion, it is entirely possible to reach (at least some of) the same kind of feeling when performing for oneself. (Heck, that's almost all I do anymore and has been for a long time.) I suspect that the aspect of communication (communion?) with others makes the feeling of a 'public' performance somewhat different than a 'private' one.

Finally, a ways up there Jon Freeman pointed to a thread from a year or so ago: B.S.? Special feeling? floating?. In one of it's messages was the important reference to Mihalyi Csikszentmihaly's book, Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. A couple of applicable quotes:

"It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly."
-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Flow is the optimum state of consciousness when you are completely focused and involved in a given activity. Research indicates that we are most comfortable and content when our thoughts are ordered. Activities that involve us, that challenge us, and call our mind into order, that are measurable, with immediate feedback, put us in a very healthy and positive state of mind."
-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Flow is that wonderful state into which we are sometimes lucky enough to be immersed -- when we can focus sharply on a single activity that challenges us to integrate many of our faculties in a single pursuit, and block out all the daily noise."
-- John W. Shipman [reviewing MC's book Flow]

What we're discussing here is MC's "flow". The book is well-written and immensely important. I recommend it to everyone.

The activity when we're performing only for ourselves (e.g., shower singing) does not involve the communication with another. It is quite possible to reach that focused state doing this; it simply is a DIFFERENT sort of activity than 'public' performance.

When performing in public (i.e., for an audience), the aspects of communication are a part of what the performer is concentrating on / focusing on / involved with: instead of SOLELY on the music itself. Communication requires feedback. Thus, when the performer expects such feedback and doesn't get it (see Spot the Dog's post), there's something missing. It's possible to maintain the flow level, but extremely hard. The performer in this kind of situation is unable to concentrate completely on his activity and thus does not enjoy it as much. This is what you call a bad gig. (I do, anyway *G*)

I've seen several people describe experiencing flow in BOTH of these activities: 'public' and 'private' performance. CM describes it occurring in many different kinds of activities: from carpentry to chess and from singing performances to C++ programming. The only requirement is the focus on / involvement in the activity.

BB,
NightWing

P.S. So, did I finally come to a point or not? *LOL*


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 04:38 PM

I'm glad Spot said what he did, too. I had a long post written, and then decided to cut most of it out (I must have - I don't see it here) because I'd already done a lot of blabbing. What that post amounted to was saying sometimes we can't possible do anything to make things better.

We would like it if the audience were there for the music, but many of them may be there for other reasons - to hang around with friends, get drunk, get out of the house for a while. We can't do much about that. I was going to ask about the factors we did have some control over and what we could do to help us communicate better with an audience that wanted to listen.

I don't mean ways to be manipulative. It's more like "how do we invite people into the music we sing and play, have them know we mean it and have them want to be part of it?" There are technically excellent musicians who just don't have that connection with an audience, and there are some less than technically excellent musicians whom audiences love. They can turn a room full of strangers into a room full of friends with a song. How do they do it?


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Bert
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 04:58 PM

Ah that moment! The audience have been noisily chatting during the previous singer's turn. And you get up there and catch someone's eye and start singing to 'them'; all of a sudden the room goes quiet, everyone is looking and listening and you think WOW! and OH Shit! at the same time.

I know exactly what you mean Jeri; wish I could bottle it.

Kat, that 'push hands' thing reminds me of a scene in Barbarella, and yes, it's kinda like that too.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 06:07 PM

What a great thread! What fascinates me so often is not only the songs, but what comes between them. So often, when I watch a performance, and especially once the performance is over, I just see the thing as a "whole"; the songs, absolutely, often it's just moments within songs where you just seem transported and the whole crowd around you just seems to feel that energy everyone's been talking about. But ALSO, I often wonder about the "stagecraft" of the performer/s and the degree to which what went between the songs somehow made it possible to get the audience to that point in the music itself.

I'm not sure if you know what I mean, but look at it this way. We've all seen these amazing people "large" and "small" whose very personality seems so magnetic, so engaging, that we can't help but be drawn into the music. Likewise, I have seen people, very talented people who make beautiful music, but between tunes ... well they just lose you with idiotic stuff they do or say.

And so here's the thing as a performer; as you prepare to step out there, is it the music making that makes you nervous, or those "awkward" pauses in between? I mean, probably the pat answer is "don't worry, just let the music speak for you.." kind of thing. Or "just be yourself.."-- but face it, gettin' out there is not a normal scenario in most of our lives.

I think whats been said about the music is bang on; you gotta believe in your songs, and yeah you've got to be sensitive to your audience. It's the stuff in between that often gets to me, and wondering just how much of a difference that makes.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: blt
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 12:55 AM

I think that sometimes, the musician/singer on stage is relaxed (another tai chi metaphor) and unselfconscious. Maybe the performing is secondary to the pleasure of the act of singing for others, of playing the song well, of simply being content with what one is doing at that moment. This communicates itself to the audience as being present, and this then allows the audience to be present. Anyone can do this as a performer, but not everyone does because we all get up on stage for different reasons. All performers, sooner or later, have difficult nights; not all gigs are nightmares. I think someone wrote in this thread to believe in your music--to me, that is the key.

Along with the concept of flow, try the concept of galumphing, which is the idea that in order to evolve, one must first be able to galumph or make mistakes (from the book "Free Play: Improvisation in life and art," by Stephen Nachmanovitch).


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Jim Krause
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 05:15 PM

Yes, I know what you're talking about. And no, the feelings don't wear off, and the honeymoon doesn't end. But there does tend to be a bit of boredom with travelling along the Interstate highway system. Take along some books on tape, 'cause you can't always find folk music on the FM side.

You are also describing the feeling I get when I fiddle for contradances. There is nothing quite like the energy loop between dancers and band, and band back to dancers. And it all feels so simply done; a matter of technique it seems. All the band has to do is work the dynamics a little, softer here, building to a crescendo there, the rhythm section dropping out for awhile, letting the whole tune be carried by the fiddle and banjo alone, then coming back in at the right moment. Oh, there's magic there, all right.

Sorcha: No, in all honesty it isn't about ME. It is indeed about putting the music, the message accross, even if it's only "C'mon let's dance!"

I honestly think that there are some things we got right back in the '60s. We were right about Civil Rights, we were right about The War, and we were right that music and art can change the world, because music and are are the things that touch people's souls the way no speech, or sermon, or closely reasoned essay ever can. The letdown came when we realized we'd failed because we expected change by next Tuesday. That is what music is capable of. And we have our opportunities when that performance magic happens. True confessions: My biggest fantasy is to be singing somewhere, when after the show, a couple comes back stage and says to me, "You know, we were just about ready to hang it up and head for the divorce court. Then you sang that song, and we realized we had something worth hanging onto." If that ever happens, I will feel like I have done my part for World Peace.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Power and Performing
From: Luke
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 05:40 PM

2 cents

We used to say "fast and loud, please the crowd, soft and slow watch'em go". that was the bluegrass bar band days. There have been mostly experiances of leaving time and space and some times the planet entirely since then. When the audience is open to taking the journey you offer, performing is a blessed gift being offered and recieved simultaniously between performer and audience. What fun!

Lovely, and never to be tired of.

Luke


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