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Musicians Little Secrets

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Allan C. 24 Aug 98 - 01:13 PM
Jonathan 22 Aug 98 - 05:33 AM
Barbara 22 Aug 98 - 02:11 AM
Art Thieme 21 Aug 98 - 03:22 PM
Art Thieme 21 Aug 98 - 03:17 PM
jet 20 Aug 98 - 11:21 PM
alison 20 Aug 98 - 10:04 PM
Bo 20 Aug 98 - 09:41 PM
Les B 20 Aug 98 - 01:46 AM
Bo 13 Aug 98 - 09:15 AM
Ian HP 12 Aug 98 - 07:37 PM
O'Boyle 10 Aug 98 - 12:30 AM
Zorro 09 Aug 98 - 07:17 PM
Zorro 09 Aug 98 - 07:17 PM
Helen 08 Aug 98 - 08:34 PM
Stacy 08 Aug 98 - 07:58 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 08 Aug 98 - 07:40 PM
Chet W. 08 Aug 98 - 06:51 PM
Art Thieme 08 Aug 98 - 10:12 AM
05 Aug 98 - 08:09 PM
05 Aug 98 - 08:03 PM
Barbara Shaw 05 Aug 98 - 12:42 PM
Art Thieme 05 Aug 98 - 10:36 AM
Art Thieme 05 Aug 98 - 10:33 AM
Bo 05 Aug 98 - 09:19 AM
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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Allan C.
Date: 24 Aug 98 - 01:13 PM

I used to have moments during performances when I would read the title of the next song in my list; but would suddenly forget the opening line. Since then I have listed many songs by first lines along with small notations about such things as which fret to capo, etc.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Jonathan
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 05:33 AM

Years ago playing with the local ceilidh band I looked around on stage to see that all of my confreres looked as miserable as sin. If you aren't enjoying it, how can you expect anyone else to? Now I think nothing of roaring out SMILE at the top of my voice if I sense that the others are taking life too seriously. Guess what? It does make a difference.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Barbara
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 02:11 AM

Which is better than a pick that is flat...


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 03:22 PM

;-)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 03:17 PM

MUSICAL SAW:

Take A curved stick fallen from a tree and cut notches in both ends. Take a tight length of narrow (not thick) nylon clothesline and place a knot in each end. Insert the ends of the line into the notches on the wood so the line is rather tight. Rosin the string with fiddle rosin.

This will make a half-way decent bow for playing your saw. And it won't sever the string easily like is often the case with a regular fiddle bow.

Always draw the bow over the straight edge of the saw. If you do that on the side with teeth, the resulting note will be sharp.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: jet
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 11:21 PM

I have trouble remembering how the song starts.All of the songs on the play list are printed in bold type with 6 to 8 tab notations folowing. It is like having someone hum the first few notes of a faimiliar song. I play a diatonic button box,so in my case the tabs are the number of the button.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: alison
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 10:04 PM

Hi,

Most importantly, if you're playing with others. If you can't hear what they're playing above yourself.... you're playing too loud!!

Slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Bo
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 09:41 PM

Great post Les B.

Glad you're enjoying the thread.

Bo


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Les B
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 01:46 AM

I enjoyed this thread so much I thought I'd throw it on top of the stack again. Here are a few observations I've made over the years.
GUITAR: Several players I know stick new flatpicks in between their molars and give them a powerful bite -- this puts some little dimples in the pick so it won't slip out of the fingers. I've also seen knife slits cut into picks for the same reason.
Years ago a girl showed me how to grab the two lowest strings (E & A), gently twist one over the other and hold them down on the fret board with the left hand -- when strummed with fingers, or pick, they give a muffled snare drum sound - she used it to good effect on a civil war tune. Another guy used to turn his pick so the long thin edge touched the strings, sort of like a fiddle bow, and do a strum which worked well as a muffled rhythmic gallop for "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and other western tunes.
HARMONICA: I see lots of mouth harp players wearing various belts and bandoliers of harps. A farmer I saw years ago, however, had the most unique idea. He took a gallon-sized, white plastic bleach bottle cut the big end out, and then, around the bottle's side, made oblong slits and inserted each harp he owned, about 6 or 8, evenly spaced around the whole bottle. He wrote each key on the white plastic adjacent to the harp. He held the bottle sort of like eating an ear of corn, turning it around for each new key. When he blew into the harp it was also amplified a bit because of the resonating cavity of the bottle -- that's also why he cut out the big end.
Speaking of bleach bottle plastic, I was told that a well-known mountain dulcimer player used to cut picks from bleach bottles and glue them to the ends of turkey or goose quills -- the traditional picks for dulcimer. Seeing her on stage, it looked like she was using the quill to strum, while actually it was plastic. I fully understand why. I tried a turkey feather once on a dulcimer and it totally shattered away in just one song!
BANJO: Although purists hate them, I've recently used a "stealth" electronic tuner (made for guitars) which mounts inside the banjo pot and the small LED read-out fits along the neck in the brackets. This is really great for when you capo up and the strings stretch slightly out of tune. You can tweak them back fairly quickly with this. It really pays to regularly clip the fingernail of the little finger on the right hand if you brace that finger on the banjo head for three-finger picking. I know several banjo players who have worn annoying little holes in their heads because of overgrown nails. (And all the music escapes !)
FIDDLE: Within the last month I saw a guy take a small pocket knife, open the main blade at about a 45-degree angle, and carefully hook it over the foot of the bridge on the low (G) string side. He played "Scotland the Brave," and this setup, plus the use of lots of double-stop fingering, gave a unique drone, somewhat like bagpipes. I've heard that a well-known country fiddler used to embed a razor blade just under the top plate of the fiddle at the waist, so that as he fiddled he could dip the bow down and cut the bow hair. As he fiddled through a tune it looked like he was so fast and furious he was dramatically breaking the hair. When the hair was nearly gone he would toss the bow over to an assistant and they would hand him a new bow. This is more lore than useful trick, but I've seen some fiddles with a rattlesnake tail rattle placed inside. This supposedly makes the music better. Some fiddlers claim it keeps the inside dry. I found that it's difficult to get more than a small rattle inside -- the F holes on a fiddle are narrower than you would think.
SET LISTS: After the age of 40, when the eyes start to go, it becomes more and more difficult to read a song/set list taped to the upper bout of your guitar, or back of your banjo. In working with small groups we've found it easier to print the set list on a computer at a good size, in bold, put it in a plastic sleeve and throw it on the floor at the base of the mic stands. Everyone in the group can read it and see what tunes are coming up.
MIC DIAGRAMS: If you're playing with a small group, as I've started to do recently, it really helps to work out how you're going to place yourselves, and make a simple drawing detailing vocal and instrumental mic needs. Handing a clearly drawn diagram to a soundman, especially in a festival setting, saves a lot of time and explanation, and generates much good will.
DYNAMICS: One thing I've begun to notice recently, since I work at a small arts theater, is how much more interesting it is when a group stands up to perform. We recently had essentially the same group of folk musicians play six months apart. The first time they stood. The second time they sat, because they were performing mostly Irish music. The difference in energy level was amazing. Under the hot stage lights they just seemed to wilt and become more lethargic in the sit down situation. I know Irish sessions are traditionally sit down, and I know a lot of guitar players who feel they pick better sitting down, but for dynamics, standing up is clearly more engaging to the audience. I've also looked at this in light of classical chamber quartets, and have come to realize that even though they traditionally sit down, if they're good, they really throw themselves into the performance, bobbing and weaving, bows flourishing, etc. And when you talk to them, the good ensembles are very aware of the theatricality of their performance.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Bo
Date: 13 Aug 98 - 09:15 AM

I always take a hair dryer to performances. For natural drum heads its a great way of drying the skin fast.

Often between sets cool air at your command is a blessing!

Bo


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Ian HP
Date: 12 Aug 98 - 07:37 PM

In all my years of performing I have only twice broken a guitar string in public. I guess by the law of averages that makes me very lucky. If you are in a group you can, In a good many years of performing I can only remember breaking a guitar string in public twice which, I think, makes me very lucky. You can, to some extent, get away with it by relying on others if you are in a band. If you are, like me, solo, you can't. Both times I had a contingency plan, as follows. Make sure that you have a good length anecdote/witty story/unaccompanied song you can do while removing the old string and fitting the new. (Yes, you can sing and remove/fit a string at the same time, though you cannot, of course, tune the new string.) When this anecdote/story/unaccompanied song (preferably song, in my opinion) is finished, the next song should have a lengthy introduction/explanation so that you can tune the new string and talk at the same time. While all this is going on the set is, hopefully as far as the audience is concerned, going on as normal.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: O'Boyle
Date: 10 Aug 98 - 12:30 AM

I saw Richard Thompson a few months back and used talc on his hands and forearms between songs. I tried it and works better than a towel. Especially in the summer months or in crowded, hot rooms. Also, avoid alcohol, unless that is the way they are paying you.

Slainte

Rick


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Zorro
Date: 09 Aug 98 - 07:17 PM

Having played on the streets I find that clothes pins in my gig bag help hold the music on the stand or whatever, (for those songs I don't know well enough) There is always a wind on Shoreline drive and everywhere else in Corpus Christi, Tx. I keep a little note book in the bag; when I see another musician with a neat idea I make a note of it. I also try, after a gig to write down things I will do differently or better next time. If you steal an idea from one person, I'm told, it's stealing.. If you steal from two or more it's research. I've done much research.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Zorro
Date: 09 Aug 98 - 07:17 PM

Having played on the streets I find that clothes pins in my gig bag help hold the music on the stand or whatever, (for those songs I don't know well enough) There is always a wind on Shoreline drive and everywhere else in Corpus Christi, Tx. I keep a little note book in the bag; when I see another musician with a neat idea I make a note of it. I also try, after a gig to write down things I will do differently or better next time. If you steal an idea from one person, I'm told, it's stealing.. If you steal from two or more it's research. I've done much research.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Helen
Date: 08 Aug 98 - 08:34 PM

I have had trouble finding a light, portable harp stool, and it is also a problem having to carry around the sheet music, extra strings, pick-up and cables etc. I found a low plastic stool in the hardware shop here for under $AUD30 (Australia) which is designed for storing tools and sitting or standing on. It is the perfect height for my 34 string Celtic harp and I can carry everything except the music stand in it, so now I am much more mobile and more organised, too. I can even fit in a small cushion to make it more comfortable and a velvet cover to make it more classy looking.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Stacy
Date: 08 Aug 98 - 07:58 PM

A piece of audience feedback I received that really changed my approach to performing was a request to know more about the background of the music. I have come to realize that people truly are interested in knowing about the music and where it came from, as well as enjoying it. Historical information and antecdotes can help create a multi-dimensional cultural experience for the listener.

Stacy


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 08 Aug 98 - 07:40 PM

The problem of missing paper in restrooms seems to be universal these days. Maybe that is what they mean by the paperless office of the future.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Chet W.
Date: 08 Aug 98 - 06:51 PM

I don't know if this is a good tip for everybody, but I have found that, no matter how amazing your instrumental skills, audiences tend to like songs better. Too many instrumentals in a set (I limit it to one or two) can put off any but the most hip or dedicated audience. Of course if you're playing to a room full of musicians, instrumentals go real well, the more the better. Also, the more variety of styles you can offer, the better-received you are likely to be by non-specialized audiences. I try to include contemporary and traditional folk, some swing, blues, and originals in all styles. So my experience has been.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Aug 98 - 10:12 AM

WhenI'd do an instrumental of "Meadowlands" (Russian) in the key of C there was one low bass note I didn't have UNLESS I used an elastic capo at the second fret and, at the proper time, MANUALLY LIFTED THE CAPO OFF OF THE SIXTH STRING so I could hit that note! It worked perfectly and generally amazed the educated audience!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From:
Date: 05 Aug 98 - 08:09 PM

ummmm...yes, but even better is Bounty or Viva (NO substitutes!)paper towels!If not a roll, then several sheets folded up in a handy spot.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From:
Date: 05 Aug 98 - 08:03 PM

When doing shows in schools in today's cities, be sure to bring a packet of Kleenex with you! Most likely there won't be any other paper in the rest rooms.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 05 Aug 98 - 12:42 PM

I always try to wear something with pockets, to hold an extra pick, a capo, a tissue and some business cards.

One of the things I see bluegrass bands do a lot is to start a set with a short instrumental, to give the sound guys more to work with before they start in with vocals.

If there isn't one provided, I always put a couple of chairs on the side of the stage, to sit down while someone's announcing something, or during someone else's solo number, or whatever.

I always bring one of those trendy little bottles of water in my gig bag. Doesn't spill, handy, can save your voice.

When I can, I run a little hand-held tape recorder during performances, on the floor by the mics. The sound quality is good enough to listen to how the song worked, listen to the audience reaction, and make improvements as a result. (However, be prepared to want to quit after hearing your first gig tape).


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Aug 98 - 10:36 AM

Yep, necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows!!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Aug 98 - 10:33 AM

WhenI first met Utah Phillips I realized that often what I said between songs was as important as the songs themselves! Bruce ("Utah"), by judicious use of humor, could get an entire audience of Newts (Gingriches) singing along on "Dump The Bosses Off Your Back". That's when I started to talk on stage.
This allowed me to sing for audiences that weren't into traditional American folksongs at all (like those retired tour groups I often sang for during ten years of gigs aboard steamboats on the Mississippi River)and actually be able to have them enjoy themselves---maybe learn something too.
Later, when physical problems caused my hands to go numb, I could stop, often between verses, and tell a pertinent tale or even a joke. This allowed me to rest my hands; it also allowed me to perform at least 4 or 5 years longer than would've otherwise been the case.I became an entertainer & not only a folksinger---from necessity!

Art


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Subject: Musicians Little Secrets
From: Bo
Date: 05 Aug 98 - 09:19 AM

This thread doesn't necessarily have any songs in it.

I was wonderring if people out there wanted to share any of the little elegant solutions they have discoverred while gigging\performing etc....

Solutions or strategies and things that worked well for you.

My solution is:

The little guitar case book. I always put a small cheap little book in my guitar case. I prepare this book with with my name and address over and over again on the back 15 pages or so. When I loose my business cards (as always happens) and want to trade addresses with a person I put their address in the front and tear mine out from the back.

I try and put their address on one side of the little page of the book and enough data to remember them on the other side of the page. (I try to scribble the data after their gone).

Bo


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