New discussion for chrispeters
spun off from
Ipad app - does any App do scrolling lyrics while playing backing tracks?
Moved Reply: wow... ! i am flabbergasted ..
how many of you fellow LIVE musicians use scrolling words and follow tabs actually live on stage ??? karaoke style ?
call me old fashioned but i actually learn a song before i play it live.
sorry for the "dig" but i think professional paid musicians who have an audience are cheating them.
Moved Reply: Hi chrispeters,
This comes up from time to time. Please see
edit by Forum-Admin - these discussions are now consolidated below.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Forum-Admin,
Consolidating posts about reading words at a gig.
The following four posts appeared in USB footswitch question
Moved Reply: u guys actually read the words at a gig ? karaoke style ?
Never thought of doin that lol
Moved Reply: We perform in clubs where a large part of the night is taking requests. Its nice to not have a huge three ring binder on a bulky music stand on stage. (and the dead air while flipping thru the binder to see if you have anything by Till Tuesday) LOL! The iPad is great for that. I also use mine as a set list generator and we play our break music on it. (set up playlists based on the style of music the venue or party wants)
Moved Reply: Hi chrispeters. With over 650 songs (lyrics/chords)on my IPad2 I am able to:
Do set lists for specific venues
Play music during breaks
Have even called up song that was not on playlist from internet
Skyped a relative live from the venue to speak with an audience member
Hope I don't come across as defensive but as far as the "karaoke" comment goes, I have never had anyone "lol" during a performance since the purpose of having the iPad is a reminder for the lyrics and chords of more obscure songs. Since I am wireless for vocal and guitar I am usually out and about the room while performing but when circumstances warrant I have to be a "prisoner" to the rig. If anything I get more positive comments on the BOSE Sound and the cool technology. At the end of the day it's all about the music, the performance and what you bring to your audience. It would be nice to know every song ever written without the "crutch" but I'm long over that. So I would say perhaps you might "think of doin that" but you have to do what works for you.
It would be interesting to see the percentage of very professional BOSE forum members who I admire and respect that use iPads or some other tool to maximize their offering. I suspect the number might be fairly high.
LI Model II
Being in this industry professionally for more than a few years, I have done the old "Fake" books on a music stand with Union groups, played a specific memorized set list with cover bands, limited to about 75-100 songs and now enjoy the convenience of about 2600 songs at my reach.
Most orchestral performances including the conductor, are done with sheet music and no one gives it a second thought. There is a big difference between playing and singing music in a professional manner as opposed to the "Karaoke" reference being made. Many of us practice and rehearse for quite a few hours to project the emotion, inflections and nuances of a song, rather than just worry about the lyrics. In most cases we remember the words and music, but it sure is more professional to have a reference handy than worry about making mistakes.
I personally find it very gratifing, along with my audience to have the freedom to cover an incredible variety of material, especially when performing four hours at a setting. To each their own preference, but thanks to todays technology, there are many devices on hand to make the job easier and more acurate. I am pleased to hear my audience comment on the great mix of songs and enjoying the performance. I've never heard "He must not be very good, he needs a prompter".
Linda Ronstadt would hide lyrics in her fan when she did Spanish music. Jackson Browne just did it at Occupy. Even Saturday Night Live reads their lines.
I know hundreds of songs, including lyrics. The big plus for me to have scrolling (which I DON'T have yet, but intend to when the iPad 3 hits) would be to have it for the songs I use backing tracks on. It's great to know that the Dead used only three measures before the bridge on 'Truckin'' or that Kings of Leon change from the C major to the minor relative A for the chorus on 'Use Somebody'.
I have also used lyric sheets for 'reminders' of verse beginnings. For example, I know all the verses to American Pie (and I WILL play it if requested) but it helps to have a phrase such as "Helter Skelter in a summer swelter" to jog my memory.
90% or more I don't need/use notes but for that ten%? Invaluable.
This is one of those subjects I feel I could make a good argument for, from either side.
At this point I am old school. I don't use sheets or a tablet or whatever with the exception of some Church music. As I get older that is subject to change, and that is not to say it's only for old people.
I have seen the prompters at concerts, disguised as monitors. What I haven't seen is the performer messing with buttons or switches as he/she scrolls through a list to determine which tune they will sing next.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of opening shows for The Band, Don McLean, Bobby Bare, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine, Leon Redbone and others. I don't recall a single prompter or even a visible set list at any of those shows.
There are those that do and those that don't use prompters of some sort. I recall seeing Kris Kristofferson in concert with a guitar player and a drummer if I recall correctly, let me say a minimalist group, using tracks and a teleprompter. It was a disappointing show.
I think there are a variety of messages sent depending on the audience, the venue, and how discreetly the aids are utilized.
If you are in a request, background music, type of venue it might go unnoticed. If the venue is performance oriented one might be judged harshly.
Personally I think it is difficult to make contact with my audience when I am reading lyrics.
I think sometimes the contraptions used to display the lyrics are more distracting than the actual use of them during performance. The less distractions between me and the audience the better I like it. I am aware of one successful local performer still using printed sheets in a notebook on a music stand. Even though he has been doing some of the songs for years he still flips through the pages between songs, in spite of this, he still holds more in than walk out, but I have heard very negative comments in the audience about this practice.
Can you imagine a standup comedian reading his jokes from a laptop? Is our delivery any less important?
I say to each his own. If it's working for you, you have gigs and happy customers then who am I to judge.
I've learned that "time" is now the most valuable commodity to me, so I'd rather spend it a little more wisely instead of locking myself away in my room, trying to memorize hundreds of songs.
As far as Rock Stars go, there's really no excuse for not being able to remember you're own material. If you wrote it, you should remember it unless you've developed some serious memory problems.
Lastly... think about classically trained musicians like Yo Yo Ma. An entire orchestra uses music sheets for their concerts and they never break eye contact from what they're reading. They barely watch the conductor, let alone the audience! Haha...
i agree with the amount of songs and requests you guys do , it must be hard learning all them songs .
Here in the UK i play clubs (labour/wmc/conservative )
They are more like shows where an audience comes to listen and there are NO requests , just 2 45min sets .
If i was looking at a screen or a gadget instead of interacting with the audience i am pretty sure i would get booed off ,and would never get rebooked again.
I am sure some Famous people use some kind of prompters , but the difference is that the stage area is so huge that the audience hardly ever notices it is there.
I am really surprised at the amount of people using them, i been doing this for 20 odd years and never ever come across it before .
These ipads and stuff and this new technology , i really truly feel its takin our eyes off the game.Some of it is great , but this i think is detrimental to the industry
My take on this is that IMHO,the songs I memorize vs. the songs I have to use a chord/lyrics book,is the difference of telling a story,or reading it aloud,a definate feel difference to me.
I remember John Lennon saying that his son, Julian had phoned him and asked him how the song Strawberry Fields Forever went and John had to ask for some help from a musician who had learned it and could play it.
Also, we 'run-of-the-mill' entertainers don't have the self-penned repertoire of a John Prine or Don McLean. I doubt that McLean is often asked to sing Angel From Montgomery or if Prine is asked to perform American Pie. I've gotten requests for both and performed them. I actually know all the lyrics and chords to these songs (well...AP might have a few I've missed) but my point is more is expected out of us regular entertainers (in terms of knowing songs, not actual performance) than the name guys.
I've never actually seen a performer staring at a 'gadget' and I only use them as prompters or to fill in a missing line, etc. I could play hours without a gadget. But I could also play without a banjo and stay with guitar, or vice versa. Or I could sing acapella. All tools are good if they improve performance and don't take away from it.
IMO of course...
This is a subject that is easy to sound offensive when there is no intent to do so. So please understand I am not being judgmental. There are many ways to entertain, we all make choices. Whatever your choice is, is alright with me.
In my opinion, whether or not we do original material or cover tunes should not be the deciding factor of whether or not we use "memory aids". In my mind those are two different choices. There are many songs in my repertoire that need refreshing from time to time, even some I have written. Others seem to hang there, in their space, ready at a moments notice without ever thinking about them.
I have always preferred ballads. Songs that tell stories generally are easier for me to remember, they have a beginning, a middle and an end. Hurricane can be a tough one to keep straight while Tangled Up in Blue seems to roll of the tongue. The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald can get a little confusing about the third verse, but the story line follows the sun and meal times so one can get through if they keep a clear mind. On the other hand, I can forget what kind of car I drive if the conditions are just right, so one never knows when the brain will freeze up and leave you dangling, unaided.
I made a choice many years ago that I would not be a human jukebox. The idea that I might go into a venue with a repertoire that would satisfy any request went out the window with the first drunken request for malaguena, and I keep, on hand, a free bird for everyone that asks. I have never focused on the top 40 of anything. Again, my choice. When I was young I worked full time doing songs I wanted to do, those that liked me would come back and ask for songs that they had heard me sing before. Don't get me wrong. I have been turned on to many good tunes and artists by kids on college campuses requesting their favorites. Their requests led me in many different directions I would not have taken on my own. My thought has always been, select songs you like and make them your own. Over the years some of the tunes I was way out in front of the curve on, when I learned them, have now become standards and are better known now than then.
It is a rare tune that plays on commercial radio today that inspires me enough to want to learn it, so I am stuck in the past, and not too worried about it. I listen to internet radio that plays alternative country/folk/softrock/singer songwriter stuff. It seems the old stuff is still better than the new. My age shows too much now, the last thing I need is to be in front of an audience looking down my nose through reading glasses trying not to lose my place.
Due to the convenience of the Bose T1 with a USB Tablet connection and the right software, I ocasionally record quite a few songs live from that evening. I normally don't have to stare at my Tablet screen, since I use it more of a spot prompter to refresh a line or 2.
Although I mainly focus on the audience, once in a while, I will scroll through the song list to find a request, while singing the words correctly. When I listen to the recordings afterwards, I can definitly hear the emotion and focus missing from the song I was singing, while scrolling and reading off the songs list.
I didn't miss any words, since I unconsciously know them, but the emotion was gone, worse yet dropping out the guitar part temporarily.
I guess it's better to have a little dead air time to find a request rather than think we can multi-task when we really can't.
I think these are always good discussions in getting a feel for how we work and revisiting some of our approaches to performing. Sometimes we mentally burn out at a gig, when the audience takes you for granted as background music, worse with several TV's turned on, with one above your head.
I've learned you can work a crowd for short periods of time, but over a 4 hour stretch, you are competing for their attention. The trick is when to get into it and when to sing and play on cruise control.
Oldghm, I certainly didn't take your position as an offensive one. I just used a couple of the guys you have opened for because it was convenient.
I am more old school than new school. Quite often, I'll simply make a lyric up if I lose track of it somehow (i.e. bartender breaks a glass or I mistake the barroom applause for me when the Patriots have just scored a TD on the TV). Much more important than the word(s) is the vibe or groove IMO. If you listen to the Beatles' Please Please Me you can hear Paul and John sing different lyrics in harmony. Dylan was notorious for keeping 'wrong' takes on albums because the feel was right.
Interesting that you brought the wordsmith Dylan up. I've read quite a bit on him. He was known to use a technique I have used (and I'm sure others use): he wrote the first couple of lines of a verse on his hand or a piece of paper to get him going. I find that will do for those extra-long songs.
To this day, I can recite/sing entire Dylan songs such as Subterranean Homesick Blues and It's Allright Ma in spite of their enormous length. I don't mean to say this in a bragging way, I just have always been able to do that. I read once that Elvis had the ability to do the same thing, read a lyric sheet and almost instantly memorize it. I've learned over the years that some people don't have that ability. I've had band mates who could run circles around me instrumentally but couldn't remember even single verses of songs.
Worthwhile subject here, I think. As a final thought, the songs I feel the best about performing, I've usually had my eyes closed for some of the singing because I was so into it that I didn't/couldn't THINK but only play and sing right there in the moment (you know the feeling...time is suspended). I think Van Morrison at his best was the pinnacle of this sort of thing. And since we both have the same last name, doesn't that mean we're equally talented?
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