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-   -   Spicing up a small solo performance? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=621044)

Harmony123 07-17-2021 12:50 AM

Spicing up a small solo performance?
 
I'm giving my wife and some friends a small acoustic guitar & vocal performance soon. This is a tradition we've had for a few years which they enjoy, and which helps me to focus on mastering a few songs.

In the past, I've always used an a electric guitar with a backing track in the background to fill out the sound. I now want to get away from backing tracks with the acoustic guitar. I went through the songs with some drum loops, which sounded ok, but is probably overkill for a small performance. I then went through the songs accompanied by a pleasant-sounding metronome, and found I enjoyed the way it sounded and how it helped me to focus on the beat.

So now I'm thinking about performing maybe 10 songs live with a metronome in the background as the rhythm section. I'm not sure whether this is wise or the height of stupidity ...

Tannin 07-17-2021 01:32 AM

Beat Buddy?

Stomp box?

Silly Moustache 07-17-2021 02:54 AM

Are you playing dance music ?
If not, don't worry about the metronome - just play your acoustic guitar, and sing to hem, as well as you can.

Start with something upbeat and catchy. follow with something different, then try something sad.
Never do an intro longer than eight bars, four bars is better.

Give them a bit of a rest after three, maybe four songs, and chat and ask if they'd like some more.

When they start talking while you are singing, time to wind it up.

Don't be downhearted - small domestic gatherings have a very short attention span, and non musicians have no concept about how hard you've worked to give them those songs, and actually few people rally understand music.

Probably less is more, and if they ask for more after they'd had a chat and another drink, then be prepared.

FrankHudson 07-17-2021 09:46 AM

Some of this depends on your skills and repertoire, but....

There are a number of devices in the "porch board" realm that might be useful if you have a foot tap beat thing down. They are all basically a mic/transducer in a small box that you drum on with your foot. They are all devices meant to duplicate what some artists did anyway with their foot and sometime had mic'ed up in the old days. Some sound like a louder foot tap, some sound a bit more like a kick drum sound, and most need to be plugged into a PA/amp.

Ideal if you can do the taps and your stuff is more in the John Lee Hooker/Lightnin' Hopkins style of danceable solo guitar.

There were (and I think still are) a few folks who did the Jesse Fuller thing and actually used a kick drum they played along with guitar.

The kazoo/harmonica in the neck rack thing isn't quite rhythm support, but was another "give them something other than guitar all the time" solo guitarist solution from the old days.

ljguitar 07-17-2021 03:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6765861)
I'm giving my wife and some friends a small acoustic guitar & vocal performance soon. This is a tradition we've had for a few years which they enjoy, and which helps me to focus on mastering a few songs.

In the past, I've always used an a electric guitar with a backing track in the background to fill out the sound. I now want to get away from backing tracks with the acoustic guitar. I went through the songs with some drum loops, which sounded ok, but is probably overkill for a small performance. I then went through the songs accompanied by a pleasant-sounding metronome, and found I enjoyed the way it sounded and how it helped me to focus on the beat.

So now I'm thinking about performing maybe 10 songs live with a metronome in the background as the rhythm section. I'm not sure whether this is wise or the height of stupidity ...


Hi H123

Work up a song or three with a friend (or three) and sprinkle them throughout the event.

Of just work up all 10 with the help of friends.





Harmony123 07-18-2021 12:40 AM

Fortunately it's a very appreciative, lively crowd. Lots of hopping around to the faster songs and bursts of tears and sadness during the sad songs. No drinks, no food, just music. It's kinda fun ...

FrankHudson 07-18-2021 09:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6766568)
Fortunately it's a very appreciative, lively crowd. Lots of hopping around to the faster songs and bursts of tears and sadness during the sad songs. No drinks, no food, just music. It's kinda fun ...

Sounds like a fun gig. I only played twice to a predominantly dancing crowd in my small-time performing life. I found it a wonderful experience that some accomplished AGF musicians (a group I'm not one of) haven't had I'd expect.

DCCougar 07-18-2021 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6765861)
I went through the songs with some drum loops, which sounded ok, but is probably overkill for a small performance. ...

Doesn't need to be overkill. Pick a simple rhythm track. My synth has a multitude of them, and they're often my motivation to play something along with them. I love playing with a good, simple rhythm track, like this one:


Harmony123 07-20-2021 12:14 AM

The drums certainly do add a lot to the fullness of the sound.

Dalegreen 07-20-2021 05:15 PM

If you are playing solo, cut out the meter man and play with emotion. If you have "mastered " your songs, a beat / rhythm section should not be required or needed.
Nothing worse then holding a note or extending a phrase with that darn metronome / drum machine in the background.
They are great tools to practice with but definitely not when you play live. Your strumming hand is your rhythm section (imo)

Robin, Wales 07-21-2021 01:59 AM

How small?

Wife and friends?

Ditch the amp/pa mic's etc. Go purely acoustic in small semi-circle. Add beer and food.

Gdjjr 07-25-2021 07:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silly Moustache (Post 6765877)
Are you playing dance music ?
If not, don't worry about the metronome - just play your acoustic guitar, and sing to hem, as well as you can.

Start with something upbeat and catchy. follow with something different, then try something sad.
Never do an intro longer than eight bars, four bars is better.

Give them a bit of a rest after three, maybe four songs, and chat and ask if they'd like some more.

When they start talking while you are singing, time to wind it up.

Don't be downhearted - small domestic gatherings have a very short attention span, and non musicians have no concept about how hard you've worked to give them those songs, and actually few people rally understand music.

Probably less is more, and if they ask for more after they'd had a chat and another drink, then be prepared.


Good advice- I play for my son and his family occasionally- they're impressed because they didn't know I had it in me and I've come a long way in the last 16 mos (IMO) and written some pretty good songs and do some fair covers of songs I like- but, they don't have a clue how much effort goes into each one and don't really care- my DIL has said; Wow! Pop, I couldn't do that- oh she did ask once when I played Janet for them; who's Janet :D- which is exactly what my other son said his wife would say - SMH- women-

Tahitijack 07-25-2021 08:55 AM

Anyone celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Play the appropriate songs for them. As others have mentioned keep it short a ten song set for a group of family and friends is a bit long in my opinion. No need to amp up and don't use a metronome uggh. I hope you know the music well enough to play from the heart without a music stand. Remember less is more and your audience will look forward to hearing you play a few songs again in the future, not think to themselves....oh no here we go again.

Harmony123 07-25-2021 10:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tahitijack (Post 6771661)
1. Anyone celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Play the appropriate songs for them. 2. As others have mentioned keep it short a ten song set for a group of family and friends is a bit long in my opinion. No need to amp up and don't use a metronome uggh. 3. I hope you know the music well enough to play from the heart without a music stand. 4. Remember less is more and your audience will look forward to hearing you play a few songs again in the future, not think to themselves....oh no here we go again.

1. No birthdays, but this is our first real get-together since the pandemic.
2. I started with 20 songs on my list, and I've now cut it down to 10. I would be kind of sad to trim the list further, but we'll see.
3. I've committed all the songs and lyrics to memory.
4. They've seen me perform privately, and on stage with different bands.

I personally think the metronome sounds pretty cool - but I have the feeling that others here consider performing with one a major faux pas.

Shepsdad 07-25-2021 12:08 PM

Do you have an iPad? GarageBand has some very useful rhythm instruments that could be customized to fit the songs, cajons, tambourines, maracas, or a full drum kit.

Harmony123 07-30-2021 08:25 AM

Well, I've now whittled down the list to 8 songs. I figure my friends can handle 25 minutes of me singing and playing.

I spent so much time memorizing and mastering a number of songs I won't even play - kind of a bummer.

Gdjjr 08-04-2021 06:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6775073)
Well, I've now whittled down the list to 8 songs. I figure my friends can handle 25 minutes of me singing and playing.

I spent so much time memorizing and mastering a number of songs I won't even play - kind of a bummer.

Just curious- are you going to be back ground music or center of attention?
The reason I ask is; I've been invited to play next month at a monthly lunch get together- so, I'm trying to decide on song selection. I've whittled down from 7 to maybe 5, because each song has a back story. At 5 the time is 25 or so minutes. With 7 it nears 45 minutes. As back ground music a back story wouldn't be heard. AS center of attention stories should be told as introduction- IMO

Harmony123 08-06-2021 12:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gdjjr (Post 6778523)
Just curious- are you going to be back ground music or center of attention?
The reason I ask is; I've been invited to play next month at a monthly lunch get together- so, I'm trying to decide on song selection. I've whittled down from 7 to maybe 5, because each song has a back story. At 5 the time is 25 or so minutes. With 7 it nears 45 minutes. As back ground music a back story wouldn't be heard. AS center of attention stories should be told as introduction- IMO

Definitely center of 100% undivided attention. Haven't thought much about stories - maybe I should do a little research on the songs between now and tomorrow!

Here's what I'll be playing:

Save The Last Dance For Me
Love Yourself
Freebird (without solo :-)
Hey There Delilah
Wicked Game
Rhythm of the Rain
Tears In Heaven
When You Say Nothing At All

Gdjjr 08-06-2021 07:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6779683)
Definitely center of 100% undivided attention. Haven't thought much about stories - maybe I should do a little research on the songs between now and tomorrow!

Here's what I'll be playing:

Save The Last Dance For Me
Love Yourself
Freebird (without solo :-)
Hey There Delilah
Wicked Game
Rhythm of the Rain
Tears In Heaven
When You Say Nothing At All

Nice list- fortunately I know the stories behind the songs I want to pass on-

I'll start with an original I wrote last November- Coffee and Cigarettes- as a kind of introduction to my thought processes-

After that I'll just explain why the next song strikes my fancy- that selection is an on-going, at this point, process- I want one song theme to segue into the next somehow and that depends a lot on the reaction of the crowd- again. fortunately, I know a lot of songs-

But, I was advised to do two covers then one original- so that's what I'm working towards.

Good luck! And have fun!

Harmony123 08-06-2021 07:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gdjjr (Post 6779769)
...
Good luck! And have fun!

Thanks - you too! Maybe someday I'll be able to add an original tune to the mix as well.

I wish you an attentive, appreciative audience.

Glennwillow 08-06-2021 11:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6779683)
Definitely center of 100% undivided attention. Haven't thought much about stories - maybe I should do a little research on the songs between now and tomorrow!

Here's what I'll be playing:

Save The Last Dance For Me
Love Yourself
Freebird (without solo :-)
Hey There Delilah
Wicked Game
Rhythm of the Rain
Tears In Heaven
When You Say Nothing At All

We each see things in our own way and from our own perspective. Here's my view...

Those songs on your list are great songs that are well recognized by a large number of people. I can't imagine why any of those songs would need a verbal intro at all. There is nothing wrong with some communication or repartee with those around you in between songs, but those songs don't need any explanation as far as I can see. Every time a singer provides an intro to a song that doesn't need one, he risks insulting the audience.

Regarding the metronome, most of us guitar players experience that tool as a practice tool. It's not a performance tool. Once you have practiced with the metronome and you know how to keep the beat and the proper tempo, you should be able to internalize that information and not need the metronome for a performance. You referred to using the metronome as a "major faux pas." From a musician's standpoint, I think it is.

A drum machine or similar is more of a performance tool. Used right, it may not be a detriment, though if you can do these songs without it, it's often better. Some of the songs on your list -- Save the Last Dance for Me, Wicked Game, Freebird, maybe Rhythm of the Rain -- might work okay with a drum machine if used judiciously.

YMMV, of course. I hope some of this helps.

- Glenn

Nymuso 08-06-2021 11:40 AM

Where do you live? I'll come back you up.

Gdjjr 08-06-2021 02:56 PM

"Back Story" - informative about song choice



Bushleague 08-06-2021 05:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ljguitar (Post 6766327)
Hi H123

Work up a song or three with a friend (or three) and sprinkle them throughout the event.

Of just work up all 10 with the help of friends.





This, I think doing split sets with other guitar players is a good plan no mater what and an under-utilized strategy. You play a couple songs, they play a couples songs, you collaborate on a couple songs together. Keeps the whole set fresh and interesting.

Harmony123 08-09-2021 04:28 AM

Thanks to those who chipped in with suggestions - the evening went very well and was a lot of fun. So I'm motivated to keep working on my chops. :-)

My non-native English speaking audience said they really appreciated the background stories and explanation of the lyrics, since they had heard the songs before but never knew what they were about.

I particularly like the backstories to 'Save The Last Dance For Me' and 'Wicked Game'.

Gdjjr 08-09-2021 06:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Harmony123 (Post 6781908)
Thanks to those who chipped in with suggestions - the evening went very well and was a lot of fun. So I'm motivated to keep working on my chops. :-)

My non-native English speaking audience said they really appreciated the background stories and explanation of the lyrics, since they had heard the songs before but never knew what they were about.

I particularly like the backstories to 'Save The Last Dance For Me' and 'Wicked Game'.

Awesome! Fun- that is the key!

dougt 08-10-2021 08:38 AM

I donít own this yet but plan on getting one and it looks like might fit your needs

https://www.boss.info/us/products/dr-01s/

Harmony123 08-10-2021 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dougt (Post 6782799)
I donít own this yet but plan on getting one and it looks like might fit your needs

https://www.boss.info/us/products/dr-01s/

That does look pretty good, and well-suited to acoustic guitar.

Please report back on how you like it in case you buy one.

Rudy4 08-11-2021 08:21 AM

One of the most memorable "performances" I attended was a demonstration of a type of African music where each audience member got handed a simple rhythm instrument and was shown an interlocking part to play.

Setting up a few of your participants with the instruments to do the percussion part of what you need could be very cool!

It was a refreshing surprise to see someone turn a "watch me play" thing into a participatory event.

Gdjjr 08-13-2021 06:02 AM

I played for a friend Wednesday- she's never heard/watched me play in person, only on videos- I played nearly an hour and it was enjoyable. My first, outside of family, gig- she was impressed and said so and I know she was, I could see it in her looks at certain songs- I had 10 (of what I think I do best) and she even said I had made good choices on my song selection :guitar:


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