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Thread: How Do You Intro A Song?

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    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default How Do You Intro A Song?

    Two years into this journey and just about every day a new question comes to mind. Most times I find answers via the Search function (but not today though).

    I'd like to hear your suggestions on how to build an intro into a song? Do you start with a chord progression? Different key? Fading in?

    Other ideas?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    If you're talking bluegrass, usually one instrument kicks the song off by playing a lead over the verse. For example, in a jam you'd call Blue Ridge Cabin Home in A and then kick it off on the mandolin. In a band situation you'd decide which instrument will kick off the song (could happen in a jam too). Usually it's 1, 2, 3, pickup notes, and everyone is in on the 1.
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    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    A turnaround I -V-I , the first line or the first two lines , a single chord , a descending scale leading to the first note of the song, a complete statement of the melody then go into the vocal R/
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    In a band situation, I suggest kicking it the same everytime. That way the rest of the band will know what you're doing and come in on time. In general on a kick, I suggest staying close to the melody, keep it rhythmic. Again, the other players will be more likely to know what you are doing.

    Hope that helps.

    Tim Wilson

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Ultimately - it depends on the song !. I'm totally with Tim Wilson above regarding 'keeping it the same' - unless,if you come up with a different intro. the band rehearses it = common sense.
    For an intro.,you can use the opening or closing phrase of a verse of a song,or,you can play the whole verse. I've heard it done in all those ways by banjo,mandolin or fiddle usually. Here's a nice example of a 'whole verse' intro.,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Listen to records by folks who really know how to arrange a hit song. Tom Petty, Eagles, Beatles, etc. for ideas. Doesn't have to be the last 8 bars of the verse (or chorus) or the turnaround. Might be an independent and recurring hook, a rhythm figure, drum groove.... Or you just go straight into the song (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Voodoo Child slow version, People Are Strange, Red Hot {Robert Gordon}, At Last)

    Eagles: Witchy Woman, Heartache Tonight, Life In The Fast Lane
    Tom Petty: Breakdown
    Beatles: Can't Buy Me Love, Birthday
    Fairport Convention: Walk Awhile
    Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl
    AC/DC: Thunderstruck
    Rod Stewart: Maggie Mae
    Grateful Dead: Dire Wolf
    Hendrix: Purple Haze
    Cream: White Room
    Temptations: Papa Was A Rolling Stone (another long fade in...Golden Earring - Radar Love)
    Doors: Riders On The Storm, Love Me Two Times (and how about "Soft Parade"? - ha ha)
    Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale
    Robert Gordon w/Link Wray: Flying Saucer Rock N Roll

    Grab a bunch of your favorite CDs, get a notebook and jot down how or what they did to begin each tune on the disc. Go to the next artist and repeat process. Stones, Bob Wills, Asleep At The Wheel, Stanley Bros, Buck Owns, REM, Petty, CSNY, Fleetwood Mac, Ronstadt, Byrds, Haggard, rockabilly, Motown, UK folk rock, Pink Floyd, Black Sab, Muddy Waters, etc. etc. This simple exercise will up your awareness on this subject 1000%, just by making you take conscious notice of it.

    Niles H

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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    What I do with my band is play a whole verse if it is an up tempo song and just do a turn around if it is a slower song...I do tend to try and copy what might be on an original recording of a song if the recording is available when we are learning a song...One thing we do is to keep to the melody, best way to lose the other members is to try something fancy...There really isn`t cut and dry way to kick off a song, just make sure everyone is on the same page, if it is a jam just try and let the others know what you are going to play for a kick off, just say, "Lets do a turn around" if that's what you intend on doing...

  13. #8

    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    I'm going to stick to one suggestion, because it almost always works. Play the melody of the last line of the chorus as your intro line. Mess around with it a little if you wish but keep it recognizable. You can also use that instrumental line as a turnaround after the chorus. Either way, it naturally leads into the verse.

    I am a supporter of generally keeping intros short, the instrumental break comes two or three verses in. (No sooner, and for the same reason--let the lyrics give the song momentum). If you have some hot picking to show off, there's lots of room for that towards the end. And you can pick an "outro" at the end, and stretch that too, once the story's been told.

    If that doesnt work, try something else....

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    And for fiddle tunes, potatoes
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Oh, i forgot what else works..."one, two, three..."

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    We try to mix it up, but it's usually a version of the fiddle potatoes that Mark mentioned. Each player will have a turn in kicking one off just to make it interesting for them, and interesting for the audience. Songs that have vocals get the guitar or mandolin leading off, and fiddle tunes will get fiddles or cellos leading off. Every 4th or 5th tune will get something completely different, maybe an a cappella start, or some sort of bass groove. Figure over 8-10 songs per hour, if they all start the same , it's dull for everyone.

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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Whatever seems to work for the piece in question. I don't feel it should be the same, but keep it interesting for the listener and yourself. If everyone has played together enough and listens then even if it's different from last time it should work. I one blues band I played in it nothing was ever the same. Watch,listen. Guitar player decides to pause moves his guitar we pause, wasn't there last night probably won't be there tomorrow. Was a great tight band and kept it interesting for us and the listener.
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    As a non-professional song writer, it seems to me that every song should open differently. Otherwise, you'll begin to bore listeners pretty quickly.

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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    As a non-professional song writer, it seems to me that every song should open differently. Otherwise, you'll begin to bore listeners pretty quickly.
    Exactly--- in a band situation, playing gigs, the intro or kick-off ( bluegrass talk) is the first the audience hears of the song. Some serious thought should go into it. Everything mentioned above will work just don't beat the same horse to death, and bore your audience.

  22. #15

    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    It's also good to have a story or joke ready for introducing each song so that if you have to change a string or wait for the bass player to come back from the bathroom, you have some banter ready to fill in the time. Richie Havens, whose strum was so vicious he wore holes in his guitar tops, broke strings all the time, and listening to him prattle while he changed strings was part of the fun of his concerts.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by twilson View Post
    In a band situation, I suggest kicking it the same everytime.
    I'm assuming that what Tim means here is to settle on a kickoff for each particular song and stick to it, rather than kicking off each and every song in the same method (turn-around, bridge, chorus, potatoes, etc.).
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I'm assuming that what Tim means here is to settle on a kickoff for each particular song and stick to it, rather than kicking off each and every song in the same method (turn-around, bridge, chorus, potatoes, etc.).
    Oh! I read it just the other way. I know people who do that. Like Ed Norton starting every song with the first two bars of Swanee River and then going to the five.

    The way you're reading it makes more sense, though Al gave the impression that he WANTS to start every song the same way. Which, as I said, sounds boring to me.

    Thanks for the reality check. Glad it's not in the mail!

  25. #18

    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    lot's of good advice. one thing i want to say is that kicking off songs is a skill and took me quite a few years to be any good at. it's kind of like taking a solo, but you have to hit it so everyone can follow you. you have to get the tempo right. you don't get any warmup. so i think it's actually harder than a solo...

    so be patient and just keep kicking it !!

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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Oh! I read it just the other way. I know people who do that. Like Ed Norton starting every song with the first two bars of Swanee River and then going to the five.

    The way you're reading it makes more sense, though Al gave the impression that he WANTS to start every song the same way. Which, as I said, sounds boring to me.

    Thanks for the reality check. Glad it's not in the mail!
    Hey Charlie, I'm not sure how he meant it, I'm making an assumption since he's not very clear there. First time around, I read it the same way you did, but doesn't make sense to me that way. I agree that Al's question makes the same impression - kept me away from the thread for awhile, because I wouldn't have a one-size-fits-all answer, and wouldn't want one
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    I tell 'um this is one of your favorites and I'm sure it's gonna be one of ours and take off a hunerd miles a hour

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  31. #21
    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    And for fiddle tunes, potatoes
    Mark, can you explain potates to a middlin' beginner?

  32. #22
    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Hey Charlie, I'm not sure how he meant it, I'm making an assumption since he's not very clear there. First time around, I read it the same way you did, but doesn't make sense to me that way. I agree that Al's question makes the same impression - kept me away from the thread for awhile, because I wouldn't have a one-size-fits-all answer, and wouldn't want one
    My question may not have been clear (and maybe it wasn't formed properly in my mind when I asked it). When I hear a number of songs on You Tube there are a string of notes or chords played prior to jumping in to the melody. What a player has learned works best for them is the intent of my question. From what I've gathered there are several ways to jump in but the best advice I've been given is to mix up the intro and not to use the same progression each time.

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  34. #23

    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Trujillo View Post
    My question may not have been clear (and maybe it wasn't formed properly in my mind when I asked it). When I hear a number of songs on You Tube there are a string of notes or chords played prior to jumping in to the melody. What a player has learned works best for them is the intent of my question. From what I've gathered there are several ways to jump in but the best advice I've been given is to mix up the intro and not to use the same progression each time.
    Yup! And I like Marc Katz's mention that you have to work at it to get good at it (I'm still not!) and Torpedo Tom's advice: dive in!

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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I'm assuming that what Tim means here is to settle on a kickoff for each particular song and stick to it, rather than kicking off each and every song in the same method (turn-around, bridge, chorus, potatoes, etc.).
    Yup.

    Tim

  36. #25
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    Default Re: How Do You Intro A Song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Trujillo View Post
    Mark, can you explain potates to a middlin' beginner?
    Potatoes - whoever kicks off the tune gets a measure or two to set the tempo for the group. Usually sliding or hammering onto the first note of the tune for 4 beats, or to the tonic note or chord (doublestop etc.)

    Here's an example. Banjo Ben plays Soldier's Joy. Notice the first four beats . . . it's not part of the tune, it's "potatoes"



    It's meant to get everybody in time, in the same tempo, notice in that example how the backing comes in on the one of the second measure (after a re-listen, the backing comes in with pickup notes before the one of the second measure, but hopefully you can hear the potatoes - the first four beats just setting the rhythm, it's even tabbed on the screen as "Intro"). If I have time, I'll find some more examples.

    Ah, here ya go . . .

    Important to note, this is used on guitar, mandolin, etc. even though it comes from fiddlers. Just depends on which instrument is leading off. Here's a fiddler explaining potatoes:



    Potatoes works well for fiddle tunes, it's a musical way of doing what you hear John or Paul doing with the Beatles "a-one, two, three, fawww"
    Last edited by Mark Gunter; Jan-29-2017 at 1:46am.
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