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Thread: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

  1. #1

    Default so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    My Americana group has a current set list of about 40 tunes.

    They're all pretty much I-IV-V, give or take a chord or two.

    I've got a decent ear for changes, etc. however, sometimes I have to transpose mentally, from capoed guitar to mando.....that's cos sometimes the old key gets changed. typically its not a big deal, but on one or two tunes, theyre odd, and, sometimes fresh one time through, I might not get one chord fist go through....lapse of memory.


    The others in the group have added and continue to add, more than a few last minute changes to many of the tunes, arrangments, ie full stop here, acapella outro there, new instrumental outro, different key, repeat chorus , repeat chorus twice, repeat chorus twice with tag, ad nauseum etc.

    I find charts to be a distraction when playing. They are , imho an interruption to flow and musicianship. especially vocals.

    You either know the song and let it rip, or, youre busy reading the damn chart like a road map, fluid vocal phrasing goes to sh&t.

    But, sometimes I blank on lyrics, depending on distractions, sleep, etc. especially when I feel on the spot.

    confidence? maybe, hyper, and slightly stressed pre and during performance, more likely.

    While I tend to just play, and listen, listen listen, make the song go,
    I'm thinking of using a chart book for an upcoming gig. small café downtown.

    I hate music stands on stage, but im just wondering with all the last minute tweaking, I might just miss the boat.

    I think I might know, and can listen to be sure, but, might ....forget.

    I'm tempted to use my ipad on the mic stand for comfort and compactness, but I find that tech isn't always quick at times, ie, searching for the next chart, lighting, type size.
    I don't like to have one more pricey thing to worry about on stage.

    I put together a three ring, which is always easier to glance and see.

    thoughts?

    Are music stands becoming acceptable? Sometimes I see them, most pros, never.

    I feel this is unprofessional to not have the tunes memorized. I do, but these last minute changes sometimes don't sink in, on stage and in the moment, with only 1 or 2 rehearsals pre gig.

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    If it is just some changes in arrangements why not just write out annotated set lists with those changes. The longer the band is together the less you will have to rely on full written arrangements, I would think.

    Frankly, there is nothing wrong with having some music stands on stage. I doubt your audiences would care one way or the other. I do believe that in performance, at least for us mortals, it is always better to be prepared. OTOH I think that feeling relaxed and spontaneous on stage is achieved either way but down the line, I would think it preferable to not have full books to read from on stage.
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    There are maybe two factors working together here: the experience of the performer(s) and the experience of the audience. You want to give your audience the best experience you can, so that they go away feeling that they have been entertained and would want to come and hear you again. If this is helped by your having a music stand on stage then I don't see a problem with that.

    Last Sunday I attended a performance by a very fine string quartet who played works by Mozart, Haydn and Bartok; all four players had music stands. Now I know there is a huge difference between what they were playing and what we might be performing (pretty much I, IV, V as you say), but I was not at all put off by the presence of their stands and music. While they were playing this is what filled my mind and the stands became a tiny intrusion that I'd have had to look for to be at all aware of them.

    If you feel you can offer a more complete experience to your listeners by having the comfort of a stand with your cues on it, then I'd say that you should do this. Try to ensure that the audience can see you and are not blocked out by the stand. Don't let something physical become a barrier between you and your audience.

    What do your fellow performers think should be done?
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  5. #4

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    There are maybe two factors working together here: the experience of the performer(s) and the experience of the audience. You want to give your audience the best experience you can, so that they go away feeling that they have been entertained and would want to come and hear you again. If this is helped by your having a music stand on stage then I don't see a problem with that.

    Last Sunday I attended a performance by a very fine string quartet who played works by Mozart, Haydn and Bartok; all four players had music stands. Now I know there is a huge difference between what they were playing and what we might be performing (pretty much I, IV, V as you say), but I was not at all put off by the presence of their stands and music. While they were playing this is what filled my mind and the stands became a tiny intrusion that I'd have had to look for to be at all aware of them.

    If you feel you can offer a more complete experience to your listeners by having the comfort of a stand with your cues on it, then I'd say that you should do this. Try to ensure that the audience can see you and are not blocked out by the stand. Don't let something physical become a barrier between you and your audience.

    What do your fellow performers think should be done?
    3 of 5 use them, due solely to memory.
    2 of us don't, we just listen and do it. from memory.

    Its odd, its like a shift of focus. Either be in the music, or, read the chart and execute and follow along. always a micro second for reaction time. which is not imho a good thing.

    If I don't use a chart, its likely to be there in my brain. which is my typical rehearsal routine. its easy to hear whats coming and make it flow. but once in a while, I screw up.

    If a chart is there, I tend to look at it. even if I don't need it.

    I appreciate the help guys.
    I shall take the stand and book, and then, try not to use it at all.

    I shall too, try to keep it about midriff level.

    It will give me piece of mind when my tunes come up, as, while rare, I have gone blank on a verse.......im still finding my stage confidence. but in the moment things are going so fast that sometimes there's not time to find where one is on the page, if you have to look down.

  6. #5

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Full time job. Kids. Wife. All the trappings of personal and professional life. Brain over 40.

    Absolutely we use lead sheets on stage (iPad, Bluetooth foot controller). The alternative is not to play out -or- play the same handful of songs until we're bored to tears. It's a skill like any other - glance at the sheet, play by ear, play by memory... all mushed together.

    Just watched an interview with Yo Yo Ma on Amazon Video. To paraphrase, he said, "Anything you learn before 18 you know for life. After 40... forget about it!"
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Never heard it referred to as a chart book or charts. Sheet music, lyrics, set list, arrangement, some combination of them. If I play in an ensemble with a fixed program it will be a set list with my hand scrall for the arrangement, and maybe sheet music if there is a complex tune I might blank on.

    I put them on a regular Manhassett music stand. And we all typically will have a music stand.
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I've seen well-known professional players reading onstage. Classical musicians use charts, swing bands use charts. Where's the foul?

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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I try to memorize the songs our praise band does, and am usually pretty decent at it, but we only play a couple of times a month, with minimal practice. And, we try to keep variety going, so will go months before repeating a song. We all have stands, even the teenagers, and use them to varying degrees. I keep mine low and offset a little.

    If other members are using one, I doubt anyone will even notice that you’ve added one, outside of your band mates...

    Thile’s using one on Live from Here...of course, they play a tremendous amount of new and “new to them” music each week. Genius grant or not, memorizing that many new songs each week would be daunting...
    Chuck

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Never heard it referred to as a chart book or charts. Sheet music, lyrics, set list, arrangement, some combination of them.
    Jazz players and studio musicians often call them charts. Sort of a mapping out of the arrangements, often the bare bones versions. Some wedding musicians just use fakebooks which are single line melodies with lyrics and chords and that is it. If an arrangement is more complicated, so are the charts.

    Classical musicians call the printed music the score. It is all, more or less, the roadmap to the music. If you forego all that you are doing head arrangements.
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  13. #10

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I've used everything from charts to fake books to song lyrics. ..I guess back in cl gtr days we had score in front of us.. back when I was *singing* - darn right I used lyrics sheets. I made choices and efforts to liberate myself from it, but I'm strictly amateur these days (doing what I want).

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    Registered User Grizzly Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I use Deep Dish Gigbook on the iPad, which i have mounted to the mic stand. I am never reading word for word, but having the lyrics and the arrangement notations keeps me straight. Most of the time, I never even glance at the page, but it sure comes in handy for that occasional "brain fart." There is no foul in using a stand or a fake book - electronic or otherwise.
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    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I use charts, usually as a memory prodder. The audience doesn't care. As long as you 'know' the song - how the melody goes, how the structure works - who cares? I try to remember songs - but... it's not my strength to remember...
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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I don't mind folks using them at jams, but if I'm paying to watch, I kinda expect the performers to be professional enough to know their material. (Probably just me though.)
    Except classical.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I don't see that a music stand gets in the way of a performance. If one of the performers is nose in the stand and doesn't catch the audiences eye, that's not so good, but i don't know that a music stand makes that happen more often as just lack of stage presence.

    If the performance is good, it does not distract or detract that some or all of the band had music stands. If the performance is not so good, it does not add to it that nobody used a music stand.

    If having something on the music stand, sheet music, set list, arrangements, Lords Prayer, a picture of the beer you are buying with the profits, gives you more confidence and makes you perform better, use the music stand I say.

    If someone says its not cool, you are in the wrong band. The wrong band for you anyway IMO.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I agree with Jeff and others. Whatever works best to entertain and convey the spirit of the music to the audience is fine.

    Many years ago I was playing a gig with my old time band and a woman came up to me afterward and asked how in the world could we play without music. She did not get that we could play without the sheet music but more that she marveled that we were able to do that.
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  21. #16

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Adams View Post
    I use Deep Dish Gigbook on the iPad, which i have mounted to the mic stand. I am never reading word for word, but having the lyrics and the arrangement notations keeps me straight. Most of the time, I never even glance at the page, but it sure comes in handy for that occasional "brain fart." There is no foul in using a stand or a fake book - electronic or otherwise.
    I thought of using my ipad, as ive got all the pdfs in order for the gig, in a separate file.
    I actually use my ipad for rehearsals, since ive got many tunes on file.

    But, .......i find it harder to read at any distance, and, a real pita IF things get out of order.ie swipe and something unwanted appears.

    I dont know why, but sometimes getting back to a place, in a hurry, doesnt always happen for me.

    Futzing on stage would be awful, imho, in this regard.

    But they are smaller on the mic stand than a music stand.

    Paper....just right for simplicity, for me. And....if someone else needs a glance, it seems more readable at angles....

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I used to pride myself on not needing a book, chart, paper to read anything from. Then I started, on occasion, having a sheet of paper on the ground with just the first line of each verse on it to remind me what the words were. I could read it by simply glancing down. Then I realized I was getting older and needed the page on a stand. Whatever works for you. I recall watching a well known fiddle player that was a former Bluegrass Boy at the Windgap Festival with a stool next to him. He had the charts on top of it and it looked pretty silly as he paged through it but hey, he got paid to play and I paid to get in.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I am a big fan for memorizing tunes and songs, even more complex tunes like choro and Italian and even classical pieces. There really is nothing wrong with using sheet music or an iPad on stage but I feel if I have musical pieces in my memory I feel I play them a lot better. It may take a long time to feel comfortable playing those more complex tunes or songs but worth it in the long run.
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  25. #19

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    One of the most awkward things I've seen is John Zorn flipping through his tune book (on a stand) - which went on for several minutes, while the audience cajoled - "Just pick something!" I've never seen anything like that. But if you're as prolific as zorn, I guess it takes time to leaf through the canon to find it. I was just amazed that he seemed indifferent to the remonstrations from the audience.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    One of the most awkward things I've seen is John Zorn flipping through his tune book (on a stand) - which went on for several minutes, while the audience cajoled - "Just pick something!" I've never seen anything like that. But if you're as prolific as zorn, I guess it takes time to leaf through the canon to find it. I was just amazed that he seemed indifferent to the remonstrations from the audience.
    I guess he was just improvising a set list. Strange!
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  28. #21

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Hey, I've seen Billy Joel with a huge catalog. I think it's purely a point of pride. I try to stay as a side-man, and never know what's coming next. But as a fiddler, I'm a bonus, not a lynch pin, where if I'm not playing it's not severely noticed. So I can lay out if it gets goofy. (I don't really even have to be there)

    That being said, I got a call from a good customer, where another band didn't show, last minute. So I ran and grabbed a guitar and played and sang for three hours, without even a set list. I did it just to see if I could. I'd have gotten paid either way. I doubt if I'd do it again.

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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    I know I'm old and I don't fault anyone using notes, my Dad used to tape what seemed like books on his guitar. But, if I'm in the audience I don't want to see any of that stuff, unless it's an orchestra.

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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Coming from a rock background, in local band circles it would be seen as a major weakness to have the words, a chord sheet or notation in front of you. Yet once a band gets to arena size no-one can see the auto-cues set at the front of the stage to make sure the rock star you've paid to see doesn't forget the words.

    It's a bit of a double standard and has made me really reluctant to try and get any gigs as a solo musician. I'd hate to be sat on a stage with my guitar or mandolin in my hands and nothing in my head where the words were supposed to be.

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    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Yes, that’s a terrible feeling...happened to me about 3 months ago in a youth worship service on a song I’ve played so many times I never bother to put the lead sheet on the stand. Just drew a complete blank. Fortunately it was a small and forgiving bunch, who thought it was pretty hilarious. I made a joke about it and just started mindlessly picking the intro, and suddenly there it was again. But, man, that was a horribly uncomfortable 10 seconds for me...
    Chuck

  32. #25

    Default Re: so, do any of you use a chart book when gigging?

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisoff View Post
    Coming from a rock background, in local band circles it would be seen as a major weakness to have the words, a chord sheet or notation in front of you. Yet once a band gets to arena size no-one can see the auto-cues set at the front of the stage to make sure the rock star you've paid to see doesn't forget the words.

    It's a bit of a double standard and has made me really reluctant to try and get any gigs as a solo musician. I'd hate to be sat on a stage with my guitar or mandolin in my hands and nothing in my head where the words were supposed to be.
    Precisely, but, i seem to have ####e for brains somewhat more frequently.

    Solo....oyyyyyy, im sure i could deliver, but, im not entertaining, and i am sheepishly uncomfortable with audience rapport, at this point.

    Last night, i was at a fast, competitive, high level jam. And i felt at ease, i thought.

    It came my third or fourth turn at leading. There had been 2 ultra slow death murder tunes, falling apart due to slow tempo and weak singers. I wanted an uptempo thumper.

    I know "white freight liner" dead cold, yet, i blanked on verse 2, sang verse 3, and during breaks I leaned over and asked a bud, whats the next verse, was told and got right back to it. Theee leeeetle grey cells are fickle.

    Convinced me to have the prompt.

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