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Thread: Adding Songs to the Set-List

  1. #1

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    Default Adding Songs to the Set-List

    We just added some new songs to our set-list; one of the additions is an old song from Captain Beyond called DANCING MADLY BACKWARDS.
    This is an absolute joy to play -- begins in odd meter (5/8) -- jumps to even meter -- multiple hooks -- fun stuff.


    On the subject of adding songs to the set-list....................how is this done in your band ?
    In order to avoid domination by a single person, I try to get each player to bring in one or two suggestions and work from there.
    I have a guy that will still bring in a list of 45 songs and want to discuss them all......................it is disruptive more than productive.
    I don't think he is intentionally excluding others, he just thinks he has great ideas.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
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  2. #2

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    Yeah we would all get together and say think of 5 songs you'd love to add.
    Then in a group we would listen to each others song choices.
    We'd then state more or less why we think it would be great.
    And then we choose are favorites from what was brought forward.
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  3. #3

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    "On the subject of adding songs to the set-list....................how is this done in your band"

    In my last band, we added songs, removed songs, switched songs from 1 set to the other, depending on the crowd. There was a post on this about a year ago. A band better be able to read a crowd, and read them fast. People that saw us on Thursday and came back Friday, were not going to hear the same songs they heard on Thursday.

    This crap of sharing the stage with another band (or 2, or 3) didn't happen with us. Actually, it didn't happen to any bands that I was aware of in the '70's, '80's, '90's (unless you were opening for a name band) and right up to when we "retired" in 2005.

    Bottom Line: You add songs, remove songs, do whatever you think is right for your band and the gig you have coming up. There is only 1 thing that you absolutely, positively, have to do:
    KEEP THE CUSTOMER SATISFIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. #4

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    In my previous band, there was always an issue adding songs because there was a husband and wife in the band and the wife was a horrible singer. They were always trying to find songs that she could sing(impossible) and the rest of us were trying to find songs that the audience would like. I had a problem with adding songs just for her. We went through this exercise where we would go around the room and everyone would pitch songs. To me the object shouldn't be to make sure that each singer has enough leads; it should be to pick songs that the band can do well and the audience will like, regardless of who sings lead on it.
    In my current band, we have 5 members who can sing lead, but the female singer is far and away the best singer and she doesn't play an instrument, so to me she should have the most songs and should have at least some vocal part on EVERY song we do. She's great at harmonies too so it just makes sense to use that asset as much as possible. I have gladly given up lead vocals to make sure we're doing the right songs with the right people singing them, to the point that some audience members have even said they miss my singing. With 5 good singers, it's hard to give everyone a lot of songs in a 3 set gig, where you only do about 40 songs total. We're fortunate to have this abundance of talent, but it can be tricky to manage unless everyone has the right attitude. The decision always has to be what's best for the Band, not any individual member.


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  5. #5

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    Great thread! In my last cover-band, I sang back-up vocals, never lead. Having said that, I found it difficult to add songs to the set list that I wanted to play because it was either out of the singer's key or we weren't talented enough to pull it off.

    At band practice, if a new song was introduced, we'd give it couple of weeks of grinding through rehearsals before it was given a green light to be added to the set list. On the average we'd add at least one song a month just to keep things fresh and challenging.

  6. #6

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    We just added 7 new songs, BUT, I fight this issue constantly. Everyone says, "let's do this one. It's easy and we can hit it a few times and be good". I have to keep telling them that we have songs we've done for 5 years that they still screw up on occasion. Being technically simple is sometimes harder than a more complex song. My biggest peeve is when we bring in 5-6 new songs, never work out the details and then move on. It just wastes valuable practice time. I try to pick just 1 or 2 songs, learn them completely, add them to the set list and see how they do.

    I try to pick songs that
    1) the crowd will like
    2) fits our instrumentation and style (or can be adapted)
    3) is easy for the vocalist to get the phrasing right.

    If I don't see a solid potential for success after the 4th or 5th try, I scrap it and move on.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  7. #7

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    Lots of democracy at work here................I like it................band members should all be able to provide input.

    Quote Originally Posted by late8 View Post
    ....................or we weren't talented enough to pull it off.
    LOL................I like to suggest songs that stretch the band a little................not so difficult that we can't do it but something that requires just a little more effort.
    Every time I've done this, and after a lot of practice, the band loves these songs because we have accomplished learning something challenging.
    I have one guitarist that doesn't practice much -- he can shred a lead part and prefers to play songs that don't take much effort, i.e., verse, chorus, verse, chorus, SHRED !
    I have been bringing in songs that are very structured just to make him work a little harder...........because he is very talented...........if he would practice more he would be awesome.
    This is exactly why I just brought in DANCING MADLY BACKWARDS..................structure !

    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    My biggest peeve is when we bring in 5-6 new songs, never work out the details and then move on. It just wastes valuable practice time.
    Amen to that............I hate that waste of time.
    I had a female vocalist that used to pull that too often................"don't you know which songs you can sing and which songs you can't ?"
    "you realize that is a Heart song, right?.......................Ann Wilson?.....................really?"
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
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  8. #8

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    It's a tough exercise to manage. Get out of control quickly and leads to a lot of frustration. Even though it does need to be a group effort, one person needs to take control and make it happen. Otherwise you end up spinning wheels.

  9. #9

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    What I've been doing the last few weeks is creating a set list for each rehearsal based on discussions the previous week and emailing it out to all band members looking for feedback. If there are any suggestions, I incorporate them in to the list and then everyone knows what to prepare for next rehearsal. At rehearsal we run through the songs and work out vocal parts, ending, etc. If a song doesn't sound like it's going to work after a couple of tries, we scrap it and move on. At any given time we are working on about 10 -12 new songs to add to our set. We already have more than a gig's worth of songs in our repertoire, but we want to get to the point where we have about 6 sets of material with enough variety to tailor a gig to any type of audience or venue.


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    Evans, Aquarian

    200? Gretsch Catalina Ash 4 piece Black and Silver Sparkle
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    Camco/Tama bass pedal
    DW5000 double bass pedal

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    12" A Custom Splash
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  10. #10

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    We typically decide we want to add some new songs, and every person brings about five songs that we would like to add. We listen to every song as a group, the come to a decision on which ones we want to work on and add, then go from there.
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  11. #11

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    This is a great topic! We're going through this right now in my band. The bandleader sends us texts with a lengthy song list that all of us discussed. The four of us pick the new songs collectively. We just added 4 new indie rock songs that are good. Here's the part that's frustrating, the bandleader "thinks" he knows how to read the crowd pulls random songs out of thin air that doesn't work. 30 year olds want to dance not listen to Summertime. We played Stand By Me and I kicked it into double time the crowd went nuts! I told him to cut the slow jams and pull out all the up tempo songs. It worked, took some requests and booked at the same venue for April coming up.

  12. #12

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    Was never a problem for me much. Most of my years drumming, I was a hired hand. The leader(s) chose the songs they wanted to do and I simply complied like an employee.

    all the best...

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by inthpktplayer View Post
    It's a tough exercise to manage. Get out of control quickly and leads to a lot of frustration. Even though it does need to be a group effort, one person needs to take control and make it happen. Otherwise you end up spinning wheels.
    This is kinda how it is with us. Although we are a cover band, most times we change the songs (sometimes a lot) from the original version. We might change the style, vocal phrasing, arrangement, instrumentation...or all four. We'll throw ideas out and jam on it until we find the sound and feel we like. Everyone contributes, but I'm usually the one that "directs" it and keeps it productive. Also, I'm the only one that's any good at remembering stuff I hear and organizing.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  14. #14

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    we are thinking about putting together a set list for some long shows. Thats fine with me but every song i present ends up being 'i can't sing that high' so i stopped trying to think of any
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  15. #15

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    One question that I would add to the mix is do you pick songs because you think the audience will know and like them or because the band likes the song and maybe challenges your talent a bit? It's a fork in the road, I know.

  16. #16

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    "It's a fork in the road, I know."

    When you come to a fork in the road, take it---------Yogi Berra

    Seriously, we added songs for both reasons.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by inthpktplayer View Post
    One question that I would add to the mix is do you pick songs because you think the audience will know and like them or because the band likes the song and maybe challenges your talent a bit? It's a fork in the road, I know.
    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    "It's a fork in the road, I know."

    When you come to a fork in the road, take it---------Yogi Berra

    Seriously, we added songs for both reasons.
    Yes.......................gotta have both.
    It is a must to have songs your audience loves and appreciates.....................and
    It is a must to have (at least a few) songs your band like to play to keep the sanity in place.
    I t seems to be the ratio of these two that is always arguable.

    On another note...................regarding that famous quote from Yogi..............
    I did not realize until after he had passed away (from the story as told by a former teammate) that Yogi's house was situated where if you were driving there, you would actually come to a fork in the road..................and if you chose either way, you would still get to Yogi's house.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo View Post
    Yes.......................gotta have both.
    It is a must to have songs your audience loves and appreciates.....................and
    It is a must to have (at least a few) songs your band like to play to keep the sanity in place.
    I t seems to be the ratio of these two that is always arguable.

    On another note...................regarding that famous quote from Yogi..............
    I did not realize until after he had passed away (from the story as told by a former teammate) that Yogi's house was situated where if you were driving there, you would actually come to a fork in the road..................and if you chose either way, you would still get to Yogi's house.

    Yeah, I posted that about a year ago. He lived up in Montclair, NJ.

  19. #19

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    Usually the Vocalist would be the deciding factor on song choices but the bands i have played in everyone had imput on song choices but like I said earlier would depend on the Vocalist

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