Category Archives: Busking

Diversity in Your Set List = a Good Gig

Have you ever been to see someone play music and it seemed like they’ve played what sounded like almost the  same song all night?  Sound familiar?

So how to get around this? If you are new to performing you may not even realize that you are doing something a bit like that.  As many players want to get out of the practice room and into the public arena, it’s worthwhile thinking about the songs that you play, not just whether you like them but whether there;’s a good balance in what you do. 

Now ladies and gentleman, here’s blues ballad number  Seventy Three for the evening. 

No matter how good you are, or think you are, boring is boring.  So here’s a few ideas to get you thinking clearly.

  • Look at what Keys your songs are. Are most of them in the same key?
  • Do you play too many ballads?  I love ballads but too many kills the energy of what you are doing, they need to be played at the right time, they have more impact if you place them correctly in the set list
  • Are all your songs 4/4 time?  Break them up with a few 3/4 ‘s and 6/8’s
  • Do all your songs have the same type of chords, mainly majors, or mainly 7th’s if you are doing blues?
  • Have you fashioned yourself on another band or player and do too much of their material?
  • Do you only do originals?  I love original music but if you add the odd familiar song it can add a little familiarity for new listeners to you gig.
  • Do you do straight covers?  I think it’s good to turn a tune inside out and make it your own
  • Is your song list predictable?  Why not throw an odd song in here and there?
  • Are all your songs the same mood?  People like top go through different emotions.  Make the audience laugh and cry?
  • Do you communicate with the audience? You could always play the whole gig with them shut.
  • Do you try and show off in every song just how brilliant you are? Don’t play everything you know in one song. Space it out a bit and add the element of surprise.
  • Do you play with the same instrument all night? Swap instruments, maybe some nylon string, 12 string etc, Even mandolin is nice.  I play a Balalaika ever now and then, people call it falafel music and the girls start bellydancing… this IS cool
  • Do you only play fingerstyle picking?  Play some rhythmic stuff and some plectrum guitar if possible.

If you have given it your best shot, tried your best and followed the above, if people aren’t happy at the end of this…they may never be happy and this is not your problem.

OK, when I sat down at my computer I had planned to post about something else but we ended up with this and it’s vvery useful…you don’t necessarily have to follow the above but at least it will get you thinking.

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An interesting thing I’ve found out is very few players that have responded to my survey subscribe to guitar magazines.  Maybe it’s the thrill of finding it in the news stand

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Filed under acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, Busking, MUSIC, Performance Tips

Playing Solo Guitar, Busking on the Street, Keeping Time

I always like seeing buskers on the street, a city or town is missing so much if they don’t allow busking.  Buskers add a pulse to a town.  They are often raw, but you’ll find an honesty in the rawness, and we are getting it in real-time, it’s not overproduced; and yes maybe a little off the mark with its musicality at times but guitar players need a platform that is in a public place to express themselves while they are developing their craft.

 What you’ll notice if you look carefully at street musicians if they are soloists, they may or may not have the ability to keep time.  As a rule, I prefer music to be in time, but as a soloist it is possible to take liberties with the beat; you can’t do this when playing with other musicians, it’s the glue that holds it together.  What I have also noticed is that if a guitarist is self taught and rarely played with other musicians they could easily fall into the trap of not knowing how to play in time at all.  This in the long term will work against them. As you mature as a musician, you find yourself wanting to work with other musicians that will enhance your sound.

 What I recommend is if you have been working alone for a long time, it’s a good idea to get hold of some sort of drum machine, ‘musical sounding’ audio files for the computer, assuming you are computer literate or some type of backing tracks and work with them for a while, these can help you develop a natural rhythm. 

Every now and then, I get the opportunity to work with different people, some have tremendous voices or with  other great skills but often it’s their timing that lets them down.  Your timing should get to the point where you can stop playing for a few bars and then automatically come in on time at the precise place. 

Guitarists often doodle around a bit and waste time. Be focused, set your self a plan of what to work on and then do t.

 Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you are having a few difficulties with timing and we can look at a way of sorting it.

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Filed under acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, Busking, learning guitar, MUSIC