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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles Open mic acts that completely blow (95* d) RE: BS: Open mic acts that completely blow 21 Mar 11

Thanks Little Hawk, the verbal parts in between the songs, intros, in betweentros and outros, seem as important as the song parts to me as well. They require as much, if not more, practice. It helps to have an audience that is willing to be patient toward those that are in the process of leaning how to offer those 'other' parts, just as it's important to have places where folks can come to learn how to offer their music.

Many open mics are open to all kinds of expression. They don't limit what can and cannot be offered. So, you might hear anything from stand up comedy to poetry or anything in between. The two ideas, words with music and words without music, need not be separate and I find those that can combine both in a performance are usually very entertaining.

I've always been surprised by how many venues are merely looking for that juke box mentality from their performers. While that is their right, to ask that of those who play at their venue, I don't feel that there is anything inherently wrong with combining storytelling with music. At their heart, songs are just stories with music.

I've also been surprised at how some performers are all about the music and have no interest, whatsoever, in anything that doesn't have music included. Everyone has their specific focus and I wouldn't demand that it be any other way. I'm just surprised by the lack of patience that some, who play music, would offer those that choose to also play with only words.

My performances started including both songs and stories long ago, once I obtained my artistic license. ;o) Since then, I've had some folks that seemed incapable of fully grasping the non-musical part of my presentations. All they wanted to hear was the musical parts and nothing else.

I've wondered why that was the case. This area, being so dominant with coffeehouses, made me surmise that perhaps the impatient types were strung out on too much of that bean juice. There's an awful lot of caffeine junkies in this neck o' the woods.

Of course, the changing compositions of modern advertising may also play a role in how folks react. Sound bites and video clips are the rule in most mass market advertising these days. If an image is displayed for more than 5 seconds on a television screen, most viewers become bored and lose interest. That's why most commercials alter or change the images they show every three to five seconds.

Most stand up comedy has been based on one liners. Most songs, featured on air, cover only about three minutes. We have become programmed by these limitations and the way that the industry has formulated time constraints on what we hear and see. In the same way, we've also been programmed in our response to those that would choose to offer something different.

Many folks long for sameness and tend to shy away from anything that represents something different or unconventional. They have favorite things, favorite hats, shoes, jeans, foods, drinks, favorite sport teams, books they read, places they go, things they do, TV shows and favorite music too. While there's nothing wrong in that, it's puts limits on what those folks may become willing to experience. These favorite things can become cultural traditions that can identify a region's history and a population's national origins. Hey, if it wasn't for this tendency, we'd have no fans. So, this isn't a bad thing. It's just how it is.

Maybe that's why ol' Abe said what he did about not being able to please everybody. The way I see it is like this. We all have three responses to that which we aren't interested in experiencing. We can adapt, migrate or die.

Now, that last option is not a popular one, among a great many folks, when it comes to having to put up with an open mic act that doesn't fit into their range of acceptability. So, that leaves just the first two options, to either adapt or migrate. The author of this thread has said that he has tried to migrate to other open mics. It has also been suggested that he take a break during that particular performer's stage set and get some fresh air. Both seem like reasonable actions. Imbibing in some refreshment with a higher percentage of alcohol might be a way to adapt.

I have one more suggestion. Have you tried offering some constructive criticism of the performer's vocals? Be friendly and nice about it. Be tactful. If this truly bothers you, why not try to do what you can to help this fellow singer/player to improve by offering hints or tips that you might have used in developing your own abilities. Mention that you hear that he may be having some difficulty in vocally reaching certain notes and ask if he's considered playing that particular song in a different key, a key that might be better suited to his range.

We are not all created equal. We are each born within a specific gene pool. That means, some may be gifted while others are not, but even those that struggle in their efforts may learn to become better through the sharing of knowledge.

Every voice has it's own range. Not all songs can be offered in the same key by every voice. Different melodies may need to be offered in different keys, depending upon the capability of the voice offering them. I think that's part of the reason why someone invented the capo for guitarists.

Trying to sing a song in a key that your particular voice cannot hope to offer it will lead you to reach for notes that your voice is incapable of producing. For any given vocal range and melody structure there is a best key, or the key that a particular voice will be best able to offer the melody structure of a specific song. That's not to say that every song can be offered by any voice by simply finding that best key. Again, we are not all created equal. Nor do we all have the luxury of being offered the same training or education.

I can imagine what kind of courage it would take to approach this person and try to befriend them, in order to then kindly offer your help, pointing out ways and means that they could explore to help to improve their performances. It certainly would take a lot more energy than it does to anonymously bash him on a public forum. There are two roads to take in life. One is easy and the other is tough.

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