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Singing with a Prompter

Acorn4 14 Apr 19 - 11:56 AM
Backwoodsman 14 Apr 19 - 12:40 PM
Doug Chadwick 14 Apr 19 - 01:06 PM
Backwoodsman 14 Apr 19 - 01:23 PM
Doug Chadwick 14 Apr 19 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 14 Apr 19 - 02:44 PM
Deckman 14 Apr 19 - 03:29 PM
EBarnacle 14 Apr 19 - 11:04 PM
Backwoodsman 15 Apr 19 - 02:19 AM
Roger the Skiffler 15 Apr 19 - 03:45 AM
GUEST,Jerry 15 Apr 19 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 15 Apr 19 - 03:57 AM
Backwoodsman 15 Apr 19 - 04:30 AM
Acorn4 15 Apr 19 - 04:55 AM
Doug Chadwick 15 Apr 19 - 04:57 AM
Doug Chadwick 15 Apr 19 - 05:07 AM
Doug Chadwick 15 Apr 19 - 05:12 AM
Andy7 15 Apr 19 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,JHW 15 Apr 19 - 06:51 AM
GUEST,Jerry 15 Apr 19 - 07:11 AM
Mo the caller 15 Apr 19 - 08:06 AM
John P 15 Apr 19 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Jerry 15 Apr 19 - 01:37 PM
Tattie Bogle 20 Apr 19 - 08:30 PM
The Sandman 20 Apr 19 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Guest banksie 22 Apr 19 - 01:47 AM
GUEST,Jerry 22 Apr 19 - 03:13 AM
GUEST,jugmws 22 Apr 19 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,Jerry 22 Apr 19 - 11:15 AM
Liamtho 22 Apr 19 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Guest banksie 22 Apr 19 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Jerry 22 Apr 19 - 06:57 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Apr 19 - 02:44 AM
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Subject: Singing with a Prompter?
From: Acorn4
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 11:56 AM

There has been a lot of discussion on here about singing songs from memory as opposed to a lyric sheet or ipad.

Briefly summing up, gawping/squinting at a lyric sheet or ipad destroys spontaneity and contact with listeners, forgetting song lyrics you thought you had memorised can lead to an awkward gap while the download catches up and losing the flow or even "Oh, I can't remember that one I'll do something else".

I'm now getting to that age where committing words to memory is increasingly hard but I'm still trying to do it on principle.

If you think you've memorised a song but it's a new one or one you haven't done for a long time, what about giving a copy of the lyrics to another singer sitting next to you and prompting as in a play.

In a dramatic production this is used effectively to keep the flow of the play going. Often it can be just a whisper of a single word.


I tried this quite successfully last night with a long song that I hadn't done for a long time and got through it with a couple of one word prompts.

Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 12:40 PM

My immediate thought is, “Oh f**k, here we go again!”


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 01:06 PM

My first thought is that you deserve a more respectful response than that.

Sometimes, when I have a senior moment, a quick prompt may help get me going again. Other times, if I have lost a line ahead, a prompt can be more of an interruption as I try to work out the flow of the verse. Also, if your interpretation should involve a short pause for dramatic effect, the prompter might jump in thinking that you had forgotten the words.

Providing you are not singing with your head buried in a book, I think a quick glance at a cheat sheet is a better option.

DC


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 01:23 PM

It was meant to be a joke, Doug. Obviously it by-passed your funny-bone. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 01:25 PM

Chuckle, chuckle, fall about.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 02:44 PM

Più forte!
[Maria Callas to her prompter.]

Young ones rage against the machine, old ones against the night.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Deckman
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 03:29 PM

I was blessed to able to attend Burl Ives final public concert in Anacortes, Washington. He was still somewhat ill, after semi recovering from a very serious illness. His performance was magical and spellbinding. I had started a corresponding with him when I was sixteen years of age, and he was always faithful to my letters.


But due to age and illness, Burl needed to have a prompter who knelt by the front edge of the stage. It was like Burl and the prompter were one person … the prompter seemed to know when Burl was going to forget the next line of a song, and we could see and hear, as this prompter would give him the clue he needed.

I was startled by this, but very grateful that Burl Ives had the guts to do it … I'm sure it wasn't an easy task for him. After that concert, I was again blessed by attending a private reception for him where I was able to thank him for inspiring me throughout all of my wn singing career. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: EBarnacle
Date: 14 Apr 19 - 11:04 PM

As one who has had memorizing problems for decades, I am definitely on the side of those who keep a cue sheet. If it is good enough for classical musicians, why should we folkies look down on it.
My local theater group has just announced auditions for our next Shakespearean play and I have decided to take a staff position rather than keep up the struggle.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 02:19 AM

Whatever it takes, AFAIC. The important thing is that the songs continue to be sung, otherwise they cease to be songs. If the singer needs a ‘reminder’, so be it whatever form it takes - far better than the song going unsung.

I don’t buy the ‘disrespecting the song’ BS, that’s just an attempt at high-bar-setting by those who would make the folk-genre elitist. The worst ‘disrespect’ anyone can show to a song is to not sing it.

The usual disclaimers apply......IMHO, YMMV etc.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 03:45 AM

I remember seeing Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstein on the same bill at the end of their careers. After solo spots they reunited for an encore and responded to audience requests for their famous "Passing Strangers" duet. Sarah was obviously not sure of the words and Billy would whisper in her ear as a prompt.
RtS


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 03:55 AM

I know this topic has been done to death already, but surely there is a big difference between glancing occasionally at a crib sheet when you forget the next line (as most of us do occasionally), and burying your head in a book as if reading the lesson in a church service, when it’s clear the singer does know the words but is just being lazy and not fussed about injecting any feeling or emotion.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 03:57 AM

For many years, the great Robbie McMahon, of Spancilhill fame, would have his wife Maura seated beside him at sessions. To my knowledge, she never sang. In later years, as Robbie's capacious memory began to leak, Maura would quietly murmur the next word with perfect timing, while serenely sitting there, smiling ...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 04:30 AM

”I know this topic has been done to death already”

Hence my first post on this thread, intended as a light-hearted hint towards the same point. Sadly, some folks seem to lack even the slightest trace of a SoH.

Life’s too short, innit?


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 04:55 AM

I realise that it has all been discussed before in general but the idea of verbal prompting is the intended focus rather than ipads or crib sheets.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 04:57 AM

Has it been done to death already? This thread is not about reading the words - it's about using verbal prompts.

DC


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 05:07 AM

Cross posted.

I think that for verbal prompting to be successful, the prompter must know both the song and the singer's intended delivery well.

DC


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 05:12 AM


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Andy7
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 05:31 AM

I do like the idea of a prompter!

I find that a timely verbal reminder from someone works much better than glancing at a songsheet. The latter tends to interrupt my flow and make it difficult to get back on track; probably something to do with neural pathways, switching quickly from auditory memory to visual stimulus and back again.

Wanted: One Prompter, hours variable and as required, for folk club singarounds and song & ale weekends. Must be musically competent, GSOH essential. Salary £0.00/hour, time-and-a-half for unsocial hours. No reimbursement of expenses. Apply in writing, enclosing full CV, to Andy7, c/o Prompter Thread, Mudcat Cafe, The Internet. Auditions/interviews to be arranged at my convenience.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,JHW
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 06:51 AM

Dave's initial suggestion is one I haven't seen or heard and I reckon is a better idea than pads or sheets.
The brain stopping feature is alas not restricted to singing. Names of flowers, people etc. Most of us mature people will have the problem.
Cue for a song I'd say about the brain suddenly stopping dead. (you would need to remember the words though)


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 07:11 AM

I wrote a song some years back about forgetting the line of the next verse, amongst other performance perils, but I found it was a bit too esoteric for some audiences to appreciate. I’m sure I posted it on one of earlier related threads, and funnily enough I can’t remember it all now without searching my files.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 08:06 AM

Can you remember the thread though?


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: John P
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 10:52 AM

Ah yes, the middle-aged chicken standing by the side of the road saying, "Why did I come over here??"


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 15 Apr 19 - 01:37 PM

I don’t remember the earlier thread, but it was more about people reading from ring binders or iPads rather than relying on memory. The song went along these lines:

It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife, we wailing men undergo
And we don’t worry none when our songs are sung, how hard it was a show
For we’re bar room bound for another round, with our gullets taught and free
And we don’t give a toss about the verses lost, they just slipped from memory

Going down the Club, my brave boys, Rose and Crown is where we’ll be
But Homeward Bound and the Holy Ground, they just slipped from memory

Once more we’ll wail our miserable tales, of grief and death and woe
Of calamities on the old high seas, and grappling ‘gainst the foe
Both night and day we’ve wailed away about good ships lost at sea
But most still sail where I have failed, to remember that verse three

We learnt our craft both fore and aft, but mostly below decks
It’s a tragedy but for the life of me, I can’t remember what comes next
There was something about ‘rant and rout’ , or did I just do that verse?
Something, something, I’m mumbling, maybe best repeat the first....

There is more, but ironically slipped from memory...


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 20 Apr 19 - 08:30 PM

Have seen the exact same situation as Martin Ryan describes, with one of our Scottish singer songwriters, whose partner would sit beside him and quietly prompt if/when necessary. Nobody objected, and it kept him coming out to sessions for longer and for us, enjoying his songs than might otherwise have been the case.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Apr 19 - 08:47 PM

A reasonable idea for a sing around.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Guest banksie
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 01:47 AM

One question and one point:

The question: Guest Jerry, who wrote that lyric, `Slipped From Memory'? It is now me to an absolute tee and I would like to sing it.

The point: I would just observe that, sometime towards the back end of last year I happened to catch Paul Weller doing an `In Concert' performance of his latest album on the good old BBC. He was quite blatantly using lyric sheets (to the point where he started singing one song and then realised he hadn't yet turned the page to the right lyric), so if it is good enough for the BBC and a well-known professional performer who is a good bit younger than me, then I feel it is good enough for the rest of us.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 03:13 AM

‘Slipped from Memory’ is one of my own actually, albeit using and twisting some of the traditional lyrics, as well as the well known tune. There are more verses that I can dig out of my archives, though possibly not needed, that I can send you. I’m very happy if you want to use it, because I very rarely use it myself since the audiences I tried it with didn’t seem to get it.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,jugmws
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 05:51 AM

Tremendous lift; I would love to see the rest. I couldn't stop smiling as the tune rung in my head. Thanks for this.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 11:15 AM

I’ve found three more verses (actually verses 3, 4 and 5), but as someone said in another thread the joke wears thin if the song’s over long.

With one string in tune, and the other quite soon, we’ll wail on just as well
With random chords we crave applause, both mostly memory cells
You’d think we’d braved the Cape Horn waves, to listen to our songs
But sod big ships, I get seasick, just punting Peasholm Pond

We’ll gather ‘round at the Rose and Crown, now our work is all astern
With guitars restrung and our songs half sung, to the wailing we’ll return
I learnt these words from a sea dog tar, who plied the Seven Seas
Now you might scoff, that’s the best chip shop, betwixt the Tyne and Tees

We’ll rant and roar, ‘til our throats are sore, when we are in full sail
Like in days of old with seamen bold, and blown by Broadside Ale
We’ll brave a trip in our Old Ship, The George and The Red Lion too
With a living gale upon our tail, but that’s just vindaloo

To last verse....

Jerry Crossley 2014.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Liamtho
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 01:42 PM

It's amazing how many chords/lyrics you can get on a strip of paper blu tacked to your guitar neck. out of sight of the audience.


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Guest banksie
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 06:44 PM

Thank you Jerry. Let's see what I (or the trio I sing in) can make of it


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 06:57 PM

In line 2 ‘both’ should be ‘but’; cue for another song about predictive text and auto correction maybe,


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Subject: RE: Singing with a Prompter
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Apr 19 - 02:44 AM

I watched MacColl singing regularly for twenty-odd years and only recall him drying up on a few occasions
Towards the end of his life, I began to notice he changed some words slightly and, when he did, he'd give a little grin to regulars
I asked him about this and he said he was beginning to forget words, but had become so involved in the songs he sang that he was able to improvise when necessary

David Buchan in his 'Ballad and the Folk' suggested that there were no set texts to the ballads, but that the singers recreated the stories each time they sang them
I doubt if this was generally true, but I know from recording the same song a number of times from blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, that she often sang the same song with changes.

Apart from alienating the audience by using a crib-sheet, or especially, a pad or phone I've never understood how singers can involve themselves in their songs when being forced to read them
On the few occasions we've recorded singers like Tom Lenihan and Walter Pardon doing it, their singing has always sounded less confident
Walter (a Thomas Hardy nut), once put an excellent tune to 'The Trampwoman's Tragedy' and sang it from a book for us.
I regret bitterly that we never had the opportunity of re-recording it when he had sung it in
For me, the key enjoyment of singing is becoming involved in what you are singing about
Jim Carroll


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