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  • Signaling an instrumental break

    In the interest of getting a discussion going... 

    Lately I've been going to "old time"/folk jams for fun.  Often the organizer will ask me to sing a song, which because of the style of music entails signaling the other musicans when to take an instrumental break.  This is easy for most people who aren't singing to do, unless they are playing harp or another wind instrument, they just say something like "Bob (or you with the fiddle) take it!"  But this is harder to time sometimes if you are singing, depending on what you are singing.  You want to give the person enough warning, but you don't necessarily want to interrupt yourself.  Sometimes I can do this by catching the person's eye and nodding, or I might even point.

    Then there's taking it back.  You have to watch to see if the solo is getting passed to someone else, or if it is coming back to you.

    Those of you singing with jam bands or in improvisational styles, what do you do in these situations?  What do you think works well and what doesn't?


  • #2

    If you're the singer and you want an instrumentalist to take a solo, you can turn your head towards them and say "take it away", maybe one musical bar beforehand. There's usually a natural spot where the music sections off. Sometimes its every 4 or 8 bars or something like that.

    You could try signaling the end of your vocal part by lowering down your mic, stepping back from the mic stand, or if you're holding the mic then place it back on the stand.

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