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  • #16
    I come from the 'old school' that even in a jazz gig, you play the head straight through with no or almost no embellishments the first time through. This establishes the song Second time through you can embellish it or go straight ad-lib depending on the audience. I always like to keep the melody in mind when improvising. That doesn't mean I'm always playing the melody, it could be far from it, but by having the melody 'singing along' in the back of my mind, what I do, the way I phrase, and the lines that come out of my horn seem to be more appropriate for the song.

    I also like to return to the head before ending the song. At least a B followed by an A section, It serves as an anchor.

    For dinner sets, we do a couple of medleys where I put a half dozen or so heads together, play them straight one time through, them move on to the next song. for about 10 minutes total. It often gets applause because people recognize the wallpaper.

    Insights and incites by Notes
    Last edited by Notes_Norton; 05-14-2018, 04:58 PM. Reason: slight addition
    Bob "Notes" Norton
    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
    Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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    • Bob Dey
      Bob Dey commented
      Editing a comment
      Keeping the melody in mind during improv always works best for me too. If someone pulls out a song I've never done or even head before, I go more with chord/scale theory during solos.

  • #17
    I think people really enjoy figuring out what the song is by listening to the melody without the words. I see them when it clicks (often very quickly, sometimes slower) and they say the name of the song to their dining partner or just nod. If I can't play the melody straight up it means either I don't know the melody well enough or I haven't got the chops to play what I hear. Either way, I'll put that song on the woodshed pile.
    There is more than one way to do this. Notes Norton

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    • #18
      Very nice! I like doing background instrumental gigs. To be honest, for some of them I haven’t even really bothered playing songs as much as just improvising around some chord patterns. but I like doing the gigs as an offset to my band work. Sometimes it will be part of the same gig if they just want some background music for dinner or cocktails.

      Good stuff! Keep at it, Carl!
      Donald Trump: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

      RobRoy: "There is an "honest grit" to his lying."

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      • #19
        I'm not sure we all have the same definition for "wallpaper gig." I expected the art reception to be that - providing ambience, but little or no attentive listening. As soon as I saw the piano in the middle of the room, I realized I would have an audience - not all, or even the majority, but the option to stand right next to the piano made this inevitable. Compare this arrangement to a large restaurant with you tucked in a corner with at least half the tables empty. That was my introduction to solo work and I was mostly ignored until the last set when a few people stuck around and had another drink. Those gigs started as wallpaper gigs and often ended up as a sort of private party over in my corner of the room.

        What you play and how you play it changes depending on the situation. No? There is something sad about singing and playing formal arrangements to inattentive diners. That restaurant closed and if I had to do it over, I'd be a lot freer with what I played and be ready to reach out at the first sign that anyone was actually paying attention!

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        • #20
          Wallpaper gig to me is where we are playing so softly that we don't interrupt conversation and that the majority of the audience finds conversation more important than the music.

          For this I play familiar songs, mostly play the melodies, and keep improvisations short or not at all. Why? It works. In conversational pauses the listener will hear something he/she recognizes and be happy with that. It's background music, and I keep it there.

          When I was a kid, groups like 101 Strings made albums of popular music as instrumentals. The melody was intact, the important background riffs and figures were there, the harmony was correct, and it was all done instrumentally without grabbing your attention. They were extremely successful, and were perfect wallpaper music.

          So during wallpaper or dinner sets, that's what I play, only with synthesizers instead of strings. I am often surprised to find when I've done a 10 minute or so medley of pop songs in a bossa or light swing rhythm, I'll get applause from people I didn't even know were actually listening.

          Insights and incites by Notes
          Bob "Notes" Norton
          Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
          Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
          The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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          • #21
            I don't seem to ever get wallpaper gigs because I'm known more as an entertainer or one-man-band. I had an acoustic gig on Sundays nearly 20 years ago, singing and playing. But one day I didn't sing one song, just played instrumentals. It was so dead that day I didn't feel like singing. I didn't wanna be another more than wallpaper!
            BD

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            • #22
              You can do a song instrumentally even if it has strong lyrics, if it also has a strong melody. I get a lot of love for instrumental versions of The Lady In Red (even guys like it), Rock With You (MJ), Human Nature (MJ) and Josie. People sometimes go crazy when I do Shape Of My Heart, even though it's got a billion lyrics. Maybe there are so many no one has ever listened to them.

              I even learned Ben for a manager, and when I played it instrumentally, a table of guys that were digging SRV and Jimi, kinda got the joke and applauded. Of course I don't push my luck with that one. I'll probably never play it again unless I get a request for it. Unbelievably I've had two in the last year - go figure.

              Glad the gig went well, but I couldn't view the video - guess the link has expired.

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              • daddymack
                daddymack commented
                Editing a comment
                now I know what to request when I come up to check you out!

              • Shaster
                Shaster commented
                Editing a comment
                I'll pay you not to request it!

              • steve mac
                steve mac commented
                Editing a comment
                Ben, Ben, Ben .....

            • #23
              Sorry about the malfunctioning video. It DOES work . . . but only if you click on "Piano Jonathan Frost Gallery", NOT the start arrow.

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              • #24
                Originally posted by Bob Dey View Post
                I don't seem to ever get wallpaper gigs because I'm known more as an entertainer or one-man-band. <...>
                We're versatile, and can do wallpaper, concert, night club, dance, or whatever. It's the way to survive around here. Being a duo makes it easier than as a single though.

                Notes

                Bob "Notes" Norton
                Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

                Comment


                • #25
                  Used the other link, it worked. There ya go, nice stuff! There used to be a whole lot of those gigs in the hotel lounges here, but now they have 32 year old guitar players instead. BTW I might define your gig as an interactive wallpaper gig. Whatever the case, I really like those gigs, but but I don't get as many as I used to. Folks seem to either want entertainment or an iPod. Still get a a few though. Here's a few seconds of me on Mother's Day butchering, err I mean improvising some Matteo Carcassi.

                  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFf...cFiqsm5DjhQ_xQ

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                  • pinkfloydcramer61
                    pinkfloydcramer61 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Nice! 1st rule of showbiz, leave them wanting more- mission accomplished.

                  • pinkfloydcramer61
                    pinkfloydcramer61 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Enjoyed your stuff too senor. Sounds good on it's own, but methinks you would pair well with a horn player for instrumental gigs, let them carry the melody. I like working like that because there's not 2 chordal instruments stepping on each other.

                  • senorblues
                    senorblues commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I've tried . . . All the horn players want to play jazz. R&B isn't part of the culture like it is in your neck of the woods.

                • #26
                  step out of that comfort zone and become more!!! or at least have some fun... the last art show i worked i took three cymbals and a couple different bows... a german double bass bow and a violin bow... it spawned two shows at the city art co-op for festivals they were putting on and regular calls from the local art galleries for similar performances... imagination... not only on your instrument but in lining up potential gigs for out of the ordinary experiences...


                  lol... songs... what a silly notion..
                  Last edited by Voltan; 05-28-2018, 07:25 AM.
                  Originally posted by isaac42;n32240445

                  Voltan is correct.

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                  • senorblues
                    senorblues commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I did . . . and I'm glad. Turns out the regular guy had shoulder surgery and is out of commission for three months. Of course the venue waited until the week before to ask me to come back. ( I know they've had other piano players before.)

                    Two-a-day practice sessions all week to work up some old songs. (Nice to be retired from my day job.)
                    Last edited by senorblues; 05-28-2018, 12:04 PM.

                • #27
                  I played a wine bar, instrumentals only, and I was really nothing more than a PA with a heartbeat. If I had been out of sight of the patrons they would not have known any difference. But, oddly enough I prefer the off-stage gig, not being a lime lighter. BTW, Elton John's songs translate well to instrumentals. I have a half dozen I've transcribed to guitar that are immediately recognizable and easy to render as such. Actually, much of the early 70s pop music translates well. I have about 40 instrumentals of which two thirds were originally songs. One is in rotation now in the HC acoustic forum's monthly VOM1T thread. Have fun with that gig. The less you have to do the better.
                  Last edited by Idunno; 05-28-2018, 07:01 PM.
                  - The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it. - H.L. Mencken

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                  • Notes_Norton
                    Notes_Norton commented
                    Editing a comment
                    We call them 'sonic wallpaper' gigs, and although I wouldn't want a steady diet of them, I enjoy playing them every once in a while. It gives me a chance to express my gentle side.

                    I have a few 20 minute or so medleys in either bossa or light swing beats that work fine for them. I also use the medleys for dinner sets when people would rather talk than actively listen.
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