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Oct 30, 2020 - 6:58:22 AM
221 posts since 6/11/2019

I've got to memorize lyrics to 40+ song set in order to sing them for performances. Country/bluegrass. I already know a few of the standards from growing up with them. How in the world can I get all the lyrics in my head so I don't draw a blank in the trenches? What's the easiest way?

Oct 30, 2020 - 8:38:27 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2267 posts since 2/2/2008

I used to carry a sheet with the lyrics with me in the car and kept singing them over and over while I was driving.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:47:11 AM
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4883 posts since 9/26/2008

The easiest way is to do what I've been seeing lately locally from supposed entertainment - use an iPad prominently displayed on a music stand and read them. I find that to be lazy and the performance always lacks and emotion. Don't be that guy.

The standard way it is practice. If you don't know the lyrics getting them into your head is first and foremost. I like to hand write them as that helps solidify them in my brain. Get rid of the cheat sheets asap, even if you don't quite know all of them perfectly, and start singing in the car (or wherever), noting where you don't know them and correcting that as needed. Repetition once you know them is the next step.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:50:13 AM

Old Scratch

Canada

647 posts since 6/22/2016

I would assemble all the lyrics, then go through them and look for shortcuts: are there verses that you can cut out altogether and/or are there verses that you can repeat? After that, I would run over the ones I know, working on anything that needs working on, and come back to them from time to time - then move onto a shorter/easier one - take it line by line: master one line, add the next, etc. I would keep recordings of those 40 songs going in the background, sing along; also, a lyric sheet beside me when I'm driving - outside the city, that is.

Oct 30, 2020 - 10:30:11 AM

163 posts since 11/28/2018

Very important IMO is to accept the fact that you could, sooner or later, forget a line during a performance. Learn to just make a joke of it and move on --- the earth won't stop turning. If anything, the audience will appreciate the fact that you're human.

Oct 30, 2020 - 10:33:55 AM

Old Scratch

Canada

647 posts since 6/22/2016

If you're tech savvy enough, there's some kind of gizmo you can stick in your ear and listen to one song over and over, and sing along to your heart's delight - so the kids tell me.

Oct 30, 2020 - 10:54:17 AM
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doryman

USA

70 posts since 2/10/2020

Most songs tell a story in some logical progression, so think of it that way. First remember the overall story and then the words will follow.

Also, you don't have to remember every verse to every song. A lot bluegrass songs especially have many different versions with many different verses. Pick the verses that are easiest for you to sing and easiest to remember. You can also repeat a verse at the end that you already sang at the beginning.

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:54:02 AM

1421 posts since 4/6/2014

40+ songs!...That's a life time of songs!.......If they mean anything to a performer.... And/or the audience.

Oct 30, 2020 - 12:05:35 PM

DougD

USA

9828 posts since 12/2/2007

Yes, what kind of situation requires a 40+ song setlist? Are you playing at a glee club convention or something?
I agree with doryman that most songs tell a story, or at least describe a situation, and its best to learn them that way. A good singer will tell that story when they perform the song, and the very best singers will make you think they're telling it just to you.
I can't imagine trying to learn 40 songs at once. Can you negotiate it to ten at a time?

Edited by - DougD on 10/30/2020 12:07:10

Oct 30, 2020 - 12:34:54 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

647 posts since 6/22/2016

If you're playing in a bar for four or five hours, you could easily do more than forty songs - I know I have, often.  And it's nothing to do with how much they mean or don't mean to anybody.  That's just like saying 40 fiddle tunes is a life-time's worth - it CAN be, but there's nothing wrong with knowing 400 fiddle tunes, or 4,000 - doesn't make you a lesser fiddler.

Edited by - Old Scratch on 10/30/2020 12:38:34

Oct 30, 2020 - 12:46:38 PM
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221 posts since 6/11/2019

Thanks for the tips, y'all. Looks like I need to be a little more organized.

I am taking over most of the lead singing, whereas before I simply sat back and played filler and solos. Seems a lot harder to remember words than to remember a melody. Though, I don't mind, I enjoy singing.

Anyway, my bandmates that have experience suggested we build to 40 songs repertoire (songs we can play in our sleep/buzzed, whatever)--play some, take a break, play some more...

Songs like 'Dooley' or 'Nine Pound Hammer', are easy, but something like 'Milk Cow Blues'...whew

Oct 30, 2020 - 1:32:51 PM

2290 posts since 10/1/2008

Set them up on a portable unit and listen to them , singing along with them until you can sing them without the recording. Your phone and an ear bud will likely work fine for this use.

Oct 30, 2020 - 2:14:31 PM
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4883 posts since 9/26/2008

40 BG songs at 2-3.5 minutes each is 140 minutes. That's about three 45 minute sets, give or take, without banter. Any BG bands worth its salt should have that many songs in the vault. Plus Instrumentals. You're not going to play them all every time, but it is good practice to have variable sets so your show is not predictable or boring. My band easily knows a couple hundred songs. It helps to eat and breathe all BG all the time like several of them do.

Oct 30, 2020 - 2:43:33 PM
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11412 posts since 9/23/2009

I say cheat, for heaven's sakes. I can't remember words no matter how many times or how many years I've done the same old songs. I mean, sometmes I can, but it's so likely that I'll get confused or just mess up trying to keep them straight, I just take a paper and lay it on the floor in front of me. You don't need every word, just the beginnings of each line and then you can usually remember the rest of each line. Sometimes I haven't looked at the papers at all, but I like having them there in case I just get mixed up, which I do all the time just messin' around with the songs at home or wherever. I wouldn't play in public without some sort of cheat sheet.

Oct 30, 2020 - 3:11:55 PM
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2088 posts since 10/22/2007

I can and have done three straight hours. Not 150 minutes. I love wordy stuff like, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Gentle on My Mind, Hotrod Lincoln, etc.
My advice is to get away from the paper as soon as possible. Do this by singing it out loud. I think they call this rehearsal. I don't rehearse all 3 hours at once. But i do sit down every day, and just play and sing tunes for an hour, at least. I Love it. It's my therapy. All by myself. Like some introverted idiot. You couldn't make me not do it. I believe this is the attitude one must adopt. The last thing i would say to myself is"can't." So what if i mess up? The less i care about clams or messing up, the less it happens. I honestly don't know why. All i know is it works for me. Best of Luck! I would relish the opportunity. They would not offer, if they didn't think it would be a good thing. Again, Best of Luck!

Oct 30, 2020 - 4:31:09 PM
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Loup

Australia

117 posts since 11/24/2012

That has been my problem Steve; forgetting the lyrics.But what your'e saying has a lot of truth in it.
I certainly will give that idea a go.Being a singing idiot is what I want to achieve.Thanks for your input.

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:04:53 PM
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12 posts since 5/17/2013

A pretty reliable method for memorization is to sit down with each song and write it out in longhand three times. This should include the chorus each time and does not work as well using a typewriter. At the end of this you should have a complete grasp of the songs. Hope this works for you.

Nov 1, 2020 - 5:48:54 PM

11412 posts since 9/23/2009

Apparently some people are just better at remembering words to songs than others. Back when my daughter and son-in-law were dating in high school, of course he was at our house whenever he got hungry...lol...so I'd be in the kitchen cooking up a big meal after work and kinda hummin and singing old folks songs to myself...then I'd get to a part where I'd get the words mixed up or forget or whatever and he'd be in there in the other room watching TV with her and he'd start yelling out the correct words for me so I could get it right while I was cooking and singing...lol. He never sang songs...never heard or saw him sing one time ever...but he apparently knows all the words...at least better than I do.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 11/01/2020 17:50:22

Nov 2, 2020 - 6:44:26 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

647 posts since 6/22/2016

That's funny - it reminds me of how some of the old fiddlers would complain about some friend or neighbour who, even though they didn't play, knew the tunes better than the fiddler, and could and would point out wrong notes.

Nov 2, 2020 - 1:44:34 PM

11412 posts since 9/23/2009

lol...as the ol' karate teacher used to say..."Keeps ya humble!"

Nov 4, 2020 - 9:48:43 AM
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221 posts since 6/11/2019

Here's something else that kind of goes with singing lead, but as the OP I reserve the right to drift a little...

What to do with the fiddle while singing? Lots of folks strum the chord with their thumb while holding the bow. I've been experimenting with grabbing a pick and picking a little like on mando, but toning down the "chops" (I'm afraid of gouging). I suppose if you already have a mando player it doesn't really add much for filler, since if he's playing a solo you would play fiddle.

Fiddle strings probably won't hold up to a pick either. Haven't talked myself out of it, but just trying to think of something different I've not seen before

Nov 9, 2020 - 1:54:09 PM

bsed

USA

4102 posts since 6/23/2007

As to your last question, you don't have to do anything much w/ the fiddle. Just sing the lyric, and add a little fill.

As to your first question, it will go much easier for you if you sing (mostly) songs you already know.

Also, put songs you don't know well on your home or car stereo and just keep listening and singing.

Nov 9, 2020 - 3:23:31 PM

2088 posts since 10/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Here's something else that kind of goes with singing lead, but as the OP I reserve the right to drift a little...

What to do with the fiddle while singing? Lots of folks strum the chord with their thumb while holding the bow. I've been experimenting with grabbing a pick and picking a little like on mando, but toning down the "chops" (I'm afraid of gouging). I suppose if you already have a mando player it doesn't really add much for filler, since if he's playing a solo you would play fiddle.

Fiddle strings probably won't hold up to a pick either. Haven't talked myself out of it, but just trying to think of something different I've not seen before


Have a look at John Hartford.  Not a pick. Uses (used) his thumb. https://youtu.be/1o0w5CBzWeM

Edited by - farmerjones on 11/09/2020 15:27:54

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