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How many songs in a Set?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Mike88T, May 20, 2004.

  1. Just looking for examples.
    My band generally does classic blues/rock covers and a few originals. Since we have a paying gig coming up at a place where we have already played twice, and we will have to do 4 sets as opposed to only the two we played before, we plan on adding anywhere from 12-16 songs in the next month. We have only been playing together for about 6 months and I am an amateur, so the 20 or so songs I know are all in the two original sets plus a few more that were nixed due to content or inability of our singer to do them without tearing up his voice.
    Our singer/guitar player insists that we need 40 minutes of playing time then a 20-minute break. I just took this as common but have lately been thinking that I don’t really have anybodies opinion but his on what a “set” should be. My main problem is that neither the guitar player or I are good enough to pull of any decent solos of any kind so half of the songs in our sets are a bit shorter then the originals, consequently we do 7-8 songs a set. Adding another 14-16 songs over the next month is going to be tough, the guitarist is working on the solos but I doubt he will get far enough along to drop more then a couple of songs off the total.
    So the question is how long do your sets run?
    How many songs per set?
    Length of average song?
    Do you go right into the next song barring unforeseen problems or do you chat the room a bit between songs?

    Thanks for the replies, I couldn’t find a thread like this in search
  2. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    We are at a similar point, putting together set lists. Our approach has been to have 10 song per set (which comes out to be 50 minutes or so) leaving 10-15 minutes for a break and we have a solid hour. I could see adding one or two more per set when we get more songs learned.
  3. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Have at least 10 songs. Sometimes if thing are going well we will play an hour and half sometimes before breaking(we are tough old birds.)
  4. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    We have 60 to 80 songs total (give or take a few, and we're always adding to the list).

    We play usually play three 60 minute sets, depending on how the crowd is. We may go over that time if the crowd is having a good time. We may cut it short if the crowd is dead. Usually the first set's time changes because of the early crowd (or lack thereof) determine's how long we play it.

    We don't allow the venue to determine our sets or time for us, with the exception of the night's start and finish time. We take a couple of breaks, half hour between each set. But if the crowd is getting into it, we may only take 15 minute breaks.

    Basically we wing it and it's dependent on the crowd. As far as the number of songs in each set? It varies depending on how long each song is, and whether or not we do extended solos to fill. Again, we play the crowd. That's why we're there after all, to please the crowd (well, and ourselves :)).

    The number of songs is less important than how the sets play out to the crowd.

    To make a very long story short... :rolleyes: It depends. :D
  5. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    If you can go longer on the first set (1 or 1.5 hours) it will help the rest of the night move along. If the crowd is sparse at the beginning and then picks up, you can sure finish your night with the first set- they probably weren't there to hear it the first time! You can always repeat a verse to make a song longer- think of it as a singer's solo. When you take a break, keep an eye on the manager or head bartender- don't make them come looking for you to start playing again. If you exceed their expectations you will be welcomed back! Have a great show!
  6. Where we are playing we have a lot of flexibility but were trying to set a reasonable goal for ourselves. This will only be our fourth gig and it is at a sit-down dinner type of thing. The last time was at the same place, Moose Lodge but we were more the intermission during a weekly event so we played whenever they got around to the breaks in the event.
    This time although I haven’t really asked I get the impression that we just keep playing all night from 8 till 12 while people eat and drink, we decided on 40 on 20 off just so we won't poop out but I get the feeling it will pretty much be a flexible target. We have stretched some songs out by repeating verses but lets face it most rock and blues relies on solos for length and we just don't have the chops. Not saying we sound bad, we work with what we got and try and enjoy ourselves, and have got lots of complements, I mean THEY offered to book US, TWICE in the next two months.
    I was encouraged on Sunday when we managed to get thru three new songs on the first try more or less and they actually improved on the second go around.

    Thanks for the info; I would hope we could have an 80 song set list by next year that would be very cool.
  7. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Has as many songs under your belt as possible. we usually play about 3 hours that makes 3 sets with 10-15 minute break inbetween. We have about 30 tunes we can move in and out of a set as per the crowd. I would try to span a big target market, oldies and newies.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    We do four 45-minute sets with 12 to 13 songs in each. We take a 15-minute break after each set. If you play a full hour (14 or 15 songs) in the first set, you end up not having to play the full hour set at the end, if it's a 4-hour gig. This helps if you're playing 'til 1:00 or 1:30 a.m.
  9. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My cover band did 1:30 to 1:45 sets, with a 10-15 minute break. We tried to keep the music going as much as possible, because people tend to get bored/leave when you're not playing.
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    we usually play 10 song sets which comes out to about 40 minutes each.

    if you're really hurting for material there are a few things you can do.

    - you can often get away with playing a lot of the songs from the first set in the last set because the crowd has usually changed by then.

    -if your guitarist can pull songs off acoustically you can start each set like that - and then the band joins in for the second song. saves the whole band from learning and practicing songs, but it's extra weight on your guitarist.

    -you can practice jamming. i know you said you're all new at this, but you may be able to throw very simple jams into your originals. example - if you have a song that starts in A your drummer can start with a beat while you and the guitarist simple fiddle creatively with the open A string and various notes on the D. you'd be amazed at the music you can make like that just listening and feeling. at some point all you have to do is count off the song and start it. (my 1 paragraph beginners jam lesson :) )

    -you can do a search here for simple cover songs. i started a thread like that, i think it was titles "easiest covers". there are a handful of songs that stupid simple to pull off. you can learn them quickly.

    -going back to the repeating songs thing, you can repeat originals. if you do an original in your first set and introduce it as such, then you play it again in the third without telling the crowd you wrote it - the song will will probably just sound vaguely familiar to them. :eyebrow:

    i think it's great that you took a gig that was over your heads. it's the best way to kick a band into high learning gear. good luck. have fun.
  11. http://www.mindspring.com/~mpblanco/music/

    thast more or less a list of stuff we think we can pull off. Some are just the names of songs others are full tabs we have downloaded off the net. The list hasn;t been updated in a while so we probably have two dozen or more songs that you don't see there.

    We are considering some of those suggestions everybody made and I will bring up the other ones tonight at practice. One problem that we just realized is if we incrase our sets we won't have time to practice ALL the songs at each practice and honestly I am only able to play about 10 songs right nwo without refering to my cheat sheets which was OK the first couple of times we played but I really don't want to have a music stand in front of me now that they are paying money, just tacky in my Opinion.
  12. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I still have cheat sheets for some songs, as I learned about 50 new songs that I never even heard before, much less ever played.

    But, I just make my set list in Word, and I have the chord changes (or any special notes) for each song, in a large font and I put my notes on my monitor on the floor. No one but me sees my cheats. No need to use a music stand.
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Hmmm ... cheat sheets ... don't like 'em, never used 'em, and I don't like anyone in the band to use 'em (but they do anyway). I know over 250 songs, most of them note-for-note with the recording. But I play them the way I like, sometimes close to the record, sometimes not. It depends on whether a particular line is the hook of the song, or it's more of a jam.
  14. The average set is ~45 minutes. So, 8-11 songs, depending on the individual length.