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Is it "not cool" to play with a music stand infront of you?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by lexxmexx, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. lexxmexx


    Apr 7, 2008
    Well, I am referring to those 3 to 4 set gigs where you need to cover more than 30 songs. I am the type who normally won't memorize so many songs at one go and I have been told that it's not cool to play with music charts infront of me. However, I also get comments that it is perfectly fine to do so.

    Of course, I perfectly understand the needs if the set list contains only about 10 songs or less.

    So what do you think?
  2. stylonpilson


    Jun 30, 2008
    Reading, UK
    I think that having a music stand in front of you probably hampers your interaction with the audience to an extent. On some occasions, this is important. On others, it isn't. You choose.

  3. Jamasaurus


    Sep 10, 2007
    Naples, FL
    I personally don't care either way, but I believe that the general perception is that music stands are kind of lame.:meh:
  4. Absolutely depends on the gig. If i'm doing a typical covers gig, i never use charts. I have done some fill-in gigs before where i have had 1 day or so to learn 30 + tunes and i have done it with no music... so the answer for me is probably no, not cool to be reading on a covers gig.

    Having said that i still use charts for jazz gigs. It's definately a different vibe, and for me totally acceptable to be reading on a jazz gig. Mind you, i'm always happier and more comfortable when i actually really know the tune, so by rights i should be working on my jazz rep so i don't have to read so much!

    If it's a contemporary style gig, i see no reason for not memorising 30 tunes. It's really not that many tunes at all. This is assuming it's a regular gig and not a once off - i can understand not wanting to memorise rep you're never going to use again.

    thats my 2c.
  5. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    I'm a covers guy who handles the lead singing alone on virtually all gigs I play at. I use charts all the time, mainly for the lyrics and the form. I only try to keep the stand as low and horizontal as possible, so it doesn't cover too much of the band. It would of course look better if I didn't have the music stand there, but it makes me feel more comfortable to have the lyrics in front of me in case I get a blackout.

    I sneak at the music stand rather frequently, which I admit doesn't look that good. OTOH, I play for dancing people mostly, and they don't look at the band too much either....

    About memorizing the songs - I play mostly by ear anyway so I don't need the chords if I know the song. In the case of trickier songs, I know it after having played it a few times. If I play the song for the first time on a gig (yes, I've done that a few times) I want the chords to avoid messing up too much... :)
  6. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    About 90% of the gigs I've played have been three 45-minute sets. Unless there's a good backline and the exposure's good, I prefer not to take the little-bitty one-hour shows. Not worth the time it takes to set up for those, without a backline.

    I used a stand when I was just starting out playing keys (rather than just singing). But I got rid of it fast as I could. I found it annoying, and it doesn't look well on stage at all. When I started on bass, I used cards with the chord progressions until I had them down enough to toss the card.

    If you are in a jazz band or orchestra where everyone is seated and whatnot, a stand doesn't harm your stage presence. But in rock or country and such, it *does* harm your stage presence. How could I interact with my guitarist and drummer, and my audience, if I had to always be looking at charts, with a stand in front of me, in the way? How could I step onto the dance floor on some of the easier tunes and dance with the crowd (gets MAD tips!) if I had to negotiate not just my mic stand and cable, but a big ol' music stand, too?

    Its not just the music...its the *show*. The bands that do well around here are the ones that give the audience something to look at, not just stand there and play. You can't move around or interact freely with your audience if you are looking at charts on a stand.

    This is just my opinion, informed by experience, but...you asked, right?

    Two cents and a cold beer...

    Cherie :bassist:
  7. JKT


    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    The two frontmen in my band use charts here and there. We have a lot of tunes we don't play all the time,
    and music stands for charts, harps and percussion etc are always on stage anyway so I personally don't think anybody notices with our particular trip.

    Once in a great while I have to scribble a couple changes down on a cocktail napkin, but I don't sing so I don't have to remember tons of lyrics.

  8. JKT


    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    I also don't think that stands inhibit our ability to put on a good show and interact with the audience. We are arguably a much more interesting band to watch in our particular genre (roots music) than a lot of others too.

  9. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    I need help on newer songs and those with more complicated changes. I create short "cheat notes" for songs like that - something like:

    chorus: Eb - Gb - Bb - F [3x]; bridge: F - C - G - D

    For most songs I just list the title, the key, and who starts it.

    I print the info in a large, dark font and use a floor stand, which is about the same as a copy holder that is used for computer data input. I clip a battery-powered light to the top of it.

    The whole works is less than a foot tall and sits at my feet, usually hidden by my floor monitor.

    The cover band I play in tries to add a few new songs every month or so, so there are always a few songs where I need my "cheat notes". Of course it doesn't look good to be staring at the floor all the time, but a quick peek every now and then seems to be OK.

    And yeah, I agree, your stage presence is compromised by using a music stand. That's why I minimize and hide my little helper as much as possible.
  10. I say learn the songs, ditch the stand.
  11. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    +1 Completely depends on the gig and the genre
  12. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    I think it's VERY uncool, and very unprofessional... "unless" it's a jazz type gig with stand-in musicians, or more of a classical music type situation.

    Otherwise I just hate going into somewhere and see music stands on a stage where the musicians are trying to act professional and impress people.

    And I'm from nashville... the king location of charts on stands everywhere.

    Personally I'd ALWAYS prefer to make some small error, or fuxup on a cover tune or such during a gig (which only 10% of the people would 'may' notice ) rather then have a stand sitting there screaming 'this bozo doesn't even know the tunes he's playing (which 100% of the people that look on the stage will ALL notice)

    Learn the music. Ditch the stand. Perform what you've learned.
  13. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    We play covers, and aim for songs that will get people off their rears and dance. Our guitar player sings some songs, and after a year+ he still relies on lyric sheets printed out with notes about the song structure and solos written in the margin. The other singer and acoustic player has been trying to wean himself off the charts, and is more successful, but most of the songs we do are ones that he's been playing for several years by himself, so he knows most of them anyway.

    In my opinion, the stand does hamper interaction to some extent with the audience, but if we're doing our job right, they're dancing anyway, and *not* looking at the stage, except to steal glances at that sly and ultracool bass player.

    I've also seen cover bands that play *much* more than we do, several shows a week, for one band, the band is the full time job for its members, and they both use music stands with lyric sheets for the singers. These guys have huge repertoires, and to absolutely remember all of the words to 100+, 200+ songs is way too much for any human being, even if you're the one who wrote the words.

    So all in all, in my opinion, using a stand for lyrics and notes is *not* a big deal.

    I think it might look a little more lame for a metal band or a punk band though. :)
  14. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Another setting where music stands are perfectly acceptable are acoustic settings: I've played some shows where I performed 10-15 songs that I actually knew, the other 20 being demands from the crowd.

    I'm playing a short set of acoustic material Wenesday night and I'll be using a music stand.

    In a rock band, it does look lame.
  15. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    I'd say it's less cool to blow the songs because you're trying to be cool by not using a stand. If it's a backup gig where you're behind the main act, use it. If you're the frontline interacting with the audience, learn the songs. Even symphony musicians read the music.
  16. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I hate using a stand. Currently I only use one for jazz standard gigs. I just don't have time to memorize the entire real book.
  17. I put my set list on a music stand that I have off to the side. I can glance at it to see what the next tune is and what key it's in if I need to. I also have notes as to who starts and ends the song. It's kind of a crutch that I lean on occasionally, but it isn't in the forefront and easily visible to the audience. Usually, it's hidden behind a speaker or monitor. We normally play 4 50-min sets and go through about 48-50 cover tunes per gig, so I have to have notes and a set list. If it were just 10-12 songs, I would tape the set list to the floor.
  18. brivello


    Jun 27, 2008
    I'm surprised at the posts that say that their reading charts on a jazz gig. On all the Jam sessions I've been to/bands I've sat in with, there's always been kind of a "know the tune, or don't come up and play" vibe. Maybe its an area thing?

    Anyway, I think it depends on the gig. I saw Chris Potter Underground last Saturday and they used charts for a few new tunes. But they play intricate original jazz/funk odd meter stuff. I've found with me, and I think its the same with most people, I always play better on tunes I have memorized.
  19. dwanetom


    Aug 20, 2008
    In our classic rock band all of us use clip on music holders
    327379. when we need them.
    You can shrink your sheets down to a 6"X8" sheet and clip several at time on it. If there's only a few tunes that you would need it it's easily and quickly taken off and on. It's not too noticeable from the audience view.

    Musicians Friend sells them for $8.00.
  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I dont like them at all in a cover or original band setting think barband. A jazz band or classical its cool then. Rock and other types of music it just looks bad and you need to know your songs. I put cheat sheets or chord charts (small) in with my set lists on the floor or taped to the monitors etc.

    I played in a classic rock band a few years back that the lead singer who only did vocals had a big black music stand with all his lyric sheets on it. We (band) hated it and told him to learn the songs like us...never did lose the stand and people made comments to me about it a few times.
    I also played for one gig in a country band where the band leader insisted on all the members having chord and lyric books on stands in front of them at all times at his gigs. He said he didnt care if it looked bad he didnt want no screw ups during a show :rolleyes:

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