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Harp Karaoke

  • David
    David Ice

    Ok, here's a new thread.  I've had this happen a few times, and wonder if anybody else has had this happen. 

    I'm out playing, and somebody starts singing the lyrics to the pop song I'm playing.  They come over to me, and start singing up a storm.

    And little by little, they start speeding up.  And up.  And up.

    What do you do?  Do you speed up too, to match them?  Or do you pound away at YOUR tempo?  

    My experience is that I always seem to start out on a slow ballad, say, like "Someone To Watch Over Me" and I end up at a tempo like the last chorus of Gilbert & Sullivan's "I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General."   Ouch!

    It does make for some very interesting phrasing!

    Dave Ice

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    replies to "Harp Karaoke"
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer Buehler

      I had been playing for barely a year, self taught, and played a few christmas tunes for the nursing home christmas party.   Several people started singing along.  I was barely able to play, let alone at singing tempo, so had a hard time holding on!

      Jennifer

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    • Kay
      Kay Lister

      Hey David,

      Actually, this happened to me just last weekend.  I was playing for a 50th wedding anniversary at the Hyatt Regency and right in the middle of Unchained Melody I noticed most of the group was singing.  You can imagine - they were all over the place.  I just blocked them out and kept on going at MY pace.  Hey, I got an EXTRA  $100.00 for the evening so I guess they were pleased.  I think it's best to hold your own.  The audience/guests know who the "professional" is even if Uncle Joe CAN carry a tune.

      Kay

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    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

       This is a physiological phenomenon. Unless directed otherwise, the rate of music seeks the beat of the heart. Even though we as musicians can override this, non-musicians race the slow stuff and drag the fast stuff.

      Most "fun" singers think the words are the most important part of a song, much more important than melody or tempo or pitch.

      About the only thing that might help would be to have a bass drum nearby and pound the beat as part of the song, although I probably wouldn't think this would be the most aesthetic solution. Most people can sort of relate to a thumping drum though.

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    • Kreig
      Kreig Kitts

      Maybe you could play songs that are harder to sing, like "Take On Me" with that falsetto screech in the chorus.


      Follow it up by "Blinded by the Light," where you know they'll botch the lyrics nobody can ever make out. "Wrapped up like a dude another rotor on the right..."


      Then work in a song completely inappropriate for the singer, so that a burly 300-pound fellow has to belt out "I Feel Pretty," assuming you're not in a venue where that would be a normal thing, in which case you pull our your heavy metal fakebook.


      Finally, you can play lots of songs that are duets, and hope they don't have a buddy ready to join in.

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    • David
      David Ice

      Kreig,

      I LOVE IT!  I will play "I Feel Pretty" next time!  LOL!

      How about "Muskrat Love"??

      Dave Ice

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    • David
      David Ice

      Also, a friend suggested that for women singers, play "Macho Man" by the Village People!  LOL!

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    • Paul
      Paul Wren

      This is interesting. I have had this happen many times in the past because I played songs that people knew. My instinct was to slow down and follow them, that is the accompanist in me I guess.

      A weird one that happened was I was playing before a wedding. I have an arrangement that I did of Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from Pucinni's La Rondine. Not many people know this beautiful aria, but from behind me, as I was playing, this woman began to sing, what a lovely voice she had! I continued to play and she sang never missing a beat!  It was beautiful!

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    • Alexander
      Alexander Rider

      I love that aria, Paul! Whose arrangement is it?!

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Just be glad you play the pedal harp, David. What I really, really hate is when I'm playing, say, "Moonlight in Vermont" or something and someone starts singing behind me and I know it's Vic Damone or Rod Stewart or Tony Bennett or someone like that, because I know what's coming--everything is just absolutely swell till the bridge and then I hear, 'Hey! It should modulate to [key of their choice] there!"

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    • David
      David Ice

      Well, Barbara, for me it would be a train wreck either way!  If they modulate to another key, I'm sunk!  I can't "sight-transpose" unless it's something simple (i.e. 5 flats to 2 sharps.)   So shoot me now and drag me out the back door if were to happen to me!

      Dave Ice

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    • Paul
      Paul Wren

      Hi Alexander, it is one that I did myself.

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    • Paul
      Paul Wren

      If you can find the music, it is not a hard piece at all to play on the harp. Typical Puccini writing. I just beef it up with bigger chords and arpeggios in the B section.

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    • Mel
      Mel Sandberg

      Hi David - while considering suitable things to play for the occasion - next time you're at a wedding, don't forget about "To all the girls I've loved before"!

      Sorry, my warped sense of humour - Mel

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    • Geri
      Geri McQuillen

      Thank you Kreig!  I have been trying for years to figure out what those words were in that awful song.  Still don't know what it means, or if it has any meaning at all.

      Geri

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    • Kreig
      Kreig Kitts

      Geri, those are absolutely not the actual lyrics, but an example of goes through my head when I hear that song.


      I think the real lyrics are something like "wrapped up like a deuce, another runner in the night."

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    • Jennifer
      Jennifer Byrne

      What a great topic!

      I choose what to do depending on who is singing.  As has happened in the past, if it is a group of residents at an elder care facility singing "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" at the top of their not inconsiderable lung power, I will follow them at what ever tempo they choose.  The resulting joy at the end is worth it.  Little kids get the same treatment especially when I play something they know (unlike most of the repertoire).  They really want to be part of the whole thing.

      Likewise, (similar but not singing), I had a well known local guitarist come up behind me to play along with Fanny Power.  I raced through that piece to keep up with him and he allowed as how he was playing a bit fast.  My brain on the other hand was thinking, WoW, I kept up!!

      But for the average singers, usually at Christmas time, I try to pound out enough of a beat to get them to come along with me.

      Last note, I have to admit, if I am not focusing on what I am doing, some part of my brain will think - Oh God, they're singing! - and I will lose my place.  So focusing with a bit of an ear to the crowd is what I strive for.

      It's all about entertainment and if they want to sing, that's a compliment, I think.

      Jennifer

       

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    • Jennifer
      Jennifer Byrne

      Oh, thank goodness.  I thought it was: Wrapped up like a rooshin an' a ronner in the night - - still trying to figure out what a rooshin and a ronner are......

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