Played an acoustic tent yesterday - learnt some stuff

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thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 3108
I played a small acoustic tent set yesterday, only half an hour, at a local "picnic in the park" event in Bearwood near Birmingham. The chap running it does it in memory of his daughter who was sadly killed by boy racers on a road nearby, which I remember happening and not being far away from it at the time (plus being roughly the same age), was understandably quite a big deal, so was quite keen to be involved again to keep this going.

Anyway, whilst it was quite fun I learnt a few things that I thought might be useful here, both for others who also inexplicably find themselves in such situations, for myself, and for anybody who may have solutions to some of the problems.

1. Playing acoustic and singing at the same time, is really quite difficult to do well. Particularly when you aren't much of a singer, or indeed an acoustic guitar player, such as I am. There were others who were better at singing than me, others who were better at guitar than me, but not really any that did both really well. The good singers all just went for the loud twangy strumming to the beat of where a drum would be which sounds ok, but not all that musical.

2. I struggle with background noise, and even with a little iem type setup that I came up with I struggled to hear enough of my voice to pitch the lower notes. I used a mixer with in-ear headphones but still seemed to have difficulty albeit less than before.

3. I prefer electric music. Even doing the same songs in the same way, but with an electric and amp/modelling, I'd have enjoyed much more and my voice goes better with it I think. I also think it would  less expose my voice. (more on this in #4)

4. Performing this way exposes your voice and playing a lot. It seemed much less of an issue where there were multiple people playing together, in the groups the vocalists were nowhere near as good but were more enjoyable. I did try to have somebody to play some percussion at least with me but he decided instead that going for drinks in Clent was a much more enjoyable way to spend the afternoon! Which it probably was.

5. I'm a bit boring. In person I'm a fairly jovial kind of person, albeit grumpy - but stage persona is a strange thing and when I don't do it very often, I find I go into a bit of a nervous panic and I don't seem to have either the patter between songs or a way to sustain the interest during the songs. I've got some videos to watch on vocal techniques that may help a bit with the voice but essentially my voice is rather dull and dour, as are the songs I can do with acoustic guitar, and it's all just a bit too boring to sustain interest (hence why my family and friends have hardly listened to anything I've asked them to, and my percussion friend preferring not to turn up, I think).

6. I want to try doing this again with electrics instead...

And if there's anything good about me, I'm the only one who knows

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Comments

  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 8331
    Well that's such a frank and honest assessment that I wouldn't be at all surprised if you're a lot better at it than you think you are.

    If you don't have a huge voice or mad guitar skills, a few arrangement cliches go a long way towards maintaining interest, such as well-placed stops, or boy-band style key changes. 

    Other than that, there's no reason anyone should be fantastic at it immediately - it's a learned skill like anything else. 

    It always makes me laugh hearing amateur musos slagging off Ed Sheeran, when in fact he's probably the most useful current performer we could all learn from.

    Stagecraft is a hell of a lot harder to grasp than a few barely relevant modes, especially without a deafening band behind you. 
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 3108
    edited July 9
    I've a lot of respect for Sheeran personally, I wouldn't choose to listen to him ever but the chap has so much going on and masters it by himself live, and has improved very clearly over time as well.

    It is practise yeah but I think that you have to admit sometimes when a format is not for you. If I do it next year I'm going to ask if I can play keyboard instead, because they won't allow electric (not even hollowbody, I did ask!). Or just try to find anybody that will either join me on percussion, or ideally a singer so I can just do the music instead. Not the same guy though...

    In terms of it being better than I think, I don't like people saying that because then when I post a video if it (I think the missus may have taken one) and it's awful then there's the awkward moment of...yeah fair enough I was right

    And if there's anything good about me, I'm the only one who knows

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  • voodoofuzzvoodoofuzz Frets: 9
    haha,

    I'll put my hand up and say I bet I and many others here are on a par with you.

    I've just replied to your other thread but I do *strongly* recommend looking at the TC Helcon VL3X.

    It does it all.

    The voice FX's are so flattering, it gives you so much more confidence. You can fully automate all patch changes along with your backing track. 

    It was made with solo performers like us in mind.

    I cover everything from Abba - Marilyn Manson and Miley Cyrus to Motorhead so it's not just for "acoustic types".

    Good luck!
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 3108
    Thanks dude, I have a voicelive already actually, one of the electric guitar featured ones with the HoF and Flashback effects. I agree the sounds are very complimentary on it, I tend to use a Led Zep Kashmir or Whole Lotta Love preset as my basic recording sound, and when I did some solo electric gigs as well.

    I'll keep an eye out for the extreme one, it looks to be an amazing feature set with the sounds I'm already familiar with, and could keep the smaller one for my second mic for Lofi type sounds...

    Although it's not battery powered so still wouldn't help with the busking scenario!

    And if there's anything good about me, I'm the only one who knows

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  • voodoofuzzvoodoofuzz Frets: 9
    Nothing comes close really to the VL3X if you're a solo performer.

    Just for the amazing vocal effects it's worth the price but it comes with a guitar processor and effects and also a state of the art looper!

    Markus K busks all over Europe using a VL3!

    check out his vids, I'm pretty envious of his lifestyle!



    He powers all his stuff using a leisure battery - simples!




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  • Guitar_SlingerGuitar_Slinger Frets: 1268
    Into the lions den - well done. ;) The more you do it, the more experience comes and you find your own way, equipment to suit you and patter between songs. Thread of the week / "...since 1976" (delete as applicable).
    “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?' 'Supposing it didn't,' said Pooh after careful thought. Piglet was comforted by this.”
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 333
    I ran singer-songwriter nights for many years in local venues. Probably 80 percent of the acts sang and played acoustic guitar, and they varied from the awful to the brilliant. If you've got a good voice and good songs, it doesn't matter if the playing is not flash, but it does need to keep time and be in tune.

    One thing I did find though is that every so often, someone would come along and play solo electric guitar instead of acoustic, and it never ever worked well. I don't really know why, but you'd spend the first half of the first song thinking 'ooh, this is a nice change from all those acoustic guitars' and by the second song you'd have gone to the bar and left them to get on with it. Possibly it eroded the feeling that you were watching a personal, intimate performance where someone makes a connection with the audience, I'm not sure.

    When I play live these days, which isn't often, it's usually in folk clubs. Some of them don't have any amplification at all and they can be brilliant both as a performer and an audience member.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 3917
    edited July 30
    Particularly when you aren't much of a singer...
    Not much of a singer here either, but since it never really bothered Shane Magowan, Tom Waits, Billy Bragg, etc, then I don't see why it should bother me too much. I have found though that my singing gets better 1) if I relax into it rather than stressing about it,  2) the more I do it, and 3) if I learn how to play the  melody and get some understanding of how it relates to the chords, rhythm, etc.
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 3108

    I agree to a point about non-singers but the examples normally given are usually exceptional, in that they do have *something*, be it the personality, delivery, some other form of interest to keep them going. And I guess the confidence to pull it off is the cream on the cake.

    However in my case, I don't really have a good enough voice to be a good singer, nor enough other interest to be a non-singer vocalist. That has been the main feedback from this particular day, when I did it last year, and my recording project that I've done this year - nobody liked it because it was dull, boring, and nothing stood out particularly as being of interest. When I play classical piano my playing is very dynamic, sometimes too much maybe, but that's very easy to do on a solo piano playing romatic period music than it is with a soft nasal voice and a guitar :)

    Bearing in mind my "target standards" are not that all that high, my favourite vocalists are Jack White, Julian Casablancas, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed so I'm not even comparing to anything too impressive!

    I think I have two things that would improve things, other than just giving it up as a bad job, although I could probably get away only with number 2 if I nailed that:

    1. Learn how to use the registers better so I could sing more assertively.
    2. Be more interesting, as that would a) maintain the attention of listeners and b) encourage people to join me rather than promising to and never fulfilling it, as they'd be able to plug the gap a bit with some singing (instead of me) or some percussion or something.

    I also maybe need to look more into IEMs as I do struggle with background noise day to day (and I think misphonia!) which prevents me hearing my own lower or higher notes with any certainty.

    And if there's anything good about me, I'm the only one who knows

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  • Birmingham? Didn't know about this. I'm an acoustic guy based in JQ - if adding someone into the mix who can both play and sing to an at least passable standard would help, hit me up.
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 3108
    Birmingham? Didn't know about this. I'm an acoustic guy based in JQ - if adding someone into the mix who can both play and sing to an at least passable standard would help, hit me up.
    @bermudianbrit I'll give you a shout mate when they do it again, even if I don't join in I'd attend as it's good as a day out to be honest. 

    And if there's anything good about me, I'm the only one who knows

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