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March 30, 2008

djing by remote

Posted by dogpossum on March 30, 2008 8:45 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

Argh. This Yehoodi set is killing me. I've been working on this set off and on for ages and it's really not a very great thing. I've finally put together 4 hours of music that I think could work and I'm listening to it now, back to front. The last hour (currently the first hour) or so is pure cop out - I suddenly decided I needed to take the tempo extremely low and the tone equally so. This was cheering on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, but it sounds a bit odd to suddenly drop like that at the end of the session.
What I've been trying to do is work between different styles, much as I would while DJing, but perhaps on a longer 'curve' - so I can spend more time with each style. I'm also playing fast and loose with the tempos - I'm not tempering things for the physical limitations of a real, live crowd of dancers.
This is, of course, playing havoc with my internal DJing instincts. Playing 9 or 10 songs at 250bpm and higher in a row is wrong. Only balboa doods could hack that tempo. Similarly, it feels wrong to go from 200 to 160 to 60 within 4 songs. And then to move on up. Historically, it's fairly accurate - a band playing for a crowd in 1928 would move between subsonic and supersonic speeds ad libitum. But lindy hoppers today get all freaked out by that. Speed freaks in particular have trouble with songs at about 60bpm. Babies.
Anyhow, it's making me feel kind of anxious to break the rules like this.
But it's also quite nice - I'm playing songs I really, really like but hardly ever get to play. And I'm playing them in clumps that I know would never work for dancers. There's a particular lump of about 8 songs which are quite fast but also quite low energy - they're more along the 'chamber jazz' sort of line, which is really nice for listening, but would be ordinary for dancing.

... I had to resist the temptation to try to be as obscure as possible. Thanks for the tip, Trev - it's been very useful. It's not difficult to remind myself that I don't have anywhere near as large a collection as some of the supernerds out there, so there's no way I'm going to be able to pull off some esoteric collection of completely obscure and unknown gems. So I'm going for 'songs I freakin' love' and 'songs I love to play for dancers'.
That means there are quite a few favourites ('Jumpin' at the Woodside' is in there), I've played a couple of versions of a couple of songs (oh no! gasp! rule breaker!), but I figure it's a really nice way to contrast and compare. I don't play them one after another, of course, but it's a nice way to show how songs have stuck around for decades, in and out of the popular repertoire, given different treatments and flavours by different musicians. I have to say, all this stuff is chugging along in my head but is probably completely unnoticeable to most listeners - most people simply wouldn't notice or care. Which is ok by me. I certainly don't want to come off sounding as though I'm trying to take the listener to school. I just figure, while I'm breaking some rules, I might as well break others.

I'm also doing some shifts between songs that are purely for my own enjoyment. Yes, that is Freddy Green there in that Joe Turner song following that Count Basie song. And that's certainly not the only time I use a common artist to segue between songs/groups.

I've noticed that I over use a few different artists. But frankly, how can it be wrong to play a lot of Ellington? Or Basie? Those guys are the bread and butter of the swing dancing world, they recorded a jillion songs, they played for a jillion dancers and they really shaped the popular music world of the day. So I'm going to rock on with those mens.
Not so many ladies in the list, though. That's hardly suprising - how many lady rock stars are there in your average 'rock and roll' set list? Not a whole lot.

...more updates as I go. And I'll let you know when it's on the radio so you can listen - it's an internet radio station, so you'll be able to hear it (and me talking!) on your computers. If I have time I'll see if I can make some sort of read-a-long thing for this blog, so you can read my thinking along with the music. Or not, if you happen to have, well, a life. Ok, gotta ping ding chicken wing now - blllooooooz dancing!

Posted by dogpossum on March 30, 2008 8:45 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music