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Rhythm’s Gonna Getcha

Become a master of the rhythmic layout of your set –says Mister Tim

You are a musician! Your life is ruled by rhythm!

We have rhythms of living: circadian rhythms that dictate sleep/wake cycles; schedules we follow that dictate when we work, eat, and play; cycles of the calendar with holidays and celebrations and special occasions.

As a performer, you have other rhythms: rehearsal schedules, show preparations, day-of-show habits, gig calendars.

And of course not forgetting the rhythms, and rhythms, and rhythms in the music you sing.

The Rhythm of Your Performance

To be a great musician is to be a master of rhythm. With so many levels of rhythm to think of, I want to focus on is the rhythm of your performance.

When you perform an individual song you should, of course, be in total command of the rhythmic aspects of that song.

Your overall performance, however, also needs rhythm, be it a two-song set at an open mic, a twenty-minute opening set, or a full concert set.

There are standard rhythmic layouts of sets: if you’re playing a three-song set, you (probably) want to start big, change things up with something slower, and end with an upbeat song.

This format is not set in stone, but you will see it everywhere, because it works.

Key Questions When Planning Your Set

When planning a long set, you plan for variety and for ebbs and flows of energy.

Is there an intermission? What song is best to take the audience out and (ideally) inspire them to buy your CD during the break? How are you going to change things up throughout the show so you don’t get too repetitive? Which songs are your ‘hits,’ and where do you place them for maximum effect?

The rhythm you plan for your set affects the way your audience perceives you and your music.

Plan a great set and you take your listeners on a satisfying emotional journey; plan poorly and you can bore them.

Even your most exciting songs will get boring if they are all played back-to-back in your set!

As a singer, you also need to pace your vocal expenditure: no sense singing a bunch of powerhouse tunes at the front of your set if that means you have no voice for the end of the show.

Pay attention to great performers: their sets ALWAYS have an overall plan, a rhythm of variety that keeps the show interesting.

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vid

Jack Vallier – Wonderwall (cover)

Jack! Solid skills, great performance. You’ve got talent. Now, to refine it. If you are serious about performing, here are two notes on rhythm: One: even though you play at a consistent tempo the whole song, it feels like you are rushing. Your guitar strums, and the way you sing over them, could be more deliberately on the beat. Practice with a metronome, and get serious about your rhythmic accuracy: there is power in tight rhythm. Also compare your tempo with the original version, which is much slower. You do not have to play fast to have energy. Two: the rhythm of your vocals, as noted in my comments above: you sing at the same level, in the same way, for the whole song. Where is the song going? Where are the important parts? Can you build up to the chorus? Draw a simple map of the song, with indications of what you can do dynamically at different sections.

-Mister Tim

Mister Tim is a modern voice artist who respects the history of the vocal arts while not being afraid to push into new, uncharted territory. He artistic directs an eclectic array of vocal ensembles that range from traditional choral to cutting-edge, technology-based, ultra-modern vocal rock bands. A published composer, award-winning recording artist, and in-demand performer and teacher, Mister Tim is also a viral video star, sponsored kazoo player, and dedicated husband and father. He created and sings with 2010 Harmony Sweepstakes champions Plumbers of Rome, internet sensations moosebutter, beatbox online teachers and performers Mouth Beats, and all-original vocal band THROAT. He also tours with his solo vocal live-looping/beatbox shows.
www.mistertimdotcom.com and www.vocalitysingers.com

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