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 I sang a set of original music at the LA Harmony Sweepstakes last Saturday - THROAT did 4 original songs (the middle song was really 2 songs smooshed together).

Pros:

- it was super fun.  

- The other musicians all admired the courage to do all original music.  Gives you street cred, apparently.  

- Because people didn't recognize the songs, they also didn't recognize our mistakes ;-)

Cons:

- audience does not recognize the music, so it is more difficult to connect with them.  You sing 'Rainbow Connection,' they already know that song, and you just have to sing it pretty well for the audience to swoon.  Original songs they have to work harder because it's a new discovery.

Comments

Maybe I'm in the small group

Maybe I'm in the small group of people who would rather hear original stuff than something that's well known. I certainly don't feel like I can't connect to something because I haven't heard it before. The opposite is true, in fact. I'm all for original writing in these kinds of compeitions, and good for you for doing that. More groups should, if they can.

Amy Malkoff http://www.amymalkoff.com/harmony CASA (Contemporary A Cappella Society) Program Manager + Director of Web Content - http://www.casa.org Judge - ICCA, ICHSA, Harmony Sweepstakes, etc.

I'm with you, Amy

Speaking as a judge of ICHSA/ICCA/SpringSing/elsewhere (though never Sweeps), I personally give a lot of credit to original songs.  Although I agree that there are pitfalls, as you mention Tim, at the end of the day, so long as I'm entertained and impressed, the group that's more original will usually get more bonus points from me.

--Dave Brown

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun

Ditto!

Originals are far and away a key indicator of a group that is focused on the craft of creating new, quality music. They tell the audience that the group is confident and doesn't worry about taking risks. They offer a way to step outside the typical a cappella comfort zone. They allow the composer to weave together their own thoughts and harmonies and uniquely communicate their original musical/creative idea. Kudos to you Tim!

Jeff Swearingen
PR Director, Vocal Chaos
Co-Executive Producer, AcappellaFest
jeff@vocalchaos.com
www.vocalchaos.com
www.acappellafest.com

Thanks, Tim

for fighting the good fight! 

- Deke Sharon • 800.579.9305 • http://www.dekesharon.com

with high hopes

... I should add that when the original music is INDEED original that's when it's great.   Frankly, I never need to hear another lame boy-bandish love song with terrible, cliche-ridden lyrics and predictable melody/chords.   That's not original.  : )

Reluctance to accept that you are gone...

Yes! Which is precisely why Da Vinci's Notebook's "Title Of The Song" (which you guys cover, and I'm dying to hear!) is sooo brilliant!

Amy Malkoff http://www.amymalkoff.com/harmony CASA (Contemporary A Cappella Society) Program Manager + Director of Web Content - http://www.casa.org Judge - ICCA, ICHSA, Harmony Sweepstakes, etc.

live origiinals- humorous vs not

Da Vinci's Notebook, the Bobs, and Moosebutter all perform(ed) humorous originals, which I think could be put in a completely different category from non-humorous originals when it comes to live performance.  While it may be difficult for an audience to relate to a non-humorous original that they are hearing for the first time in a live performance, a humorous song immediately connects with an audience the first time they hear it (maybe even more the first time they hear it because the jokes are fresh).  

Chris Tess - chris@casa.org
Tunes To Teens - http://www.casa.org/ttt
A Cappella Mega-Sale - http://www.casa.org/content/cappella-mega-sale

Chris, I very much disagree

Chris, I very much disagree with the idea that audiences can't connect to a non-funny original song they don't know. I disagree because I've seen it happen, over and over, in my own group, and with all the singer-songwriters I also follow. Depends on the type of audience, though. Audiences who listen and don't want to just sing along to things they already know are out there, and they're the most rewarding people to perform for, IMO.

Amy Malkoff http://www.amymalkoff.com/harmony CASA (Contemporary A Cappella Society) Program Manager + Director of Web Content - http://www.casa.org Judge - ICCA, ICHSA, Harmony Sweepstakes, etc.

I'm not saying it can't

I'm not saying it can't happen or that it's not worth striving for (I'm all for encouraging good songwriting), just that it can be difficult. 

Chris Tess - chris@casa.org
Tunes To Teens - http://www.casa.org/ttt
A Cappella Mega-Sale - http://www.casa.org/content/cappella-mega-sale

Kudos!

I think it is awesome that you did all originals. I think that it says a lot about things that you didn't place though. That's got to be frustrating for you. I mean, if you dance around like Elvis, being all goofy and crazy they love it. Sing something original that makes em think...oh...I get it...it's the THINKING part, I guess.

A cappella groups have been mostly cover bands without instruments for the most part. It's good to see that there is a new trend starting towards original music.

That's what Amy and I want to do with All About Buford. Sure, we do covers, but 99% of them are obscure, indie stuff that most people don't know. Mix that with an even balance of originals and you get something original and different for audiences to enjoy and absorb. Someone said to me once that it's art, you throw it out there and see where it sticks. And then that's your audience. I believe that there is an audience out there dying for something original and interesting.

I wonder what would have happened if you had only taken Throat this year. One singular focus? Maybe that 3rd slot would have been yours, or better if the sound didn't distort what you really sound like. I know you hadn't done a performance yet and you are critical of how you did, but I also got the impression from the reviews that you had a lot of good things going on too that might have been missed due to the, dare I say, shitty sound.

Kudos for trying, you sneaky bastard! ;-)

humor vs. not humor

Strangely enough one person's humor can be another person's Kingdom of Serious.   And original tunes can be way less interesting than cover tunes.

Just to play devil's advocate, we cover WHITE ROOM.  It's not a funny song.  It's the audacity of the arrangement - or of the choice itself - it that makes it funny and/or original.  How stupid is it to attempt that tune (or PURPLE HAZE) with only four voices?  The commitment makes it funny, or awesome, depending on the audience member.

When people do arrangements of cover tunes that push the envelope in ANY way - audacity, style, reharm, etc.  it's much more interesting than a mundane original.  Arrangements that don't, don't.  

Bottom line, again, is, show me something I haven't seen, sing me something I haven't heard, or haven't heard in that way.

Boo yah.

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