In the last article, we were talking about….. When wedding bands or national acts performs live, the live version of a song can be different from the original recording. Remember, so many songs are recorded for radio air play or online purchase. The songs are a specific length of time and a particular feel – whatever the recording company thinks will sell. The best bands feed off of the audiences’ response to the music and vice versa. It’s still the same song, but bands can take liberties with the song – slower, faster, longer, or shorter.
Earth, Wind and Fire
- “September” studio recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfLEc09tTjI
- “September” live http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy-huQAMPQA
Listen to the two versions. The live version is much faster and the introduction to the song is completely different from the radio version we all know. E, W & F wants to get the audience involved right from the very beginning of the song.
- Ants marching, studio recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdidovCPhVM
- Ants Marching, live http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE0URLMdy1U
This is another great example. Perhaps it is the best example. The studio recording is 4 minutes. The live version is 7 minutes. Both versions are the same tempo (speed), but the live version starts with an extended jam, something that the studio recording and radio version could not permit. The audience loves it. Dave is not only playing to the audience, he’s playing for the audience.
- “Just Dance”, studio version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIwHTBusJfM
- “Just Dance”, live http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufi-tMIk9jg
Both versions have the same tempo, but a slightly different feel to the live version. And Lady Gaga is singing ad-libs (singing the melody a little differently) that aren’t found on the studio recording. Subtle changes, but changes none the less. It also helps that Gaga isn’t lip-synching!
- “Brown Eyed Girl, studio recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG8Ect3Xn7w
- “Brown Eyed Girl”, live http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_dE-CyyNY0
Again, the live version is faster, so even though it’s the song we know, your guests would react and dance differently to each version.
Only a really good wedding band can breathe “life” into a song. Sure, a DJ could play the live version of “Ants Marching”, but only the wedding band has the ability to be creative and start with an extend jam and then make that jam the right length for your wedding. Your guests may enjoy a 5 minute version of the song, but not 7 minutes. The DJ is stuck. He plays the 7 minute version and can’t edit it. Well that’s not quite true. Yes, he could do a “cross-fade” – bring down the volume of “Ants” and go into another song – but it’s mechanical. It’s lifeless.
And what if your guests are really getting into the song and an extended jam would be perfect at the end of the song? The DJ can’t do anything. If there’s no extended jam at the end of the recording, then it won’t happen. A truly talented Chicago wedding band leader knows how to “read” an audience. He or she knows when and where to extend the vocals, or the guitar solo, or the sax solo. And also knows how to get your guests clapping or singing along.
The wedding band’s vocalists are even more important when it comes to interacting with you and your guests. The vocalists are constantly making eye contact with your guests and quite often (if you like the idea) they will even leave the stage and move onto the dance floor – performing inches away from you and your guests. And once again, seeing and hearing the music performed live just cannot be beat (no pun intended). Musically speaking, there is absolutely nothing more exciting than having all of these wonderful sounds being created by great musicians, right in front of you and your guests.
The experienced wedding band leader also knows when to shorten a song. Sometimes a song isn’t working. Your guests aren’t responding. It’s time to go on to another song, another style of music. The DJ fades the music – not a very clean or precise ending. But the wedding band leader can quickly communicate with the band and end the song in a way that makes sense. Sing two verses, skip the third verse and go to the end of the song. The band creates a shorter version of the song, right on the spot, as they are playing it, with an ending that still makes sense. You may think, “How can you do that”? Well you can. Again, it’s based on years of experience and having a bandleader who knows what he’s doing and how to expertly communicate with the band.
You might ask me, in advance, to do a shorter version of your first dance, or the dance with your dad, or the dance with your mom. This is relatively easy to do. I can write an arrangement that reflects the edited version that you’ve requested.