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 Post subject: Overplayed songs
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:45 am 
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If a certain song is labelled (by just one individual, or a large number) as 'over-played' in your scene, this suggests to me it is a hit with the dancers in that scene, else it wouldn't be getting the greater air time. Regardless of your personal opinion of it as a piece of outstanding/terrible music, the dancers go for it time and again. So an over-played tune is a good tune.

Or not? What is the devil's advocate to this assertion? When is an over-played tune a bad tune? Anyone have an example.

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 Post subject: Re: Overplayed songs
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:59 am 
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CountBasi wrote:
Or not? What is the devil's advocate to this assertion? When is an over-played tune a bad tune? Anyone have an example.


The internet has made it really easy to find out about new songs, and to purchase those songs. As a result, hot songs are available everywhere. In the westie community many new of these new hot songs are overplayed.

Every DJ wants to play the "newest" and "coolest" songs. In the past two or three years, there are a dozen of so songs that immediately spring to mind. At a major weekend long event two years ago, I heard one particular song played 14 times over the weekend (I started making tick marks on my pass to keep a count - that is how ridiculous it was), and I was in the ballroom for way less than half the social dancing time - the song could have been played a few more times when I was not there.

Given that about 20 three minute long songs can be played in an hour, and that most weekend dances present 30 or so hours of social dancing...are there not at least 600 good songs that could be played? Are we collectively out of good music, so that a few songs need to be played more than once a night, or once a weekend?

To me, overplayed does not mean "once at every dance", overplayed means "once every hour."

--Stan Graves


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:29 am 
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I think some of this could be mitigated if DJs dropped by every once in a while and check out each other's sets (as opposed to showing up only for your set). And if one doesn't or is unable to, at least make an effort to play some unique songs that people rarely play.
Lindy Hopper's Delight is not one of them.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:45 pm 
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Agreed about the need for DJ's to listen to what other DJ's are playing; but some actually still need to told they shouldn't play a song a second time just because they missed hearing the first dj play it but they still want to hear it.

Also, overplayed in a scene doesn't necessarily mean the local dancers enjoy it, it could just mean the regular local dj plays it each time he dj's regardless of whether people dance to it or not.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 6:04 pm 
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I always think of 'CJam Blues' (LCJO version) when the issue of 'overplayed' songs comes up. I hear that song about every second time I go dancing, if not every time. First few bars, you can see the crowd groaning - "not this again!" By the second phrase the floor is full, the dancers are dancing like fools and the room is pumping. It's totally over played, but it's such a great song it's always fun to dance to. Despite yourself.

So I think that if a song or a version of a song is actually quite awesomely good, it'll stand up to 'overplaying'. But if it's a bit lightweight, a bit ordinary, it's not going to fare so well.

As a DJ, though, I find that picking the overplayed songs is kind of useful - if I can recognise an overplayed song then find something(s) that feel or sound similar - has something in common with it - then that'll give me a useful tip for the type of music the crowd might dig. So, for example, Cats and the Fiddle's 'Gangbusters' was very popular with a sub-set of dancers here a little while ago. But that was the only CATF song we'd hear. Which kind of made it easier to find a crowd pleaser when I DJed - 'Stomp Stomp', 'We Cats will swing for you', some uptempo Slim and Slam, a little Fats Waller, etc etc etc.


I'm also a fan of playing alternative versions of overplayed songs. A 1942 Ellington version of 'CJam' (sweeeeet). A Willie Bryant version of 'Viper's Moan' (rather than the Mora's Modern Rhythmists'). Doods like Basie with such long careers are where it gets kind of fun - there's a 'Jive at Five' for everyone. I find those later versions are gateway tracks to them old dirty scratch action versions - they're a nice way to get a local scene interested in old school music. Wuh huh huh hah hahahhahah!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:31 pm 
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Wow dogpossum. I got to come to Melbourne some time! (Done the coast from Noosa down to Maroubra but no further I'm afraid).

Re : Gangbusters. Totally with you there. It is being played a touch heavily here at the moment.

I'm also in love with Willie Bryant's version of the Moan, not MMR's.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:49 pm 
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wspeid wrote:
Agreed about the need for DJ's to listen to what other DJ's are playing; but some actually still need to told they shouldn't play a song a second time just because they missed hearing the first dj play it but they still want to hear it.

Also, overplayed in a scene doesn't necessarily mean the local dancers enjoy it, it could just mean the regular local dj plays it each time he dj's regardless of whether people dance to it or not.


Repeated for emphasis.


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 Post subject: Re: Overplayed songs
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:36 am 
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CountBasi wrote:
If a certain song is labelled (by just one individual, or a large number) as 'over-played' in your scene, this suggests to me it is a hit with the dancers in that scene, else it wouldn't be getting the greater air time. Regardless of your personal opinion of it as a piece of outstanding/terrible music, the dancers go for it time and again. So an over-played tune is a good tune.

Or not? What is the devil's advocate to this assertion? When is an over-played tune a bad tune? Anyone have an example.


It's really hard to determine overplayed from scene to scene. A song new to you may be overplayed somewhere else. Overplayed also depends on the audience. New dancers might never have heard many of the "overplayed" songs.


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 Post subject: Re: Overplayed songs
PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:14 am 
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CountBasi wrote:
When is an over-played tune a bad tune? Anyone have an example.

As you mentioned tune, I had a thought. Perhaps the tracks with distinct tunes are the ones that the ear gets tired of first. Lavender Coffin by Lionel Hampton springs to mind. Conversely, C Jam Blues doesn't have a recognisable melody, it's more rhythm-based, and perhaps this increases its' longevity.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:38 pm 
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That's an interesting thought.

For me, it's the sameness (is that a word?) and predictability. C-Jam for example, when I still traveled a lot to bigger scenes, that and several others got pretty stale for me. I got to the point were I had all the breaks and many of the nuances memorized. As a dancer, I found I was just repeating the same thing every time I dance to it.

A few weeks ago, one of our local bands played it as the 2nd song of the set and it was great. They were jamming and improvising a lot. It was different and great!

It's sort of like pasta. The noodles are all basically the same stuff, when made well taste great but just a little sauce on top makes it way better. When we get tired of it, we can just change the sauce and have something new but familiar.

Back to Lavender Coffin, I only know of the one version. There are a couple of common versions of C-Jam that are overplayed. Because it's a standard, there are many other great versions that I never hear played.

Aside from playing 12 different versions of summertime every night or something equally pedantic, I think just changing up the versions regularly is one way to reduce the chance of particular songs from becoming overplayed.

Vocals might be a bit different, dancers tend to unconsciously hone in on vocals and if there isn't much variation other than maybe the female singer on the recording, that might attenuate other differences that could make a recording interesting.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:40 am 
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So, when does it go from a DJ being a great DJ because they unearth neat alternative tracks VS. being too esoteric? I have heard complaints on both sides. There ARE complaints by dancers that they get tired of hearing too many alternate versions of standards. I once heard it described as a "DJ phase." Where do we draw the line?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:37 am 
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I went through that phase, I think it comes form the DJ trying too hard to be different. At least in part, choosing music for difference sake rather than simply finding good music and vetting it before playing it for dancers.

I constantly look for great (new to me) music for dancing. It usually involves some research and lots of listening to previews before I purchase it. After purchase, I'll also critically listen to the music a few times before I consider using it for DJ'ing. Even then, it's not a sure thing until I've played it for dancers a few times with success.

It's a lot of work but I think that effort is one of several things that helps distinguish a great DJ.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:16 pm 
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Platypus wrote:
So, when does it go from a DJ being a great DJ because they unearth neat alternative tracks VS. being too esoteric? I have heard complaints on both sides. There ARE complaints by dancers that they get tired of hearing too many alternate versions of standards. I once heard it described as a "DJ phase." Where do we draw the line?


I think that it is important for a DJ to have a point of view. I also think that there is a fine line between having a point of view and trying to "educate" people about your music collection.

There is a push to find new songs, or forgotten gems, or covers of great songs. In general, any set should be a built on familiar favorites with new songs "sprinkled" in. My definition of "sprinkled" will probably be different than yours.

I think the key is context. At a weekly dance, the mix should strongly favor the familiar favorites. At an exchange weekend, there is more acceptance and tolerance for new or different music. Beginners are more likely to want familiar songs, big dogs are more likely to want to be challenged with new songs.

In the westie world, there is a very wide range of musical genres and tempos that can be played at a weekly dance. The only way to narrow a big collection down to the 20 or so songs you can play in the next hour is to have a point of view about the music.

--Stan Graves


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 Post subject: Re: Overplayed songs
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:11 am 
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CafeSavoy wrote:
CountBasi wrote:
It's really hard to determine overplayed from scene to scene. A song new to you may be overplayed somewhere else. Overplayed also depends on the audience. New dancers might never have heard many of the "overplayed" songs.


Absolutely. When I was starting out, particularly as the scene here was pretty much brand new, whenever I came across a reference to an 'overplayed' track that I didn't have or know, I would make it a priority to get hold of it, reasoning that to be overplayed, it had to have been worth playing in the first place.

As for this business of what makes a great DJ.... As far as I can see, it simply comes down to two things.

Collecting the music.
And far more importantly, playing the music.

Yes - that sounds pretty obvious.... but if you take the most amazing collection in the world, put it in the hands of a mediocre DJ, and you're likely to get a mediocre-to-bad set (and I'm assuming some prep time here). Take a fairly spartan collection, and give it to an amazing DJ, and chances are he/she will still manage to play a pretty good set.


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 Post subject: Re: Overplayed songs
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:25 pm 
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straycat wrote:
When I was starting out, particularly as the scene here was pretty much brand new, whenever I came across a reference to an 'overplayed' track that I didn't have or know, I would make it a priority to get hold of it, reasoning that to be overplayed, it had to have been worth playing in the first place.


That was how I started as well.


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