When selecting that "token" fast song...

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Mr Awesomer
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When selecting that "token" fast song...

#1 Post by Mr Awesomer » Tue Jan 07, 2003 2:05 am

http://jivejunction.pecking.org/phpBB2/ ... sc&start=0

I thought the DJs of the scene should see this thread, and thought it could make for some interesting discussion "amongst ourselves."

My basic thought on this is presented in the opening post (edited for "Swing DJs"):

"For all you slower tempoed focused DJs out there, when you play those 1 or 2 token "fast" tunes (aka "the token swing tune" of the evening) in a night of your dance music, please keep in mind that the people who want fast music don't want the Hi-Fi Benny Goodman sh--, some terrible remake of an otherwise good standard, some 60's recording with the drummer f--king high hatting it the whole time, or Ella scatting. Thank you."

Many of the follow-up posts are a worthwhile read.
Reuben Brown
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#2 Post by main_stem » Tue Jan 07, 2003 9:55 am

I'll post more when I have time but I'll ad a thought now.

9 out of 10 times when I play something "fast" it definitely old schools swing. It's got that "chi" that seems to be missing out of most modern jazz that gets over 200 bpm.

Funny comment that Kevin and I got at SONW after playing Shaw's Man from Mars it; a woman said it was great to bust out to some old school but asked for some smooth modern fast music so they could balboa. I wanted to laugh.

-Kevin
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#3 Post by lindyholic » Tue Jan 07, 2003 1:20 pm

hahahaha, omg that's funny.

Harrison
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#4 Post by JesseMiner » Tue Jan 07, 2003 5:10 pm

This all comes back to an important basic principle of DJing:

Understand your crowd and know/play what will please them

If you're a good DJ and truly do understand your audience, then you will play to the tastes of the dancers present. Play the good fast music that moves them, the good slow music that moves them, etc... If you're really mixing it up throughout an evening, there will be plenty of great variety across the board keeping the majority happy, but most certainly make sure that any "token" songs thrown out there for the minority are the real deal.

If as a DJ, you're falling short on this, then you either:

a) need to admit that this is just a short-coming of your DJing and accept that limitation

or

b) broaden your collection to be more flexible and able to handle a wider variety of tastes and requests

This is an ongoing learning experience, and hopefully the dancers are patient as we grow as DJs and are able to better cater to their changing and growing tastes.

But maybe I'm just stating the obvious.

Jesse

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Lawrence
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#5 Post by Lawrence » Thu Jan 09, 2003 12:04 pm

I gotta add that many "fast dancers" DO want the Hi-Fi stuff, Ruben, even if "Benny Goodman in Hi-Fi" is vastly overplayed (and under-powered). The world is not so tuned into the L.A./Orange County/D.C. preference for lo-fi Swing Era stuff as some want to think it is.

If I played up-tempo, lo-fi, Swing Era stuff in Austin or Chicago or many other places, I would quite frankly clear the floor of all but the two token "old school Hollywood" types (as well as the three or four completely clueless leads who dance off-beat no matter what is playing--to whom music is "noise" not "rhythm"). (Exception: playing "Flying Home," which gets yet-another Big Apple going, which hopefully will wain away, again). I have tried it, and it does not fly: not just the lame B.G. stuff, but sh-t with juice that makes me want to jump out of my car and dance when I listen to it on my own. I change the equalization so as to fit the recording (not trying to artificially add bass and treble to old recordings that sound better played "flat"), but it still does not work. I somewhat wished it would, because I have hundreds of Swing Era CDs that just sit in the archive.

Indeed, the only Austin DJ to routinely play that stuff stopped DJing because nobody danced when he was DJing. NO-BODY. Know your audience.

I completely agree, though, that Ella scatting fast songs is not dance material, at all. And if Ruben or other L.A./Orange Co./D.C. types dominate the audience, I'll pull out the vintage stuff. But it'll stay in the archive until then.
Lawrence Page
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#6 Post by GemZombie » Thu Jan 09, 2003 3:14 pm

Lawrence wrote:I gotta add that many "fast dancers" DO want the Hi-Fi stuff, Ruben, even if "Benny Goodman in Hi-Fi" is vastly overplayed (and under-powered). The world is not so tuned into the L.A./Orange County/D.C. preference for lo-fi Swing Era stuff as some want to think it is.
I think what he's saing is that if you are going to play a token fast song... make it something good! The liklihood that it's going to be some revamp "Hi-Fi" song has been too high in these cases. Play something with some energy... or better yet, quit making it a token fast song, and mix more in.

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#7 Post by KevinSchaper » Thu Jan 09, 2003 7:31 pm

Lawrence wrote:The world is not so tuned into the L.A./Orange County/D.C. preference for lo-fi Swing Era stuff as some want to think it is.
I think you can safely add Seattle to the list of places with a strong preference for it..

..and while it's not the majority of music played in portland, it's certainly well recieved.

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#8 Post by main_stem » Thu Jan 09, 2003 8:57 pm

Yeah we like the old stuff up here. Thought it's not the majority. I would say people here like a mix. They don't care about low-fi or hi-fi as long as it swings it's butt off. It's more to do with the music a DJ selects and a good DJ (IMHO) can pull from both eras and keep the party jumping.

-Kevin
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#9 Post by lindyholic » Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:34 am

Here in Victoria it's a bit weird. There are two Lindy Hop DJs, myself and Dave. We DJ our swing stuff constantly, while Dave has a different style then I do, we can do a good job of mixing stuff up when we DJ together because I usually play the OLD stuff (Or new stuff like Bill Elliot or Dean Mora) while he playes the other stuff. We seem to be able to appeal to the masses lindy hop wise, and have even influenced dancers to start practicing on other ways for dancing. For instance I like to play faster tempo stuff, and because of that the dancers here, while at first were hesitant, are now working hard at getting good at their fast dancing.

Now there's a Friday night venue that ISN'T a lindy hop venue, it's a Swing venue that's mainly East Coast Swing. Unfortunately all they play there mostly is neo-swing more or less and Sing Sing Sing EVERY week. But then again that stuff has to be play, though the dancers are never exposed to the older (and hella better) stuff. I was very excited when the person who runs the venue asked me to DJ (He likes the tempos of my songs). I am happy because now I'll FINALLY be able to get people to hear some REAL swing music and non of the other crap that is played there (they play the hi fi stuff once in a while too, it sucks ass to say the least).

I mean, if I'm gonna listen to In The Mood, then at least give me a version with energy and such. Don't give me this half-assed, little to no energy doesn't inspire me to dance crap.

Though, I do understand where the other DJs are coming from in that if it's what the people want sometimes you have to give it to them, though I refuse to give people such stuff because it's not good at all (and I refuse to carry it in my collection). Yes, I may be cutting off a certain audience, but A) In Victoria, I'm gonna have a chance to open all the East Coasters at the Friday dance to a whole new bag of stuff B) Maybe once they hear it they'll see that there are actually other swing songs then the same crap they've been playing for the past 5 years.

Harrison
www.lindyhopper.ca, Canada's Swing Site.

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#10 Post by Nate Dogg » Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:31 am

[quote="Lawrence"]
Indeed, the only Austin DJ to routinely play that stuff stopped DJing because nobody danced when he was DJing. NO-BODY. Know your audience.
quote]

His problem was that was the only thing that he played. He played an hour or so straight of nothing but fast, pre 1950 songs. If he would have mixed some other stuff in, he would have been fine. Alas, for whatever reason, he did not chose to pursue DJing.

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#11 Post by Lawrence » Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:09 pm

Sticking to the point, the same sort of ignorance exists when "Original Swing Era" DJs try to play something with some "funk 'n' groove" to it. "We" are just as sick of "Stormy Monday," Gene Harris' "Summertime," "Wade In the Water," and other pop "token" hits as anyone, even though they do have "life" in them.

The point is well-taken, though, because it did make me re-think what I play as my "token" fast songs (even though I avoid playing anything as a "token"). As a result, my DJ set last night was much more varied, both upwards and downwards, than usual.
Lawrence Page
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#12 Post by Mr Awesomer » Sat Jan 11, 2003 3:32 am

Sorry if I come off a little bitchy in this note Lawrence, but when I feel someone’s not seeing what's going on I get that way. Maybe it's true in your area, and I know little about the Austin scene, but it's certainly NOT what's going on nationally.
Lawrence wrote:gotta add that many "fast dancers" DO want the Hi-Fi stuff, Ruben, even if "Benny Goodman in Hi-Fi" is vastly overplayed (and under-powered). The world is not so tuned into the L.A./Orange County/D.C. preference for lo-fi Swing Era stuff as some want to think it is.
First, to clarify, I'm not saying all hi-fi material is crap, far from it... but it seems that those DJs out there who’s forte is "groove" don't know how to distinguish the lame uptempo hi-fi tunes from the good ones. So I made a suggestion that just plain can’t go wrong with. Furthermore, I know many dancers across the country, from Hawaii to Los Angeles, to Portland, to Seattle, to Houston, to Minneapolis, to Chicago, to Orlando, to Harrisburg, to New York City, to Ithaca, to Harrisburg, to Boston (and many places in between) who have expressed basically the same thought that I have presented. When they get uptempo Lindy Hop music, they want it real and they want it original. Open your eyes, this is not a LA/OC/DC thing... in fact, is has nothing to do with the LA/OC/DC stereotype of prissy kids wanting their white bread 40's pop music that was so prevalent 2 years or so ago (you didn’t know “Hollywood” was dead?) No, rather, this is about an influx of skanky Lindy Hoppers across the country wanting their inspiration to come from the real deal.
Lawrence wrote:If I played up-tempo, lo-fi, Swing Era stuff in Austin or Chicago or many other places, I would quite frankly clear the floor of all but the two token "old school Hollywood" types (as well as the three or four completely clueless leads who dance off-beat no matter what is playing--to whom music is "noise" not "rhythm"). (Exception: playing "Flying Home," which gets yet-another Big Apple going, which hopefully will wain away, again). I have tried it, and it does not fly: not just the lame B.G. stuff, but sh-t with juice that makes me want to jump out of my car and dance when I listen to it on my own. I change the equalization so as to fit the recording (not trying to artificially add bass and treble to old recordings that sound better played "flat"), but it still does not work. I somewhat wished it would, because I have hundreds of Swing Era CDs that just sit in the archive.
"Old School Hollywood" types, hahah, that's the funniest thing I've read in a long time. First of all there is nothing "old school" about "Hollywood Style" and second, you still have those types? hahaha, awesome. Anyway, I keep my mix of Lindy Hop music at least 75% Swing Era material of all tempos, a lot of which most people would consider "uptempo." This is how I DJ across the country at a variety of events, and seems to keep the floor packed with happy dancers. The material sounds fine to me, and I've not once ever gotten a complaint about sound quality. I have a steady flow of gigs coming in, in fact more now then ever, so certainly I’m have something people want, right? What am I doing that all you anti-lo fi DJs out there can't seem to do? And I'm actually being completely serious here, cause I just don't get the constant bitching about "lo fi," cause it's always worked just fine for me.
Reuben Brown
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#13 Post by Lawrence » Sat Jan 11, 2003 10:52 am

That's cool. I think I misread your original post and had a knee-jerk reaction to the rip on BG in Hi-Fi and the "hitting the high-hat" comment (which you would not hear in lo-fi music...), taking it as yet another, overplayed rip on all non-Swing Era material. Much more common ground than I thought.

Still, it does manifest a more evolved version of that same Hollywood-Savoy debate over preferences. The original Swing Era stuff has a different feeling to it than the deep groove stuff such that some people who dig Swing Era stuff don't feel the groove of the deep, driving bass or the sharp but rhythmic breaks; and many who dig the groove stuff don't get the higher-tempoed, lighter and quicker style of movement that jives with the older stuff. There is demand out there for both. I, personally, enjoy dancing to the groove stuff much more, myself, and enjoy just listening (not dancing) to the Swing Era stuff, but the point is well-taken to pay more attention to suit the needs of those who differ.

Yes, we do have the sweater-vested, vintage-clothed, old-school Hollywood types, here, with the attitude and all catchings. It's still happening in college towns, too, not just down here. If you are correct that "Hollywood is dead," then it might just be that it is just a local, post-fad tag-alongs kind of thing. I don't pay much attention to it besides noticing that a few sweater vests are still out there.
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#14 Post by Mr Awesomer » Sat Jan 11, 2003 1:03 pm

When you say "which you would not hear in lo-fi music" do you mean because that style of drumming wasn't happening yet, or because it's lo-fi it's not being recorded? If you mean the former, you don't hear the "tis te te tis te te tis" (the heavy high hat) in the lo-fi music because drummers weren't doing that yet. Just listen to some of the present day drummers who play in the true original style. Just check out any of the demos on www.thefeetwarmers.com

And I guess I still see the occasional hollywooder, but it's pretty rare now... and we just point and laugh.
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#15 Post by Lawrence » Sat Jan 11, 2003 5:37 pm

Actually, yes, I mean both. They did not play it that way (or did not think to play it that way) in large part because the audience would not hear it if they did; or if they did hear it, it would come out as crashing noise, not a crisp hit, both in recordings and large venues.

Hi-Fi (and bop) changed both: it became possible to do it, so they played it that way. In general, Hi-Fi completely changed the way drummers played, as with all musicians. (Miles Davis' sound would have been unheard, literally, in lo-fi days). It also affected how picky drummers got about the type of cymbal they had and sound it created.

I think the change was for the better (more diverse music and sound), even if boppish cymbals on fast "swing" songs are incredibly distracting for dancers. I suspect that the latter part was your point. Bop changed the way drummers hit the cymbals such that some modern drummers on "swing" songs now arhtymically accent only seemingly-random beats as if it were a bop song, instead of rhythmically keeping perfect time with the cymbals. It can definitely get annoying.
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