Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Choosing a running order for your concert or CD

This is a revised version of a post which first appeared as Order, order! in July 2007

It’s that time of year when summer concerts come around and I have to think of a programme of songs. We’re also releasing a new live CD so I have to figure out a good track order.

running order

Choosing songs is not too hard, but programming them in a sensible order can be a challenge.

choosing songs

This is the easy part! Selecting songs for a concert is not too difficult and I’ll be writing about that next week.

Woven Chords are just about to release their second, live CD. Choosing songs for that wasn’t too hard either as I was limited mainly by the quality of any recordings that we had (and, of course, whether we were singing in tune on that day!).

I do find it difficult to compare audio recordings though. Unlike images which you can put side by side to compare, you have to rely on your memory as to which of two tracks sounds better.

putting them in order

What I find much harder is to find a suitable running order for the songs that I’ve chosen.

There are several schools of thought: some people group songs from the same country or style, whilst others sprinkle the different genres throughout the concert or CD and focus on aspects such as the dynamics of a particular song, whether it is anthemic or gentle, smooth or rhythmic.

I am do the latter – scatter different styles throughout – although I do sometimes put two songs together if they are from the same part of the world, and maybe stick in a song with English lyrics if I feel there’s been a run of foreign ones.

does anybody notice?

I try to make some sort of thread that runs through the programme by taking people on a journey with highs and lows. Whether I succeed or not is another matter. But is the effort worth it?

I spend a long time thinking of the running order for each of our concerts, and I’ve spent even longer on the new CD. But does it really matter to audiences? Do they notice the ‘journey’ through a concert, or do they just take the songs one at a time?

And with a CD, people can jump about and play tracks in any order they choose, so is the running order of any importance at all?

I guess I hang on to the fact that nobody has ever commented on the running order, and being the optimist that I am, I assume that means that I’m doing something right!

Do you agonise over the running order? Does it make any difference to you as an audience member or listener?


Chris Rowbury's website:

Chris Rowbury


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