Ersatz 11 O’Clock Numbers

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Alix Cohen’s Soapbox

Ersatz 11 O’Clock Numbers

October 2, 2017

By Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

Alix Cohen

Let’s talk about volume, people, about stressing a song to 11 o’clock status. (For those few of you who don’t know, the term was coined to describe the number late in a show meant to wake up the audience before a musical wound to its end.

) When given only a single spot (or two) in a collective presentation, it damages the impression you leave and harms material to show off your pipes if sacrificing the meaning of the lyrics. Again and again, I hear vocalists who feel that with only a short space in which to prove themselves, it’s all hands on deck no matter what’s being communicated. A second trap is to swell the denouement of song after song.

The curious signature of some MDs, it serves as repetitive detriment.

I don’t care how well or expansively you can sing, all acts should vary delivery. Several of you currently offer only exceeding robust renditions. Correcting this means examining the nature of your choices, as well as the arrangements.

Level should be as much a part of message as music and lyrics. Some of the best versions of not only ballads and blues, but jaunty numbers I’ve heard are performed with a single, low-key piano, bass, guitar, ukulele… It’s as if you assume an audience will only value long, soaring notes. What’s memorable is often just the opposite.

Please don’t tell me it’s the fault of a sound man.

Take the time to develop a relationship with the microphone.

A good vocalist knows when to hold it close or away and modulates him/herself accordingly. If you don’t get a full sound check, take five minutes with someone planted at the back of the room and be sure of what’s heard.

There’s definitely a place for this kind of passion.

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.