Musical Introductions Game

One of my improvisation teachers used to get on my case about building and crafting an introduction that not only alluded to the song I was about to play, but would grab the attention and interest of the listener. She told me that the introduction was the most important part of any song. I concur with her.

I recently decided to digitize all my CD’s and save them to a couple of hard drives since the cloud is not longer safe. In the process I had listened to the introduction to hundreds of songs and was surprised how many of them resonated with me. I was equally surprised how many introductions started with just the drums, a single chord, or a banal progression of chords with little or nothing to do with the tune. Sometimes I was able to recognize a song with a single chord based on its volume, timbre, patch, instrument or attack.

I can remember (in the old days) surfing channels on the radio while driving in my car and when I would recognize the opening bar of a song that I liked I would instantly turn up the volume. It took only a few notes for me to recognize my favorites. The same is true at concerts. Sometimes the artist needs only to pluck a single note and the audience goes wild because they instinctively know what that song is. There is something Pavlovian about this.

There is a scene in a movie (Perks of Being a Wallflower) where two teens are at a dance and they hear the opening phrase of a song that starts with a solo violin. The band is Dexys Midnight Runners performing “Come on Eileen.” The two kids look at each other and in unison say “They’re playing good music.” Then they shout “THE LIVING ROOM ROUTINE!” and they burrow their way to the middle of the dance floor to dance like no one is looking.

I compiled some mp3 files containing only song introductions to use them as ice breakers for an upcoming retreat. I will be giving points for the name of the song and triple if they can name the group. I’ve created six of these videos. We will either work in teams or individuals.

Not everybody has as eclectic a taste in music as I do but I am using music from between the fifties and nineties. Good luck!

-Malcolm Kogut.


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