Jump to content

Your Ad Could Be Here

Calculating A Set List

Recommended Posts

In recent years I've gotten away from set lists. Generally I'll work out a few songs at a time and by the time I'm either sufficiently pleased with my performance or have simply given up the ghost in frustration. I simply move onto another new song to learn.

I want a setlist and am trying to figure out how to calculate how big it should be.
Here's what I've got so far: 
1. Summer Time
2. Polka Dots and Moon Beams
3. How High The Moon
4. Body and Soul
5. They Can't Take That Away From Me
6. Sugar
7. Autumn Leaves
8. Long Ago and Far Away
9. It's Only a Paper Moon
10. Sweet Loraine
11. Witchcraft
12. Darn That Dream
13. There Will Never Be Another You
14. One Note Samba
15. Summer Samba
16. St Thomas
17. Stormy Weather
18. Shadow of Your Smile
19. Lullaby of Birdland
20. Wave
21. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
22. Dream a Little Dream Of Me
23. Waltz for Debbie

Of note regardomg these songs... Due to fingerstyle performance They are only two to two and a half minutes long at most. At minimum that's only 46 minutes back to back. I want a nice full 2 hours

Edited by TapperMike
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well if you sort your songs in to twos and threes that go together, you can start to move chunks around to get an optimum set in terms of "the journey". That's how I like to view a set. Ideally you want to pick up your listeners, emotionally, right at the beginning of the set, and carry them with you until the end. That means thinking about tempos and subject matter.


By arranging chunks you still have some versatility in your set. So for example, you would have 3 well chosen songs to start, 4 well chosen songs for the set end and 2 - 3 more for an encore, and a rough guide for songs in between. Ideally you should have 5 - 10 songs in reserve, so you can swap out sections or add more songs, depending on the mood of the crowd. This helps make you responsive. If the audience is more mellow you can add in an extra chunk of mellow songs, or vice versa if they are more in an upbeat mood.


Lastly, as a singer songwriter, talking with your audience is an important part of the performance. It helps you connect with them. So prepare some stories and anecdotes. Ideally, yet again, you want to have a selection you can choose from and remember to add new ones on a regular basis and or adapt existing ones. As a songwriter stories behind a song and how it was written work well, try two perspectives on every song, and that gives you a choice of 46 stories right away. Add in a few gig/audience stories and you're sorted.


Obviously at each gig you only need a few stories. that wil also pad out your set. As will re-tuning and natural pauses between songs or chunks of songs.


I hope this helps.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like an ambitious set.


Im still learning a bunch of jazz tunes also for the Sept deadline. My head starts to hurt after a while.


I like John's idea re- presentation. I'm not good at this at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@ Rudi

The more I think of jazz standards that I've done before the longer the list grows.  In group settings I've played literally hundreds possibly even 1000's of jazz standards.  As a soloist fingerstyle guitarist I've played all of the above but more as a learning experience such as learning to write my own arrangements for guitar/ztar.  I've already added 10 more songs to the list after posting.  The thing now is to remember them all and play them in sets and or clean up my weak areas.


@ John.

Singer-Songwriter?  I'm neither.  Occasionally I've dabble in writing instrumentals.  Nonetheless your post has great merit.  When I was in a Blues-Rock band we'd always start off with an uptempo song to catch the crowds attention then wind it down a bit and finish the set with a crowd pleaser always leaving them wanting more.  Prior to that when I was doing pop/folk rock in a duet we'd set up covers as "three-fers" Three songs by the same artist before moving on to another artist.  At times I could have been a "tribute artist" as I'd have huge libraries of songs under my belt.  I have not treated my voice kindly over the years nor my lungs.  Heck three songs singing and playing and I'm toast.


Over the last hmmm 15 years I've gone down so many roads musically it isn't even funny.  Always searching for the next thing.  As soon as I was either adequate or adequately frustrated that no matter how hard I tried it wasn't going to happen I'd move on again. A few weeks ago I started playing standard pop/rock songs.  Many I'd played before and some were new.  It was all too easy and...I kept on saying to myself I'm never going to get myself in another cover band.  Jazz fingerstyle has always been just the right middle ground. It's always challenging enough that I feel satisfied when I can pull it off and yet not so challenging that I'm not banging my head against the wall (classical, heavy metal) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike, I'm glad it helped. Don't be too offended at the singer/songwriter slur ;)


When it comes to gigs I view solo instrumentalists, or even duos, in the same "intimate gig" frame. Even so, most of the set list points apply to most music performance planning. A band may provide fewer stories, and the balance of story types is likely to be different for instrumentalists, nonetheless, a story about how a song/tune came to be is of interest to fans. The same is true of the experiences of the artist. Best to avoid cheesy, but the whole point is to communicate with the audience and help establish a relationship. That and to extend a set just a little!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi John,


Not offended and not a slur,  Without songwriters there would be no songs to sing (or play)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

S'ok, I was just joking ya know lol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

Your Ad Could Be Here

  • Current Donation Goals

    • Raised $1,040
  • Create New...

Important Information

By continuing to use our site you indicate acceptance of our Terms Of Service: Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy: Privacy Policy, our Community Guidelines: Guidelines and our use of Cookies We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.