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Topic: Side Show Music
Message: Posted by: montemagic (Feb 9, 2007 10:27PM)
Anyone know of a traditional music that has been used in side shows? Is there a particular genre, instrument, or specific songs that are out there? Do particular stunts have a traditional sound that goes with them?
Or did they use what you would recognize as traditional circus music?
Message: Posted by: Todd Robbins (Feb 10, 2007 11:47PM)
There are a number of ways to go with music. Traditionally, on the larger sideshows, acts performed to music played by the sideshow band. This was usually a black brass band that had a bit of jazz in their playing. It is a little known fact that Little Richard got his start playing in a sideshow band (because of his of his life choices, the band referred to him as 'Tutti Frutti'!).

Oft time these days, acts embrace either traditional circus music and/or carousel band organ music or some instrumental music that has elements of traditional circus band music but also has a bit of a twist to it. It often has a Fellini feel to it.

The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Beat Circus, Circus Amok and Circus Contraption all have this kind of take on sideshow music.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Feb 11, 2007 10:12AM)
"but also has a bit of a twist to it."

Wow. Chubby Checker too? cool.

But seriously folks...why do I get the feeling Todd needs to be locked up in a room with a word processor and induced to emote. That bit about Little Richard is just too cool...made my day ahhhrooti.
Message: Posted by: montemagic (Feb 11, 2007 11:39AM)
As I search, I am beginning to realize how broad this topic actually is. Thanks for the great info.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Feb 12, 2007 09:37AM)
Use what works for you. What kind of image do you want to portray, and how does a particular style of music emphasize that? What will your audiences like? What will improve your show?

I've seen a number of folks who use music that accentuates nothing, and much as they try to keep up with it, it only creates a discordant show.

I love traditional circus music, but I've also heard rock, new-age, disco, techno, classical, jazz, and folk music used for sideshow performance.

Traditional circus music wasn't just the songs, though. It was also the conductor. Their ability to keep the music changing constantly, to match the actions of the performers, was one of the things that made it work so well. It's hard to do that these days, without a good sound tech, who knows your show inside and out, and can anticipate your every move.
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Feb 13, 2007 07:09AM)
Hey Harley, don't forget the looped grind tapes with the bally and music combined. There's also a lot of performers that utilize all sorts of types of music as a background for both ambience and musical cues to progress a written script.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Feb 13, 2007 10:11AM)
That's true. But the grind tapes weren't part of the performance. I think outside talking and bally work are also a show, but not necessarily the same.

There were also a lot of musical acts, historically...musical saws, violins, etc. And after-show concerts for the bands.

Aaaah! Such an infinitely variable artform! And so little time to do it all!