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An Age-Old Secret To Set Lists

March 29, 2014

I recently attended a seminar with Les Rose. He’s a photojournalist/producer at CBS and has done work on 60 Minutes.

He was showing us how to tell a great a story and gave us new stories as examples. One thing he made clear was this….

You have to make ’em laugh before you can make ’em cry.

He said it’s an old Shakespeare technique. Laughter opens up the heart. If you want to move them tears, they’d better be crying from laughter first.

This is the example he showed. Below, I’ll tell you how to apply it to your song order.

Notice how all the light-hearted shots of the kids laughing and funny story about the proposal show up early in the story? All those things had to be presented before the gripping trials in Kuwait.

So what does that mean for you?

Simple. Arrange your set list based on this principle. That sad/gripping/emotional song is best after the fun/sing-along songs are out of the way.

I first tried this is in a band I was in a year ago. We went loose with our “audience-participation” song right before we brought out the acoustics and played our ballad. The response was dramatically better than when we played these songs elsewhere in the set.

As always, try it for yourself! Let me know in the comments if you have any set list ideas.

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