A guide to choosing music for your Wedding, Party or Event

wedding table setting

Selecting a band or live music for your event can be daunting. The music you enjoy at home or when you go out is a personal preference, and it's easy to decide what you do and don't like. When you are choosing music for a work Christmas party, a wedding, corporate events or more intimate cocktail or birthday parties there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the possibilities. 

 

1. VENUE

Whether this is in your home, at your office or in a function venue there are a number of things you will need to consider. 

• What space is available for the band to set up? Take into account the number of musicians plus adequate space around them for their instruments, stands and the PA (sound system) and speakers.

• Accessible power points will be required for PA and instrument power. Where possible they should be near the area the band will be setting up. This is most important in private homes or offices as function venues will generally accommodate this.

• If you are hosting an outdoor event it is very important to discuss this with the band when you are making the booking. As a general rule it's best to plan for the band to set up in a covered area to account for any weather restrictions on the day. Safety issues are naturally present when it comes to electronic equipment in areas that may be exposed, and we love our instruments and will not subject them to rain or excessive sunlight.

• If you are holding your event in a venue specialising in functions, the manager of the venue will be able to provide you with information you need. Some venues have music acts on their books that they recommend because they have worked with them before and know what to expect. If you would prefer to choose an alternative, contact your preferred band and discuss it with them. They should be happy to contact the venue manager and discuss any details or requirements to set their mind at ease and create a working relationship. 

One other detail to discuss with your venue, events team or catering manager is closing time of the venue. You may have the venue booked until 11pm, for example, but some venues require live music to finish prior to that time to allow for packing up and exiting of the venue.  

 

2. MOOD

Very often Jazz bands are hired to create a sophisticated atmosphere and enjoyable ambience for you and your guests. It is certainly no insult to be asked to play as background music - there is an art to 'reading' the room as the evening progresses and choosing songs to guide the mood appropriately, in this way it is rewarding as musicians to provide the soundtrack for your event.

It's not necessary to restrict your choice to an instrumental line-up when looking for background music. Rather, listen to the style of the vocalist (and/or solo instrumentalists) to determine whether they will blend seamlessly into the scene or create a focal point. During meet-and-greet, dinner or drinks more laid-back and sophisticated music is often appropriate, creating a great atmosphere, then the energy of the performance can be lifted if you would like to offer the option of dancing. Remember, there is no reason why this should be overly loud. Even medium-tempo Jazz or Bossa Nova can light up a room and the mood of your guests, while still being played at a volume that encourages socialising and conversation.

 

3. TO DANCE OR NOT TO DANCE! 

Well, there's dancing and then there's dancing. Even as a trio, (eg. guitar, piano and vocals) the tempo and energy can easily accommodate the option of dancing for at least part of an event. Keep in mind, though, that it will be pretty cruisy. If the occasion demands a significant focus on dancing, where perhaps you are in a larger venue and you want to encourage guests to take to the dance floor, a 5-piece band which includes jazz drums and double bass is going to be best.

 

4. PLANNING MUSIC ACROSS THE DURATION OF THE EVENT

As the soundtrack for your event the music not only creates a mood but also a momentum. Laid-back music for the beginning of the event - for example as guests arrive, drinks and dinner - then buiding up the energy after dinner or speeches and presentations helps to evolve the evening smoothly. A popular option for a long event or a wedding with a 4-5 hour reception is a jazz band for the first three hours or so, then handing over to a DJ. 

 

5. REQUESTING SPECIAL SONGS 

Most bands will provide a list of songs on their website. If you particularly want to hear one or more of those songs, let the band know prior to the event so they can work them into their set lists. 

If there is a special song you would like played for the occasion that is not in their current repertoire, talk to them about it well in advance to see if they feel it will translate well into their line-up and style, and to give them a chance to arrange and rehearse it.

 

6. COMMUNICATION - this is the big one! 

Jazz incorporates a whole range of styles, each of which suits different requirements.

The more relevant information you have when you contact prospective music acts for your event the better the chance of everyone being clear on what is required or expected, and whether or not the band can provide exactly what you are after. 

If you are unsure about what you want, email or call the band and discuss options with them. By talking it through it will help you to communicate ideas. If the band you contact is not the style you are after, hopefully they can give you a few key descriptive terms of your desired genre to help your search.

Here are a few examples (as described by Wikipedia):

 

Cool Jazz

Cool is a style of modern jazz music that arose following the Second World War. It is characterized by its relaxed tempos and lighter tone, in contrast to the bebop style that preceded it. Cool jazz often employs formal arrangements and can incorporate elements of classical music.

Most Vocalists were influenced by Billie Holiday from the 1930's.

Some notable Cool Jazz Vocalists were Chet Baker, June Christy, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone.

 

Lounge Music

Lounge music is a type of easy listening music popular in the 1950s and 1960s. It is meant to evoke in the listeners the feeling of being in a place.

Swinging music of the era is also considered lounge and consisted a continuation of the swing jazz era of the 1930s and 1940s, but with more of an emphasis on the vocalist.

Some notable Lounge singers were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr, Julie London, Diana Krall

 

Bossa Nova

Bossa nova is a well-known style of Brazilian music developed and popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. The phrase bossa nova means literally "new trend" . A lyrical fusion of samba and jazz, bossa nova acquired a large following in the 1960s initially among young musicians and college students.

Since its birth, it has remained a vital part of the standard jazz repertoire. The development of Bossa Nova is largely credited to artists working in the 1950s including Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto. 

Most notable artist is Antonio Carlos Jobim who wrote many hits including 'Girl From Ipanema'. 

 

We hope this has been helpful for you! If you have any questions regarding Blue Velvet Jazz you are welcome to call or email us. 

 

© 2013 Blue Velvet Jazz, jazz style descriptions by Wikipedia.