Once / When I was little someone pointed out to me
April 15, 2010 6:22 PM   Subscribe

In music, is there a term for when a vocalist starts singing (solo) and then the rest of the band starts playing a bar or two later? Also, what are some other songs that use this technique?

For example, See America Right by the Mountain Goats and Big Dipper by Built to Spill.

I think it's a neat little technique and I like both of those songs a lot - surely some music theorist has waxed poetic on this subject before?
posted by ripley_ to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In the examples you cite, the band comes in a beat or two later, not a bar or two. The technique of entering slightly before the downbeat is called an anacrusis, aka a pickup measure or pickup notes.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:26 PM on April 15, 2010

Response by poster: Oops - not sure why I said bar, you're right. Thanks for answering that so quickly!
posted by ripley_ at 6:29 PM on April 15, 2010

Completamente by Chetes does it.
posted by umbĂș at 6:53 PM on April 15, 2010

The Blower's Daughter by Damien Rice. As a child of the '90s, I also feel obligated to mention Bullet with Butterfly Wings by the Smashing Pumpkins.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:15 PM on April 15, 2010

Interesting... I never thought of that as being anything unusual, but I'm having to dig to find examples. A couple of other good ones are the Kinks' Stop Your Sobbing, and Glad Girls by Guided by Voices.
posted by Crane Shot at 7:43 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Promise" by Nitin Sawhney is another example.
posted by pmdboi at 7:45 PM on April 15, 2010

Tournament of Hearts by The Weakerthans, which also happens to be the best song about curling, ever.
posted by teg at 7:50 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Anacrusis refers to pickup notes in general. In country music, that's known as "kicking it cold." The "kick" is usually a four bar statement of the main melodic hook, played by the steel or fiddle or lead guitar in most cases, and setting up the entrance of the vocal. In pickup bands where the lead players might not know the singer's repertoire, or where they aren't good enough to play good kicks, or just as part of certain singers' styles, some country singers will announce the title and key and start singing the song unaccompanied (or maybe chunking out rhythm guitar chords) and the band will join on the second line of the verse. When a singer tells the band "I'll kick it cold," that's what he means.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:01 PM on April 15, 2010 [9 favorites]

At Your Best by Aaliyah.
posted by chunking express at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2010

Crowded House - Mean to Me
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:05 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Hollywood" by Polydream (full disclosure: friends of mine)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:38 PM on April 15, 2010

Hey, here's one you might have heard of.
posted by teg at 9:03 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Somebody To Love by Jefferson Airplane immediately popped to mind for me.

Or another one from the Beatles - Yellow Submarine.

A slight variation, but a fun one, is the way The Hold Steady builds up the start to Southtown Girls.
posted by sigmagalator at 12:14 AM on April 16, 2010

(A small correction -- properly, "kicking it cold" means the singer starts with the last line of the song's *chorus,* not the first line of the first verse, just as an instrumental kick would do.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:37 AM on April 16, 2010

My favorite: Neil Young: Powderfinger.
posted by joecacti at 9:02 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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