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Estimating Concert length

Dear Listers,

Interesting responses and great help. Thanks to all who responded to my query about incidental time:

"Do any of you have a rule of thumb or formula for calculating the incidental time (in between pieces and applause, etc.) for concerts? Of course this would vary alot, but I wondered if anyone has come up with a tried and true technique for figuring this out?"

Many thanks and bless this great resource!
Cynthia


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An inexact science. When I time the pieces, I take what I hear to be conservative tempi, then round the timing off to the next 15-second mark after the end of the piece. Then I throw in some extra time, depending on how musch on/off traffic there might be, or audience size and response, or whatev4er announcements I might make from the podium (I do like to be somewhat interactive with the aiudience, but not long-winded!!). The in-betweentimedoes take up (ALWAYS) more than you think it will. So that a 90-minute concert including a 10-minute intermission might include only 60-65 minutes of actual music.

Brooks Grantier, THe Battle CreekBoychoir, Battle Creek, MI

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for or not - but I usually figure 5 minutes per piece. For most of the programming I do this is enough time to perform the song and take into account applause and any 'rearranging' that might need to occur between numbers / choirs. In most cases this method usually has been 10-15 minutes more time than the concerts have actually taken. I hope this helps!
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This has worked pretty well for me: I time each piece I plan to do. I add one minute between pieces if I plan not to talk between numbers, or two minutes if I decide to announce the program as I go along (briefly). You need to add an estimate of time need to get on stage or change groups, etc.

Fred Ford
East Brunswick, NJ
fordfred(a)aol.com

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I take a stopwatch and time it at a concert, then use that as my rule of thumb.

Margaret Shannon
Program Annotator
Cathedral Choral Society
Washington National Cathedral
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This comment branches off onto another subject......a formula would not apply to my programming. I'm very weary of programs with applause after every number. I run pieces together without a pause, arranging the sequence so that there's a meaningful flow. I often seem to have three sections before and after intermission, in a 90-minute concert.
This means less time for applause within a concert, but when it comes it's very warm and satisfying!

Ruth McKendree Treen
Chatham, Massachusetts
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I usually figure about 90 - 120 seconds between numbers, depending on if there is applause or not. That may seem like a lot, but I like to allow the sound to clear and the singers to refocus before beginning the next piece - especially if there is a change of tonality, style, or rhythm. The ear needs time to absorb things. I also find that I tend to take things just slightly slower in performance than I do in rehearsal (it wasn't that way earlier in my career - but I now find that I want more room for the music to breathe in performance - without the time pressures of rehearsal.)

I'm sure everyone does it differently, but overestimating the length by a few minutes is generally less of a problem than underestimating it!

Charles Q. Sullivan
cqsmusic(a)hotmail.com
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figure three minutes per octavo, usually that works for me inclusive of applause... extended work I use actual time given in the score. 20 octavo is an hour program. Just for estimation purposes.
Mike Wade

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I usually program in 10 seconds for applause for each song without a solo,15 for songs with a soloist(s), 30 seconds for a major work, 30-45 seconds for end of an act. In addition, I count about 5 seconds preparation before the sound of each new song after the applause ends and the same before a new
section of a major work for preparation and focus of group and conductor.

Sometimes this holds true; sometimes it doesn't. The size of your audience has a lot to do with it. We rarely perform before more than 300 and sometimes before a considerably smaller audience.

Cindy Pribble
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I figure from 10 to 15 sec. Between songs and 1 minute if choirs are coming on or off stage. I time students' introductions of pieces if such exist.

Mary Rago
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Cynthia Powell
Music Director
Christ Church
Ridgewood, NJ
CPowell508(a)aol.com


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on November 9, 2005 10:00pm
Wow, this is a great conversation. I'm planning an Advent Lessons and Carols in December for my adult choir, children's choir, orchestra, handbells, drama team, dance team, and visuals. I really haven't a clue about the length. The only thing I can think to do is to time the musical elements during rehearsals and then ask my drama team director to time her pieces. I have a feeling though that I've planned way too much. It's supposed to be an hour and 15 minutes. But it will be at least an hour and a half I'm sure.
on February 6, 2009 10:00pm
The most accurate way to get a time for any piece without singing through each piece is to (beware, math involved): Take the number of beats in each measure and multiply how many measures in the piece, the divide that by the tempo marking. For instance a piece in 3/4 time with 212 measures and a tempo marking of 76 would take approximately 8 minutes and 22 seconds.
3*212=636 and 636/76=8.37 and convert the decimal to seconds and 8 min, 22 sec is the length of the piece. Good luck!