I have several interlinked questions about mood and performance. Let's say Alice is scheduled to sing at a concert, but is in a bad mood for some reason (e.g. she just found out her husband is cheating on her, she got pulled over by the traffic police while on the way to the concert, and so on).

  1. Is her ability to perform likely to be impacted? If so, by how much?
  2. Has a concert ever been cancelled because the performer wasn't in the mood to perform?
  3. Suppose Alice is part of a larger choir or orchestra. Can the performance go on without her? Is it common?
  • 5
    One time I got very upset in the middle of a gig because someone broke a promise to my band and told us while we were on stage. The next song I had a big solo and I really wasn’t feeling it, so I kicked on the wah pedal and just made angry noises instead of the solo I had carefully crafted over several months. The crowd went wild and I learned a valuable lesson: channel your strong emotions in some way and bare them in front of the audience and you will become an effective entertainer. Jan 15, 2018 at 7:17

3 Answers 3

  1. Yes it will, but a professional will have learned to manage that stress. The difference between a skilled amateur and a professional musician is not what they can do on their best days, it's that the pro can give a performance that's good enough on their worst days.

  2. Yes, but these days doing that is considered a career-killing move. People pay good money to see a performer, and when the show is cancelled it causes huge problems for the organization putting on the show. Only the biggest stars can get away with it, and even then there's a reputation hit.

  3. In a larger choir or orchestra, it's surprisingly common to be missing musicians for one reason or another. Musicians get sick all the time. There are ways to handle it by moving parts around to make everything work.

  • Thanks for the answer. Quick clarification: what do you mean by "moving parts around"? Only thing I can think of is musicians playing different instruments from their normal instrument, but to be a master of multiple instruments sounds difficult even for an expert.
    – Allure
    Jan 15, 2018 at 7:13
  • If I have someone playing a solo in a band and that person is sick, I'll usually have someone else in the same section who knows it and can play it. On occasion, I've had to quickly write something out for a different instrument. The concept is similar to an understudy in drama, where for any important role there is more than one person in the company prepared to perform it. Jan 15, 2018 at 7:21
  • @Allure - 'moving parts around' - there may be 5 trumpets all playing different parts of the harmony. Tpt 1 is usually the more important note to be played, so if he's away, they could all slide up, or maybe tpt 5 could take over tpt1. In a lot of bands I work in, the players play multiple instruments. On several occasions I turned up to play keys, so the original keys player simply got out her sax, and we carried on...
    – Tim
    Jan 15, 2018 at 9:09
  1. It's pretty much up to Alice. How strong is her will, and is she a true professional? Sometimes the pain and stress of the situation will actually enhance her performance. ANY music can be sung as blues, or so I have observed.

  2. Yes. But very, very rarely, in my experience.

  3. Yes. Always. The show must go on, and the choir, orchestra, or band will always find a way.

  • Pretty hard to imagine "Top of the World" sung as blues @@
    – Allure
    Jan 15, 2018 at 7:20

As humans, it's sometimes difficult to change from a bad to a good mood in time for some scheduled performance. That's why some people are professional, meaning, apart from all the other things they are good at, they rise to any occasion.

I did a gig with a singer some time ago, and after the gig, only when he told us his father had died earlier that day did any of us have an inkling. Pro.

Sometimes, the mood can help/hinder. One of my best gigs was after someone really upset me. I took it out on the guitar, for the best ! However, I can imagine an angry singer doing justice to songs which reflected that mood, but it somehow wouldn't enhance any love songs sung...

Don't think a pro. would cancel in the case of a bad mood - professional suicide - or should be - but we may never know, as that surely wouldn't be a given reason, would it?

Regarding your last point, the show goes on, Alice-free, when several others offer to take her place, or simply cover for her without a flinch. That's one of the facets that makes one a pro - or an amateur!

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