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Jul 17, 2011 07:27 PM

What is your favorite dinner party music?

If I am hosting I usually play jazz. If the food is very specific to one region I will play the music from that region. Maybe that explains why I rarely serve Polish food. :-)

What is your favorite dinner party music?

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      1. re: beevod

        I'm with you. I no longer play music during dinner parties; I find it intrusive.

          1. re: cedarflat

            Based upon some of the comments about not doing it anymore, I wonder if age is a factor? I know I am having a harder time hearing the spoken word over music in restaurants so that is why I keep the music very low when hosting. A level that will not interfere with conversation.

            1. re: Fowler

              "What did you say... ?"

              For music, I still play it, but chose carefully, and attenuate the volume well.

              When someone notices, and asks me the performer, or the composer, I know that I have failed.


            1. re: benila


              They said that you were a person of "few words," but I had not expected this... [Grin]


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                yes really. on every thread benila just rattles on and on and on...

              2. re: beevod

                Agree--none. Maybe it is age. We're over the speed limit (55++) and find music often intrusive. And don't even get me started about music in malls, altho' I tell hubbie that we're not the target demographic...

              3. No. Generally, dinner party music tends to be intrusive and "easy listening" second rate. Now if my hosts hired a string quartet playing Mozart or Haydn, I'd stay until dessert.

                15 Replies
                1. re: beevod

                  We have hired a "string quartet," but I instruct them to keep it low, and work to pick the portfolio, that they play. Again - no one should ever notice. The local symphonies have provided some very talented "youngsters," who "got it."


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    You want the music to be unobtrusive so you hire a string quartet?

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      Yes, and instruct them on what I want for my background. What is so hard to understand about that?


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        If your goal is for the music not to be highlighted, wouldn't recorded music be a better choice; versus hiring four musicians to play (even quietly) in one's home?

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          It depends on the overall mood, that one wishes to create. Sometimes, a little "show" is a positive, so long as the music does not intrude.

                          To date, the "kids" from the symphony have gotten it, and performed beautifully. Plus, it gives them a "paying gig," and wife is on the Symphony board, so is doing her part.

                          On the other side of the "live music: coin, we hosted a party for about 350. The owner of the venue strongly recommended a band, as they had a broad repertoire. Without an audition, we agreed.

                          Now, in my youth, I photographed live rock, so know what loud is. These guys were LOUD. After a half-dozen guests complained to me, I approached the band on a break, and spoke about the dB level. At first, I was told that they always played their music loud. I responded that I was the person paying for their gig, so they needed to make me, and my guests happy. They toned it down, but kept upping the volume. When they did, I just walked by, shaking my checkbook at them. Going to a concert is one thing, but paying for a band at an event is totally different. The guy with the checkbook holds all the cards, and is "the boss."

                          We learned to NEVER hire a band, or allow one to be hired, without a formal audition, and a long discussion about what the band's real role is to be. If they cannot do "background," then I seldom hire them, unless I am promoting a concert.

                          At least the symphony "kids" have all gotten it. Never one question, and never anything but a high degree of professionalism. I like that.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            " They toned it down, but kept upping the volume. When they did, I just walked by, shaking my checkbook at them."

                            Interesting, Bill, how some try to resolve a simple issue.

                            1. re: Fowler

                              The monetary aspect seemed to be the only "common ground," that we had.

                              To me, it seemed to be "simple," but then to others, not so much.

                              Now, I am an "artist," but in other areas, but when a client has hired me, I understand that they "make the rules." When I am being hired, there are certain conventions, to which I must adhere. When I am doing "my own thing," then I can cut loose. When I am doing pro-bono, and am in complete control, I can do my "David Lynch/Mark Frost" thing, but when I am "on the clock," then I have a boss, to whom I must answer.


                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                          Even for a dinner party where the music is not the main feature, telling a musician to play so that they wont be noticed is just not right. Would you tell an artist to paint something that no one would bother to look at, so that people will look only at your new rug? Or tell a chef "Dont cook anything so tasty that will distract from the candidate's speech."?

                          As a musician, and one who has played plenty of weddings and other social occasions over the years, I understand what you are saying. People are coming to socialize, not to hear the band, and those events would usually be better served by recorded music.

                          But unless you are telling the musicians point blank, "Here's a chance to practice for money. Just do it quietly", you are (I am certain unintentionally) insulting them.

                          1. re: Fydeaux

                            " Would you tell an artist to paint something that no one would bother to look at, so that people will look only at your new rug? Or tell a chef "Dont cook anything so tasty that will distract from the candidate's speech."?"

                            Excellent point, Fydeaux! There are some hosts (not Bill Hunt, of course) that would hire a string quartet to perform in their home and order them to be almost unnoticed so they (as the host) can maintain the center of attention. Because to them, it is not really about entertaining their guests, it is about the host being the focus of attention. The food, wine, music, etc. must not get in the way of their goal.

                            1. re: Fowler


                              Yes. I have instructed several artists to create objects d' art for a particular purpose. To date, all have taken the commission. I had one artist travel from San Diego to Phoenix three times (I paid for the trips), to get one wall-piece just right.

                              My event, my meal, my wines, etc. ARE the "center of attention." I never am, and do not wish to be.

                              I think that you are getting much very wrong, and am not sure why, but that is your problem.

                              Sorry that you can just not understand.


                              1. re: Fowler

                                c'mon remember there is a difference between an artist (of any type) working on spec and pouring out their heart and one that has been hired contractually on commission.

                                you don't tell a painter you tracked down and say "wow great but can you match my couch?" you just say "oh that one" or a contract is agreed upon and something is done within certain parameters like general size, colors, subject ("I want it to be a portrait of my SO in the desert if s/he had died of malnutrition after gnawing my thanatopic limbs in desperation. only make it cute."). then if you criticized saying "nah too Warholian" the artist could say "what the hell did you expect?" and file for breach of contract against you. saying it's too loud or not the jazz that was expected is sort of acceptable in a pay for play situation.

                                every musician I know has bread and butter gigs yet also lines up spots to do the stuff they truly love and plays (changing names) accordingly.

                                1. re: hill food

                                  Hi hill food,

                                  I am guessing you did not actually intend that to be a response to my reply? I noticed the re: Fowler in your note.

                                  1. re: Fowler

                                    Fowler - Hi, it was meant in general, as the line between commission and spec was getting confused. nothing personal directed at you.

                                    and while I DO respect the integrity of any artist, when one agrees to produce a specific work...well

                                  2. re: hill food

                                    Yea. There are different gigs. Some are "open," while some are to set specs. If one is not comfortable with restrictions, they should not accept.

                                    For me, sometimes I am the "artist," and sometimes, I am the "client."

                                    There have been many assignments, where I knew that I was not the right choice, and declined, often giving a rec.. Then, there have been times, where the provider said the same thing (or very similar), and also declined. Such is life.


                                2. re: Fydeaux

                                  I think that you might be missing the point. It is NOT that they should not be "noticed," but that they should be the "background." [Think that I used that same word, but maybe not?]

                                  Maybe it is easy for me to see the differences, as I often score motion pictures for release on DVD-Video and BD, so I understand the nuances. Perhaps others just do not?

                                  As I mentioned to Chinon00, music at an event is totally different, than attending a concert (not just rock). It appears that you fully understand that difference, though some have not.

                                  At two outdoor parties, we have hired Dixieland Jazz bands (wife is from New Orleans, and those parties were NOLA-themed), and we were able to sort of "let 'em go," but after that previous party, I did have a little talk about the dB level. I learned a lesson that night, and have tried to incorporate it into every event afterward.

                                  We also produce a couple of charity events per year, and there is almost always live music. I now know to be very, very detailed about the role of the musicians.

                                  Though I have a very nice sound system, if possible, I prefer live music, where appropriate. When it's a quiet dinner for 10, no live music. When we're hosting 250, then I would always go with live, with a little pep-talk (now - "once bitten - twice shy").

                                  We just did an intimate event, and hired two harpists. That was great. I want to support the musicians in my area, even if I have appropriate recorded material. As I mentioned in the reply to Chinon00, a little bit of that is the "show," but then, I love to give some really good musicians a gig.

                                  Considering your involvement in the business, I think that I might not have been adequately clear, in what I expect. Sorry about that, and my bad.


                        3. My "dinner parties" are fairly informal (both those that I host and attend) so I think musical choices more reflect the crowd and host's favorites as opposed to "what will set the tone" here. This weekend a friend had a few of us over for dinner and we listened to a lot of Guided by Voices.

                          1. If I'm having at least 10 and we're starting out with cocktails I'll try for something that sets a mood. Summer often is Harry Belafonte Gold, in the winter it could be Pavarotti if the menu is Italian or maybe Jango Rinehart. But once everyone has arrived, the music goes off--people want to talk!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: escondido123

                              I also agree on the "mood," and try to pick the right BACKGROUND music for that event. So long as it stays, in the background, I am pleased.


                            2. We were invited to a dinner party once where the theme was French. Everything was nice but the music.. It was that common French accordion music. Made things seem really forced. So I tend to stay away from at least the more typical ethnic music that might be associated with the cuisine (e.g. "That's Amore" and Italian). If I wanted to have some association between the food and music I might choose to play modern pop music from the country. Something interesting but nothing too intrusive tho' (i.e. Francois Hardy's album "La Question").
                              And like you I too default to jazz for a typical dinner.