Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-21-2003, 06:03 PM
InTransit InTransit is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 298
What Makes it a "Standard"?

Occasionally I'll run across the phrase "musical standard(s)". Usually this refers to songs like those of the Gershwin or Sinatra era and performed/learned by many, but what does "standard" really mean?

More importantly, how does a song become a standard?

Any examples of tunes today that are good candidates for standards of tomorrow?
Old 04-21-2003, 06:10 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,977
You pretty much have it -- a "standard" is a song lots of people record and perform. It also helps if the song lends itself to differing interpretation.

The name came up dealing with songs of the 30s (the heyday of the American popular song). Lots of songs of that era were covered and redone time and time again.

It's harder today. Remember, prior to Rock 'n Roll, all songs were covered by many artists. Nowadays, it's rare for a song to be redone by anyone other than the original artist. So that sort of widespread covering is less likely to occur; thus, few standards.
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
Old 04-21-2003, 06:36 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
Voodoo Adult (Slight Return)
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Posts: 24,929
We don't have standards any more (by and large) because of the ready availability of the recorded original version. People today don't want to hear Joe Blow sing a song, they want to hear the version they know backward and forward. It's very hard for anyone trying to leave their own mark on a song to compete with its "definitive" version.

The closest I can think of in the past 40 years would be "Yesterday," though I'm holding out hope that at least one of Prince's ballads will make it.
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Old 04-21-2003, 06:42 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
Voodoo Adult (Slight Return)
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Posts: 24,929
Damn, where'd my first sentence go? That was supposed to start with:

When you go out to eat at one of those places that still has a jazz trio playing across from the fire exit, and you go up to the bass player and slip him $10 and ask him to play a song, and he says they'll be happy to, but their keyboard player is a sub this weekend and he may get the bridge wrong, that's a standard.

When he looks at you and says "Play what?" that's not a standard.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:38 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017