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I am looking for a word which describes the talking an artist does between songs in a live performance. The word "intermission" is close, but I think that it has the connotation of a longer break, possibly with the artist doing nothing (on stage). Another word that comes to mind is "patter", but this word can also mean something like "glib talking", rather than the talk between songs.

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    patter came to mind immediately. Patter is used by magicians to distract the audience from focusing on the mechanism of the trick; the better your patter, the more you can get away with. Patter can also be used to entertain while the artist sets up for the next song (while changing the tuning of his guitar, for example, or letting the band discuss something in the background.) Patter can be personal or informative, but still be patter. Likewise he may be setting up his next song. – anongoodnurse Feb 18 '14 at 19:23
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    I've also heard "banter", although I don't know if that's as good a fit. – John Bode Feb 18 '14 at 19:47
  • @JohnBode Banter often suggests an exchange. You could also include badinage in that group. – bib Feb 18 '14 at 20:29
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    Like an interlude, but without music? – skarson Feb 18 '14 at 21:03
  • Interlude was the first word to come to mind, though it does typically imply music in between two larger pieces. This isn't always the case though. – Doc Feb 18 '14 at 21:18
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The term I've heard used for this between-songs talk is "stage patter." Instances of the term go back to the early twentieth century in a Google Books search. For example, from Israel Zangwill, "The Serio-Comic Governess," in Collier's Weekly (January 3, 1903), we encounter a character who says:

And the tales you tell me — how useful they'll come in for stage-patter !

The term seems originally to have referred to a carefully constructed series of remarks—as much scripted as the rest of the stage show. For example, in "The Point of View," Scribner's Magazine (August, 1920):

Isn't much of the slang of this generation manufactured in the word factory of some writer of musical comedy or stage patter instead of in the home or the village shop where our grandfathers' slang—and furniture—was made?

But more recently, the term has come to refer specifically to the type of half-scripted/half-extemporaneous between-music spoken interludes you seem to have in mind. Thus, for example, in Frets, volume 6 (1984):

Try out a little rehearsed "stage patter," to get an idea of what it's like to talk to an audience. It usually goes a long way toward relaxing everyone (yourself included), if it isn't overdone. There's a fine line between keeping the set moving forward and rushing through it. A bit of humor or a few words of introduction here and there within a set can keep the audience keyed up for what's coming next.

And from J. Randy Taraborrelli, Motown: Hot Wax, City Cool & Solid Gold (1986):

"Maurice King was just the best," says Mickey Stevenson. "He worked with Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday, and all of the big shots of the forties and fifties. As well as teaching the Motown groups their music, he taught them about stage patter, what to say in between songs. Diane [Ross] would work with him day and night on this."

And from Alyn Shipton, Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie (1999):

Like all seasoned troupers, his stage patter included an element of the well rehearsed alongside the spontaneous wit.

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How about “inter-cantorial patter?"

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If the artist is just speaking random thoughts or talking to themselves between songs it could be described as "soliloquy". If the artist is talking to the audience then "monologue" might be what you're looking for.

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I would think monologue perhaps, or dialogue.

  • Welcome to ELU! This answer could be more helpful if you provide a little more detail. For example, tell us why you think each of those words fits the question, or when one would be better to use than the other. – aedia λ Feb 18 '14 at 23:05
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The first word that comes to my mind is interlude, although it is not specific to the situation, but along the same lines as your intermission thought.

Depending on the context, I might also use digression, but that has a more negative connotation while interlude is neutral.

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