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An encore is an additional performance added to the end of a concert, from the French encore, which means "again", "some more"; multiple encores are not uncommon. Encores originated spontaneously, when audiences would continue to applaud and demand additional performance from the artist after the concert had ended. In some modern circumstances, encores have come to be expected, and artists often plan their encores. This is sometimes necessitated by noise curfews at venues, which may also sometimes require an artist to forgo encores if the concert has gone on too long. Traditionally, in a concert that has a printed set list for the audience, encores are not listed, even when they are planned.
Though the word derives from French, encore was traditionally not used this way in French, nor ancora in Italian. French speakers commonly use instead either une autre (‘another’), un rappel (‘a return, curtain call’) or the Latin bis (‘second time’) in the same circumstances. Italians also use bis and, formerly, da capo (‘from the beginning’). In England, altra volta (Italian for "another time") was used in the early nineteenth century, but such usage had been completely supplanted by 1900.
Soloists or classical music groups like orchestras often show off their artistic potential by playing fast, high or loud pieces in the encore, but sometimes they also close the performance with slow and calm pieces to let the applause ebb down. It is also common to play a popular music song or the most famous pieces of a composer in the encore. A well-known example is the performance of the Radetzky March and The Blue Danube at the end of the Vienna New Year's Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; neither piece is ever listed in the official program, but they are traditionally played every year.
‘Bans’ on encores
By tradition, some world-class opera houses, such as la Scala and the Metropolitan Opera, officially discourage encores, especially for vocal solos, as encores were associated with less serious performances.
In the mid-19th century, encores were officially banned in northern Italy, since the Austrian-Italian authorities felt they would lead to public disorder. In 1921, encores were forbidden at la Scala (in northern Italy), because the conductor Toscanini felt they would interrupt the pace of the opera and drew attention to individual singers as opposed to the work. Toscanini had, in 1887, been challenged to a duel after stubbornly refusing an aria's encore. Wagner was similarly against encores.
The ban at the Metropolitan was explicit in the printed programs at the beginning of the 20th century, but was nevertheless often broken at the insistence of the audience. Encores at the Met became rarer later in the century.
In most circumstances, it has become standard for rock, metal, and pop artists to give an encore; especially in large settings such as stadiums and arenas. It is very common for punk bands to perform an encore when in small venues. Artists often plan their encores in advance, and they are commonly included on the artist's setlist; one common practice is to leave one or more of their most popular songs for an encore. However, encores are usually only performed by the headlining artist, as opening bands almost always have restrictions on how long their set can last, and are prohibited from going over the set time with an encore
Some artists include their encore as the second half of the concert. For example, the Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley and his band The Wailers were known to play the concerts of their last two tours in 1979 and 1980 in two halves: after the first half was performed they stopped performing for some minutes to tune their instruments again or to have a break, while the audience was demanding for more. They continued to play the concert with the "encore" which lasted about an hour. Sometimes they even played one or two additional songs (a "real" encore in the traditional sense, rather than an inevitable performance staged as an encore) after the planned encore. Similarly, former Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard generally plays songs from his solo career for the first half of his shows, and then, for the inevitable encore, will play a lengthy selection of Guided by Voices songs, with the two halves generally having roughly equal duration.
In the early days of modern rock music, Elvis Presley never played encores, a practice his manager Col. Tom Parker intended to leave audiences wanting more. The now-famous phrase "Elvis has left the building" was used at the beginning of his career when Presley was not the headliner, followed by a plea for the audience to return to their seats so as to watch those artists following Presley. Once he became a headliner, it was invariably followed by a polite "thank you, and good night", to imply to those present at the concert that there was not going to be an encore.
Jimmy Buffett is known for his intimate second encores at his concerts. He and his band leave the stage after performing their set and return for a typical encore of usually two songs and band introductions. Then they leave the stage again and Buffett comes back out on stage by himself for a second encore and performs an acoustic ballad to end the show. This final song is usually what his hardcore fans look forward to the most because it's a different song every show and usually an obscure selection; many fans consider Buffett’s ballads to be his best songs despite not being among his famous songs. A collection of Buffett’s second encores, entitled encores, was released in 2010.
Morphine frontman Mark Sandman sometimes mocked the practice. At the close of Morphine shows, he would wave and say "Thank you! Good night!", but the band would remain in their places, and the lights would not be dimmed. After several minutes, the band would begin playing again.
- "encore". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Altra Volta," in George Grove, ed., A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1900).
- Barry, Colleen (February 24, 2007). "Tenor's encore breaks with La Scala tradition". The Seattle Times.
- Wakin, Daniel J. (August 2008). "Ban on Solo Encores at the Met? Ban, What Ban?". The New York Times.
- Parker, Roger (1997). Arpa d'or dei fatidici vati: The Verdian Patriotic Chorus in the 1840s. EDT srl. p. 23. ISBN 978-88-85065-15-4.
- Joyce's Grand Operoar: Opera in Finnegan's Wake. University of Illinois Press. 1997. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-252-06557-6.
- Martin, George Whitney (2003). "The Metropolitan Opera's Sunday Evening Concerts and Verdi.". The Opera Quarterly 19 (1): 16–27. doi:10.1093/oq/19.1.16.