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The term is derived from Italian segue, "follows".
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For written music it implies a transition from one section to the next without any break. In improvisation, it is often used for transitions created as a part of the performance, leading from one section to another.
In live performance, a segue can occur during a jam session, where the improvisation of the end of one song progresses into a new song. Segues can even occur between groups of musicians during live performance. For example, as one band finishes its set, members of the following act replace members of the first band one by one, until a complete band swap occurs.
In recorded music, a segue is a seamless transition between one song and another. The effect is often achieved through beatmatching, especially on dance and disco recordings, or through arrangements that create the effect of a musical suite, a classical style also used in many progressive rock recordings. The songs may further contain a lyrical connection or overall theme as well.
In some Brazilian musical styles, where it is called "emendar" ("to splice"), in particular in Samba and Forró Pé de Serra, it is very commonly used in live performances, creating sets that usually last around 20 minutes but can sometimes take more than an hour, switching seamlessly between different songs. The larger rhythm groups of bands, with up to ten percussionists in Samba for example, facilitate the switching of one song to another, as the percussionists keep the rhythm or beat going while the pitch instruments prepare the harmonical transition to the next song, often with just one pitch instrument leading this transition. In Forró trios, where the only pitch instrument (apart from the voice) is the accordion (which plays together with two percussionists), the accordionist usually starts "puxa" ("pulls") the next song as soon as the previous has finished.
Some album notations distinguish track listings through the use of symbols, such as a >, →, or / to indicate songs that flow seamlessly.
Famous examples in rock music
- "Travelin' Man" / "Beautiful Loser" from Bob Seger's 1976 album, Live Bullet.
- "Golden Slumbers" / "Carry That Weight" / "The End" from The Beatles' 1969 album, Abbey Road.
- "Feeling That Way" / "Anytime" from Journey's 1978 album, Infinity.
- "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" / "City of the Angels" from Journey's 1979 album, Evolution.
- "Good Morning Girl" / "Stay Awhile" from Journey's 1980 album, Departure.
- "Space Intro" / "Fly Like an Eagle" / "Wild Mountain Honey" from the Steve Miller Band's 1976 album, Fly Like an Eagle.
- "Threshold" / "Jet Airliner" from the Steve Miller Band's 1977 album, Book of Dreams.
- "Falling In and Out of Love" / "Amie" from Pure Prairie League's 1972 album, Bustin' Out.
- "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" / "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" from Santana's 1970 album, Abraxas.
- "You're All I've Got Tonight" / "Bye Bye Love" / "Moving in Stereo" / "All Mixed Up" from The Cars' 1978 album of the same name.
- "The Load-Out" / "Stay" from Jackson Browne's 1977 album, Running on Empty.
- "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" / "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" from Pink Floyd's 1979 album, The Wall.
- "Brain Damage" / "Eclipse" from their 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon.
- "Heartbreaker" / "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)" from Led Zeppelin's 1969 album, Led Zeppelin II.
- "Behind the Wall of Sleep" / "N.I.B." from Black Sabbath's 1970 album of the same name.
- "Waitin' for the Bus" / "Jesus Just Left Chicago" from ZZ Top's 1973 album, Tres Hombres.
- "Revelation (Mother Earth)" / "Steal Away the Night" from Ozzy Osbourne's 1980 album, Blizzard of Ozz.
- "Transylvania" / "Strange World" from Iron Maiden's 1980 album of the same name.
- "Peace Frog" / "Blue Sunday" from The Doors' 1970 album Morrison Hotel.
- "Bite the Bullet" / "The Chase is Better Than the Catch" from Motörhead's 1980 album Ace of Spades.
- "Foreplay/Long Time" from Boston's 1976 album of the same name.
- "Eruption" / "You Really Got Me" from Van Halen's 1978 album of the same name.
- "Bringin' On the Heartbreak" / "Switch 625" from Def Leppard's 1981 album High 'n' Dry.
- "Need You Tonight" / "Mediate" from INXS's 1989 album Kick.
- "Prologue" / "Twilight" / "Yours Truly, 2095" from Electric Light Orchestra's 1981 album Time.
- "Are We the Waiting" / "St. Jimmy" from Green Day's 2004 album American Idiot.
- "This Beat Goes On / Switchin' To Glide" from The Kings 1980 album The Kings Are Here.
In film or broadcast news production
In audio/visual media, a segue is smooth transition from one scene or topic to another. A segue allows the director or show host to naturally proceed from one scene or topic to another without jarring the audience. A good segue makes the transition look natural and effortless.
- Derailment (thought disorder)
- Gapless playback
- Harmonic mixing
- Interstitial program
- Match cut