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What is an Encore?

An encore is the extra performance given by artists after a concert's main program concludes, often in response to continued audience applause. It's a special treat, a sign of mutual appreciation between performer and audience. Have you ever wondered about the history behind this tradition and how it varies across cultures? Join us as we explore the encore's fascinating evolution.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An encore is an additional performance which is performed after an event comes to an end, in response to audience demands for more. Encores are most typically seen in the context of musical performances, with the performers playing an additional song after the event has concluded, although dramatic performances can sometimes include encores as well. As a general rule, performers are very flattered to receive calls for an encore, as it means that the audience loved their work so much that they aren't willing to leave without hearing just a little bit more.

The word “encore” is French for again, although the French themselves prefer to call bis after a particularly good performance if they wish to hear an encore. Most performers plan ahead for encores, to ensure that all of the people on stage, along with the crew, will be ready if the audience demands an encore, and typically, the piece chosen is either a famous standard of the performer, or a notable selection from the performance which has just concluded.

Some opera houses frown upon the idea of an actor performing an encore.
Some opera houses frown upon the idea of an actor performing an encore.

On rare occasions, an audience demands a second encore after the first encore is complete, and performers may choose to go along with it, or bring the performance to a reluctant conclusion. Second encores are relatively rare, and a great honor. If a second encore is performed, typically a very calm piece is chosen, to encourage the audience to wind down and get ready to go.

Encores are common with musicians during a concert.
Encores are common with musicians during a concert.

While encores usually happen at the curtain call, when all of the performers walk on stage to perform their bows and receive praise from the audience, an encore can also take place during a performance. This is extremely rare, occurring generally in the operatic world. If a star plans to perform an encore, he or she will discuss it with the cast and orchestra first, signaling the orchestra that he or she will perform an encore if the audience response merits it. This type of encore performance is done after a particularly challenging, beautiful, or distinctive aria, and some opera houses frown upon it.

In order for performers to offer an encore, the audience must offer sustained applause, and generally the performers also expect to see a standing ovation before they will perform an encore. Shouts of “encore” or “more” from the audience may also be viewed as a cue to perform an encore. Should the audience start to pack up or look restless during the applause, the performers will not grant them an encore, assuming that people are eager to get home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is an encore in a musical performance?

An encore is a traditional extension of a live performance, occurring after the main program has concluded and the performers have typically left the stage. It's a response to continued applause or a call from the audience for more entertainment. The term "encore" is French for "again" or "some more," and it signifies the crowd's appreciation and desire to hear the artist perform additional pieces. Encores are common in concerts, theater, and other live shows, where the intensity of the audience's applause can coax performers back for one or more extra numbers.

How do artists decide what to perform during an encore?

Artists often pre-plan their encore performances, although they may appear spontaneous. The selection can be a hit song, a fan favorite, or a special rendition that contrasts with the main setlist. Sometimes, the choice is influenced by the audience's energy or specific requests shouted during the concert. The encore gives artists a chance to connect more intimately with their audience, often leading to memorable and unique performances that aren't part of the standard repertoire.

Is an encore always expected at a concert?

While encores are common, they are not guaranteed. The expectation of an encore can vary depending on the artist, the genre of music, and cultural norms. In classical concerts, encores were traditionally reserved for exceptional performances but have become more routine. In contemporary music, audiences often anticipate an encore as part of the concert experience. However, whether an encore happens ultimately depends on the audience's enthusiasm and the performer's willingness to return to the stage.

Can an encore have multiple songs?

Yes, an encore can consist of multiple songs. The number of pieces performed during an encore varies and can be influenced by the artist's preference, time constraints, and the audience's response. Some encores may feature a single, powerful number, while others could include a mini-set of several songs. The length and content of an encore are often tailored to leave the audience with a lasting impression of the live performance.

What is the historical significance of encores in live performances?

The tradition of encores dates back to the 17th century when opera stars would repeat arias upon the audience's request. Over time, the practice evolved and spread to other forms of live entertainment, including theater and modern-day concerts. Historically, encores were a sign of extraordinary approval from the audience, but they have now become a more standard expectation, serving as a final chance for performers to showcase their talents and for audiences to savor the live experience.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MusicalExpert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MusicalExpert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

Hazali

Even though you might not always get a standing ovation (which leads to an encore), one shouldn't let that get their spirits down. Overall, you should remember that you put your hard work into it, and even if the audience didn't show their appreciation, there's always room for improvement in the long run.

Krunchyman

@RoyalSpyder - I agree that there are exceptions, even when it comes to stage performances. For example, a few years ago, I went to an old fashioned play. To make a long story short, the plot was cliche, yet well done and entertaining. It had the "typical" damsel in distress, the "noble" protagonist, and most of the all, the "stereotypical" mustache twirling villain.

Despite that fact that several of the characters didn't play major roles, when the performance ended, all of the cast gave an encore. It really shows how even when you don't get the larger roles, sometimes you make as much of an impact as those who do. Though some might take encores lightly, I feel that it's the most important part of any performance, and it shows all the hard work that went forth to entertain you.

RoyalSpyder

Overall, an encore can also be the result of what type of performance it is, and it may even depend on the quality as well. For example, if someone gave a small stage performance where they barely had any say in the story, then an encore wouldn't really be needed. On the other hand, if someone played a large part in the performance, such as that of the main antagonist or a villain, then they'd definitely deserve some recognition. Overall, though it can depend on one's role of importance, there are always exceptions to the rule as well.

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    • Some opera houses frown upon the idea of an actor performing an encore.
      By: Kalim
      Some opera houses frown upon the idea of an actor performing an encore.
    • Encores are common with musicians during a concert.
      By: Christian Kieffer
      Encores are common with musicians during a concert.