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What's The Difference Between > And ->?

The setlists at Phish.net distinguish two different types of segues: -> and >. The former refers to an actual segue, or when one song jams fluidly and without interruption into another. The latter is used when:

  1. One song stops and another immediately starts, but there is no fluid jamming between songs (e.g., The Landlady > Destiny Unbound);
  2. One or more band members begin a new song as the previous song is ending, and there is no transition;
  3. Two songs are played that are usually played together, but may not actually segue (e.g., Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, or The Horse > Silent in the Morning); and,
  4. A song that is typically a “lead-in” or “exit” song is played (e.g., The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony, Buried Alive, HYHU, Cold As Ice). For example, you will see the > symbol used between the songs performed during the Henrietta portion of a show, even though there were likely “gaps” in the music between such songs (e.g., HYHU > Terrapin > HYHU).

Sometimes, the difference between a > and a -> seems arbitrary or a matter of opinion. For this reason, we considered using only one type of segue notation to cover any instance where a song immediately follows another one, whether there is jamming in the transition or not. We decided to use two types of segue notations because, first, on many recordings (especially older, pre-1992 tapes), traders traditionally noted segues without distinguishing between the two types. However, differentiating fluid, improvisational transitions (the -> symbol), which are often among the highlights of a show, from routine transitions (the > symbol) gives fans a true feel for what was played, and ably communicates the significance of a transition.

(In the days when analog cassette tape trading was common, demarcating routine > segues from improvisational -> segues also aided traders in determining tape flips. No harm occurs in breaking up an uneventful, purely routine transition between songs. But an improvisational -> segue should never be carried over from side A to side B of a tape, lest the integrity of the segue be destroyed.)


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