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 (think "The Real Me Gin," when "Bathtub Gin" segued smoothly into "The Real Me" and then back into "Gin" on 12/29/95). The latter symbol (>) 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 between them as happens with a -> segue.
  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” for another song, or an “exit” song after another song is performed (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).

The difference between a > and a -> may seem arbitrary or a matter of opinion to a fan in certain setlists. For this reason, we considered using only one type of segue notation to cover any instance where a song immediately followed another one, whether or not there was jamming (improvisation) in the transition between SongA and SongB. We decided to use two types of segue notation, however, in order to make it clear in a setlist when an improvisational transition between SongA and SongB occurs, regardless of the musical quality of the transition, because some fans seek out such segues (often highlights of a show) to listen to them.

Also, on many recordings (especially pre-1993 analog cassette tapes), tapers and analog cassette tape traders never distinguished between the two types of segues at all, noting a segue when SongB simply followed SongA whether there was any improvisation in the transition or not. Some traders also reserved the use of any segue notation for improvisational segues, in order to signal that the transition should be preserved for future analog cassette tape generations and not split (broken up) between side A and side B of a tape. Said another way, tapers who demarcated routine > segues from improvisational -> segues (especially DAT tapers) aided analog cassette tape traders in determining tape flips. No harm occurred in breaking-up an uneventful, purely routine "transition" between songs. But it was considered poor practice to split an improvisational -> segue, where SongA and SongB were perhaps being performed simultaneously, from side A to side B of an analog cassette tape, arguing destroying the integrity of the segue. ::wistful sigh::


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