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#200553 - 11/26/02 02:58 PM Faking Performance
beachbum Offline

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 652
Loc: Austin
Hi Folks,
I thought this interesting and would like to know how you folks feel. With the ability of most boards to play midi files, you can book gigs and fake playing out the Ying yang. Does this upset any of the folks that actually play? However, if you can't sing to save your life or someone you actually care about, thanks to all the vocal effects you can sound like the next American Idol? Is the talent to actually play and sing still viable or do folks depend on the ignorance of the general public.... As for me, vocals, I use no other effect than a bit of reverb. And when playing the keys I record the performance before-hand and play usually right handed parts, (Trumpet, string, flute) during performance, after all I sing much better than I play. However, if everyone can sound good singing with effects, what's the point??? By the way I use my keyboard for more than this. I like to compose originals, one track at a time. I like to arrange more than play. What do you folks think? Technolgy is great, but to what end?
I don't steer the ship... I bail out the water...

#200554 - 11/26/02 03:11 PM Re: Faking Performance
trtjazz Offline

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 2683
IMO.......a person who fakes performances, like Millie Vanille (or whoever they were) will meet with the same end.

Performance is based on a whole lot more and needs more than playing midifiles like a Karaoke machine.

A set that relies on this method only won't last very long at all, unless this is the crowd type you are playing to.

As an amendment to this I should also add, it really depends on what it is you are trying to acheive as an entertainer and who your audience is.

[This message has been edited by trtjazz (edited 11-27-2002).]
jam on,

#200555 - 11/26/02 03:41 PM Re: Faking Performance
cam8neel Offline

Registered: 10/05/01
Posts: 299
Loc: Providence, RI USA
Here's my opinion, for what it's worth. I play midi files in my act through my PSR2000, but remove all the keyboard parts so I can play them live myself. Doing this, I do not feel as if I'm selling out at all. In live situations, I find people are quite impressed with the fact that the song being played sounds "just like the original". Can't quite understand the fuss, but nevertheless, I find it to be the case in almost every live situation. Again, just my opinion...


#200556 - 11/26/02 05:48 PM Re: Faking Performance
Jerryghr Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 1497
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Just like any job, you have to use the right tools to perform the job. The arranger supplies a vast array of tools. It is up to the performer to pick and choose all the right tools that are available to them. In this case the tools are free to use. If I wanted to sound the same without midi I would have to hire 3-6 sidemen to perform the task, and I would still only be performing one part of the song.

Using the arranger and some midi arrangements, I can please a larger variety of the audience and keep the price reasonable. The only downside is you put a lot of sidemen out of work. The musicians union used to make us charge extra for a rhythm machine, since it was putting drummers out of work. The extra charge helped level the playing field. Along came the dj's with their records with no musical ability and put us all out of work. Now we are able to compete them for jobs we lost.



#200557 - 11/26/02 05:55 PM Re: Faking Performance
Scottyee Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/99
Posts: 10427
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA, US...
I've basically STOPPED 'playing along' with midi files all together, except for only a very FEW songs.

Nothing BEATS playing 100% LIVE in 'arranger mode' because it offers MUCH more excitement & energy when you're playing (the KB with BOTH hands), singing, and triggering multi pad riffs, fills, and instrument setups 'on the fly'. I find that 'playing along' to a midi file really "LOCKS me in a BOX"; while playing in full arranger mode allows me to be much more spontaneously creative: triggering 'on the fly' key modulation, tempo changes, variation changes, chord substitions, adding additional chorus', etc, etc, etc. All these skills (to me) separate a talented arranger keyboard performer from a karaoke singer who performs with backup tapes, or someone who 'plays along' with a pre-sequenced midi file. I don't want to knock these other performance alternatives, but since this is an 'arranger' keyboard forum, I hope to PROMOTE arranger keyboard 'PLAYING' to the fullest! Being able to play an arranger keyboard is one thing, but to fully utilize its potential in a live interactive manner takes special skill that 'sets it apart' from all other forms of music performance. I hope we all continue to work on furthering our unique arranger playing skills, which in turn will raise the level of respect we get from our fellow traditional musicians, as well as the listening public. - Scott

#200558 - 11/26/02 06:56 PM Re: Faking Performance
DonM Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/25/99
Posts: 16735
Loc: Benton, LA, USA
Well said, Scott.

#200559 - 11/26/02 07:04 PM Re: Faking Performance
kbrkr Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 2866
Loc: Tampa, FL
I find this topic very interesting.

I give you solo performers all the credit in the world. I don't think it matters whether you play to midi tracks or play with a style. The point is, you are out there by yourself putting it all on the line. I do think most audiences are pretty savvy and can smell out a cheezy performance. If the midi tracks suck or the vocalist sounds like Bill Murray from SNL, they aren't going to buy the performance.

I personally play in an Oldies band doing Temptation, Box Tops, etc. covers with 3 male singers and 4 musicians so they cover my arse bigtime if I screw up.

My role in the band is to arrange the performances and play the fluff; the intro piano piece, the sax solos, string parts, B3 hammond solo's, and brass/horn parts. I do this with both a Korg Triton and a Yammy Psr 9000 which I have since sold.

I midi the Korg and the 9000 together so that I can switch between the 9000 as a controller for the Korg samples since I can make ultra swift registration and voice changes with the 9000 and the 76 keys of the Triton to play more larger range pieces.

I use the 9000 arranger features at home in the studio to rehearse my parts and to fool around with creating and composing, not to mention entertaining family and friends.

To all you solo artists, Rock on!!


Pa4x - LD Systems Maui 28 - Mackie Thumps

#200560 - 11/26/02 07:30 PM Re: Faking Performance
beachbum Offline

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 652
Loc: Austin
Great stuff guys,
I just thought it would be an interesting topic since the new boards are only going to do more and more. My hat is off to all who can fly by the seat of their pants. I can fly after a twelve pack and an all night jam session, but ususally by then I'm missing my pants.

I don't steer the ship, I bail out the water.
I don't steer the ship... I bail out the water...

#200561 - 11/26/02 09:13 PM Re: Faking Performance
Mosiqaar Offline

Registered: 12/01/01
Posts: 999
Loc: Atlanta, GA, USA
I agree with ScottYee 100%...
I would not play to midifile simply cause its no fun for me, but even if I wanted to I could not do so for the type of music and audience I have because I have to go NON STOP from on song to another and play a whole set which case I cant do with midi.

More over, I do improvise alot (sometimes I will repeat a verse twice or three times if I am in the mood), so Midi is not good in this case cause I would have to follow what has been sequenced already.

Nothing better than being "bussier than a pussycat on hot cole"

#200562 - 11/27/02 12:18 AM Re: Faking Performance
Uncle Dave Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/99
Posts: 12800
Loc: Penn Yan, NY
I've been performing as a solo artist since WAY before arrangers or midi were introduced. I played straight piano(Rhodes) first, then added Moog bass(left hand) then a drum machine and finally, when midi was introduced ... I layered a synth with a second sound for my right hand "color" sounds while keeping a dedicated keyboard for piano parts.

This lasted till the arrangers finally put good sounding drum machines in the keyboards. after that ... I slimmed down to just one keyboard, but still played all the bass and piano parts live to the rhythm machine looped patterns.
At first - the idea of using an "oom paa" (arranger) backing was unacceptable to me, but slowly, the patterns got better and better .... so I caved and used a few at a time. I spaced them out and used the arranger sparingly.

With the advent of midi ...many players started using sequences to add the hands that they could not provide, and give them a competitive edge with guys like me - that could get a party dancing with just MY hands. Well ................ the midi sounds got better and better, and pretty soon, the accepted "norm" in the trenches (clubs and parties) included at least at SOME level ... midi backing tracks. This was all taking place at the same time that the "K" word was being introduced from Japan. The K-Jays were getting about $300 or more per show to just emcee the night. Made me sad ... but I still worked the same schedule. 5 and 6 night a week and lots of afternoon parties and studio sessions. DJ's only hurt the bad musicians, or bad business people.

If you were a singer or guitarist in the 70's and 80's working clubs and eeking out a living ..... it became almost impossible as the 90's drew near. Bands were downsized to fit the diminishing budgets in the rooms and rising insurance rates due to DUI laws kept the clubs from paying a lot for live music. The returns just weren't there. At least at a "K" show .... people came in. Granted - they act like morons, but they DO fill the seats.

My point is this:

Many fine singers, drummers, guitarists etc. that used to work a lot were out of work all of a sudden due to downsizing. What do you do if you are the piano player in a 5 piece band? You play piano right? Do you play everyone else's parts too? NO.
I see nothing wrong with playing YOUR instrument to the capacity you are able, along with accompaniments by either live musicians, midi tracks or arranger patterns.

I see no difference in the validity of the performance.

My people come to see me make a show.
I make parties.
I set tempos.
I pick WHAT to do and WHEN.
I get paid to keep the action rolling.
I sometimes use arranger patterns, sometimes manual bass and drums, sometimes midi sequences, and sometimes I use custom made audio tracks from my studio with backing vocals and extra instruments. All these tools provide me with a means to an end. They allow me to express my creative talents to make a show.
Pushing fill-ins and selecting variations takes as much time, energy and expertise as it does to play creative, two fisted parts on a kb while a sequence plays the rest of the band's parts. Just like we ALL used to do when we had live playing members in the band. Remember bands?????

I miss playing funky clav parts to disco and R&B tunes. It's much more authentic and energetic if I sequence the backing tracks and play my ass off on the D6 or the Rhodes. Even when I play bass ... I can manage to get the groove happenin' with just those 2 hands, but it's harder to make a full sound because SOMETHING is always left out.

I like arrangers. I like sequences. I like simple piano chords. In short ......




I like playing it, and I like the people to like LISTENING and DANCING to it.
I find that mostly - senior audiences are the quickest to accept a "canned" arrangement of a song, while the younger crowds definitely respond to the sequences more. I am STILL working the keys and the crowd ... but in a different way.

My basic rule of thumb is this:

If it WORKS .... keep doing it.

So many times at weddings you'll hear 4 or 5 fast, modern tunes in a row and only a handful of barefoot, beer-drinking girls are dancing. Then a slow standard comes on and the floor FILLS up! Does the entertainer follow that with another slow one? Usually no. They change gears again and lose MOST of the dance floor.
Idiot behavior. Give 'em what they like.

Today's music is getting more and more "signature" specific with certain riffs and catch phrases that make it impossible for an arranger pattern to do justice to the song. If your crowd is over 40 (55 really) .... you have a shot at acceptance using arranger patterns, but the younger people see it as "hokey" and sophmorish.
I tend to agree. In low volume settings, especially. Sequences are lame when played softly. They need the energy from the movement of air, since there is NO one sending the energy into the performance at THAT specific moment.

In many cases - I'd rather play a left hand bass line and right hand chords to a drum beat than use a generic, overused pattern that sounds like every other player that owns a PA80. I like that intimate, small combo sound that only manual bass can provide. There is much more energy and "groove" when the piano and bass are in sync. For bigger sound - the sequence is the winner. The arranger fits somewher in between the two. (easy fellas ....... it's just MY views)

To summarize ....... there is NOTHING fake about using backing patterns, tracks, sequences, or whatever - as long as YOU are in control of the performance and you are playing YOUR part along with it. If you want to be a "front person" - that's OK too ... just don't fake it on dead keys. Get out in front and sing to the clients. They are VERY used to that concept.
Playing arrangers is a shortcut to a good sound, but it should not be a DESTINATION to aspire to. Use these tools to help you learn how to put it all together .... then go do it ! The important thing is energy. That comes from hard work Learn the parts !
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