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#2509701 - 07/08/13 06:19 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Ekewaka]
J. Dan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ekewaka
Itakes years and years of practice to play complex parts live. Yes I know, the audience does not care but I have to enjoy my playing on-stage, too.


Again, it depends on the context. I may be able to spend a bunch of time practicing a song such that I keep the occasional pinky open to reach over and trigger an explosion or a fart, but honestly, I'll find it much more fun to put the explosions and farts on a track and play the keyboard part. Of course you can just leave out the explosions and farts, but if you play in an explosion and fart tribute band, they expect tem to be there. Otherwise you can do your own version that excludes said SFX.

Again, if you're playing Depeche Mode. New Order, Information Society, Erasure, and Human League....I expect sequences. If you're playing ELP, I expect the parts to be played. The context is as different as the context of a solo artist in the corner of a restaurant bar during happy hour vs a 5-piece in a live music venue.
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#2509703 - 07/08/13 06:24 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: hurricane hugo]
Markay Offline
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Registered: 01/28/12
Posts: 434
Loc: Australia
Money talking.
In my neck of the woods most semi pro bands are now 3 pieces using sequences and backing tracks. These guys say that because venues have not increased what they will pay a 3 piece is all that is financially viable now. Tribute bands here similarly all use backing tracks.

More and more venues, particularly clubs, are hiring duos and trios. Mostly these do not have a drummer and by using drum backing tracks the volume can be kept low through FOH so punters can continue talking or gambling undisturbed.

Also there are plenty of "unconscious competent" guitarists out there running bands who would rather do the keyboard lead on guitar than have someone who can read music in the band.

As D-Bon notes international acts like EVH has been using backing tracks for ever on songs like Jump. Saw EVH live in April and he had the backing track running for Jump and other songs. He still has difficulty staying in tune with it. Other bands on the same bill had good keys players, it would not have taken much to pre-arrange with one of these guys to play the keys on Jump. The patch and the riff are not rocket science and based on what they played in their own bands they were well up for the solo.

One reason I respect the Stones, they always bring their sidemen and women and have stuck with the same team for many years.
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#2509711 - 07/08/13 06:49 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Markay]
Mike Martin Online   content
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Thinking back to one of the bands I was talking about...they were a four piece group but they stage was so small, fitting another person on stage would have been a challenge. I still don't like it though.

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#2509714 - 07/08/13 06:54 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Ekewaka]
Bridog6996 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ekewaka
You have the other extreme of DJ-producers triggering multiple loops from Ableton Live as their 'live' show. Done that, boring, gave up, no challenge exactly. Same with DJ mixing together tracks, anyone could learn that in a week. Now, play multiple versions of Footprints with different time signatures, on the spot.


You can't really compare a DJ to a band like that. It's an apples and oranges comparison, as they serve different purposes. It's not about what is harder to do. A DJ and an audience going to a DJ type show have no interest in traditional musicianship, just as you as you apparently would have no interest in listening to a DJ.

I have varying levels of acceptance for backing tracks, and there's really no black and white answer because it depends on a number of factors. I fully accept that technology exists to make our lives easier, and to ignore it would be a little silly. In the case of a band, I'm fine with using tracks to fill out the details of a song, like what Dan described. I'm not okay with the track taking the place of the performance, like the band Tony described. And there's a lot of grey area in between. It also depends on the type of music. I don't expect an electronic act to somehow figure out a way to get a band to play the tunes in order to perform live, although I do know some electronic acts that do that, and it usually makes for an interesting show (in a good way). You also have electronic musicians where the electronic element itself is the instrument (Daedalus playing the Monome, for example).

Acceptance is one thing, but with it comes to preference, give me a real band playing real instruments. A band that can actually play is a much better show than a band in a box any day of the week. I think people, both the audiences and the musicians, tend to get too caught with how it sounds coming out of the speakers, when what really matters is how it feels.

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#2509730 - 07/08/13 08:10 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Bridog6996]
kanker. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Bridog6996
Originally Posted By: Ekewaka
You have the other extreme of DJ-producers triggering multiple loops from Ableton Live as their 'live' show. Done that, boring, gave up, no challenge exactly. Same with DJ mixing together tracks, anyone could learn that in a week. Now, play multiple versions of Footprints with different time signatures, on the spot.


You can't really compare a DJ to a band like that. It's an apples and oranges comparison, as they serve different purposes. It's not about what is harder to do. A DJ and an audience going to a DJ type show have no interest in traditional musicianship, just as you as you apparently would have no interest in listening to a DJ
Indeed. There are DJs who just play songs (DJ iPod), there are DJs who play tracks and honestly work a crowd (almost "real" performers), and there are some truly badass EDM DJs who create and mix on the spot, and in the process do a much better job of reading a crowd, working a crowd, and leading a crowd, than almost any band I've ever seen. While what they do may not be performance in many antiquated senses of the term, it transcends performance compared to almost any band I've ever seen.
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#2509731 - 07/08/13 08:17 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Bridog6996]
t9cstudio Offline
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Registered: 12/17/07
Posts: 172
Yeah, it REALLY pisses off guys like me who schlep 4 instruments & vocals on stage almost every gig to see "backing tracks" duos playing the same effin bars I do. So, I'm pretty sure I know what they're making, or at least close.

There's a duo around these parts that gets a lot of gigs, but I think their one trick pony has run it's course as I see the guitar player posting for sub gigs in a FB forum a lot.

Last Sat night I played with my old partners in crime first time in 7 months and everything fit like a glove. It was magic again. Not super duper badasses, but the heart and feel was there.

I bet duos with backing tracks never quite get the magic happening. Too bad for them.
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#2509737 - 07/08/13 08:45 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: t9cstudio]
Joe Muscara Offline
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Keyboard, 2013 August, Page 40 - "Introduction to Using Backing Tracks Live"

laugh

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#2509740 - 07/08/13 08:57 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Joe Muscara]
t9cstudio Offline
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Registered: 12/17/07
Posts: 172
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Keyboard, 2013 August, Page 40 - "Introduction to Using Backing Tracks Live"

laugh


Rub it in, Joe. facepalm Seriously though, I'd like to see what's new they've come up with these days.
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#2509742 - 07/08/13 10:07 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: t9cstudio]
zephonic Offline
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It's not just cover bands, though. I have seen big-name jazz acts do it, too.

I went to see bassplayer extraordinaire Brian Bromberg. He had an amazing band, I remember Will Kennedy on drums, and a bunch of other luminaries.
And he had the horns and strings on backing tracks. When I asked him why he did that, he -understandably- got a little defensive.

Noted smoothjazz pianist Brian Simpson uses tracks as well. It is just the way things are done now.
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#2509748 - 07/08/13 11:42 PM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: zephonic]
Jazzmammal Offline
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Registered: 08/17/12
Posts: 783
Loc: Redondo Beach, CA
Yep, it's becoming standard practice now. We all sound like a bunch of Luddites but the reality is everybody is doing it especially in Vegas. I was there last year and caught three lounge acts, all singers with backing tracks. I'm sorry, I just don't want to see that crap but the public loves it.

Since I'm not doing this for a living I refuse to do it even though I have all the tools to do so. The reason I say this is because I did it for 3 or 4 gigs some years ago and absolutely hated it even though I had a pretty good sound. It was no different than me playing along with a record at home so I could learn a part.

On a gig that just doesn't cut it for me, which is why I picked up a pretty good arranger keyboard for when I need that. At least with an arranger I have to play the damn thing in order to get it to produce the tracks I want. It's a Korg Pa1xPro and it has two sequencers so you can have two songs playing at the same time and fade in and out. That's great but I never use them even though I loaded it up with about 100 pro level sequences. I just can't stand playing to a sequence. It's called f*** that I'll play the Korg live, control it with my hands and fingers and no sequencing. At least then people can see me work and some have commented on it. They can tell I'm not using tracks. Luckily for the last 18 months or so I've not needed it, everything has been full bands with my PC3.

Bob

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#2509749 - 07/09/13 12:42 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: kanker.]
Ekewaka Offline
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Registered: 01/06/13
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Originally Posted By: kanker.
Originally Posted By: Bridog6996
Originally Posted By: Ekewaka
You have the other extreme of DJ-producers triggering multiple loops from Ableton Live as their 'live' show. Done that, boring, gave up, no challenge exactly. Same with DJ mixing together tracks, anyone could learn that in a week. Now, play multiple versions of Footprints with different time signatures, on the spot.


You can't really compare a DJ to a band like that. It's an apples and oranges comparison, as they serve different purposes. It's not about what is harder to do. A DJ and an audience going to a DJ type show have no interest in traditional musicianship, just as you as you apparently would have no interest in listening to a DJ
Indeed. There are DJs who just play songs (DJ iPod), there are DJs who play tracks and honestly work a crowd (almost "real" performers), and there are some truly badass EDM DJs who create and mix on the spot, and in the process do a much better job of reading a crowd, working a crowd, and leading a crowd, than almost any band I've ever seen. While what they do may not be performance in many antiquated senses of the term, it transcends performance compared to almost any band I've ever seen.


There are indeed some rare DJs that manage to do this -- I think I've seen this about less than ten times and I've checked out a lot of DJs the last 15+ years or so (helps living close to San Francisco.) Actually the quality of DJ:ing has decreased dramatically -- to the point of old DJs even complaining about the new crowd just using lasers, props and smoke bombs, to get the show going.

Anyways, I was just lamenting about the little need to put in effort to get this done, especially with Ableton and Traktor and so on. Anyone with a little bit of ear could do that. Nothing special. Now, get the dancing going with a band, like EW&F or Jamiroquai, now I applaud.

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#2509752 - 07/09/13 03:57 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: kanker.]
opdigits Offline
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Originally Posted By: kanker.
Indeed. There are DJs who just play songs (DJ iPod), there are DJs who play tracks and honestly work a crowd (almost "real" performers), and there are some truly badass EDM DJs who create and mix on the spot, and in the process do a much better job of reading a crowd, working a crowd, and leading a crowd, than almost any band I've ever seen. While what they do may not be performance in many antiquated senses of the term, it transcends performance compared to almost any band I've ever seen.
I've seen a few of these "badass" type DJ's you are referring to, and yes, they are impressive at being technically excellent at their craft, achieving good effect through only their music, and without resorting to being glorified circus barkers playing tracks.

But to me their "performance" eventually becomes merely functional, a result of their studied technical expertise in conjunction with their manipulation of machine generated sound palettes. And while the music they created was ever changing and never repetitive (the one element, aside from the audience itself, that was entertaining, and that made them differ from less creative DJ's), it eventually lacked the necessary ingredient of humanity that provokes emotion derived from human interaction. I just got bored and naturally gravitated to the more interesting aspect of the sea of humanity that was in attendance. Now they were constantly entertaining in their emotive performance of interaction between themselves.

Big difference between performance and entertainment, IMO. And definitely not transcendental compared to most bands I've seen.
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#2509769 - 07/09/13 05:22 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: opdigits]
RABid Offline
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Iíve been on the other side. First using a drum machine for Letís Go Crazy and Rocket during the early 80ís. The originals used drum machines and the only way the song sounded right was to use a drum machine. We never hid it from the audience. It went over well. Later I was in a band that consisted of 2 keyboard players, a guitarist/singer, and a female singer that occasionally played keyboard. We tried and tried to find a decent drummer and bass player. I ended up sequencing drums, bass and extra keyboard parts. Yes, sometimes 3 keyboardists were not enough. We were doing a lot of 80ís dance music. Most of the songs that we were covering used drum machines and sequencers on the original recordings. Itís a little hard to hide the fact that you are using tracks when there is no drummer on stage. We went the other way. We introduced ourselves as Plastic Sam and the Flexibles and explained that Plastic Sam was the computer and the rest of the members were The Flexibles, as in those flexible 5 ľĒ floppy discs that we were using at the time to store sequences. That was a long, long time ago.
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#2509770 - 07/09/13 05:22 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: opdigits]
StanC Offline
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Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 536
Loc: Connecticut USA
Here's a variation I did not see in this thread. Went to a restaurant at a local Country Club and was surprised to see there was entertainment in the lounge that evening. Billed as a "One-Man-Band", the sounds from the entrance while waiting for seating was quite good. He was doing a Billy Joel tune accompanied only by piano. Vocals were good. And the Yamaha (CP33 maybe?) he was sitting behind sounded amazingly just like BJ. When we were seated, it happened to be at a table nearby and to the side so I could watch his playing. That is IF in fact he had been playing! The Yamaha was not connected to anything and there was a laptop with his entire show sitting on top of it. All piano accompaniment was pre-recorded and he was moving his arms and hands around, pretending to play. Later he stood and played a soprano sax along with one of the piano tracks. Periodically switching to "play" some of the piano parts. I'm searching for the right word or phrase to describe this. Disheartening? Disappointing? One-Laptop-Band? Any suggestions?
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#2509788 - 07/09/13 06:41 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: StanC]
The Real MC Online   content
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Deceptor, imposter, are just a few that come to mind. That's worse than Milli Vanilli.

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#2509791 - 07/09/13 06:50 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: opdigits]
wmp Offline
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Registered: 12/02/04
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Loc: MA
This is nothing new. In the '70s Al Stewart apologized for using tracks instead of hiring more players. America had a monster train wreck trying to make it sound just like the record. TV shows like Solid Gold and Soul Train were almost entirely Memorex.

I like to think I'm in the all live camp. I give folks a hard time for using backing tracks. I've refused to play with anybody who does. I've refused to do backing tracks for others. I like music. The entertainment business not so much. That seems to be more about using music as a condiment for whatever BS they're selling. It's easy to dis the stuff I don't like and tough to defend the folks I like. In the '90s I made a special trip to some foolish City of Boston event on the Boston Common expecting tosee Aaron Neville. Had I known that it'd be Aaron singing three tunes over backing tracks on a CD I would have stayed home. I felt used. Aaron probably did too, but he got paid. grin
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#2509792 - 07/09/13 06:57 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: kanker.]
D-Bon Offline
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Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Originally Posted By: kanker.
There are DJs who just play songs (DJ iPod), there are DJs who play tracks and honestly work a crowd (almost "real" performers), and there are some truly badass EDM DJs who create and mix on the spot, and in the process do a much better job of reading a crowd, working a crowd, and leading a crowd, than almost any band I've ever seen.

+1

Reading, working, and leading a crowd is not something that can be learned in a week.

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#2509793 - 07/09/13 06:59 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: StanC]
wmp Offline
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Originally Posted By: StanC
I'm searching for the right word or phrase to describe this. Disheartening? Disappointing? One-Laptop-Band? Any suggestions?


Fop. One syllable. Three letters. Easy to remember.

Bobby Foppiano aka Fop aka Bobby Diamond.

Try the veal! grin
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#2509795 - 07/09/13 07:04 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: wmp]
Stokely Offline
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Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Florida
Sucks to hear this trend becoming the norm. I don't get out that much--besides my own bar/club gigs-- so I had no idea, wish I still didn't!

I think musicians see things very differently than the "unwashed masses". They want it to sound like the record, or possibly just to have a beat so they can dance. Cue DJs.

We want to watch and hear a band do something organic and groove and become a whole greater than the sum of the parts, even if the songs sound very different from the recorded version.

Solution: Make everyone a musician.

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#2509796 - 07/09/13 07:06 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: StanC]
D-Bon Offline
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Registered: 12/30/06
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Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Originally Posted By: StanC
I'm searching for the right word or phrase to describe this. Disheartening? Disappointing? One-Laptop-Band? Any suggestions?

Jagoff

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#2509798 - 07/09/13 07:13 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: wmp]
muzikteechur Offline
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I think for me the distinction is between groups (small duos, etc.) who use backing tracks and it's obvious and nobody's pretending that they're actually playing everything you hear, and bands who try to pass themselves off as actually playing those intricate horn lines, rhythm guitars, backing vocals, vocoder lines, etc.
Like these clowns, who make $4000 per show and piss me off every time I think of them. Motor Booty Affair
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#2509805 - 07/09/13 07:47 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: muzikteechur]
ITGITC? Offline
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This is how it's done:

James Taylor - Shower the People

..."Portions of the next song were prerecorded."



Tom

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#2509814 - 07/09/13 08:17 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: ITGITC?]
wmp Offline
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Registered: 12/02/04
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Originally Posted By: ITGITC?

This is how it's done:

James Taylor ...

thu

James Taylor with a drum machine.

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#2509821 - 07/09/13 08:43 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: wmp]
Joe Muscara Offline
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Back in the early 90s, there was a local cover band when I was living near Flint, MI that I saw a couple of times. While a lot of the music was not my bag, what tripped me out was that they really played everything. I can't recall what else was hot at the time, but I do recall them playing "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" live. The drummer was workin'.

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#2509822 - 07/09/13 08:46 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: wmp]
Toano88 Offline
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I am currently in the process of creating tracks for some solo gigs I want to do. I am recording all the parts, including the percussion. I am using a korg wavedrum for the percussion. I also plan on using a looper with the drum ,acoustic guitar and keyboard so the audience will actually see how I'm doing it.

The songs are all simple arrangements so there won't be more than 2-3 layers. Just drum, keyboard and acoustic guitar. I decided not to use a harmonizer for vocals but may revisit that decision later.
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#2509824 - 07/09/13 08:53 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: wmp]
sherry Offline
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Registered: 07/09/13
Posts: 34
I have never commented on this forum, but today I will. If it helps at all, this topic is a perfect example of what I call the dumbing down of society. This topic does not apply to DJ's simply because they don't pretend to be live musicians. I played on the main stage last week at Naperville Ribfest that Mike Martin is talking about. Every note I played on my keyboard was live for everyone to hear, including the mistakes. I have been wrong before, hell, I thought Rap was just a fad, but I have seen this karaoke-backing-tracks-sequencing exploding in live music. The vast majority of the audience either don't realize it's fake or they don't care. Just listen to the radio, watch TV and the vast majority of music is crap being shoved down the throats of younger generations. There will always be a small corner for truly live music and I take comfort in the fact I know what the audience hears from me, whatever talent I posses, whether they like it or not, it's real and not fake.

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#2509829 - 07/09/13 09:18 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: sherry]
Toano88 Offline
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Registered: 04/30/10
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Loc: Toano, Virginia, USA
I think there are different levels here. There is a huge difference between someone who crafts their own tracks and store bought karaoke / backing tracks. What is the difference of that compared to arpeggiators, sequencers and drum machines? I'm not using any of these. Everything you hear is me.

I can't bring my 6 piece band to these gigs I want to do. For one thing they don't pay enough. There are several places wanting solo and duo acts in this area, and they are more intimate so I can interact with the audience more. Without a live act they use a Karaoke DJ! Some of the places around here that used to have small bands, duo's and comedy are now buying LCD TV's and becoming sports bars. At least I'm keeping live music around even if some of it is pre-recorded. Many in the audience are actually interested in the live looping aspect.

EDIT: James Taylor rocks!


Edited by Toano88 (07/09/13 09:22 AM)
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#2509834 - 07/09/13 09:40 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: sherry]
Theo Verelst Offline
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I can't remember when bands started to be called useless cookies, wrongly done pleasure islands and all kinds of ugly names with just-not-dreadfull interpretations.

I do remember when some Japs were boob-blessed in public, the media were semi-offered to the Arabs, and when it was becoming bon-ton to play jazz-gigs when doing conservatory, as well as taking Karaoke more serious in Europe than I thought is was.

I never did karaoke or pre-recorded live shows, but it may have to do with the idea of studio recordings sounding much better than live playing, even if the keyboard player is good. I sure hope it won't become fashionable to use re-tunable/re-timeable sample playback triggered by the drummer or so, because that once more will in the long run will prove to sound sh*tty (even though some call it "nailed perfectly").

Front man, and more so front women, will have to make some deal with main sound influence in even a modest band setting, which traditionally is the keyboard player. Playing through digital mixed and certain type of amplification has it's own challenges (fundamental sampling issues, and non-full range systems that do no even attempt to be low-distortion or properly tuned ).

It used to be hard to get a accurate and deep studio sound on stage, and subject to all kinds of delay considerations (apart from multi-tracking choirs like the wonderful James Taylor example), resolving probably in Lexicons being used to mid-log term average out all kinds of sample effect errors, in the seconds longs performance space reverberations.

Nowadays I've worked on, so I know it possible, to put certain studio considerations into live action with strong computer systems and good quality effects running at high sampling frequency, while certain groups of keyboardists appear to have never even understood a good sound from a tedious one, and went on to proclaim sampling ERRORS as a holy grail instead of a menace to the good music.

Comparing my wonderful recent download in 96kHz/24 bit loss less compressed .flac files of "A Broken Frame" ('82 album of Depeche Mode as most here will know) with the later live shows of the band, featuring "I just can't get enough" variations done on 3 emulators (sampling machines --), could tell you a thing or two about the history of such subjects.

T

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#2509837 - 07/09/13 09:43 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Toano88]
Ekewaka Offline
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Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 1132
Loc: Norcal
This is my general comment about the future of live music entertainment. The lower the threshold to perform, the more uniform the performance becomes. Which leads to a situation where the main thing to get noticed is to be unique, i.e. avoid using most of the cheating tools others use.

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#2509841 - 07/09/13 09:54 AM Re: Rant: Backing tracks and no keyboard player. [Re: Mike Martin]
Pa Gherkin Offline
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Registered: 03/27/11
Posts: 343
Mike's original post got me fired up. I'll excercise self discipline and just say live means live. Regardless of how popular or successful an act is,the use of tracks=cheese and debases live performance. Tracks are a testament to the sorry state of "live"music. I'm sure some very nice people indulge in this practice,but I just can't stomach it. Just my opinion which is worth exactly what you paid for it. Though not generally a crabby guy,this subject torques the daylights out of me. Thankfully,this was my short response.


Thanks Mike. I feel better now. No personal offence meant to the "trackers". Just stop it !

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