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* HELP 1-man-show dude get started - THANKS! *


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I appreciate anyone giving me advice. I'm going through midlife crisis and decided I'm a wannabe musician. Just something I want to do. Music makes me happy. I have played acoustic guitar off and on for 35 years. Played a little piano and high school band drums as a child. Now taking up electric guitar and also, piano... again. And harmonica. I have my hands full. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif

 

I have three ways I could go.

 

1. One-man totally-live party dude: acoustic guitar, harmonica, percussion with feet, vocals.

 

2. One-man totally-live band as above but throw in a keyboard for live keyboard songs.

 

3. One-man band, not TOTALLY live, as I would use sequencing? to achieve a richer sound. (Zero experience with the sequencing stuff. Just bought a Yamaha PSR740.)

 

4. Join a band. I have a pretty good voice for some types of music. I figure singers (who can also play guitar) are in decent demand.

 

At minimum, I figure I'll work up a solo act to do parties and just have fun. If any money comes my way, great. I figure it will take me six months of diligent work to build a solo act. Maybe longer since I have to "learn" electric guitar licks and stuff. And piano, keyboards, harmonica. Ugh... lots!

 

I have reservations about doing anything that is NOT 100% live. After all, my handle is "LiveMusic!" BUT... and this is important... I recognize that a richer sound is pleasing to people. Heck, it's pleasing to me! And I realize that a huge part of the equation for the public is entertainment. Pure and simple. Having fun. And a rich, full sound is entertaining. Of course, totally live is entertaining, too but in a different way.

 

Realize that I'm interested in putting together an "act." Not just playing music. A fun, party-type act, using my creativity to come up with not only good music but poignant and insightful trivia, as well as entertaining music and a "fun time," as well. An act. If I can do it all live, I will. But I doubt it. I realize many musicians poo-poo anything not live. I understand that. But I'm not there yet. It might take me a few years to get good enough to pull that off. And 100% live might not even be the answer for what I want to do.

 

I also have an ethical question about using Fake Sheets. Kinda turns me off to see a performer using cheat sheets but heck, it seems it will be quite a task to learn, say, 50 song lyrics. Maybe not. I haven't tried, so I don't know. By the way, I think I can pipe in lyrics through the Yamaha. Not sure how to do that but I think it'll do it.

 

I need some advice on many things but definitely about how to use a keyboard workstation. This Yamaha PSR740 has 16 track recording and a whole bunch of sounds and effects. I assume I could do the following. Tell me if I'm off base.

 

1. Play the keyboard live.

2. Record riffs and while playing live, I could hit a button and it'll play that riff or pattern that I've recorded. And it's up to me to keep up with the beat so it all fits together?

3. Record up to 16 tracks of whatever, all layered together into an accompaniment for live guitar or keyboard play. (Rookie... I don't know the lingo.)

 

Is that pretty much how a keyboard workstation "works?"

 

Most important thing I need to know is how to learn what to do with this keyboard... how to use it's power -- playing both live and by recording sequences and playing them back while playing live.

 

Are there any books (beyond the manual) on the basics? Do "teachers" teach how to use these things? If I just knew the basics, I'd be far better off. Thanks.

 

P.S. I have a laptop, Pentium 300MHZ, 4GB HD, 192MB RAM. If this is useful in any way, advise.

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There are tons of questions in your post, most of which I'm not really equipped to answer. My first piece of advice would be to try out Band in a Boxor the program called "Jammer" both of these programs emulate through Midi the sound of a backup band. They have been around for some time (BIAB is on version 10) and by now have realtime interactive stuff that responds intelligently to how you're leading the band. They even have soloist features where you can have somethign that sounds like Louis Armstrong solo over the tune, and then you can even check out what the soloist program did and see what parts you like in the sequencer. it's really quite good technology, and I think that after playign around with it for a while you'll be able to asess whether you do indeed want to do the whole 1 man band thing, or just joinging a band will be better for you.

 

There should be some backing styles available on the PSR as well.. I'm glad you got a decent PSR, as anything below the 640 is useless. The 740 should be enough for what you want to do. umm.. I'll try to answer more of the other questions later.

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if your goal is to have a fun, party time type show, i would not worry so much about whether or not you were using sequences, etc. in fact, i would use that to your advantage. get a mini disc recorder/player as well, or a small sampler like dr sample....use all of these things to put whatever your imagination allows into your show. people won't be coming to that type of show to judge your chops on keyboard or guitar....sounds like they'll be interested in having a good time.

 

i would look into buying prepacked professionally sequenced songs as well...you can take out whatever instrument you want to play live, change tempos or make medleys in a sequencer program...tran tracks (www.trantracks.com) is a good source for these files.

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Thanks for helping. Band-In-A-Box, Jammer, Trantracks.com all look interesting to me. Of course, making a decision is another matter. As usual with virtually anything these days, so many choices. And I don't know what I'm doing.

 

I read the MIDI section in the Yamaha manual. Not much help. I need a basic tutorial. If I could find a teacher that could show me the basics, that would help.

 

This comment from this thread: "mini disc recorder/player as well, or a small sampler like dr sample" ...

 

I don't understand that. Talking about a CD burner?

 

And Dr. Sample? I found this on a site:

 

"the (Boss Dr. Sample) SP-202 provides truly professional sampling quality and storage options. It features four user-selectable sampling grades including a high-quality 31.25k mode, and a maximum of 4 min. 20 sec. internal sampling time*. External sample storage is provided via affordable 2MB or 4MB SmartMediaTM the same cards which are now widely available for digital cameras. With each 4MB card, SP-202 users can store up to 35 minutes* of samples-quite an arsenal of beats and phrases!"

 

What does this do that my Yamaha keyboard (PSR740) won't do? Does this mean you're swapping these disks in and out during the gig?

 

Again, I'm a total rookie. I'm learning piano again, basically started from scratch. And zero experience with keyboard stuff. But, hey, I learn fast. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif

 

I guess the best question is "If you were like me, pretty don't know anything about how to work a keyboard... what would YOU do to learn fastest?" Thanks!

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playing back general midi sequences like those from tran tracks should be pretty easy...they are just Standard Midi Files like the sequences you would create and play back on your own.

 

a minidisc player/recorder plays and records minidiscs, which are somewhat similar to CDs but small and in a plastic case so they don't skip or stutter on stage...this would be useful for little sound effects or prerecorded backing tracks like drum loops.

 

a sampler like the Dr Sample is something you could load sound effects or drum loops/synth loops into and play back at any tempo, as well as tweaking the sounds by turning various knobs and dials etc. this would be helpful to play little drum loops, etc between songs. you would save the samples to the smartmedia card.

 

just suggestions that may muddy the water a bit. i would start out as basic as possible, maybe just acoustic guitar to get your feet wet.

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There's a 2 man group in my area that take their midi files, then record it to minidisk and use the minidisk to do their gigs. Said they did that cause it was takin too long to load the Midi files into their keyboard. That's one use for a minidisk on a gig, I'm sure their are others. I can relate, my keyboard will only hold 2-3 really good (IE big) midi files and it does take a while to load them in.

 

A good synth site that has ALL kinds of info, including basic keyboard and midi tutorial links is www.synthzone.com . Check it out, lots of good info available on there via links.

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That sucks, but it's funny... somehow I thought that because synthesizers as old as the Roland XP series could play sequences direct from disk that everything was updated to not have to load 'em into memory first. I guess I over expect some things sometimes...
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Originally posted by Steve44:

That sucks, but it's funny... somehow I thought that because synthesizers as old as the Roland XP series could play sequences direct from disk that everything was updated to not have to load 'em into memory first. I guess I over expect some things sometimes...

 

No Steve, unfortunately not all synths can do this. In my case it's a Korg N364, that'll teach me to make spur of the moment purchases when it comes to higher end gear. The N series isn't a bad synth, it's got some really good sounds on it but the sequencer is not up to par IMO. You have to load sequences into ram, there is no swing setting, Arpregiater (a very limited one) can't sync to midi, etc... Course, this is my first synth so I can't really make too many judgements, just don't have the experience.

 

I was so disenchanted with the sequencer on it I went out and bought a computer and Cakewalk, MUCH BETTER!! And now I have access to the internet http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gifhttp://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif . Shame I didn't just get a good controller and go the computer sequencing route in the first place!!

 

Now I need a good digital piano, this 61 key synth action is good for some things, but learning the piano is not one of them. I am very actively following the current threads on this and am seeing lot's of good things about the Kurz, that PC2X or K2500 is really starting to peak my interest. Both look to be a really solid foundation, controller and sound wise, for a midi studio. The S80 is also lookin pretty good, Oh well, I've got a little time to decide.

 

Sorry to get off the topic folks.

 

This message has been edited by Stratman on 03-17-2001 at 09:25 PM

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Assuming that your keyboard is NOT 32 channel, the best / cheapest way to go is to pick up the Virtual Sound Canvas from www.edirol.com ($60). Install it on your laptop and use it as a sound generator. Control it from PowerTracks (www.pgmusic.com - $29.95). You'll need a sequencer anyway. Connect the output to your amplifier and it'll be you plus the band.

 

The cheapest place to get midi files is www.eatsleepmusic.com. You can also go to Midi-Hits (beware low numbered songs i.e. a45 - their earlier work is kaka by modern standards). TranTraks is generally good as is HandsOn. Trycho is barebones. With the sequencer you can remove any tracks you want to play as well as change the key or tempo, lengthen and shorten and otherwise customize the sequence. Powertracks comes with a tutorial. This setup gives you a "you + the band" situation - the computer obviously being the band. The only problem you might have is with the softsynth which may hiccup if you do any alt-tabbing or go in and out of a DOS window. Shouldn't with a 300mhz but none of my computers are that fast so I can't say for sure.

 

You can also get sequences for free from various web sites and the alt.binaries.sounds.midi newsgroup and it's various sub-groups. You can get lyrics from alt.music.lyrics newsgroup. Or just go to a search engine and post the name of the song or a line from it followed by "midi" or "lyrics" or "chords" or "tab" as appropriate.

 

The next step up is to purchase a GM sound module - either one of the Sound Canvas' (not the SC55 - go for the jv1010, mgs-64, SC88 or above) or one of the Yamaha XG sound modules.

 

I am a one man band solo-act. I use a Thinkpad 760el (120mhz) with an 8 port midi interface and a Roland MGS-64 (Same as SC88). If you get one of the 1/2 rack (desktop) modules you can use the special serial cable that comes with it and you won't need an interface. For software I use the old WIN 3.1 versions of PowerTracks and Cakewalk at the same time each routed to 1/2 of the sound module - most 1/2 rack modules support 32 channels. This gives me, in effect, two "turntables" so I can load a song in one program while the other is playing. You'll learn that you have to think ahead of your audience, especially if they start firing inappropriate requests at you.

 

Best place to get the modules is on Ebay - figure around $300. You can get Cakewalk from there too.

 

Misc: If you get serious you might want to look into a Digitech harmonizer. Really cool - use the vocoder patch in "auto" mode and it will translate your voice to the notes nearest the ones you are playing.

 

I figured on 250 songs when I started playing solo gigs ten years ago. If you have a target audience you can get away with fewer - figure 12 songs max a set and have an extra set's worth of material so you don't get bored. Typed lyrics sheets are inhibiting but generally acceptable. I use them, but I have to, I've got over 500 songs on my "active" list.

 

"Jammer" has a live player that looked pretty interesting if you don't want to use sequences. Forget BIAB, it's just close enough to be frustrating and sounds too canned. Everything will sound the same.

 

You can post questions to the alt.music.makers.soloact newsgroup but be forewarned, it's a pretty pithy lot and the regulars can be quite self-righteous and brutal if they don't like you.

 

Good luck.

 

Ernie

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