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Live but not live

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Hobson
(@hobson)
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Just wondering what others think about "live" music that isn't all live. I recently heard a guitarist who was playing some pretty simple stuff on guitar, but he was using backing tracks for percussion, keyboards, more guitar, and bass. He claimed that these were recordings of himself playing other instruments. My feeling is that when I go to hear live music, I want live music. I felt a little cheated. Maybe I would tolerate some percussion, but I didn't go to hear a recording with a little bit of live guitar.

Also recently I saw singers and dancers doing a variety of old rock and Broadway stuff. It occurred to me that there were only two singers, but I was hearing more than two voices and the dancers were lip syncing. Turns out I was right. I really don't see a need for this. If you have two good voices, why pretend that there are more? If you want more voices, get more singers.

I feel the same way about Autotune. If you can't stay on pitch, you should work on it until you're ready to sing in public or ready to sell your music to the public. The widespread use of Autotune also means that audiences now expects all singers to have perfect pitch all the time. I also think that it cuts vibrato so much that the singing often sounds mechanical and not very interesting.

My two cents worth. Opinions may vary.

Renee


   
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Scrybe
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Autotune just sounds weird. And I'm not talking about the T-Pain "using it as teh FX" style (which also sounds weird and annoying). It's all over country records, soul records, damn near everything put out these days. Even on people who can sing. There's a track called I Try which is a hip hop tune by Talib Kweli. Mary J Blige sings the hook. They autotune it in part of it and it just sounds really unnatural, like someone is physically yanking her voice up (I mentally imagine a dwarf crotch-grabbing and lifting when I hear this kind of autotune). Totally unnecessary. Blige has a great sounding voice and she can sing. But they do it anyway.

I love live music for the interaction. I hate it when people call it "live music" and it involves excessive use of backing tracks, jamman looping devices, or even just musicians not really listening to each other. I love when technology is used creatively, but the emphasis there is on the creativity. There isn't much creativity in pushing a button. But when you get 5 musicians on a stage not really listening to each other or caring too much about how they personally sound and not enough about how the whole sounds, that's just as bad, imo.

Ra Er Ga.

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greybeard
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So, what do you say to this?:

KT Tunstall - Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"

Live, canned or what?

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Scrybe
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So, what do you say to this?:

KT Tunstall - Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"

Live, canned or what?

Just listened to the intro.......

I call it canned. Good, but canned. That kinda thing was interesting the first time someone did it. But there's no real variation you can introduce into it - you always have to start by layering instruments one by one, and you can't develop those instruments during the piece or drop instruments out (you can only erase the last thing recorded, to reintroduce it, you have to record it again). You can't change the tempo or the time signature once it's been thoroughly established. It can't respond to anything KT does. Live musicians will give you a better canvass because they're not as limited by any of that. And there's little difference between recording each track "live" and playing a canned backing you recorded at home.

Plus, at least 99% of examples I've seen of this, the musician isn't improvising the tracks they record. They preplan simple tracks and record them "live". That isn't spontaneous. I've got more time for someone like Imogen Heap who really uses proper samplers to improvise different lines and then cue them up to evolve more over the course of a tune. Whether she improvises it or not (in most cases, I think it's pretty planned) at least there's a performance involved in using the equipment. She's playing the sampler while singing over the top, triggering some tracks, and dropping others, cueing stuff, recording samples from the middle of her "main performance" to reuse later in the song. With a jamman, there isn't much of a performance involved in using it in a piece.

I find it says more about how much control an artist feels they need, and how important their ego is, than it does about music or interaction. But then I also find Metheny's Orchestrion idea lame.

Imo, a dj scratching records in an improvisation is more "live" than that.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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Moonrider
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I think a looper or sequencer is just as valid an instrument as a guitar. I offer as evidence a solo performance by Imogen Heap, featuring Imogen Heap on backing vocals and percussion. IMO, this is an utterly captivating and masterful performance.

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Alan Green
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I have no issue with using a backing track when the equipment's visible and there's no BS. It really winds me up when people "do a Britney" - pretending it's all live when it obviously can't be.

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Scrybe
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I think a looper or sequencer is just as valid an instrument as a guitar. I offer as evidence a solo performance by Imogen Heap, featuring Imogen Heap on backing vocals and percussion. IMO, this is an utterly captivating and masterful performance.

An example of my point about Imogen.

Ra Er Ga.

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cnev
 cnev
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Or how about the bands that have players off stage playing unseen by the audiences or ghost players on their albums etc. I think it's what you came to the show for pure musicianship or to be entertained I've seen alot of one man guitarists using the backing track thing and most didn't do the backing track themselves. None seemed much more than lounge acts to begin with so it wasn't that disappointing...I didn't expect much.

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Kopfschmerzen
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Maybe I would tolerate some percussion, but I didn't go to hear a recording with a little bit of live guitar.

I've seen a band of six (!) members (drums, percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin) playing altogether and still using a backing track! That was weird. I must admit, though, that most of their music was real. Personally I don't see a real need for excessive complexity onstage, but who am I to dictate? :mrgreen:


   
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Ande
 Ande
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The challenge in live is getting it right in the moment, for the moment.

As soon as you're playing recorded music, or playing with recorded music, you're committed to doing it the way you did it last time. The way whoever did the recording intended. The way it is every time you use that recording.

Nothing about the moment you're playing in, the audience you're playing to, the way you're feeling.

I don't play out, so it's easy for me to criticise, though. Last week, though, I was jamming with some friends, and the lead guitar absolutely murdered a solo- in the original song, the solo is 16 measures. The guy was absolutely killing, really great solo; by measure twelve it was obvious that he wasn't heading towards any kind of resolution in 16. So...we followed him. Kept the chord pattern going, kept a listening to him, and went straight back to the verse when he was finished, rather than when we usually do. Would NOT have done this if we had recordings to play along with.

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Ande


   
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NoteBoat
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My two cents:

1. It's economics. 30 years ago I had a weekly gig with a 16 piece band. When every bar had live music, some venues competed on scale. Nobody's got the budget to do that anymore. The biggest act I've played with in the last 10 years was a 7 piece - and we only did festivals... even most of the wedding receptions go to smaller acts now. You even see backing tracks now in places you wouldn't expect - like cruise ships and casinos.

2. It's audience expectation. I think this has twin roots: first, everybody's doing it because of the economics. The second is more insidious - when every venue had live music and there were hundreds of record labels, audiences had a better appreciation for how music is made - that is, it's MADE, crafted, done by hand. Warts and all. Now that few venues have live music, and there are just a handful of labels, people aren't hearing the warts in live music... and they aren't even hearing a variety of different producers on recorded stuff.

When all you hear is overproduced "perfection", that's what you expect from music. Audiences used to see enough live music to appreciate how the band would handle the occasional clam.

Scrybe, when you're out jazzing, it's true that the band is listening to your solo, and reacting to it - it's a musical conversation, and that's missing from the layered performance stuff. But that's not the same as everything being simultaneously improvised - everyone but the soloist is sticking pretty closely to the chart. When a solo artist layers tracks live, there's also that possibility... it's just that whatever new ideas are inserted will be restated verbatim, and the audience won't know they're new. So I see live-layered stuff as a new medium, rather than a 'cheat'.

But when a musician does a solo performance with a recorded thirty piece backing orchestra, I think that's about as 'live' as a screening of Rocky Horror. (just to explain the reference -the Rocky Horror Picture Show turned into a cult movie where audiences shouted responses to dialogue in the film.)

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Moonrider
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(just to explain the reference -the Rocky Horror Picture Show turned into a cult movie where audiences shouted responses to dialogue in the film.)

Don't DO it, Janet!

Sorry. :oops: I haven't been to a screening of Rocky Horror since my boa fell apart.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

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JoeHempel
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That was definatlley interesting.

I wasn't quite sure what she was doing with the pedal until it clicked with the tambourine.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
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