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#153283 - 03/13/12 12:03 PM What constitutes live performance?
ROG Offline
Expert

Registered: 12/12/11
Posts: 1986
Loc: York, England
Hi all.

A friend of mine has performed country songs for years, just singing and playing guitar. A while back he asked me to put drums and bass on some backing tracks and this seemed to work well. Recently, a few tracks have acquired slide guitar and piano. Now he's asking - "How many instruments can I put on before people will stop thinking of it as a live performance?"

Now, before we get back into the MIDI v Realtracks argument, let me say that all the instruments were recorded live, except the drums which were programmed.

I know that this really has to be a subjective view and that there isn't going to be just one simple answer, but I also know that there's a wealth of experience out there and I'd love to know what you all think.

ROG.

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#153284 - 03/13/12 12:52 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: ROG]
Rachael Offline
Expert

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1616
I use BIAB for most of my live performances. I play piano and have a lead vocalist. We use BIAB for bass and drums. Often times, we bring in a live sax player which really adds a lot. That is all I use and feel it is pushing the limits of live performance to the point of almost karaoke. We do try to perform songs with just piano and vocals but still have many which require the backing tracks.

As much as I love adding Bossa guitar and soloists, I just don't think it is 'real'. If the audience closes their eyes, it would be great. I think the other instruments are perfect for making demos and CDs but there is something about using these live which makes me feel like I'm doing karaoke.

How would you like it watching a duo of piano and singer with a bunch of virtual instruments backing? It sounds great but still something is wrong with the picture. I've sat through a duo using backing tracks and it just is not the same.

I do have a music degree which probably alters my opinion of such a setup. Even though the performers may be great, hearing instruments that are not really there lowers my opinion of the performance.

Now if only I could find venues that are willing to pay for a quartet...

R

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#153285 - 03/13/12 01:59 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: Rachael]
Robh Offline
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Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 4164
Loc: California
I have been out to a dozen places in the past year, and all of them had either one man shows, or Duos. The crowd seemed happy and engaged. I think the biggest deal is was the performer good, and did he entertain the crowd. If he sang well, played the guitar well, and the backing instruments sounded good, the crowd stayed and listened and responded, then i would say that is live entertainment.

After that it is all just opinions really. er .. ah . just like mine is here i guess!
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#153286 - 03/13/12 04:05 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: ROG]
jazzmammal Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 5647
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
I strongly agree with Rachael. Less is more. As soon as you add a full band behind one or two people is's Karaoke. I play keyboards so it's bass and drums for 90% of the tunes and maybe some rhythm guitar but never strings or horns because I'll have those set up as layers. If there's strings or a synth pad coming in people can see me doing it. I like to use my Kurzweil to it's full capabilities and play all kinds of things, not just piano or organ. It drives me crazy when I see a good player doing nothing but piano when he's got a killer synth to play with. For guitarists who do single or duo work I'm a big proponent of using a guitar synth. There's a couple of guys I know who can do all the keyboard stuff I can do using a Roland synth and their guitar. One is a good friend and when we get together he will do a B3 organ solo just to mock me. In a friendly way of course...I still have the advantage on keys but he does a good job with it and people look at him thinking "how did he do that?". Very impressive to the audience.

If you can't tell, when I do duo work I'm into the one man band wow factor with the less prerecorded backing the better. It's fun and it goes over big.

Bob
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#153287 - 03/13/12 05:37 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: ROG]
bobcflatpicker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/27/07
Posts: 3305
Loc: WV, USA
I gotta go with Rachael on this one:

Quote:

Even though the performers may be great, hearing instruments that are not really there lowers my opinion of the performance.




A performer or duo using backing tracks just doesn’t have the energy you get from a “live” band, but it beats the heck out of a DJ. But since employers aren’t willing to pay enough to support a full band, they kind of force the issue.

For the record, if I started performing again it would most likely be me & my guitar plus backing tracks but it’s hard to escape the “karaoke” comparison.
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#153288 - 03/13/12 05:48 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: jazzmammal]
90 dB Offline
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Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 3616
Loc: Florida
So using bass and drum samples is acceptable, but if you add one more sample, it becomes Karaoke? And, it's OK to use samples if you are playing them "live" on a keyboard?


I remember the same sort of purist argument when Dylan plugged in his electric guitar. the Folkies were horrified!

If you are playing a major concert in support of a CD project, I would avoid backing tracks. If you are playing at The Sleeze Bucket bar, I say use whatever it takes to get the job done. The fact is, most punters don't know the difference. They are there to get drunk and...well, the other thing.

Music is "art", and I have to agree with Marshall McLuhan, who once said:

“Art is anything you can get away with.”
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#153289 - 03/13/12 06:02 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: 90 dB]
Cerio Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 11/13/05
Posts: 656
Loc: Spain
In my opinion, musicians should use backing tracks only if they REALLY need to. It's true that every day it's more difficult to find venues that are willing to pay for a band, and that it's sad; but I've seen entire "orchestras" "playing" their unplugged instruments over backing tracks just because they thought it sounded better (and because it was "easier", of course), and that's still worse. This is, in fact, very sad.

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#153290 - 03/13/12 06:26 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: ROG]
Danny C. Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/18/04
Posts: 6322
Loc: South Louisiana
Hey ROG,

Tell him to so as I do ... bill himself as "insert his name here" and the Almost Live Band.

Now to answer Rachael’s question . . . yes if I were playing for other musicians as almost by nature we always are trying to find out the details behind the sound. But a big NO when it comes to general audiences as most could care less how many backing tracks you are using as long as they are entertained. As long as you present yourself and your arrangements before hand so everyone knows what to expect.

Most audiences are there for the performance, with this said if you are not on top of your game you can have a full live orchestra behind you and still not sell the performance. And the last thing they care about is whether you have a music degree or not, they just want you to be able to "play and sang".

Later,
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#153291 - 03/13/12 06:54 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: 90 dB]
Matt Finley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 13413
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
Quote:


Music is "art", and I have to agree with Marshall McLuhan, who once said:

“Art is anything you can get away with.”



And Andy Warhol got away with it.
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#153292 - 03/13/12 07:22 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: Matt Finley]
90 dB Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 3616
Loc: Florida
Quote:

Quote:


Music is "art", and I have to agree with Marshall McLuhan, who once said:

“Art is anything you can get away with.”



And Andy Warhol got away with it.







And so did Van Halen, AC/DC, The Eurythmics, and a number of other "artists".
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#153293 - 03/13/12 08:15 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: 90 dB]
eddie1261 Offline
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Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 3322
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Quote:

And so did Van Halen




You mean you didn't like Eddie "How many notes can I fit into this 32 bars if I turn my amp up to 27 and play with my right hand on the neck?" Van Halen? The guy who later changed his name to Eddie "Screw you Mike Anthony and all you meant to this band for decades. My talentless kid who is going to spend his whole life riding the coat tails of my name is going to play bass or I will not tour." Van Halen?
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#153294 - 03/13/12 08:19 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: 90 dB]
Robh Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 4164
Loc: California
People go a restaurant where music is played to be entertained. They love to hear old songs from their youth, and memories of great times, old flames, and experiences of the past. Some prefer to hear a guitarist/vocalist strum and pick out some great version of old tunes. Others like to hear the full sound of the old recording complete with signature licks and riffs. Still others like to hear jazzy non vocal versions of old hits. The point is that there are many different ways to entertain a crowd.

To label entertainers as karaoke because they have more backing tracks than bass and drums, is just wrong in many ways. Fist off it demeans the great drummers and bassist through the decades, as if their contribution to all those great recordings was/is unimportant. Look at our beloved Silvertones here, we all praised him for gigging again after a long hiatus. So are all of you saying he is nothing but a karaoke singer cause he plays the lowly bass, and records/programs/creates the other instruments. Really? I remember quite a few of you offering support to him, and best wishes. Were they sincere?

You are saying as long as you play the keys, guitars, and or sax you are a true artist, and others are karaoke singers. What of the singer that plays a little guitar, since he can't find venues that will pay a full band he should retire to a life of karaoke bars, and leave the real gigs to you elitist horn/keyboard players?

Come on people, don't label fellow musicians, show some support. If you don't personally dig it fine don't go there for entertainment. If it ain't your cup of tea fine, you get to chose what you personally like. I have a friend who plays a couple nights a week in a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, and on other nights he does a couple rest, where he plays similar flavored tunes with full backing tracks. The guy is very good, and sounds great. He is doing what he loves, and people come from far around to hear him play.

Just remember that we are all trying to refine our art form, and some chose to go a different path than yours. Be careful when you speak down about others path, as there are always some that might not dig your path either, but they just chose not to talk down about it.

If I sound grumpy, i apologize for that, but elitist comments have always bummed me out. Also remember where you are at. the land or auto accompaniment.


Edited by Robh (03/13/12 08:20 PM)
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#153295 - 03/13/12 08:29 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: Matt Finley]
Tony Wright Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 505
Loc: Waterloo Ontario Canada
I'm not proud so I use all the features BIAB has to offer to enhance my keyboard playing during live performance.

Sometimes, if the piano piece is too hard for me I will add a BIAB piano solo through my sound module and play the melody with one finger on the keyboard. It can sound great and I have had compliments on my playing! I have asked if anyone knew there were two pianos playing and so far no-one has noticed. Also I often showcase BIAB by adding different solos with different instruments.

For me, Karoake is not a swear word.

Tony

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#153296 - 03/13/12 08:39 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: eddie1261]
90 dB Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 3616
Loc: Florida
Quote:

Quote:

And so did Van Halen




You mean you didn't like Eddie "How many notes can I fit into this 32 bars if I turn my amp up to 27 and play with my right hand on the neck?" Van Halen? The guy who later changed his name to Eddie "Screw you Mike Anthony and all you meant to this band for decades. My talentless kid who is going to spend his whole life riding the coat tails of my name is going to play bass or I will not tour." Van Halen?








Yup, that's the guy, and your vitriol doesn't detract from his accomplishments one iota.
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#153297 - 03/13/12 09:00 PM Re: What constitutes live performance? [Re: 90 dB]
eddie1261 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 3322
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Stealing Django Reinhart's technique, claiming it was his own, and playing too loud is a list of accomplishments? Anthony was really the musical soul of that group. Note, THAT group. I do not take away from Van Halen's overall musicianship. Exquisite classical pianist. Extremely talented overall musician. But put a shirt on, have enough brains to stop smoking non stop until they remove 1/3 of your tongue, stop using alcohol and drugs to excess, don't cheat on your wife, go ahead and EAT the red M&Ms, and use your God given talent in a matter HE would be proud of.

But that's just me..... Vice free me..... (Equally as wide SMILEY FACE!)
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