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adistantsignal



Joined: Jun 08, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:03 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: live vs. backtracks
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With regard to live vs. backtracks, I think it’s fair to say the use of backtracks is generally an accepted practice not just in EM but many styles of music. Many rock acts use backtracks as well. (You would be surprised just how many artists use BT’s and who they are.) Ironically, many are used for the keyboard parts.

In many instances, as Mosc said, it is unfeasible to hire many musicians to replicate an entire composition. After all, we all don’t have Yanni’s budget. There are also logistics of finding performers who want to play someone else’s music, personnel turnover, perspective differences, legal issues and equipment complications associated with more people involved. For some of us, this is as much a business as it is a love for the art.

Many elements in EM such as arpeggiator sequences, percussion, FX texture fills, back pads, etc. weren’t intended to be played live, but enrich what is being performed and help fully realize a piece of music (much in the same way stage props enhance actors performance in a theater production.)

If an artist is performing the melody, leads and chords of a composition, then the most significant parts are covered and people can tell. Even if he or she can’t cover it all live, the audience can tell the artists is still performing a selected part of the composition for one reason or another (like they may have run out of hands to use.)

It’s what the artists are performing along with backtracks that matters. Playing an organ piece with no backtrack and playing the same organ piece with a backtrack is still exactly the same from the perspective of what the artists is actually playing live. In both examples the performer is playing exactly the same thing 100% of the time, yet add a backtrack, 50% is actually played live.

An artist who sits down with a synthesizer and creates a composition using motion patch generation by opening and closing envelopes, filters, arpeggiators and LFO’s is theoretically generating 100% of the music live, yet may not even play a note of music physically.

This is why looking at this issue from strictly a live percentage perspective or a backtrack issue is flawed. If the most significant elements are being performed, it’s the audience that decides if what is being played is riveting or just mediocre from a performance and composition perspective.

I think, what in fact is being referred to here is the significance of actual played “live content” and to what density, how frequently and how substantial the parts being played by particular artist are in relationship to an entire piece of a music. That is really what the heart of the issue is, not the usage of backtracks or percentages.

Dan S.
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egw



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

We can only include artists who offer to come and play, so the proportion of styles is representative of that.
In terms of the schedule and amount of time for each artist, we try to achieve a good mix with as much variety as possible.
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adistantsignal



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks Greg. I figured that may have been largly the case.

Dan S
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deknow



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mostly what i am objecting to is not the use of some prerecorded accompinement (as i said before, i played with prerecorded accompinement in one of the sets we played this past weekend). i still don't really think it's necessary in most cases, but i certainly don't expect the world to revolve around my own aesthitic.

what bothers me is when most of the material is prerecorded, and the impression is given that it is being played live...there was some of that this past weekend, and i do agree with howard about not expressing negative judgements about artists here, but i think we can talk generally about this.

the front page of electro-music.com says about the site:
Quote:
The primary motivation for its creation is artistic and spiritual expression, not show business.


....doing an act is about showbusiness. i consider having the oppurtunity to play in front of people a privelege, and i do my best to treat the audience with respect....and at a community event, i tend to expect the same from others.

one can certainly decide if they like the music or the manner in which it's created....but if the performer is giving a false impression of what they are doing, then the audience is not given the oppurtunity to have a reasonable opinion without first convincing themselves that that they are being mislead.

a final thought (which i almost touched on earlier) is that i'd easily be comfortable with anything that the artist would be willing to share representative excerpts of the backing tracks of...this would give the audience a reasonable impression of what is actually happening. i don't necesarily think that this is actually workable, but as a "thought experiment/litmus test" it might just hold up.

deknow
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

if the music is good and enjoyed, does it matter how it was done, or if the performer is wearing underpants or not..? i don't personally care how it was made per se if i enjoyed it
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mosc
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
i'd easily be comfortable with anything that the artist would be willing to share representative excerpts of the backing tracks of...


Yes, this I entirely agree with. Electronic music performances are too mysterious. The audience hasn't a clue what is going on. We should explain what we are doing. People have very basic questions: is this notated, improvised, automated, always sounds the same, etc.

Our tendency is just to start playing. Many performers prefer not even to be introduced. I think this goes back to mid 20th century rebellion against concerts being mindless rituals. Whatever, it is in some ways disrespectful of the audience.

Nothing wrong with saying, "This music is too complex to be played live so I'm using a prerecorded backing track while I perform on these three synthesizers." It would make the music much more accessable to the uninitiated audiences.

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deknow



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Nothing wrong with saying, "This music is too complex to be played live so I'm using a prerecorded backing track while I perform on these three synthesizers." It would make the music much more accessable to the uninitiated audiences.


yes, this would be good....especially since much of the audience is musicians, and presumably most of us are there to learn as well as to enjoy and perform....and learning from someone who is misleading you is good for "life lessons" ("you mean this snake oil won't attract supermodels like is says on the wrapper?"), but not necessarily good for practical music things.

now, do we get to flux and feather someone who claims not to be using backing tracks and is? pretty please????

deknow
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mosc
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
now, do we get to flux and feather someone who claims not to be using backing tracks and is? pretty please????


Chill... Wink

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deknow



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...i am being chill Cool ...otherwise i would have suggested soldering the feathers on Twisted Evil

deknow
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utenzil



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I will confess that I said that one of my pieces was 'self generating' when, in fact, it was 'self modifying' where it was a lyrical/melodic vocal improvisation over chordal tonalities generated from drumbeats running thourgh a resonating filter and a gate, where the drumbeats were a pre-composed midi sequence being randomized/modified by a beat slicer.

It was a wildly unfounded claim, a grotesque misrepresentation!

there Smile I said it, and I'm glad Exclamation
Razz

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bbinkovitz



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:43 pm    Post subject: video Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

not at all quick note about our video stuff from a ruori member (i haven't run this by the rest of ruori for approval, so this represents only my own perspective and opinions, not necessarily that of all of ruori):

1. it is unfortunate that our projector setup reduced visibility. we tried to seat ourselves in the area of worst visibility of the stage so as to leave the most seats with decent visibility free. if we are in your way, please tell us _when_ we are in your way, not after it is too late to fix it! (this would have been good for the large gallery speaker situation too.)

2. we tried not to push our visuals on anyone - we tried to be more "would your group like us to do visuals?" rather than "can we pretty please do visuals for you?" we also worked hard to match the visuals to the music (steve frantically put together something to make the visuals flash at a speed controlled by a knob on the mixer board during the introduction of the south american rave-music group because otherwise our visuals would have been totally out of place with their music). i was surprised by some of the groups that said they wanted visuals (the theremin guy CLEARLY did not need it, but we didn't know that in advance. so we did our best to go with it, which i think worked out surprisingly well. [personal apologies for my delayed reaction to the "killing of the swan" thing -- i was too startled to queue up video clips for a moment and steve had to jab me with his elbow before i snapped out of it.])

3. despite all of this, i agree that the visuals at the event did not always fit the music. ruori visuals have a very distinctive style that is very different from, say, that of Dr. T. we would have loved to have had more information from the artists before the sets (at one point i was asking the sets "describe your act in three adjectives", although it is hard to use the information that the music is "progressive" to tailor the video style.) and matching the video artists to the acts beforehand would make loads more sense than how it was done this year. i am strongly in favor of the "more variety" solution to this - more visuals to choose from, more different setups for displaying them, etc. i think this year a lot of the musicians just hadn't thought of the visual component of their performance at all and were therefore unprepared to give useful information about what kind of visuals, if any, would optimize their sets.

[whew, what a long first post!]
-beth
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utenzil



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Dr. T was kind enough to send mail saying that he'd do visuals for anyone who would like but didn't have, and I was grateful for this-- I saw this as an offer to collaborate from a fellow 'digital artist'-- and would've seen it that way from anyone.

However at the time of replying to his mail I dont' think I fully appreciated what goes into doing it. Probably what would've been best would be to have sent links to some music that would provide an idea, rather than the few words I could string together while setting up.

So an I think an improvement would be to have lists of video artists that would like to do more visuals and musicians wanting visuals, posted sometime after the schedule is set, where mp3s/ideas/schedules could be traded.

[edit] just wanted to add that despite unfamilarity with what I would play, what I could glimpse of Dr T's vids was wonderful.

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sounds_of_impermanence



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:

what bothers me is when most of the material is prerecorded, and the impression is given that it is being played live...there was some of that this past weekend, and i do agree with howard about not expressing negative judgements about artists here, but i think we can talk generally about this.


This is certainly your opinion and I respect it. But I think it is limited. The amazing thing about computer music is the ability to blur the studio and the live environment. Indeed, this is what remarkable programs such as Ableton Live and Audiomulch enable. I think the whole concept of "playing live" has become much more open--not simply to those who play hardware instruments in real time but also to those who are serious and dedicated laptop performers such as Vytear, William Fields, Vostek, myself (Ben Fleury-Steiner), and others who spend countless hours refining their craft. I think your use of the term "pre-recorded" in a derrogatory way belittles the fact that many use backing tracks or loops because they are simply impossible to duplicate in "real-time." While I'm no fan of those who just hit play and sit back, although, I've been to dozens of shows where laptops are used and have rarely, if ever, seen this take place. I think the same could be said for visual performance, a medium that takes a lot of know-how, time, and effort to do well. Here, much of the visuals are crafted in the studio and then presented in real time. Also, consider a painter, what they are presenting can have an incredible effect on an audience, yet the artist need not even be there!! In many ways, I see my own performances as a form of painting with sound; I take "colors" (loops) that I've worked incredibly hard to create in my studio and present them in real time (using Audio Mulch). I choose also to perform additional colors with a software synth in my live performance, but that's just my own preference.

In the end, the most important thing to me is if it sounds, or when visuals are used, looks good (which is obviously subjective). I don't care if someone is processing farts into a mic or shows utterly bizarre images of frogs with moustaches Razz if it adds to the overall EXPERIENCE, then I like it.

But I will say this: I DO love the idea of mixed-media instrumentation. That is, combining digital applications (both sound and visual) with electric and acoustic instruments. Have you ever heard the great Jazz saxophone player, Evan Parker's Electric-Acoustic Ensemble's music? It is some amazing stuff where sounds are generated by electronically and acoustically but also real time processing and various digital treatments. I strongly recommend checking out The Eleventh Hour (ECM 2005) an amazing live recording, that I think really shows the possibilities for pushing the envelope of "performance" beyond the "live" you describe in your posts (BTW: they do use some studio created live loops in real time).

Here's the Evan Parker Electric-Acoustic Ensemble lineup on this record:

Evan Parker: soprano saxophone, voice

Philipp Wachsmann: violin, live electronics

Paul Lytton: percussion, live electronics

Agusti Fernandez: piano, prepared piano

Adam Linson: double-bass

Lawrence Casserley: signal processing instrument, percussion, voice

Joel Ryan: sample and signal processing

Walter Prati: computer processing

Richard Barrett: sampling keyboards, live electronics

Paul Obermayer: sampling keyboards, live electronics

Marco Vecchi: sound projection

One last comment: I did hear a sax player jamming w/ Mike V and Jem up in the jam room on Suynday and it really got my mouth watering Cool I was really dying to join in but at that time I was preparing my own set and was thus preoccupied. Hopefully next year !

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deknow



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ben, your set was one of my favorites from the event, and what you were doing was not what i was refering to (i hope!).

i'm assuming you had prerecorded stuff that you were manipulating....but you were fully involved and immersed in what you were doing. if you were twisting knobs for show, and were largely just doing a playback of what you did in the studio, then i would object to that...if you were doing a playback of backing tracks and your tweaking was only making the occasional bleep, bloop, or swish, i would find that objectionable as well.

again, i don't want to put anyone specific down in writing on a public forum...i don't think that's productive.

it's lip syncing that i object to...giving the impression that one is doing a lot on stage, when in fact they are not. the more i think about it, the more i like my litums test of "if the artist would be embarased by the audience knowing what is on the backing tracks, then it's too much lip syncing"...mostly this only comes into play when the artist is making a show....a kazoo player playing stars and stripes to a backing track isn't a problem (as we all know enough to know that the kazzoo isn't playing all the orchestra parts in realtime)...a singer sitting at a keyboard that they are only pretending to play would be a good example of too much "lip syncing"...this is what i object to....deliberately misleading an audience.

deknow
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sounds_of_impermanence



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
ben, your set was one of my favorites from the event, and what you were doing was not what i was refering to (i hope!).


Thanks for the kind words, it is unfortunate if the following description of what I do in performance ruins it for you, but, again, I'll leave that for you to decide.

I try to keep it fairly simple. I use audiomulch a very user-friendly program on my Dell laptop. In this environment I have a slew of loop players going that I mix in real time using both mixer and crossfaders and add a bit of delay and reverb depending on the track (sometimes a little airiness from Tiny God's Breather VST). I also am playing, at various points, a Cameleon 5000 soft synth VST that adds various colors to the mix.

In any event, I do need to be thoroughly immersed in what I'm doing, because I'm trying to do justice to my cd. Make no mistake, the performance is thoroughly rehearsed and I do very little improvising, I actually have various cardboard cut outs of all the assigned knobs that fits over my midi-controller!! Am very anal about this...But all the rehearsing and preparation that goes into it is, in all honesty, quite anxiety provoking, and makes me yearn for something a bit less formal live...

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deknow



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ben,
what you describe is very differant from pressing "play" on one big audiofile and just tweaking the reverb sends in realtime. what you describe is about what i thought you were doing (i have used audiomulch), and i have no problem with that. if your midi controller were not hooked up to the laptop, yet you were still twisting knobs and making faces, that would be (imho) a problem.

deknow
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sounds_of_impermanence



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
ben,
what you describe is very differant from pressing "play" on one big audiofile and just tweaking the reverb sends in realtime. what you describe is about what i thought you were doing (i have used audiomulch), and i have no problem with that. if your midi controller were not hooked up to the laptop, yet you were still twisting knobs and making faces, that would be (imho) a problem.

deknow


I agree with that! I mean what's the point of live performance? I guess I just read too deeply into your posts....time to chill a bit from posting Wink

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sounds_of_impermanence



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BTW did you perform at this year's event??
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ben,

yes, i performed on friday with the jambient project (ramona, mark jenkins, doctor t, and myself...all improv), and on sunday with modulus (same lineup...but we played stuff that did have some backing and were actual compositions). i also gave a talk on "free music" (improv) and my electric flute development.

deknow
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rbedgar



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:01 pm    Post subject: Live vs...?
Subject description: Caught by Hong's Camera!
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Hmm...caught in the act by Hong's camera...June 2, Robert Edgar, second photo...while appearing to play solo...but look closely at the guitar neck...IS THIS PRE-RECORDED??!??
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:47 am    Post subject: Re: Live vs...?
Subject description: Caught by Hong's Camera!
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rbedgar wrote:
second photo...


Nice one, is a bit like that old Zappa movie :D

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