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Re: Using backgrounds live (looped or pre-recorded)

Hi all,

It certainly doesn't matter to me -- I do it myself from time to time
if I'm not playing with a band (or sometimes even when I am). What
matters to me (and I think most folks for whom it is a problem)
is the idea that someone is trying to FOOL someone else (with fame
and financial gain as the prime motivator). An image of Brittney
whoever lip-synching to an autotune-corrected, pre-recorded vocal
track and shaking her booty while reaching for the audience's wallets
comes to mind for some reason. Such people are no better than

Pushing a button and starting pre-recorded sounds (often in full view
of the audience) has had a long, storied and prominent history in
progressive sorts of rock over the years -- rhythmic loops of breaking
glass (Gentle Giant), cash register noises (Pink Floyd), wind and water
and other environmental noises (too many bands to count), this
is all nothing new. Did audiences think the band had snuck an ocean
in backstage? Did they mind?

Or Talking heads, a roadie puts boombox on stage and presses
play. Byrne comes out and sings to it for a while, eventually followed
by the rest of the band. This is theater. This is art too. No one was
trying to FOOL anyone. The idea is kinda fun. I wish I'd thought of it.
Did the audience mind? I doubt it.

What if Kenny G plays to a backing track of Louis Armstrong? Well,
he's certainly FOOLing himself to put himself in that sort of league.
And, he certainly seems to be trying to FOOL the punters in his not
inconsiderable audience that he is as well. That's dishonest. Does
the audience care? Probably not either. The don't know jazz or who
the old black dude singin' the old, corny song is anyway.

I once saw a very famous looper (whose work I absolutely adore and
who used to frequent this list years ago) use a drum machine AND
a sampler in a solo concert setting at a club in L.A. Did I mind?
Heck no! I was, in fact, inspired to go out and do it live myself.
I'd been using a keyboard sampler like a phrase sampler in my studio
for years already. I felt liberated and validated. The potential for
making great music overcame my reservations about using
machines (and canned loops) in a live setting. Shortly thereafter
I tossed the Keyboard and drum machine when the first affordable
"phrase sampler" came on the scene.

I realized that as long as I wasn't trying to FOOL anyone, the tools
were there to use. I play all of my own MIDI guitar parts and EDP loops
(I don't sing or dance live anyway) and I've never heard anyone
complain that I'm also occasionally reaching over to push a button
on a box to trigger a rhythmic or textural loop. It might be drums or
traffic sounds, cartoon voices, a string or brass section, a choir,
wind, rain, waves, washing machine noises, old record scratches,
the hum of a busted refrigerator or the murmurings of insects or
small mammals. It's all fair game.

Recently (in the last few years or so), I've discovered the usefulness
of the Acid Loop Libraries that are available too. Oh no! I can hear
the gasps of outraged sensibilities already. But, I ask you, do you think
it would EVER be likely that I'd get to play with the real Marc Anderson
or the real Bill Laswell or the real Joe Vitale? These folks will NEVER
visit Medford, Oregon. I bought their royalty-free loop libraries and
have almost the same benefit on demand.

I've not put out a CD with any of their stuff on it. It's unlikely that
I would ever do so. When I create such a permanent document I
want it to be ALL ME -- or real live persons whom I've collaborated
with personally. But it's a heck of a lot of fun -- and the couple
of times I've trotted out with my sampler loaded with my own
pre-recorded sounds and loops (augmented with a few of the
Acid variety) it has been just TOO DAMN MUCH FUN.

I live too far out in the boondocks, surrounded by classic rock
an county western hacks, for it to matter to me.

My wife and I were watching an old vid last night: Peter Gabriel's
"Secret World -- Live" concert. I was surprised that I never noticed
before that many (if not most) of the songs are DRIVEN by pre-recorded
loops and/or backing tracks. As amazing as he is, Manu Katche is not
playing ALL of the drums. And often, as amazing as the great Tony
Levin is, he is not playing ALL of the low-end bassy noises. You can
just tell. I own the video and never noticed it before. It's sort of funny
too, cuz there seems to be a sort of "cast of dozens" onstage from
time to time (particularly at the end). So it wasn't for reasons of
economy that Gabriel did it. It was odd to only notice it after all
of this time.

Best regards,

tEd kiLLiAn


Ted Killian's "Flux Aeterna" is also available at: Apple iTunes,
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and Viztas. Yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah. So???

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