How do controllers and Laptops translate on stage

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Machinate
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Re: How do controllers and Laptops translate on stage

Post by Machinate » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:01 pm

Rave wrote:How do things like trigger fingers etc work with the audience?
an appropriately exaggerated gesture when triggering, combined with actually bringing the unit up front ( I like them mounted on a mic stand) instead of tucking it away on a table somewhere.
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ollyb303
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Post by ollyb303 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:08 pm

Fingers at the ready, about to drop the beat on my faderfoxes!

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Edit: It might look like I'm about to go for the EA-1, but I wasn't - adding the element of surprise!
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synnack
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Post by synnack » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:55 pm

While it's probably true that the vast majority of people prefer to see something like trigger finger than a mouse....

I don't really think it matters. A performance comes from the people on stage, not the type of electronic box they touch.

You can rock a mouse more than a trigger finger and visa versa. Depends on you.
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kristoffer1989
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Post by kristoffer1989 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:03 pm

tempus3r wrote:While it's probably true that the vast majority of people prefer to see something like trigger finger than a mouse....

I don't really think it matters. A performance comes from the people on stage, not the type of electronic box they touch.

You can rock a mouse more than a trigger finger and visa versa. Depends on you.
+1. Check out girl talk!
I think the main thing is cetting a connection with the audience and not just staring at your screen...

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Post by starving student » Tue Dec 23, 2008 11:07 pm


pimpleburger
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Post by pimpleburger » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:08 am

Well I'm in a band and have used Ableton at gigs for backing and click tracks etc. But I just trigger live from an SPDs whilst drumming.

From looking at lots of breakcore and noise artists out there using live then I wouls say they all have the laptop stare! LOL

Staring at their laptop screan, face illuminated by the display with that look upon their faces like they're hypnotized. Yup it's geeky and doesn't engage the audience at all. Triggerfinger or mouse it doesn't matter.

If your screen is to one side and you've memorized your set then you can turn to the screen and tweaking occasionally and scrung up your face like you are struggling to save the earth from alien invasion but you must move to the music and dramtize it with movements, dance, gestures and communicating the pleasure you get from your music. They've gotta see you and feel the pulse of the music and to read your body lanuage and facial expressions etc. You know - performance.

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Post by ohiowa » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:25 am

there are plenty of people who are completely turned off when they see a laptop on stage and no matter what accessory you use with it they still won't like it. Staring at your laptop screen is the same as playing a guitar, standing still and staring at your pedals, oh guess what...some really amazing music has come out of that! it's what the audience brings to it as far as expectation and how the sounds created provoke the listener that makes a good show. People like to see movement, usually. I've been completely blown away by a person staring at a computer screen, and completly put off by it from another performer. And the "press spacebar and jump around" scene is really freaking boring to me.
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Post by Gargoyle » Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:21 pm

imho people are just lazy. everyone cannot agree on whether a laptop is an instrument or not but everyone can agree on when they see a musician because a musician is really playing his/her instrument. you never see people who play buckets on the street being called non-musicians its because they really play those buckets and the people watching don't care what it is they know its an instrument by how the musician is playing. on laptops people feel that their musicianship is not important and then get mad when someone says they are not a musician- go figure.
if you play you're laptop like it's an instrument (cause it is) then no one will care what midi controller you are using or how many knobs you have. I think that alot of smart people are starting to not even use controllers and just use the computer by itself cause it makes you get into it more trying to bang out tunes on the qwerty
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Post by synnack » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:12 pm

Gargoyle wrote:imho people are just lazy. everyone cannot agree on whether a laptop is an instrument or not but everyone can agree on when they see a musician because a musician is really playing his/her instrument. you never see people who play buckets on the street being called non-musicians its because they really play those buckets and the people watching don't care what it is they know its an instrument by how the musician is playing. on laptops people feel that their musicianship is not important and then get mad when someone says they are not a musician- go figure.
if you play you're laptop like it's an instrument (cause it is) then no one will care what midi controller you are using or how many knobs you have. I think that alot of smart people are starting to not even use controllers and just use the computer by itself cause it makes you get into it more trying to bang out tunes on the qwerty
Well, i tend to agree but to play devils advocate...

It is possible to be with a laptop onstage and not play a single note. But with a drum, that's pretty hard.

The possibility that a laptop artist is not actually doing anything because your average person can't tell is different than a guitar where people CAN tell if someones faking.

So then, what about the idea of projecting your laptop screen on stage so people can see you're doing something? Well, part of what makes a good performance to me is the mystery of it all. Which is less interesting in that scenario.

Fun times.
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synnack
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Post by synnack » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:16 pm

This thread also reminds me that i really need this tshirt to wear on stage.


http://www.fractalspin.com/x/product.ph ... =10&page=1
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Gargoyle
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Post by Gargoyle » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:26 pm

tempus3r wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:imho people are just lazy. everyone cannot agree on whether a laptop is an instrument or not but everyone can agree on when they see a musician because a musician is really playing his/her instrument. you never see people who play buckets on the street being called non-musicians its because they really play those buckets and the people watching don't care what it is they know its an instrument by how the musician is playing. on laptops people feel that their musicianship is not important and then get mad when someone says they are not a musician- go figure.
if you play you're laptop like it's an instrument (cause it is) then no one will care what midi controller you are using or how many knobs you have. I think that alot of smart people are starting to not even use controllers and just use the computer by itself cause it makes you get into it more trying to bang out tunes on the qwerty
Well, i tend to agree but to play devils advocate...

It is possible to be with a laptop onstage and not play a single note. But with a drum, that's pretty hard.

The possibility that a laptop artist is not actually doing anything because your average person can't tell is different than a guitar where people CAN tell if someones faking.

So then, what about the idea of projecting your laptop screen on stage so people can see you're doing something? Well, part of what makes a good performance to me is the mystery of it all. Which is less interesting in that scenario.

Fun times.
yes but to play the devils advocates advocate :) I'd say that's the crux. imho there is no difference between a laptop and a drum only what the musician chooses to do with it. alot of people who use laps like us think because it's a computer that they don't have to do anything, putting a set up on the screen would be a terrible idea if in that set one didn't do anything. there is a concept that will never change, playing music and playing a performance of someone playing music. the people know the difference between there home stereo or itunes with a playlist and a musician playing music in front of them. the problem with our types is that we think that people are too dumb to understand that our filter sweeps are so technical that we don't have time to be a musician when we play for them
but this isn't the audiences problem it's actualy ours. if a 12 string guitarist couldn't play 12 strings then he wouldn't be a 12 guitarist, the same thing goes for computers imho one should only play what one can play and still be a musician because once you stop being a musician you become a playlist. how can we expect people to see us as musicians if we don't see our own selves as musicians
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Rant coming...

Post by synnack » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:38 pm

This is a blog post I did on someones livejournal. Slightly different topic about DJs and laptop bands but somewhat relevant here.

Image

This to me provides a useful way to explain how DJs and Musicians and "Laptop Bands" differ. More importantly, it helps your average person understand recent trends which indicate to me that differentiating between a DJ and a Musician is increasingly difficult and often an irrelevant distinction.

* Jukebox-like - A DJ who plays other peoples music and crossfades or cuts between them

* Musician-like - A DJ who beatmaches, inserts loops, effects, transitions not part of the original song, "mashups", etc... They make something new, out of source material coming from other peoples songs.

* DJ-like - Musicians who, when performing, play their own prerecorded music back and sometimes crossfade or cut between them. Potentially adding live bits here and there in the form of samples or synth parts

* Band-like - Musicians who do not use any prerecorded material and every sound that is heard is created on the spot.

Depending on where a performer is on either sliding scale, this may be a way to categorize things and discuss similarity and differences. What I find interesting about this approach though, is where it is obviously broken.

Consider:

* 1) There are many DJs who are "Jukebox-like" and use laptops to basically press play on other peoples songs and crossfade between them

* 2) There are many musicians (cover bands) who use no laptops or digital technology at all, who basically play other peoples songs for audience entertainment; and often with no attempt to transition or modify them at all.

The conclusion I take from this is that the value of a DJ, Band, or Musician is independent of what technology is used and technology is merely a detail of the performer based on their specific needs. Assigning value to a performance should be independent of the technology used.
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CITYSTATE
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Post by CITYSTATE » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:33 pm

Has anyone seen Flying Lotus play live?
He uses a laptop and trigger finger for those who don't know.

The crowd in SF went completely ape when that guy hit the stage. It had absolutely nothing to do with his gear and everything to do with his personality and energy.

It seems to me that most people doing laptop sets have the dynamic range of a mediocre public speaker. Kinda nervous, sometimes fake a little confidence, not a total trainwreck but not awesome either.

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Post by mikemc » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:42 pm

I like the diagram.


I feel I can speak with some authority on this because I've been in bands of varying suckiness as well as having produced and performed laptop-based electronic music of varying suckiness. I have noted the following:

0) Anytime anyone are watchies and listens to a musical performance, they are "giving it a chance". A lot of what people "like" has to do with a) what they typically are willing to give a chance and b) how far away from that they have to go to give whatever thing a chance.

1) You can have a great sounding laptop performance that is not much to watch. Conversely, you can have a band performance that is awful to listen to, but very animated. Even so, laptop based music is currently atypical, so the typical someone feels like they are taking "more of a chance" to be exposed to it. BUT...

2) A less sucky laptop performance is better than a sucky band performance. Consider a laptop sitting on a table on a dimly lit stage that is producing amazing sounds, vs. a band of sweaty idiots on a dimly lit stage producing silly sounds. The value of the band diminishes rapidly when you give it a chance, where the value of the laptop improves when you give it a chance. Add some visuals to the laptop performance and you've got just that much more.

3) Using a laptop, it is harder to produce the typical performance-marring events and/or errors that a band often makes: awful live sound quality, going out of tune, breaking strings/drumheads, playing out of key, losing synchronization with the rest of the instruments playing other parts. But, you can make truly catastrophic mistakes that are is difficult for a band to make. For example, if the drummer spills a bear on his snare drum it is an opportunity for playful splashing. If the same quantity of the same bear is spilled on a rhythm-producing laptop, it can mean the end to the show.


4) There is a romantic cultural notion of a bunch of more or less normal people getting together in a garage and starting a band, or the single Dylanesque singer songwriter grappling with his/her mode of expression, and then moving on to become profound and popular. This is a farily sacred romantic notion with a powerful mythos that is widely understood and which is cherished (by myself as well). But, it seems less culturally understood that it should extend to the laptop musician, who after all has to learn some technical geeky stuff just to get things to work.

[edit] i am a horrible writer and sorry to go on so long, but everytime the topic comes up my thoughts become clearer on this so thanks.

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Re: Rant coming...

Post by 4ace » Thu Dec 25, 2008 5:03 am

tempus3r wrote: Assigning value to a performance should be independent of the technology used.

+1 And should always be the case!
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