How do controllers and Laptops translate on stage

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
NapalmBob
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Post by NapalmBob » Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:12 am

FACT: laptops are boring.

FACT: visuals are fun.


Why not put two laptops on stage but use one to generate visuals that can be tweaked and projected onto the backdrop?

Have you ever seen a real DJ just dance around on stage? No, they have a job to do; reading the crowd, choosing the next track, beatmatching, dropping, reading the crowd (rinse, repeat). Just because you're using a laptop dosen't mean its any easier (even if you don't have to beatmatch, you still have to mix and read the crowd).

If you don't want to be the center of attention, then get somebody to do some visuals for you. The idea of any live performance is generally to get people to lose themselves in you music (or your mix/mash), and there are many ways to do that.

SubFunk
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Re: Rant coming...

Post by SubFunk » Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:16 am

4ace wrote:
tempus3r wrote: Assigning value to a performance should be independent of the technology used.

+1 And should always be the case!
spot, on nothing to add, music and crowd interaction = performance first, no matter what is being used.
*** Image GAFM ***

ikeaboy
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Post by ikeaboy » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:34 pm

NapalmBob wrote:FACT: laptops are boring.

FACT: visuals are fun.


Why not put two laptops on stage but use one to generate visuals that can be tweaked and projected onto the backdrop?

Have you ever seen a real DJ just dance around on stage? No, they have a job to do; reading the crowd, choosing the next track, beatmatching, dropping, reading the crowd (rinse, repeat). Just because you're using a laptop dosen't mean its any easier (even if you don't have to beatmatch, you still have to mix and read the crowd).

If you don't want to be the center of attention, then get somebody to do some visuals for you. The idea of any live performance is generally to get people to lose themselves in you music (or your mix/mash), and there are many ways to do that.
Reading the crowd is a really important skill, it takes a certain type to never take your eyes off dancers whilst playing but i've noticed it in some successful Dj's usually of the more upfront sounding genres. I'm leaning towards the idea of visuals rather than hobbeling the possibilities of a performance just so the percent that care can see me bash out a breakbeat on pads. However reading the crowd is pointless unless you can put the observations into action by changing your sets pace and content to match the mood/needs of the moment.

ikeaboy
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Post by ikeaboy » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:36 pm

Techno was never at its best as an old fashioned 'stand still/nod and watch the performer' type of music experience

LeifonMars
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Post by LeifonMars » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:48 pm

Well, my band is a hybrid band. There's a drummer with acoustic kit and some pads, guitarist/bass player and me playing 2 padKontrols. With my left hand I launch (musical) loops and FXs, with my right hand I play synth bass or leads. We play without quantization, which means if I fuck up, everything sounds chaotic for a bar or two, and I tend to fuck up once or twice every gig. I don't have to look on the computer screen once during the show, instead I just rock away, which causes cross feed problems from time to time.

The most important thing is though our singer. She draws the attention from the fact that there is a computer on board. But then again, she looks in a way so exotic (in a cool way) that computer and techy things feel like natural part of the music she performs.

I never feel like I or we should feel ashamed or defend where we come from.

hambone1
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Post by hambone1 » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:55 pm

It's show business. People expect and deserve to be entertained, even if it amounts to nothing more than cheerleading.

IMO, if the music's good enough, nothing else is needed, especially with musicians playing instruments. Otherwise, some form of compelling visual entertainment helps and can certainly enhance any performance.

heavensdaw
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Post by heavensdaw » Thu Dec 25, 2008 8:22 pm

hambone1 wrote:It's show business. People expect and deserve to be entertained, even if it amounts to nothing more than cheerleading.
.
I think that's it in a nutshell.. Over years of gigging in many different forms, i.e. solo, duos, groups.. I'd say exactly that.. Performance goes beyond the physical.
And a good performer only needs the attention of the audience, and good vehicle in the music being produced, to make the journey into losing yourself in the moment..
That's all there is to it..

As a performer what I think is most important is that you feel comfortable with what your doing, not what you're doing it with.

Hd

rabblebasics
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Post by rabblebasics » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:58 am

good artists can feel the crowd and they know a way of communicating that understanding through sound vibrations. everyone is different, ive seen bands with laptops play sick shows (usually on good sound systems + visuals) as well as garbage/annoying/sloppy ones and ive seen not laptop bands play sick shows and incredibly boring shows.

its a matter of finding that balance between the two, while still allowing for extended improvisation if you 'get' that energy from the crowd. someone that plays a completely planned set can't typically take it over the edge, but sometimes totally improv artists (laptop/non-laptop) can plain out suck with one never ending solo or sloppiness

i think a laptop is fair game, id like to see more shit hooked up to your laptop (effects/controllers/keyboards) because to me that means they have the ability to expand their sound range. i want to go on a journey or take someone on one, however you do that is totally up to you, just make sure it happens

Gargoyle
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Post by Gargoyle » Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:18 am

i think temps diagram makes the point, the fact that people need a diagram shows what is wrong with laptop performances in their typical current state. I also disagree about the controllerism trend we are on, you don't even want to know how many controllers I have and even though I've spent difficult funds to come by to get them they are starting to seem a little comedic to me (no offense to anyone) I've taken a couple and torn them apart and i'm doing the moldover thing which gives alot of control for sure, but what I'm finding is that the translation is Lost on the people, they actualy don't care that I've got this weird thing frankenstien controller and I'm doing all this stuff, they seem to be much more intrested if I'm just using the computer keyboard, making computer sounds but showing how into it that I am. its like they know I'm using a computer and they seem to prefer to see a guy who knows he's using a computer but trying to do something cool with it like use it as an instrument, but I think too often we try to get the people to get into our cyborg controller world and they have a hard time feeling it, it's just scifi to them. here's a challenge at your next gig take a few moments before your set and just hold your laptop in your hand and press some bleeps and beats and you will see what i'm talking about , do it at the front of the stage laptop in one arm mash the qwerty with the other hand and they will like it more than your regular set up, it will make you feel strange.
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Post by pulsoc » Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:40 pm


siddhu
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Post by siddhu » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:00 am

mikemc wrote:

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.

This is an absolutely fabulous little description of why especially in North America there is such a "hostility" to laptop performances. A really crappy but visually compelling performer will get total props but a brilliant laptop based musician/performer/producer will be ignored.

I find in North America that if a it doesnt involve a guitar(s), it's much harder to get taken seriously.

debu
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Post by debu » Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:25 am

It's not technique, or gear, it's what you have to say.

the_woof
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Post by the_woof » Sat Dec 27, 2008 7:34 am

I think it helps somewhat if you have a warm-up act that play traditional instruments first, to get the crowd going. I say that because I just saw Eliot Lipp live and the crowd loved it and moved a lot, and he didn't have any moldover-style antics or exaggerated motions. He just pumped great music and people danced.

@siddhu: there's actually a video on xlr8r of the glitch mob playing in the street in California and the camera cuts to a close up of this guy saying "They're not musicians because none of them can play the guitar." So I'm in 100% agreement with you on that.
djsynchro wrote:For a female vocal try companding a mid-side encoded signal with a ratio of around 18:2 at around 2.5k, possibly a lower ratio if the source is very sibilant.
my music

Gargoyle
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Post by Gargoyle » Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:06 am

siddhu wrote:
mikemc wrote:

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.

This is an absolutely fabulous little description of why especially in North America there is such a "hostility" to laptop performances. A really crappy but visually compelling performer will get total props but a brilliant laptop based musician/performer/producer will be ignored.

I find in North America that if a it doesnt involve a guitar(s), it's much harder to get taken seriously.
i saw that glitchmob clip as well, I'd hardly count that paticular guy as speaking for most people I really think it's more about what debu said , it's what you do, for instance siddhu in your post you say "

A really crappy but visually compelling performer will get total props but a brilliant laptop based musician/performer/producer will be ignored."

but where is the brilliant performer part of the laptop musician you are talking about, that's exactly the thing we are all discussing, and like yourself
we all talk about ourselves performing but then when we get into these converstations we say we don't have to perform, or that we're laptop musicians the word perform means something different for us than it does for them, I personaly feel like we should get off of our collective high horses
and get down on the stage and perform. another thing we do is always pick out guitarist like they are everything we should not be but it's just not true, bass players have to perform, drummers have to perform, pianist have to perform, classical musicians have to perform, devo had to perform, kraftwerk had to perform, I could see if we were not real and we were some algorythmic program then maybe we would not have to perform but we are not elecr\tro plankton inside a computer we are human beings who use a computer as an instrument not as a performance. thats just my opinion
the Gargoyle

hambone1
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Post by hambone1 » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:47 pm

I find it hard to use 'laptop' and 'musician' in the same sentence.

IMO, we need a new descriptive noun... something above DJ but below musician, although it's a blurry area. Then perhaps the public will start to accept what is a relatively new form of musical entertainment.

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