Using Live feels like cheating

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
BoddAH
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Using Live feels like cheating

Post by BoddAH » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:05 pm

This doesn't apply only to Live but probably to DAWs in general.

I come from an "instrumentalist" background and used to play piano for several years before picking up the guitar and playing it for 5 years as well.

I only recently picked up Live (Reason and GarageBand as well) and simply applying music theory and "programming" music without the need of any actual playing skills really quickly started to feel like cheating. Even though I play piano, I don't even use a MIDI keyboard when making music with Live. I program it and alter it afterwards to make it feel more natural with results that usually sound better than my imperfect playing...

Not only this but you can watch your music slowly come to life, you become a one man band, hell even a whole orchestra if you want to. You can produce basically any sound you can think of and even sounds you would never have though of. You correct every little mistake, iron out anything that doesn't sound perfect in a few clicks until your whole work sounds just like you wanted. Then you also produce your whole song, mixing it and mastering it until it sounds like a professional record (if you got the skills).

As a guitarist who spent years playing the same scales, chords and 3 chord songs over and over and over again until they finally sounded somewhat acceptable, I really feel like using a DAW is like cheating to the point where it totally kills my motivation to keep playing guitar.

I understand that traditional instruments supposedly bring more realism and "feel", but unless you're Eric Clapton or Maurizio Pollini, you probably end-up bringing more subtle mistakes than desirable "feel" into your music and the whole thing is certainly not worth years of rigorous musical training. With advanced programming techniques, multi-sampled instrument libraries and modern DAWs, you can get pretty close without even knowing how to play an instrument. Besides, if you treat synths as instruments in their own right and don't strive only to emulate real instruments, that whole point is moot anyway.

I have come to a point in my life where I really wonder if I should keep playing guitar. I'm 25 years old. I don't have a band. I never saw the guitar as a way to get into girl's pants playing Wonderwall on the beach (and I even do less so) :mrgreen: and with a busy job and little free time, I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that I'll never be a rock star or a blues guitar God.

I still enjoy playing guitar but I also enjoy composing it in Reason. The only reason I still play is to maintain my level but frankly it feels like I'm bringing a knife to a gunfight when I think about what I could be doing with Reason while noodling around on my guitar. I'm really considering dropping the whole thing and focusing on making music with my computer.

Have any of you started as instrumentalists and discovered Live/DAWs afterwards and felt the same thing? I can't possibly be the only one. :D

AceLuby
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Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by AceLuby » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:23 pm

Nope, two totally different worlds IMO. I'm in both an electronic band and an acoustic cover band and they both fulfill totally different parts of my love for music. In the electronic band I get to work on my production skills, do some live looping, incorporate electric guitar and bass, and control the flow of our live shows. In my acoustic band I play lead guitar and comp over the chord progressions w/ more interesting voicings than the typical bar or cowboy chords as well as sing a bit. Both are fun and are completely different.

FWIW, 25 is when I decided I wanted to be a 'good' guitar player. Still not 100% there, but I get closer every day, and I always have something musical I can do since even if I've got 10 min I can go over my modal stuff, licks, or create some cool chord progressions. I also almost always create my chord progressions for beats on my guitar first.
levimoniz wrote:yes i'm a hypocrite and not intelligent

Rave
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Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2005 9:26 am

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by Rave » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:49 pm

Stick with the guitar as much as you can as you can always get a midi guitar which will open the flood gates creativity wise if that is your main instrument. :)

kitekrazy
Posts: 740
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:16 pm

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by kitekrazy » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:29 pm

BoddAH wrote:This doesn't apply only to Live but probably to DAWs in general.

I come from an "instrumentalist" background and used to play piano for several years before picking up the guitar and playing it for 5 years as well.

I only recently picked up Live (Reason and GarageBand as well) and simply applying music theory and "programming" music without the need of any actual playing skills really quickly started to feel like cheating. Even though I play piano, I don't even use a MIDI keyboard when making music with Live. I program it and alter it afterwards to make it feel more natural with results that usually sound better than my imperfect playing...

Not only this but you can watch your music slowly come to life, you become a one man band, hell even a whole orchestra if you want to. You can produce basically any sound you can think of and even sounds you would never have though of. You correct every little mistake, iron out anything that doesn't sound perfect in a few clicks until your whole work sounds just like you wanted. Then you also produce your whole song, mixing it and mastering it until it sounds like a professional record (if you got the skills).

As a guitarist who spent years playing the same scales, chords and 3 chord songs over and over and over again until they finally sounded somewhat acceptable, I really feel like using a DAW is like cheating to the point where it totally kills my motivation to keep playing guitar.

I understand that traditional instruments supposedly bring more realism and "feel", but unless you're Eric Clapton or Maurizio Pollini, you probably end-up bringing more subtle mistakes than desirable "feel" into your music and the whole thing is certainly not worth years of rigorous musical training. With advanced programming techniques, multi-sampled instrument libraries and modern DAWs, you can get pretty close without even knowing how to play an instrument. Besides, if you treat synths as instruments in their own right and don't strive only to emulate real instruments, that whole point is moot anyway.

I have come to a point in my life where I really wonder if I should keep playing guitar. I'm 25 years old. I don't have a band. I never saw the guitar as a way to get into girl's pants playing Wonderwall on the beach (and I even do less so) :mrgreen: and with a busy job and little free time, I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that I'll never be a rock star or a blues guitar God.

I still enjoy playing guitar but I also enjoy composing it in Reason. The only reason I still play is to maintain my level but frankly it feels like I'm bringing a knife to a gunfight when I think about what I could be doing with Reason while noodling around on my guitar. I'm really considering dropping the whole thing and focusing on making music with my computer.

Have any of you started as instrumentalists and discovered Live/DAWs afterwards and felt the same thing? I can't possibly be the only one. :D
You are at that point where arranging and composing is more of an interest. That's all. Learning apps are time consuming.

Piplodocus
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Location: Southampton, UK

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by Piplodocus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:32 pm

That's why watching a DJ is crap compared to a live band. If a DJ played anything you didn't want to dance to, and had to sit watching them mix at a seated gig you'd go for the real group of musicians every time. There's a time and place for DJ's and "produced in a studio virtual environment" music (like a lot of modern pop), but sooner or later you want to see a real band with real people and real instruments working as a team to bring you the aural and visual spectacle. That's probably why VJ's became popular (after disco lights) because DJing is generally inherently dull to a certain extent. Obviously there's the exceptions (watching DMC people scratch and do wicked tricks springs to mind), but there's nothing like a completely live band for great music simuataneously with the entertainment of watching multiple skilled people work together.

How many electronic bands end up having live bassists/drummers/keyboards/guitar as they get bigger? Even the Prodigy would seem a little dull if it was only Liam Howlett with a laptop and no stage lights! The Faithless live band makes their records seem a little dull.

BTW, don't get me wrong there's plenty of electronic one man bands and producers I love, it just doesn't cut it in my best live experiences unless I'm mashed and can dance to it! Note however, this is also coming from a man who saw Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica all last friday and I'm completely back to blisteringly fast, loud guitars, after a few years listening to too much slow girly music with no solos and fast changes! :wink:

BoddAH
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Location: Brussels, Belgium

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by BoddAH » Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:02 pm

Piplodocus wrote:That's why watching a DJ is crap compared to a live band. If a DJ played anything you didn't want to dance to, and had to sit watching them mix at a seated gig you'd go for the real group of musicians every time. There's a time and place for DJ's and "produced in a studio virtual environment" music (like a lot of modern pop), but sooner or later you want to see a real band with real people and real instruments working as a team to bring you the aural and visual spectacle. That's probably why VJ's became popular (after disco lights) because DJing is generally inherently dull to a certain extent. Obviously there's the exceptions (watching DMC people scratch and do wicked tricks springs to mind), but there's nothing like a completely live band for great music simuataneously with the entertainment of watching multiple skilled people work together.

How many electronic bands end up having live bassists/drummers/keyboards/guitar as they get bigger? Even the Prodigy would seem a little dull if it was only Liam Howlett with a laptop and no stage lights! The Faithless live band makes their records seem a little dull.

BTW, don't get me wrong there's plenty of electronic one man bands and producers I love, it just doesn't cut it in my best live experiences unless I'm mashed and can dance to it! Note however, this is also coming from a man who saw Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica all last friday and I'm completely back to blisteringly fast, loud guitars, after a few years listening to too much slow girly music with no solos and fast changes! :wink:

I watched many big bands over the years and I respect and love actual live performance but I disagree that seeing a DJ is "crap". It's different. People nowadays go to DJ shows purely for the music and the vibe of the place. It's certainly cool to see a guitarist performing an epic 8 minute long solo but many people don't really care. They're there for the music and they don't care if the artist made it live or the night before the gig. Besides, a good DJ will still remix and alter the shit out of his tracks before a gig to surprise his audience and even add some "live" elements to spice things up (as Ableton Live users should obviously know), more importantly, he communicates with his audience which makes up 80% of the quality of a live DJ show. :lol:.

Daft Punk building up their Around The World/Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger remix during their Alive 2008 concert and David Gilmour playing his 6 minute long extended Comfortably Numb solo during his PULSE tour both gave me goosebumps. :mrgreen:

Piplodocus
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Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by Piplodocus » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:28 pm

Yeah, I guess crap was a bit strong. As I say I love all kinds of music. I saw daft punk back in 2006 and they were great. Ignoring just the actual music (which I never really questioned) they weren't as much too "see" or be impressed by when compared to Massive Attack full band I'd seen about an hour or 2 earlier. They did have marvellous shiny helmets to offset this a bit though! :D

nafe
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 4:33 pm

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by nafe » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:10 am

using midi and soft synths can never replace the recording of a real guitar, violin, rhodes (and many other instruments). anyone who tells you otherwise i think doesnt know what they are talking about. there are just to many variables to the sound that comes out of a guitar that means that every single time you strike the string there is a different sound depending on angle of strum, strength, pick/finger nail thickness, where on the string you strike it (to the millimetre) the list goes on. I feel it is literally impossible to replicate these inconsistencies to a realistic extent using soft synths and midi. sure there are some great vst's out there to replicate instruments but they just dont sound 100% real.

Dont take my word for it read this http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/Aug01/a ... rets28.asp

having played guitar, violin, piano and a few other instruments over the last 20 years i feel that the most powerful think about composing in ableton is the ability to quickly pick up an instrument and play a few sections, put it down, move over to another play a few more bars and continue asthough you are literally jamming with yourself

I wouldnt recommend abandoning the guitar for the sake of using only ableton/reason or what ever daw, rather combining both the digital and organic components and adding your already hard earned musical abilities to what you are learning in DAW's

i offer an example and challenge any guitar vst or soft synth to replicate
http://soundcloud.com/commongroundrecor ... hypothesis

dude rancher
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Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by dude rancher » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:06 pm

i have been playing guitar for over 25 years. a friend told me about this www.yourockguitar.com
its not a complete fix for midi guitar but it does track well and you can play synths with ease.
i cant imagine ever giving up guitar. after dealing with electronic music all day sometimes you have to plugin and get your hendrix on...

Khazul
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Location: Reading, UK

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by Khazul » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:51 pm

Getting into computer based music production can be hugely distracting. The most obvious one - lots of instant sounds to play with.

Next up is the illusion created by the fact that its simple to throw something together that is acceptably sounding, and obviously alot tighter than a loosely played guitar or piano or whatever. Howver that illusion should rapidl fade when you play the result next to a well produced commercial track that you like.

People also often neglect recording and play-through workflow and leave themslves in a situation where actually playing their chosen instrument through the computer and with the right processing etc is a pain in the ass compared to just programming some from some fat arse synth preset.

Computer based production tends to lend itself to making little phrase and then pasting them out - so you get ther illusion of fast progress compared to messing around with a guitar/keys part for hours just playing it - never mind tring to record it as well.

Computer demand a hell of alot of concentration that tends to mask normal creative free flow that you get when just playing - which makes you playing worse when your at the computer.

The fixes:
Patience young padi-wan! Focus more on making your played instruments work in the context of a DAW - that might be moving stuf around in your room/desk to improve access and workflow. Set up racks etc to make playing more rewarding. Maybe you need to look at soome kind of control surface to help with away-from-computer track arming and recording.

Having you midi keyboard in you desk (rather than at the side or wherever) helps too.

Also are you actually making the music you should be making?

I think it can take people some time to find what actually suits them - the right combination of the music they like to hear vs the music they like to play etc, rather than defaulting to what comes ot when your sat at a computer and exploiting clip triggering etc.

Also be realistic - what is your strength in music? Guitaist?Painist or producer and what genres? In particular what has the most realistic potential? Keep in mind a good writer and instrumentalist can always find themselves a producer or even learn the basics of production - the other way around is very very much harder, so it would seems waste to let you guitar playing go to hell.

If it turns out the music you really want to make doesnt really feature guitars normally - maybe figure out how to make guitars fit in - make your own flavour etc. It can take years for people to figure out what actually suits them musically.
Nothing to see here - move along!

perplex
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:47 pm

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by perplex » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:57 pm

to OP

I feel like you sometimes, when I use drum samples. I know I can create my own drums, but sometimes I like to add in some sampled loops to accentuate some things. But I almost ALWAYS take it out because I feel like I can do them myself, instead of having to sample them.

its similar so I know where you are coming from

ARDJ
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Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by ARDJ » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:50 pm

i haven't picked up a guitar in years but if you enjoy playing and coming up with ideas, this is a gem

http://www.google.com/products/catalog? ... CEQQ8wIwAA

dude rancher
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Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:07 pm

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by dude rancher » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:22 pm

the Peterson G2M Universal Guitar to Midi Converter is probably the worst converter i have ever used. a tracking nightmare. i tried to sell mine on ebay for half of what i paid for it and no takers. the yourockguitar is only $100 more and tracking is like playing a midi keyboard.

cramos241
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:29 am

Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by cramos241 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:28 pm

I'm a bass player, been in bands, got music theory knowledge and all that noise and im making a transition towards electronic music as well. Instead of dumping my bass behind, Im simply using my computer, ableton, guitar rig and all the stuff as an extension to the sounds i can produce through my bass.

Lucky you, you know how to play piano but with bass to midi options available now it gives me the option to play through a medium I understand, unlike piano. I do see where you are comin from. At the end of the day, why would I want to play bass at all when I have the vast options that I do with all the vsts and plug ins I got? But at the end of the day, I see producers and djs out there that dont have music theory knowledge and dont know how to play an instrument, so if anything use your musical skills that you have to excel yourself above the rest.

http://theflashbulb.net/2010/

The Flashbulb is one of my biggest influences and fully utilizes his midi guitar for production and live performace (drums, synths, bass, he all recreates live). Maybe take a peak at some of his stuff live on youtube to see what set up hes got and how it all works.

*side note* http://www.rolandus.com/products/produc ... ductId=849
this is hands down the best midi guitar option out there. (roland also makes the vb-99 for bass as well.)

H20nly
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Re: Using Live feels like cheating

Post by H20nly » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:33 pm

don't give up your guitar. just don't.

you might be able to emulate guitar, but sitting there picking around it and trying to find the right sound and sample etc etc... is not faster than picking it up and playing it straight in. cheating is okay here... fix your mistakes, splice two good clips together, loop a perfect section or copy and paste it across... it's not cheating it's striving for perfection and they were doing it with tape back in the day but it was cheaper to play it again. now cost isn't the issue so in a sense it's more freedom.

don't look at it as cheating look at it as speeding up the process.

to me, it's only cheating when you're stealing others music and passing it off as your own.

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