is live live?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live

Post by Guest » Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:02 pm

the funny thing is the first post that started this thread linked to a german site and I wouldn't have a clue what it said!


Post by Guest » Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:58 pm

While this is definitely limiting the scope of the term. And im not sure just how much i believe what i am saying...

i think that being a musician has alot to do with being able to improvise.
this then brings up the definition of the word "improvise" however, i would include writing music as a type of improvisation... basicly the ability to take your training (or self training) and use it as a base... and create something new and original on the spot... and writing is doing something on the spot... in the traditional sense it is not, however are you not playing it in your head?

as an example of not inprovising... i have never seen or heard a bagpipe player improvise in my life. all they do is play the same traditional songs over and over. they sometimes say that they are doing new stuff, but this always just means doing something like playing a traidional song that they have memorized note for note, on top of a drum beat or some shit.

so. although this is rash, in some sence i dont concider bagpipe players musicians.
and i say this not because they do not write, but becuase in my experience they cannot. they are incapable.

i have found this to not hold true at all for other musicians. even one that have been playing for 10+ years, never writen anything themselves and never tried. you sit them down tell them to do something new, it will take some coaxing, but they will do it. this is being a musician.


with Live and other methods of electronic music live performance we are able to expand our scope of being a musician. no longer are we stuck being only writers... now we can be performers too.
this is not to say that everyone useing live is truely inprovising...

as an example: when i first started useing live, my usual process was to take a song that i had writen out in cubase, and export 4-8 bar loops for each track for each section of the song. then when "performing" i would simply build up one song, play through it, break it down and build up the next. not really improvising. becuase i always knew what was coming next and didnt really wander to far from this path.

i have since evolved to writing misc pieces of music. a bass line, a melody, a drum track. odd things, old things... things that had something good but never really worked... and taking all these little bits, rifs, lines, whatever... and i bring it into Live, along with all my aformentioned samples...

then with nothing planned. i build something. never the same twice, evolving as i hear it in my head on the fly. this is inprovising... rather than individual notes i am useing loops of multiple notes. however i am still improvising. i am still changing things as they seem fit at the time.


Post by Guest » Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:42 pm

you said it--right on!!! After all the negative feedback to the musician posts i was afraid to say what you did--imho a good musician is someone that can improvise on their instrument (be it a guitar, drums, keyboards, evens a computer or turntables). I.e. a musician to me is somewhat that can sit in with a group or another musician they've never played with, and just jam--be able to play along with someone else's musical ideas, even if you haven't heard them or practiced with them before. There are loads of amazing instrument players (many in classical music or cover bands) that can play the hell out of there instrument, but can't create on the fly and jam and improvise with other musicians. They are used to playing what they're reading, or what they've heard on albums they're covering, or replicating the music they've created on albums. That is a major difference from being able to react and interact on the spot, going with the flow by the seat of your pants--that takes a large knowledge base of all types of music, and the abilty to know what will work and how to play it, all in real time. My favorite musicians to watch are just getting down on stage, singing what their playing, bobbing to the rhythms, feeling the energy.

That interaction and responsiveness to others playing is what music is all about to me--without it i would be a sad puppy. The excitement of creating on the spot is second to none, and i've been recording band practices and gigs or myself for years for just that reason--my first response coming from shaking my ass and LISTENING to the other musicians I'm playing with is almost always my best part. It's once i start thinking and using my head instead of my heart and soul to create that i some up with more stale, less groovy parts. so by recording improvisation as it happens, then taking the good parts and building on them is how i build most of my songs. That feeling of being in the moment and reacting to others people's parts is one of the best feelings in the world. It is a world of difference from reading sheet music, or making sure you execute the part from the album just right. And its not all about solos and "look at me" bs, its about a group of individuals coming together as one musical entity. And again, its not to say that they're aren't people who can't do it on a computer or turntable, but those mediums alone are not as instantly flexible and fluid as most traditional instruments.

One great dj I've seen be able to really be a member of a band an interact in that way is Mister Rourke who plays with Club D'elf around Boston--he really listens to the other musicians and isn't just wanking on the turntables. I've seen Dj logic, kid koala with bullfrog, herbie hancock with dj disk, and many other band + dj outfits, and other than Rourke, it sounds like two different and not usually connecting things, a band and a dj. i'm not slaggin anyone, i'm just saying that for me, the ultimate musical experience is COMMUNICATING with other musicians by playing together and listening and reacting to each other in real time. I feel happier and more fufilled with communicating like that through music than i do talking to people--its the way i'm wired or something. That communication is just not present with pre-recorded stuff or most dj stuff, plain and simple. and that's not to say their music isn't great and fun to listen and dance to, but it doesn't have musians communicating and reacting to each other in real time in front of my eyes. to each his own, but to those who have improvised and jammed with other musicians, you know what i'm talking about. Their is nothing like being in the moment like that to spur your creativity beyond what you thought you were cabable of. Great athletes and artists are great because they have to compete with the greatness of other athletes and artists. You can't reach your fullest potential operating in a vaccuum, you need others to spur you on, to make you try things you never would've on your own. lovemaking is more fun than masturbating because two people are involved, there's an interaction, a dance between two different entities becoming one that just isn't there when you wack off.


Re: A musical instrument is an instrument that makes music.

Post by Guest » Fri Aug 22, 2003 5:53 pm

sixela wrote:
I find it absolutely amazing that 'musicians' still keep coming out with these 'sampling etc is a whole world away from 'real' instruments' type comments - it's so simple and ill thought out - it's like saying 'I don't think going out in a car makes you a real traveller, you should use a horse and cart'

do you think when the first piano was invented people stood around saying 'it's not real music'??

A musical instrument is an instrument that makes music. Full stop.

Saying that all these new tools are not real music is like not having any faith that people are still inventive - all the musical instruments must have been invented a long time ago and no more new ones are possible.

Live has only fairly recently been released and it's programs like this that make it really possible for musicians to jam with laptops - I'm sure the guitar or saxophone went through a number of incarnations before the one we know today.

Get your thinking out of the box all you conservatives who don't get it.
seems like people are missing the point that was being made--regaurdless of what and how you create music, when you sample something someone else created (be it on a traditional instrument or a computer or drum machine or whatever), you are sampling someone elses creative output, not your own. no one said a laptop of turntable isn't an instrument, but when you sample something someone else created on a album or loop cd, you are skipping that part of the creative process for yourself, and using someone elses ideas and creativity. i realize it still takes skills to use the technology and make a song, but don't forget that that guitar or drum loop your using was created by a real human being, its not just something that appeared out of thin air on the internet for people to download. remixing sounds and loops you've found or purchased into a good song takes technology and skill to make it sound good, and the tools are instruments, and the end result is music, and it can sound great. But all of these viscious posts are still not wanting to recognize that someone elses instrumental capabilites and creativity made those loops, not yours, at least recognize that much as true.


Post by Guest » Fri Aug 22, 2003 7:11 pm

useing a loop is very similar to useing a rif or a chord that has been used before.

everyone does it.. and thats not what matters... what matters it how you use it, how you adapt it and make it work for you in your context.

i think that 90% of rock/pop recycles more and abuses more recycled material than all electronic music.

in my mind there is very little difference between useing a recorded sample of something and simply playing it exactly the same as a recording yourself. both are unoriginal.

however, taking that loop/rif and changing it, rearanging it... putting it in a different context and making it work in that context, that is where originallity comes in. and on some levels this "change" that you perform on someone elses work can be just as creative and just as musically noteworthy as its original creation.

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Re: A musical instrument is an instrument that makes music.

Post by noisetonepause » Sun Aug 24, 2003 12:55 pm

sixela wrote:do you think when the first piano was invented people stood around saying 'it's not real music'??
They did, actually...


Post by Guest » Sun Aug 24, 2003 2:23 pm

not surprising really, alexander bell was told by the government that his 'telephone' invention had no commercial benefits to offer an would never catch on.

Lets just bang on hollow logs for music and communicate with tin cans and string.


Post by n-1 » Sun Aug 24, 2003 7:18 pm

What's all this talk about sampled material? How many composers/musicians/producers/whocaresaboutwhattheircalled still use the original sample to build up a track? It's about sonic material. I may load up a drum loop that someone else played, but when I'm done with it, you can bet it sounds different. So how relevant is it if it came from a drum kit or from banging rocks together. The sound is what matters - it is the raw material with which I create. As far as I can tell, that's the difference between so-called 'traditonal' instrumental music and electronic music - I can take any sound (ANY SOUND) and use it in ways previously/historically unimaginable.

That is how live electonic music is to be understood as live - manipulating SOUND on the fly, not playing an instrument. Further, take a look at how algorithmic composition is progressing. In terms of its interactive possiblities, programming allows the sounds and the the parameters of sound to influence each other over time, producing novel and varied music through the communication between events as primitives. What do we need humans for in this case? It's all well and good to appeal to the 'human' component of live performance and interactivity, but is that what's really important? Or, is constrained event generation really what counts?

Some have mentioned the experience of performing and reacting to others on stage. It seems to me that these comment refer to something quite different from composition. Sure, it may alter and effect the composition and performance, but it is something added to it, and by no means necessary to composition or performance as they are defined.

In the end any 'instrument' always stands between an artist and their work. Ultimately, it would be best to generate music directly from our brains - but even in this case, producing/creating effective and interesting music would require practice. LIVE is a very effective tool, but that is all it is. It, like any other tool (piano or rocks or screwdriver), must meet with the intentions of a creative force, i.e. the action of a human, or be influenced through some input from outside it, i.e. a command.

To put the idea of 'live' in perspective, let me thow this question out: would an interface connected to a dance floor full of people set up in such a way that the very act of dancing created the music in real time, be considered live? And in this case, does the sound source really matter at all, so long as people keep dancing?

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