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Discussion Starter #1
I recently played as a sub in a wedding gig with a "company" that I normally don't play with. This company basically calls in players and mashes them together (though I'm sure some players play often with each other) under various show names (depending on the repertoire). Most of the music I played was top 40s of different eras, and "typical dance stuff".

The Line up was:
Male Vocal
Female Vocal
Female Vocal/Keys
Guitar/Male Vocal
Drums
Sax
Trumpet

Notice no mention of a Bass... I found out during sound check that near all of the song have a pre-recorded part (a "sequence") which has parts on it like, bass, sometimes strings, and even sometimes other horn parts (a lot of which can be muted/controlled). The drummer is constantly listening to a click track to keep in time with the sequence and drive the live performers.

I definitely learned a lot out of this gig, and would do it again. It's a different type of playing as far as I'm concerned and requires a bit of a different skill set (especially if the sequencer cuts out, how to recover (because if it comes back in at an odd spot, it keeps going from there)). All that said, NOTHING will ever beat playing with a 100% completely live band!

Have any of you played in situations like this? To me it felt a bit more like studio work, what with having a drummer going off of a click track and over dubbing on top of horns that aren't there. Is this typical for these entertainment companies that are providing some degree of live music?
 

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NOTHING will ever beat playing with a 100% completely live band!
This about sums it up for me. I made a pretty decent living starting mid 70's through most of the 80's until technology started making it possible to lose players here and there by using sequencers, etc. Now the state of live music is abysmal. Really hard to make a living doing nothing but playing. The only players I know from those old days that are still doing it full time do cruise ships and traveling shows, and those use click tracks. Takes lot of the fun and spontaneity out of it, IMHO. If you're gonna use click tracks you might as well just play mp3s with a DJ.
 

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By the same token, when you get tired of drunk drummers who can't maitain a steady beat, hard to deal with personalities, lazy members showing up late after the trailer is unloaded, egos, guitar players who have a need to open up the amp and part some hair with volume, bass players who plug into the mains and shake the ceiling, soundmen who don't have a clue, on and on and on it is no wonder that the midi files/sequencer became popular.

It has its' time and place for a lot of people who do not have a real good choice of good reliable local musicians to call on for a gig.

But I do agree; one can't beat "live" if you are lucky have a real good situation.
 

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A band with a sequencer should not be a problem if the fee charged for the performance is lower than the fee if all the sounds were live.
 

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A band with a sequencer should not be a problem if the fee charged for the performance is lower than the fee if all the sounds were live.
I think this is exactly why this form of "entertainment" band has become popular. I am forced to gig this way in order to maintain steady work, and on that rare occasion I get to play with a full band it reminds me of the old days when club and restaurant owners gladly paid for entertainment.

B
 

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The use of sequencers in cheesy cover bands is indeed a bummer. On the flip side, sequencers and Midi can be used to control everything from lights to pyrotechnics. It's just another tool and a good one used properly. I've recently seen them used on both a Peter Gabriel show and a Roger Waters concert with great success. The accompanying click should only be fed to the drummer, who guides the rest of the performance. They're great for managing "effects" type of sounds and auxiliary parts such as when you need strings on only two songs and don't want to eat up stage space for a section to just sit around most of the night.

Another common use is to control effects processors so that vocal echo at the end of chorus two is always on cue or other specialty effects. Strict timing can also be a reason to use sequencers live. If your show has a multi-media event such as a video portion that needs to sync with the music, it's almost a requirement. I don't much like the restrictions they impose but I can see a use for them in certain productions. Not all shows are "let's go where the music takes us" (which I prefer) - some are highly structured even down to the time between songs.

A few years ago I co- produced a world music group with 13 other players from around the world. The music we wrote also incorporated vocal samples used as instruments and other "specialty" sounds, as well as choreographed dancers and film running the full length of the backdrop behind the performers. It simply had to have some sequenced parts to stay true to the concept.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't much like the restrictions they impose but I can see a use for them in certain productions. Not all shows are "let's go where the music takes us" (which I prefer) - some are highly structured even down to the time between songs.
I generally like playing the "go where the music takes us" or play stuff that the audience responds to most kind of shows. One of the selling points of this entertainment co. is that they advertise a very consistent show. I now understand how that happens, and like Fader mentioned it's fairly structured. I guess it just comes down to how people use these things.
 

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I'm not really one for major stage productions these days, but if I'm at a venue where someone is playing along with canned music, I leave. Even the damned street performers are doing it these days... taking whatever soul once existed in that art form straight to hell.
 

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I saw Johnny Mathis in concert a couple of nights ago -- a "pops" show with the Dallas Symphony. On a few songs, they used this approach for backing vocals and a few other elements. This augmented Johnny's core band and about 25 real brasses and strings, and I can't say it detracted too much from the evening. Most in the audience probably didn't realize it was happening. Still, kind of a bummer.
 

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One band I'm in uses backing tracks or a drum machine which the bass player runs. He puts fills in with a foot switch. The tracks are for originals. When people hear us live with tracks it sells more CDs. We've had a number of drummers but their sense of time and understanding of grooves was lacking.
The group consists of three people:
bass player/singer and runs drums,
guitar player/backing vocals with guitar synth, runs tracks,
me on keys/flute/sax/hand percussion and very little backing vocals.
 

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I'm not really one for major stage productions these days, but if I'm at a venue where someone is playing along with canned music, I leave. Even the damned street performers are doing it these days... taking whatever soul once existed in that art form straight to hell.
I usually just let the music decide if I'll stay the night but I haven't walked out of many show in my life. As a musician / composer who uses a lot of MIDI in the studio and on occasion in live settings too, I have a pretty clear concept of the pros and cons of MIDI augmentation. I'm with you that most of it is unfortunately cheesy but that's because someone put cheese in the can. Any MIDI part can played into a sequencer "real time" with no quantizing just as you would play it live. "Soul" can be recorded in the studio as easily as it can be played live. Done correctly, you wouldn't notice anyway. It's best used like a seasoning. Sparingly. Again - it's not my first choice for live work, but I do create a lot of samples that start with an organic source (anything from vocals to raindrops and beyond) that once processed, cannot be duplicated live that sometimes define the piece of music. The art in my sig (while quite simple) is a prime example of a blending of live players and sampled tracks. 90% of it is played, but the other 10% that was born in a sequencer helps to define the piece. I considered how I would recreate it (and other tracks from the same project) live and sequencing seemed the best bet for some parts...music has never been ( for me) how you create the parts, but rather the end result.
 
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