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In my mindless, never ending quest to delve deep into the technical realms of "Ambient music", I've got yet another question or two for the folks who play/compose their craft.  Question 1. - if you are a performer who takes his "show" out to the public, does your "live rig" differ from your studio rig greatly?  2a. - Are your "live" performances more or less as important compositionally (is this a word?) as your studio work? - or is your studio work done in a "one shot" sort of way as a public performance?  -2b. Is "studio" work of any greater or lesser value or simply another method?  2c. - Do you do extensive editing or let the piece live as done?  3a. - Do you have a preference of "hardware" (many synths, modifiers, etc.) or software (synths, modifiers. etc...)  3b. - Is a "live" public performance inhibited or expanded by the use of software?  3c - Are you wary of using computers in a "live" setting?

 

No fair just saying, "it depends..." that's too easy...

 

Later on I will open a section for performance "horror stories"... always fun to share those mortifying experiences.  If I had a nickle for every time something went wrong and I thought, "This would be really funny if it weren't happening to me..." Well, I'd have the BIG house on the hill.

Views: 10

Comment by John K-N on March 22, 2011 at 6:43pm

No fair saying "a question or two" and then splitting it into 16 questions with letters on the end!   Sounds like something I'd do!  ha!

 

I will tackle this a little later.  :-)

 

But I'll start with ... it depends.  

Comment by Lily Pond Orchestra on March 22, 2011 at 6:53pm
LOL!  caught by my own ploy!  the term, "a question or two" was merely a figure of speech?  that's my story and I'm stuck with it.
Comment by eyes cast down on March 22, 2011 at 9:26pm

Hmm...

1. If you are a performer who takes his "show" out to the public, does your "live rig" differ from your studio rig greatly?

It'll be the same, when I finally get on a stage. I might not take all six guitars...

2a. Are your "live" performances more or less as important compositionally (is this a word?) as your studio work? - or is your studio work done in a "one shot" sort of way as a public performance?

Hopefully. I'd have a mixture of composed pieces, structured improv with precast elements, and straight-up Keith Moon without a net.

2b. Is "studio" work of any greater or lesser value or simply another method?

Another method. I can use more tracks that I would live (and of course, edit away all the mistakes).

2c. - Do you do extensive editing or let the piece live as done?

Depends. Some pieces are live takes. Others are pieced together little symphonies. Some are fully composed, some fully improvised, some in between.

3a. - Do you have a preference of "hardware" (many synths, modifiers, etc.) or software (synths, modifiers. etc...)

Everything's in the box. A choice fuelled by circumstances that I have to live with. Maybe not as responsive in the moment as I'd like, but more versatile especially in the studio, and way cheaper, for the massive amounts of effects I like to use.

3b. - Is a "live" public performance inhibited or expanded by the use of software?

Both. I can't change things as instantly as I could if I was using all hardware, but there are more possibilities, which I couldn't otherwise afford. Give and take.

3c - Are you wary of using computers in a "live" setting?

Ya, but my hands are tied. I'll just have to get good at it and hope the power doesn't blow out.

Comment by Jeff Sampson on March 23, 2011 at 12:14pm
1) Yes, the live gear differs greatly in the sense that I don't attempt to move the studio into a live setting. 99% of my solo outings are improvised, and I'll bring as little as needed to be (hopefully) sonically interesting. The fact that most of those outings are voice-only helps keep the gear list down. If I'm playing with someone(s) else, I may be generating sounds that don't originate from my voice so, obviously, I'll have a bit more gear in play - but I still don't bring "the studio". It's a dual matter of mobility (I'm NOT a fan of "5 hour" setups and the similar breakdown times) and the personal challenge of doing as much - live - with as little as possible.

2a) Live work is JUST as important as studio work. I may be improvising, but I have the same desires for listenable output. Some studio work is "one shot" (the EP I posted a few days ago is an example - both tracks are live-in-studio), most of it is composed.

2b) Studio and live work are of equal value to me. One reason is that I learn things in each environment that I can bring to the other.

2c) If I'm going to ask people to listen to a live recording (whether it comes from the studio or a public performance) I'm not going to edit anything other than tone down (but not remove) sounds that I feel are disruptive. (Using microphones in a live setting gives extraneous sounds ample opportunity to get involved.) If a live performance is considered documentable, it shouldn't be messed with beyond "wiping down the table top". My studio compositions almost always involve multi-tracking, editing, and post-processing - usually quite heavily.

3a) No preference over hard- or soft-ware. Real-time tweaking with knobs and sliders is certainly a plus of hardware. Space and money constraints "benefit" from software. That said, not all useful hardware is expensive - a cheap fuzz box, for example, can be quite useful. On the other hand, it's hard to come up with an argument against the wealth of free/inexpensive software available (well, maybe drowning in that wealth is a detriment). However, I'm really looking forward to being able to afford a hardware controller that has more than 49 keys.

3b) Expanded, for the most part, although I rarely bring the computer out live.

3c) Considering the possibility (probability) of something crashing/locking up while in use, yes. For me, it means having a backup sound option on hand  - which begs the question of why bring the computer in the first place. If I was bringing tons of equipment with me anyway, I'd probably feel less anxious about "relying" on a computer for sound support.
Comment by Andrew Quitter on March 23, 2011 at 12:16pm
 

Cool thread! I'm really looking forward to hearing other peoples answers and I actually have to time to mess around a little this morning for once, so here's my take,

 

1. If you are a performer who takes his "show" out to the public, does your "live rig" differ from your studio rig greatly?

 

Yes. I use pedal effects, so when recording I can use all or none on every track, but playing live I have to decide what goes where. So I usually try and keep it somewhat simple and use just 1-3 pedals for every source. Home made tape loops help a lot for drone elements and field recordings.

 

2a. Are your "live" performances more or less as important compositionally (is this a word?) as your studio work? - or is your studio work done in a "one shot" sort of way as a public performance?

 

Studio work is always more important to me because layering sounds and giving them time to develop is one of the main reasons I love playing music. For live shows I try and get a good 15-20 minutes that have a few different movements over that time. If it comes out really well I’ll record it “live” in the studio. So recently my albums have been a mix of live and multi-tracking.

 

2b. Is "studio" work of any greater or lesser value or simply another method?

 

Making albums is way more important and fun to me. It allows you to create exactly what you want with no regard for anyone else. Playing live you have to take the crowd, sound system, visuals, etc. into consideration. Often times for people who care more about the drinks being served over what you’re doing…

 

2c. - Do you do extensive editing or let the piece live as done?

I use fade ins/outs, eq, and occasionally compression/normalizing. Pretty simple when it comes to that I guess. I like things lo-fi. I’m sure it’s since I started out on tape where you just re-do something that’s not working out instead of fixing it later.

 

3a. - Do you have a preference of "hardware" (many synths, modifiers, etc.) or software (synths, modifiers. etc...)

 

Hardware. I love junk, just ask my wife…. I’m starting to get interested in software for drum/field recording processing though. It’s been really fun.

 

3b. - Is a "live" public performance inhibited or expanded by the use of software?

 

 Nope.

 

3c - Are you wary of using computers in a "live" setting?

 

Yes. One of my tour mates last summer used max/pure data to process flutes, singing bowls, etc. and had a lot of problems that have scared me from going that way.

Comment by John K-N on March 23, 2011 at 2:17pm

1. - if you are a performer who takes his "show" out to the public, does your "live rig" differ from your studio rig greatly? 

 

I've only played two "ambient" type gigs since I retired from my rock/pop/whatever band days (1985-1998).   On both occassions - I took only part of my studio gear...  the first gig I played bass mostly - and brought one synth and a couple of effects and a mixer - and a mic and  my trumpet.     The second gig I stripped all the way down to just my bass, mixer, a couple of effects.  

 

 

2a. - Are your "live" performances more or less as important compositionally (is this a word?) as your studio work? - or is your studio work done in a "one shot" sort of way as a public performance? 

 

I love the interaction of playing with other musicians.  I've always been a "player" more than a "programmer" (nothing wrong with programmers!) - I've played in a lot of live situations and enjoy that freedom of cutting loose and letting go.   Switching into autopilot and letting the music take me where it needs to go.   But I rarely (if ever) do that anymore.   All of the people I used to jam with moved away - or we're just too busy - or I'm just too tired and going to bed earlier!   :-)

 

My studio work is a mixture.   I think you could say that the majority of my recordings are played live - recorded from start to finish for each track - and not punching in and fixing things.    I like to think of it as a mixture of planned and improv...  I have an idea - I tinker with it - I record a few takes - somewhere around 3 to 5 takes is the 'sweet' spot.  Too early and it's too unplanned - too many more than that and it's 'aliveness' starts to fade out.

 

I'm a play from my gut person. 

 

I also "play" effects and synth knobs and mixer volumes and feedback loops - all while playing - so I'm recording a performance - and that performance involves all of these various elements - not just a keyboard note - or a bass string - or whatever... 

 

On the other hand - once in a while I plan something to the nth degree - and do things totally different.  But above is probably 70 or 80 percent.

 

 

2b. Is "studio" work of any greater or lesser value or simply another method? 

 

Simply another method - there are so many different paths in music and life - different ways up the mountain.  Who's to say which has more value?  What works for me may not make sense for you and vice versa. 

 

2c. - Do you do extensive editing or let the piece live as done? 

 

Truly depends - but majority of the time - leave it alone and done.   Sometimes I continue messing with a track with effects in Logic - for example...   If you listen to my track "A Dream of Awakening" off of sleepMODE

 

  John Koch-Northrup - A Dream of Awakening - from sleepMODE by Relaxed Machinery

 

The piano track started with that short little melody idea...  I played it through once finding the right notes to go with it.  I played it maybe a couple more times fishing out the right things...  hit record - I think I messed up the first take (I think Peanut, my dog, came in wanting to go outside if I remember right) ... I came back - and the 2nd take was the "right" one.  I didn't record a 3rd.  Something was just "right" and I stopped and that was it.

 

But then...  I wanted a copy of the piano - so I copied it in Logic - and then popped on some delay.   Liked it - copied it again - put on some massive delay, reverb, pitch shift stuff - dropped that more into the background.   Made a 4th copy and obliterated the heck out of it with distortion and fuzz... 

 

And finally - added the underneath "noise" - which was my juno 106 - a noisy patch into a pair of feedback loops that crossfed each other into a noisy nasty Alesis Wedge reverb and my trusty Korg SDD-1200 dual delay.   The "rushing" sound - the changes to it - are entirely me controlling the amount of feedback on the mixer. 

 

So - was that extensive editing?  Don't know ... but that's kind of typical for me.   Some very close to raw improv - some planned - some editing.

 

3a. - Do you have a preference of "hardware" (many synths, modifiers, etc.) or software (synths, modifiers. etc...) 

 

I far prefer having my hands on an instrument... strings, knobs, sliders, cables, trumpet, piano.  I love the computer - and am beginning to love softsynths now that I have an 88 key piano controller.

 

3b. - Is a "live" public performance inhibited or expanded by the use of software? 

 

I really don't know.   But I will say - it's just another tool, another instrument - and it's all in how *you* relate to your tools/instruments - if software feels right to someone - than by all means - go for it.   Just like I couldn't walk out and perform on a cello...  but it can be beautiful in the hands of someone who knows how to make it sing. 

 

3c - Are you wary of using computers in a "live" setting?

 

Well I've never done it.  I would be very tempted to take a laptop along if I do another live gig.   I would say precaution has to be taken - just like you have to be careful with any gear you have.   If you go to a gig with a guitar and no strings in case you break one...  ummm - yeah. 

 

When I used to gig - I always had a spare bass with me.  Never needed it.  But it sure felt good to know it was there.

 

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