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Playing Live with PreRecorded Tracks
Old 8th March 2010
Gear Nut

I guess its about time for someone to resurrect this thread.
I've been approached by a band who is looking for someone to organize their Live performance.
The case is that they've produced an EP in studio, but while doing so never thought about how will they play it live on stage. The band is your usual pop/rock/funk type of band. Drummer, Bassist/Guitarist, Guitarist/Keyboards, LD Vox, BV (x2 people) and me and my friend to take care of sequencing,triggering and whatever else needed to recreate the CD sound on stage.
Now I don't want to go in a foolish debate about what kind of music everybody likes to hear on stage. Everybody is different. Period.
Their usual production is anything from 24 to 32 tracks including BVs and some sort of effects/synts/Percs and stuff.
Now we've got together and I've explained them the challenge and that first we need to establish what can be performed live and what exactly needs triggering. Now we have a list for every song of parts that will be played Live indeed.
Now the question. How would you make all the band members sync (well, AND think as well). I mean what is usual form in-ear monitoring. Sorry, spent all my days in a dusty studio so know very little about what is going on on stage. As I understand a drummer will probably want to hear a click track. So I will need some sort of HPs and HP distribution unit.
gearwise we have MBP and MH2882 at out disposal. Also can connect MBox Pro to add additional I/O to the rig.
What about the rest of the band? They will probably want to hear the backing tracks as well. The ideal way as I understand would be the radio HPs? What are the options if we're on budget?
Now I know how much time we need to put into rehearsing to teach them to play to a backing track. The thing that concerns me the most is the timing. I don't want the show to sound sterile and quantized. I want to give it a bit of a live feel. As it stands it is my responsibility to come up with some sort of solution that will give us both, sound power and the space for creativity and Live feel to the show.
In my eyes the best way would be by not just rolling the pre-recorded material straigh all the way but try to assign all the pre-recorded parts to a controller and trigger them accordingly live.
Now lets say there is a percussion track on the record which we want to trigger live. How would you trigger it? Would you just trigger an 8 bar loop or something or would you slice it up in say 1/2 bar bits and just trigger them in tempo with the song?
Also...Ableton Live. Some while ago I tried to mix a half-baked set in Live with a song played in iTunes. Did it simply by tapping the tempo of the iTunes into the Abletons Tempo TAP button and Ableton abviously cought the right tempo. I was thinkin maybe I could do something similar with the whole band stuff. The only problem would the looks. Some nerdy guys on stage stnding a constantly tapping in his controller regardless of what is actually going on on stage. Or it might be the next big thing. Who knows.
Anyways, I know its a long post and some of you will think its Lame and I don't know what I'm doing. But hey, it all starts somewhere. I will keep you posted about my progress and findings on the subjects.
Everybody else, feel free to chime in and share your ideas, experiance or anything else.
Happy triggering!
Old 9th March 2010
Here for the gear

I'm a singer/guitarist home studio-type guy trying to figure out what to do about playing live. I'm not averse to playing in a band, but since I'm 54 years old, a lot of folks looking to put bands together aren't interested in me. Instead of beating the bushes for potential bandmates 24/7, I'm just as interested in putting together something with a laptop and the PA.

Guitar and vocal alone? You won't get my music just from hearing that.

NOT a sound engineer, but I'm just savvy enough to use Sonar and Record at home. I think I can wrangle a computer-literate, non-audio-engineer buddy to engineer my shows, but I'm not 100% on that.

Any tips? Is Ableton Live still the way to go? Will I need a beefy laptop?

I don't even know what questions to ask.

p.s. On the thread's hot topics:

It's all about disclosure, isn't it? If I go up on stage - or a band goes up on stage - and just starts playing a bunch of huge mostly-laptop sounds without telling the audience where it's coming from . . . vs going up on stage and saying "It's just me here, and my music has more to it than just strumming a guitar, so I've got recordings of my tracks and I will play and sing on top of that" . . . how is that fraud?

It's all about the music, right? Sure, I understand there are two components to wanting to see a live music show, listening to good music is one, and watching good musicians ply their craft is the other. But isn't the good music really the one that matters the most?

With technology marching on, shouldn't we march along with it?
Old 18th October 2010
Gear Head

Hmmm...this is why i did it....

Way back in 2001, i was in diy band with my girlfriend and a drummer. After spending all of our resources and a few months of those funtastic calls to booking agents across the country who could care less about your band...we had our one month tour booked. Two weeks before the tour...low and behold- our drummer decided to follow the #1 rule in the drummer handbook...thou shall quit with no apparent ****ing reason, which we should have seen coming on being that they also followed rule #2 to a capital t- "be as mysterious and illusive as possible

so...we decided to go forward with the tour. While we were not an electronic oriented band by any means...our drummer quitting was our entry into the world of playing to pre-recorded beats.
So...we figured out how to program drums, programmed our set and rehearsed our asses off (i assure you it was not easy to adjust).

At first- we ran a 1/4 tape machine into our onstage pa. We also booked two more months of shows while on the road. *i will note that we also put a picture of the drummer's face on our van's bug shield and left it there for the better part of a year.
Another interesting side note...their last name was turek (which can loosely translate into...tour wreck. Coincidence?

We continued this for a good five years as a two piece, which was very difficult at best...though a huge learning experience. Now it is the current "indie trend"- not that we created it see?

We definitely did it out of necessity and not out of trying to sound better. In the end, we created much more interesting and purer music, being that we didn't contaminate the gene pool with someone else's input.

I can't say that i agree much when a "pro" band with plenty of resources has "help"...but it's a new age for music people. I would much rather see someone see their vision through with the aid of some pre-recorded "help" than see them compromise their vision with some moronic player who may not belong on a stage any way. I do realize that i am referring more to backing beats and synths than "help" with the vocals. There is something to be said for natural talent and ability- but...hey people- if you don't like some imagination, icing and color with your music...go back to playing acoustic guitar and watching black and white t.v. On a twelve inch screen with rabbit ears.
Old 18th October 2010
Gear Maniac

My band used tracks the past 3 years. Live drums, bass and two vocals, everything else was pre-arranged and recorded by us. We had some songs with just some keys, and others with full string arrangements and one even had some background vox. Being the drummer I had a click in my ear the whole night. I would put mixes of each song into one project file in my DAW and make a tempo map to have the click follow all the songs. Then I simply routed the click to my monitor and obviously no click to the main send to the PA. Worked great for us, and a few musicians even complimented on the difficulty of playing to a click live. To avoid one of the problems that was brought up (sounding like the CD), which I agree with "why would i go to a show to hear the same CD?" we would re-arrange parts of the form, re-orchestrate choruses, add hits and other breakdown cues, making each song a totally different experience from the CD tracks. No doubt, this all takes a lot of work, from prepping all the tracks to practicing to them and being tight as possible, but it does work.
Old 5th November 2010
Gear Maniac
routine's Avatar


this thread is very interesting and instructive as i am trying to figure out a way to play live as a two-piece band (a singer playing no intruments and a gtr player) songs that has been recorded as if we were a 6 piece band.

And i'm gradually thinking about going on stage with a laptop and abelton live and maybe keys and a drum machine and play some shows.

But for now i'm just trying
- to shake out of my mind the small voice who says playing to pre-recorded tracks could be ****ty live
- to figure out how i could set the things up and not be stuck to my laptop
Old 9th January 2015
Here for the gear

Originally Posted by garymusic View Post
I hate paying to a click even in the Studio. No way I would do that live.

If your ever going to play with triggered backup vocals(keyboard player), you'll have to play with a click or it could spell disaster live. Its really tough to get used to. Ozzy does it, rob zombie does it. Tommy C plays with a click perfectly and always has! fact!
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