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Does anyone else hate seeing laptops on stage? Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 1 week ago
  #91
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BassX's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psyclone001 View Post
I would rather see a laptop and hear good music than have to listen to a crappy mix of a bunch of live instruments
Just stay at home and stream some music on your laptop.
Old 1 week ago
  #92
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psyclone001's Avatar
 

It’s electronic music and has been made with a computer and daw, so it only makes sense to use one live.
It’s common knowledge that playing live isn’t playing live, it’s impossible, so enjoy the charade, don’t over analyse the ‘live’ performance, and just enjoy the music
Old 1 week ago
  #93
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Sapro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben F View Post
Watched 2 older dudes play ambient music last night behind laptops. I swear it was just one guy on the left turning a mixer volume knob. The most boring performance portrayed as “art” I’ve ever seen.

At least bring something along that looks like you are performing live.
Has somebody passed out on the floor in front of them?
Old 1 week ago
  #94
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Praxisaxis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psyclone001 View Post
It’s common knowledge that playing live isn’t playing live, it’s impossible
It's common knowledge that there are many fakers.

But it's not true that all electronic performance is fake, actually you couldn't be more mistaken.

For the good ones, they have a connection with the audience - a transparency - which allows the listener to parse what is visceral about the performance, and in this way electronic performance is no different to any other kind of musical show.

And, what's more, there are as many different ways of making it happen as there are performers - all with their different angles and approaches.

Here's Four Tet being absolutely transparent about his performance technique:

Old 1 week ago
  #95
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Praxisaxis's Avatar
 

Or to make the same point I could have posted this



Or this



Or a million other things. . .
Old 1 week ago
  #96
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Praxisaxis's Avatar
 

Incidentally, the Moog Sound Lab is a bloody gold mine for really great, fairly spontaneous electronic performances. . .
Old 1 week ago
  #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Praxisaxis View Post
For the good ones, they have a connection with the audience - a transparency - which allows the listener to parse what is visceral about the performance, and in this way electronic performance is no different to any other kind of musical show.
It can be challenging, though, to make laptop performances connect with an audience.

When my brother was commissioned to compose a piece for PLOrk (The Princeton Laptop Orchestra), he decided to make a "real" instrument the focus (namely an electric guitar) and use the laptop orchestra in a concerto-like role.

Traditionally, concerti are like competitions between the soloist and the orchestra. In this case, among the advantages the guitar has over the orchestra are that it's familiar, front and center, and everyone can see what the player is doing.

But the laptops have "keys to the castle" so to speak, meaning they can alter in real-time how the guitarist will sound as they wish (well, actually, according to the score, but there's a lot of leeway there). They are also adding sounds of their own.

Below is a link to a video of the performance for anyone who's interested. It's not for the faint of heart, however. Anyone adverse to experimental, avant-garde or academic music would be advised to steer clear.

Melancholy Science by Van Stiefel
Concerto for Electric Guitar and Laptop Orchestra

http://plork.princeton.edu/PLOrk-Spr...ly_Science.mov
Attached Thumbnails
Does anyone else hate seeing laptops on stage?-screen-shot-2019-01-11-11.42.35-am.png  
Old 1 week ago
  #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maisonvague View Post
It can be challenging, though, to make laptop performances connect with an audience.

When my brother was commissioned to compose a piece for PLOrk (The Princeton Laptop Orchestra), he decided to make a "real" instrument the focus (namely an electric guitar) and use the laptop orchestra in a concerto-like role.

Traditionally, concerti are like competitions between the soloist and the orchestra. In this case, among the advantages the guitar has over the orchestra are that it's familiar, front and center, and everyone can see what the player is doing.

But the laptops have "keys to the castle" so to speak, meaning they can alter in real-time how the guitarist will sound as they wish (well, actually, according to the score, but there's a lot of leeway there). They are also adding sounds of their own.

Below is a link to a video of the performance for anyone who's interested. It's not for the faint of heart, however. Anyone adverse to experimental, avant-garde or academic music would be advised to steer clear.

Melancholy Science by Van Stiefel
Concerto for Electric Guitar and Laptop Orchestra

http://plork.princeton.edu/PLOrk-Spr...ly_Science.mov
Fantastic.

So there are different conceptions of the role of a laptop too. I had a young student who was a proficient musician, and he'd also been producing on a laptop since 10 years of age. He could improvise great synth solos just using the laptop keys - first time I've seen that done well (in person).

On the other hand, a laptop can become more like a stage utility - maybe being no more remarkable than a guitarist's pedal board or even filling lesser roles.

Which means it comes back to physiological dynamics, or in other words the stage presence of the performer. As I'm sure you'd concede, Maison, it's not the laptop, but more what it represents (which is often negative, but potentially positive, depending on the performer, audience and environment).
Old 1 week ago
  #99
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jbuonacc's Avatar
there's no reason why anyone using a laptop can't find some way to hook up some controllers and do the exact same thing that anyone with a hardware setup can do. i find this to be the best option anyway, as you can set it all up just as you'd like. every knob/slider can be programmed to be something specific for that performance, as opposed to having every parameter available at once. this really started making sense to me when i began using the Nord G2, setting up the interface for each individual Patch/Performance. it was nice to have just the relevant parameters available in front of you, to make a unique "instrument" out of each patch. for one track you might only be adjusting the filter env amount, the vca release, and another parameter or two on a certain synth/drum voice. with software and controllers it's easy to tailor your setup to focus strictly on what's necessary for the performance.

last summer i was really up in the air about buying a laptop or a Roland TR-8S to focus on using for portability. i absolutely love the TR-8S, but most of the time i really think i would have been better off with a laptop and my APC-40mkII. there's really not much of anything on the TR-8S that i couldn't do with what i already had. for me the TR-8S is really special though, there really wasn't anything else out there that would have sufficed. the internal drum sounds, sample playback, performance mixer, fx, etc... it's exactly what i've waited years for. starting out with 80s Roland TR machines years back, it feels so comfortable to use. it also forces me to use loops for the synth parts, so i can focus on the "live" working of patterns, faders, fx, etc... which is what i was already doing ITB with the APC-40mkII. i actually don't mind being limited to using the onboard Roland fx, but generally love having "the whole studio, and then some" available to me in software.

contrary to what is usually said, i think it's far easier to have a "signature sound" using software than with hardware. i see software as a studio with few limitations, where you're able to do whatever you can imagine. at the same time, you can impose your own limitations as you see fit.
Old 1 week ago
  #100
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DrJustice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StupidDisco View Post
Strongly disagree with op. For instance, from a technical point of view, most keyboards are ‘computers’ anyway, be it more dedicated, with a keybed attached in a different looking package. So commenting on laptops is quite superficial, at least in that respect (talking artists playing the keys for example)...
That has been mentioned a few times in this thread, but I think that's missing the point. It's not whether there are CPUs inside things, it's whether there's human interaction.
Old 1 week ago
  #101
Gear Maniac
 

I agree with this and also think that sometimes more than 2 ears are necessary to feel what is intended by the presenter. So youtube is not so much of a help there unless the ears are all in the same space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Praxisaxis View Post
...


Which means it comes back to physiological dynamics...
Old 1 week ago
  #102
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Muser's Avatar
I saw Four Tet in around 1999. he was using a laptop and an IBK 4 control back then. forget what software he was using. visuals obviously were cerebral and uninteresting. which maybe he decided was a feature rather than a bug. music was pretty good though.
Old 1 week ago
  #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Praxisaxis View Post
Which means it comes back to physiological dynamics, or in other words the stage presence of the performer. As I'm sure you'd concede, Maison, it's not the laptop, but more what it represents (which is often negative, but potentially positive, depending on the performer, audience and environment).
I totally agree. And yes, I do concede that it's not the laptop. I've done performances myself using only a couple of laptops and a Wacom tablet as a controller. I still felt I was boring to watch, though--especially since I'm more used to being seen playing piano or keyboards. In other words, I was self-conscious--embarrassed even at how dull it probably was for the audience to watch me press a few keys on the laptops and scribble around on a tablet for 15 minutes, no matter how interesting the music might (or might not ) have been.

To a large extent, of course, it's totally superficial how one appears as a performer to the audience. But when it disturbs the performer's own confidence in the performance, it becomes a problem. That's pretty much the crux of my issues with laptops as performance instruments. I don't like their appearance--the vibe they project on stage--nor am I inspired by the physicality of my interactions with them. And when I'm not inspired, I can't really expect my audience to be inspired either.
Old 1 week ago
  #104
Gear Maniac
 

That Sleaford thing was the absolute pits.

Hello wannabe Brooklyn for the last 15 years.

What made bands like Flux Information Sciences, Xeno and Oaklander, Yeah Yeah Yeahs even bands like Black Marble and Youth Code so great live was that they performed. It was a special and unique experience.

A bartender playing a Pandora mix is not a live performance.
Old 1 week ago
  #105
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
One aspect I like about electronic music is that it is less about "look at me! look at me! I'm playing an instrument! Aren't you impressed by my skill?" And more about the music.
Unfortunately this stopped being the case when the music industry moved in to turn DJs and electronic producers into pop stars. In fact it has never been about the music but about who you know and how strong your ego drive is.
Old 1 week ago
  #106
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by midiquestions View Post
You never know how much of the "work" you're paying to stand there and listen to is canned.
You never know this anyway, unless you're the FOH engineer. Instruments just look cooler, but you can still fake everything. Should anyone be reminded of the "performances" on TOTP where you have an unconnected CS80 on stage?

Why do you drag everything along in that case? Well, to fool the audience. Why is pressing start on an RM1X somehow more noble than clicking Play in Ableton?

It's not.

There is no cheating in music; there is only lying. Lying to yourself, or lying to the audience.

tl;dr: good shows are good, crap shows are crap.
Old 1 week ago
  #107
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
The issue with the laptop is that it is not a musical instrument per se. The keyboard does not have velocity - its not for playing notes or triggering samples, it is for typing letters and numbers. This results in a more passive type of interaction - you don't pound on it, you don't play 32nd note flourishes from the lowest 8ve to the top, you don't throw it down on the stage and set it on fire, you don't hump it while bending a note that is feeding back....

So - its not the laptop but rather what happens when you use one. This extends like an aura around the device - even when you have a separate control surface. Enough people get snared by this aura or it never occurs to them to break out of it. I think even in the case of Fripp there is a difference in that you can SEE what he is doing and he is actually doing it in realtime - the screen of the laptop blocks your hands - those same hands that are not availed of velocity or the usual arrangement of 8vs with black and white keys. There is an aspect of needing to know / see what someone is doing.

My central elemental critique of all music is this: I must give up my precious (never to be replaced) TIME in order to entertain your musings - you'd better make it worth while or its a bad deal for me. Where do you start? Where do you go? How do you finish? If I go someplace to observe you doing this, any indication that you actually AREN'T doing this poisons the well - why I am I wasting my precious time to condone your time-filling concept when you don't appear to be doing your part. Music can certainly be more of a passive presentation but I might as well just click on your DJ set on soundcloud.
You’re still talking about the performance though, not the device. The thing that makes the sound is kind of irrelevant. I could point to a ton of boring electronic instruments. Everything that you said would be just as valid with a rack synth and step sequencer. This is a guy using a laptop:



Maybe the title of this thread should be, “Does anyone else hate seeing computer mice on stage?”
Old 1 week ago
  #108
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Shadowkast's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post

Maybe the title of this thread should be, “Does anyone else hate seeing computer mice on stage?”
Although I've listened to the feedback of those with opposing views with an open mind and considered their perspectives, if anything, my position has hardened even more. So no, I won't be changing the thread title.
Old 1 week ago
  #109
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Acidizer's Avatar
it makes the performer look like someone manning a reception desk, awful. and it almost give you that same vibe you get when you are waiting to be attended to... hey asshole, i'm over here!
Old 1 week ago
  #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klonfocius View Post



Then he Macbooked himself and become more boring as Saftwerk went! Ah well!
....

One guy is in a spacecraft, barely escaping an apocalyptic disaster on New Earth in the year 2213. Either that or he's a Borg, expressing the infinite pain of the collective.

The other guy is playing Counter Strike, while listening to audio books, hoping to improve his sales at the dealership.

I know which show I'd rather see.
Old 1 week ago
  #111
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midiquestions's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psyclone001 View Post
It’s electronic music and has been made with a computer and daw, so it only makes sense to use one live.
Led Zeppelin was recorded onto 24-track tape, so it only makes sense to wheel out a 24-track tape machine on stage and use one live.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psyclone001 View Post
It’s common knowledge that playing live isn’t playing live, it’s impossible
lolwut

Yeah, there are often sequenced tracks in the background, but not always and not 100%.
Old 1 week ago
  #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post
You never know this anyway, unless you're the FOH engineer. Instruments just look cooler, but you can still fake everything. Should anyone be reminded of the "performances" on TOTP where you have an unconnected CS80 on stage?

Why do you drag everything along in that case? Well, to fool the audience. Why is pressing start on an RM1X somehow more noble than clicking Play in Ableton?

It's not.

There is no cheating in music; there is only lying. Lying to yourself, or lying to the audience.

tl;dr: good shows are good, crap shows are crap.
I don't think is is a good argument at any step in the process.

TOTP miming "performances" SUCKED. Fake is fake. Nobody likes that when they went to hear something original. These are accepted as TV-producer mandates, but artistically? Come on; they're derided.

Why drag everything (meaning, the instruments used to make the music) along? Again, why didn't Led Zeppelin just drag out a tape machine when they did shows? It would have been easier...

"Good shows are good" -- but what makes them good? It seems there are a few in this thread who literally would prefer a perfect mix over anything interesting happen on stage, but a lot want something more. Some go for the variations and even the ****-ups that happen live.

If your tunes are 100% sequenced, and you're literally not adding anything to them when you exhibit it, just let a DJ play it for you IMO -- although, to quote Egyptian Lover, "what is a DJ if he can't scratch," i.e. do SOMETHING up there to make it "live." Some acts have drawn this line on the other side, like Wumpscut, who made it clear they didn't do live shows and were just a recording act. And then, for example, there's Trent Reznor, who says on the old "Closure" video that he didn't want to just have backing tapes even though he was writing and recording all the music himself in the studio; he wanted to hire a band to make it a show. NIN got very popular off of those very passionate shows, so clearly something worked about that approach -- not so much if TR had been standing up there at a podium, looking like he was checking his e-mail at the local library. Those live performances *helped to convey* the message in the music and to amplify it.

I think it also goes back to the function of recording in the first place. Up until sequencers were invented, people necessarily played music live, and recording was the act of putting mics to this process. Playing a show was cutting out the middle-man and just playing what you recorded again, only this time in front of people. Sequencers ad backing tapes have muddied the waters here and have been debated since the 80s, but most successful acts added something substantial on top of them to be entertaining and relevant to the particular room they're in on that particular day or night.

So maybe there's this: if you're just a recording act, then just be a recording act, and don't feel compelled to act like you have something different to add live, but also don't present it that way. If your music wasn't made live, maybe therefore it shouldn't be played live as if you are a live act who "got recorded."

In any case, if you do go up there with just a laptop, please realize a lot of people were coming for a live-played music show, and you ain't giving them one, and they may find you super dull.
Old 1 week ago
  #113
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enossified's Avatar
What if it's a tower instead of a laptop?
Old 1 week ago
  #114
Gear Head
When I grew up I thought laptops on stage were cool. Cooler than the arranger keyboards in cock rock cover bands you could see everywhere and on every occasion for sure.

Check this out, it's from the time, does not look like Kraftwerk and I totally don't see how it is boring:



I, on the other hand, don't like the movement of people disguising what's actually going on behind blinking lights and thinking that's cooler than showing the laptop. Hiding the laptop while actually using it is like hiding the drummer behind a curtain to me.

Man up. If you're into music that can only be achieved with a computer, why the self-hatred? If you're into virtuositiy on acoustic, maybe electroacoustic instruments, go see a piano concerto or a jazz combo. But don't expect to hear glitchy beats there.
Old 1 week ago
  #115
Gear Maniac
 

You will still need a roadie then

Quote:
Originally Posted by enossified View Post
What if it's a tower instead of a laptop?
Old 1 week ago
  #116
Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
Sleaford Mods are the raddest
This is a lie. Gearslutz Mods are clearly the raddest
Old 1 week ago
  #117
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by midiquestions View Post
"Good shows are good" -- but what makes them good?
First of all, thanks for the very thoughtful response. I sense we're getting a bit closer to the pain point in the topicstart.

So, we've already established that the audience needs to actively participate. The Boiler Room sets where the audience is checking their phones 80% of the time; there's a good question to be asked whether that's the act being dull or the audience being dull.

As an artist, you can only do your best to engage. You can't force people to pay attention 100% of the time.

I think it's interesting to see the bigger EDM festivals - the audience is shown as being very engaged, jumping and dancing along! However, the DJs are not doing anything special; they are often playing pre-recorded sets from a USB stick. They're not using laptops, but still faking things.

Quote:
In any case, if you do go up there with just a laptop, please realize a lot of people were coming for a live-played music show, and you ain't giving them one, and they may find you super dull.
It would however be good to keep in mind that this is a thing:



Not using a synth rack module, but a laptop as sound source. How do I know he's playing? I don't! Unless I can look at the actual laptop's screen.

But to me it's pretty unfair to put so much scrutiny on a laptop when it's perfectly possible to fake everything with real instruments as well.

The hunching happens if you don't map any controllers, so you have to check the screen to see what's happening and use the trackpad to make changes. Ideally you don't do this because there's less chance of messing up if you have a knob or button with a clear label.

Perhaps badly prepared artists make for dull sets?
Old 1 week ago
  #118
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post
I think it's interesting to see the bigger EDM festivals - the audience is shown as being very engaged, jumping and dancing along! However, the DJs are not doing anything special; they are often playing pre-recorded sets from a USB stick. They're not using laptops, but still faking things.
What I think is interesting is, in Hip Hop, back in the 90s and 2000s, it was like that: The instrumental would have been made with an MPC, sampling from records, but live, a DJ would just play the beats from record, scratching a bit and the MC would do his thing over the beat. That was essentially a playback situation, but is was legit and cool. Nobody would have thought the producer was not cool for not even being a part of the performance (if he wasn't the DJ or MC). That was just how it was done.

With an EDM DJ set, maybe it's not legit and cool, but it just does not matter because for the audience it's not about being cool and legit, it's more about the experience of that music with so many people in front of big speakers. In a smaller club a Techno DJ could interact with the audience and go with what they seem to like. In front of 1000 hyped people, it's maybe more important to plan the tension beforehand and not to make a mistake, so a WAV from a thumb drive is the rational solution, especially as she/he can't really see the audience anyways and the audience it not there to experience some kind of performance or to be surprised anyway.

So maybe what differentiates a good performance from a bad performance is the expectations we have. Maybe the problem is today as everything is possible technologically, there is more confusion about the rules of the game.

A good concept, known to the audience either because the artist makes it part of his performance or because it's the common rules of the game in a certain genre may be what's needed. Maybe that is what the whole DAWless movement is aiming for subconsciously.

Edit: When I think about it, the real problem is: 15 years ago it was not a problem to not perform or not be part of the performance. Today, as seemingly less money is made from the actual records, playing live becomes more important while "computer music" needs some kind of translation to be performed. And then, what we get is thumb drives and blinking lights.

Last edited by modulosonoro; 1 week ago at 06:04 PM.. Reason: Added a thought.
Old 1 week ago
  #119
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daviddever's Avatar
I hate seeing my laptop fall and crash to the stage; it's such an awful form factor to begin with for live work.

iPad + decent dock with balanced outputs (e.g., the I use with an old iPad 2, 30-pin dock connector, or a with an iPad mini) is a much better choice; additional points granted if the dock in question uses a standard IEC 3-pin AC mains lead.

I've seen solo performers with Android tablets and a stereo DI ("sax + tracks") which works very well, no cumbersome / fragile laptop screen to contend with.

Put the tablet into airplane mode and you're off and running.
Old 1 week ago
  #120
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by modulosonoro View Post
... 15 years ago it was not a problem to not perform or not be part of the performance.
that's not true though... 15 years ago most of the guys on the LivePA techno forum were completely anti-laptop for the longest time (of course, a few years later even the most outspoken diehard had switched to Ableton and a laptop).

other genres were a little more lax, but it took a long time for it to be "ok" for live techno (from what i recall).
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