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Editor's Notes

Musical Collaboration

Do you remember that conversation from the original 1980’s movie “Fame” between Mr. Shorofsky, the Music Teacher (Played by Albert Hague) and Bruno Martelli (Played by Lee Curreri)? It goes something like this (I am paraphrasing here):

Bruno: “You don’t need strings today. Orchestras are an endangered species, I can play all these parts with just one synthesizer by myself.”

Shorofsky: “That’s not music Mr. Martelli, That’s masturbation!”

Lately, as I have been traveling quite a bit, I am encountering what seems to be the latest trend; a performer (or a few of them) singing or playing with a laptop plugged into a PA system. The computer is taking the place of “the rest of the band” cranking out music.

Now, I am acutely aware that this type of “performance” is driven by the economics of our present time where venues want to (or need to) pay the least possible for services. They still are able to say they provide “Live Music” even if it has the bare minimum of “Live”.

The “musicians” that do this (Although, I still haven’t see a lone bass player with his iPad up there) need to make a living, I get that, and the audience doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference or maybe they aren’t even paying attention that closely.

So, what is my point? I believe that it is a travesty that real musicians are being deprived of a gig while a “Machine” does their job… or does it? There is no interaction between performers and that spark in the music is absent! It is about as exciting as Karaoke or lip-syncing.

It seems to me that the only winners in this situation are the venues, but how can we change this? This is my question to you this month, as I don’t have an absolute answer. If the public demanded more, they might get it, but I don’t see that happening; if the musicians had the clout to stop this I think they would have already.

What is your opinion of the situation and how to you think we can bring about change?

My best suggestion is that we all continue to support live performances with bands. If someone wants to get up there with a piano and play solo, power to them, just don’t have a “track” of the orchestra behind; I am sure they wouldn’t like it if I got up all by myself and played my bass with a piano track accompaniment.

As musicians, I believe we are a privileged few and the burden of musical collaboration and integrity rests on our shoulders… Let’s do something about this!

OK, I will get off my “Soapbox,” please feel free to weigh in and leave comments below if you are so compelled.

We have another great issue for you this month loaded with all kinds of solid content brought to you BY bass musicians FOR bass musicians. We even have a new segment starting this October with Associate Editor Rick Suchow called Rick’s Picks where he will review CDs, DVDs, events and more!

Keep it low this October!

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jonathan Moody

    Jon Moody

    October 3, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Raul, I agree. There are those musicians that play along with a drum track or something pre-recorded, to which I think is just musical karaoke. It really seems to be that it’s a bit of laziness, especially when those same people have technical issues live (and I’ve seen someone have to cut their set short because of computer issues).

    Then, there are those musicians that play solo acts using loopers and samplers, where creating those loops on the fly IS the collaboration. I’ve seen a couple of guitarists in town do the latter, and while the songs are longer (to set up all of the layers), that becomes part of the musicality of the person.

    What’s the difference? When we just use tech to get rid of other musicians, we’re really just hurting ourselves. When we use tech as another piece of the musical puzzle and collaborate with it, that’s where the magic happens.

  2. Raul Amador

    Raul Amador

    October 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Excellent Points Jon,
    The thing I take issue with is the pre-recorded tracks and musical karaoke is an accurate description.
    I have to ask, where did those tracks from? Somebody was playing at some time. Did they settle for a nominal fee for a single appearance? And why are they doing it? isn’t it rather self defeating?

    Some examples… two girls singing with a Band track, three string players… violin, cello, viola, playing with a Orchestra track, Horn player with a programmed keyboard, etc.

    Looping I am totally good with , The musician (Bassist) is doing all the playing and not cutting anyone out.

    Now, how about those few musicians that take on making recordings, but play all the parts themselves? ( not many can do that well)

    Thoughts?

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