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Albeton Live on Stage Part 1: Why Bother?
There's a reason you don't see many pop/rock band performing with Ableton on stage: it's hard -- much harder than performing with musicians. It's complicated to set up and requires a lot of precision to pull off. So why bother? Well, here's our take on things:
- More Stand-Out Sound - Let's face it there are tons of bands out there and it's very difficult to have a unique sound in such a crowded field. This is probably the most compelling reason to add Ableton to a show and actually makes the difficulty in doing so an advantage by keeping most other musicians out.
- Less Reliance on People - Sting once advised bands to "use a few people as possible". Schedules conflict, ideas clash and every extra person is another division of whatever profits may be coming in.
- Consolidation of Work - A lot of effort is wasted in rehashing different versions of the same music for studio and stage. Ableton should bridge some of this divide by allowing drum loops and backing arrangements created for one to be used in the other. Imagine hitting the studio with half the album already written AND recorded -- nice!
- More ridged performances - there's no way around it. Your live shows won't have the looseness that can add so much to a show and many forms of music simply can't survive without that give and sway. I'd think carefully about this before headed down the laptop path.
- No Safety Net - Ableton is an unforgiving sideman. It won't stretch a verse out another few bars because the singer came in late. It won't adjust to the bass player's timing issues. It won't do anything to avoid an on-stage musical meltdown. You'd better know your set cold or embarrassing disasters will happen.
- Can look "karaoke-ish" - This is a real concern. No one wants to see "canned" music on stage so you have to be very careful with approach. My take is that if you go electronic, GO ELECTRONIC. That is, embrace the technology as a creative tool and utilize for what it is, don't try and lamely replicate human players. When Jay and I first started down this path we recreated all of our songs just as they were before. Now our task is to tear all that up and make them actually shine in the new medium.
By Fitz - 2/21/2007 | Permalink