If you’ve been following this column you already know about the practical uses of midi files and how to be more versatile and how to use them for your recording career. I’ve focused mainly on single acts or duos that depend on midi files for that fuller sound without all the added expense of additional musicians. What about you people that are in bands already? Can midi files be useful to you as well? You betcha.
As I was looking up the facts of a particular band, I noticed this the web site also included references to other bands that were related to this search and it got me to thinking about how bands change and musicians tend to job-hop, so to speak. Maybe they get bored doing what they’re doing and need a new challenge. I don’t know. But sooner or later they pop up again in some other configuration.
Now that you’ve made midi files an important part of your musical performance, don’t fall into the rut of trying to slip one over on the crowd. That is, don’t rely on the file to get you through the song. You must also know the song and how to play it. After all, the midi file is not there so you can “coast” through the song while daydreaming about how you’re gonna spend that night’s money. It’s there to fill in the gaps of the missing musicians you used to play with. Unless you’re playing along to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Fakin’ It” (a song from the 60s for you younger readers)…DON’T. Fake it, that is.
Usually when I talk music with other people from all across the country and I mention that I’m from Wisconsin, they sometimes ask me about my home state. And in doing so I get the feeling that when they think of Wisconsin they immediately think of cheese and cows. Well, we’re more than that. We have a pretty good musical history of our own. All the big stars didn’t just come from L.A. or New York.
I’m sure by now most of you have heard the story of George Harrison’s court battle over his alleged plagiarism of the Chiffons’ 1960 song, “He’s So Fine.” For those of you who haven’t heard, it happened soon after George’s 1970 hit, “My Sweet Lord” climbed the charts as a million-selling number one hit. Seems George had the former song in the back of his mind when he wrote the latter. He was ordered to pay $587,000.00 over the copyright infringement case. In another ironic twist to this story, George’s manager, Allen Klein, bought Bright Tunes Publishing, which held the copyright on “He’s So Fine.” So Harrison ended up owning both songs.
I’ve been a working musician for more than thirty-five years and I’ve played to all kinds and sizes of crowds. If memory serves me correctly, my largest audience was probably in excess of 80,000 people while on the other end of the spectrum I’ve played to a few as two lone patrons who didn’t want to go home just yet. What can I say? It was an off night. My point is this; whether it’s two or two thousand people watching you perform, you give them the same show. Unless you’re playing for the door (something I learned early on not to do) it really doesn’t matter how many people came to see you strum your guitar, tickle the ivories on your keyboard, pound on your drums or sing your little heart out.
I’ve previously written about my own personal midi experiences telling you how they helped me in my newfound solo career and how they helped replace missing musicians. I’ve told you how they’ve helped me “flesh out” my overall sound so that I could do it all myself. Well, that’s the goal I was striving for and that’s where I ended up…doing it all myself. While that’s a good thing in most situations, there are down sides to depending too much on midi for your background music accompaniment.
“I hope I die before I get old.” At least that’s what Pete Townsend said when he wrote “My Generation” for The Who.
“I can’t see me still doing this when I’m 30,” declared Paul McCartney in a 1963 interview when asked about how long he thought he’d still be playing rock and roll. Little did anyone suspect how long his act would go on.