I’m fortunate as far as live solo performers go in that I not only play guitar, but I also play keyboards. That becomes important for several reasons. One, I can switch off from guitar for a little variety in my show. Two, the keyboard I use has MIDI capabilities, allowing me to play my sequenced files through it. And three, it acts almost like a podium for speakers, in that I can hide behind it when the rotten tomatoes come flying my way.
Is it any wonder that I sometimes prefer the company of my computer or my MIDI keyboard to that of a live musician? Case in point—when I’m not playing my MIDI solo gigs, I have a part-time partner who forms the other half of my duo. We do almost the same show that I do in my solo act except for the technical overlapping harmonies in some of the songs we do requires two singers. My vocal harmonizer just won’t cover those songs. If it weren’t for that and the fact that sometimes clubs just insist on a duo, I’d be a solo act all the time. Heck, I have enough MIDI material to cover three nights straight without repeating songs. This part-time partner also has solo jobs of his own when he’s not booking my duo.
I have been a working musician for nearly forty years and I have to admit that after all these decades, I still can’t read a note of sheet music. I guess you could say that makes me a “musical illiterate.” Now, that doesn’t hinder me one bit. On the contrary. In my particular case, I think reading music may have slowed me down, stifled me or otherwise choked my creativity. Not to take anything away from those of you can read music. More power to you. It just was something that wasn’t right for me and my particular situation.
I’ve written several columns previously on how MIDI files can enhance a solo performance or help replace lost band members when you’re not quite ready to call it quits yet. I’ve explained how MIDI files can help in the composing and recording aspects of your music. I’ve even shown you how to broaden your audience with different types of MIDI files. Those columns have all shown MIDI files in somewhat of a professional light.
Here’s a neat little story of how MIDI files came in handy for two of my friends on one of their jobs here in Wisconsin. It was several years ago at a Holiday Inn near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Terry and Rich, two guys who used to play in my band broke away and formed a duo.
Well, let’s see now. We’ve covered the uses of MIDI files, pitfalls of using them live, how to use them live, how to record with them and how to be versatile with them. What does that leave? How about composing with MIDI files?
Hard to believe it’s been six years since the inception of Cybermidi.com but that is a fact. The sixth anniversary—that’s quite a milestone. Let’s see if we can come up with an appropriate gift to commemorate the occasion. In fact, how about if we start from the beginning and work our way up to this event? What songs would go with each anniversary, in this respect?
I read some of the readers’ comments to my “Practical Midi” columns and it got me to thinking. One reader wrote that he had recently abandoned his full group to play with MIDI files. My hat’s off to you, bud. It’s the wave of the future. This reader also mentioned that for demo purposes he used a software program called “Band-In-A-Box” to help lay down the drum tracks. He stated that he wasn’t totally satisfied with the results but that was the best he could come up with.
Don’t give up just yet.