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.
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.
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.
The other day I came across a song title on the web. It was a tune by Lisa Stansfield called, “You Can Do That.” At first glance I thought it was a typo and that she was really doing a remake of The Beatles’, “You Can’t Do That.” But such was not the case. It did, however, get me to thinking about all the contradictory song titles out there. You know, where one title says one thing while another popular song with a similar title says the opposite. You younger readers may not remember, but 45 rpm records came with music on both sides, unlike the CDs of today. Here are some songs that would have made for interesting two-sided hits.
Did you know that Clint Eastwood is a pretty good musician as well as an actor? I was surprised to learn that, too. It made me think of how MIDI acts remind me of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” Stay with me and I’ll wrap this up neater than a Christmas present for you.
Last December some guy named Mike was trying to get booked into a local bar. The bar owner insisted that he only books duos and bands in his establishment and since Mike was a solo MIDI act, he couldn‘t get his foot in the door, so to speak. Turns out Mike and I had the same agent and my agent thought he’d be doing me a favor by giving Mike my name and phone number.
I told you in the last two columns how to utilize the midi files you either create or cultivate from the web. You’ve see examples of how useful they can be and how flexible a single performer or duo can be. ‘Well, it’s not all glitz and glamour when working with midis. I suppose I should also tell you some of the pratfalls that await you when using sequenced music.