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.
Last weekend I played a job at an outdoor band shell in front of several hundred people. Not just any people, but mostly people I knew and who knew me. Well, I was about three-quarters of the way through Jimmy Buffett’s “Volcano” when a glitch on the hard drive of my keyboard made the song end abruptly. (NOTE: The file I was using was NOT a Cybermidi file. That ought to teach me to stick with the best whenever possible) The crowd barely noticed because I knew the song thoroughly and was playing along with the midi when the file decided to stop. My playing was good enough to get me through to the end of the song. Granted, it sounded a little less full than when I started, but I did finish the song.
Imagine if I had relied solely on the midi file and decided I didn’t have to actually learn the chords to the song. I’d be standing there “Fakin’ It” and glancing around and when the file quit I’d be standing there looking as foolish as Millie AND Vanilli. There’s no way you can explain that to the crowd. That would be as bad as the old gag where The Three Stooges are on stage and it looks like Curly is singing opera. He actually has a record player strapped to his back playing an opera record. At some point the record skips and plays the same part over and over and over until Moe gives him a kick in the butt.
That’s what you’ll feel like if you don’t approach midi file use the same way you approached fitting into a band. Do your part and have the confidence to “add to” the song instead of letting the song carry you. After all, isn’t the point of playing live music to actually PLAY some of the music? If you’re gonna “coast” skip the instruments altogether and hit the road as a D.J. or a Karaoke host. But if you do, try to get used to the looks you’ll get from “real” musician. We all look on those guys a musician wanna-bes who could never quite cut it. You’re better than that…aren’t you?
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