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Playing Live (Dj/Hybrid/laptop/hardware)


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Been playing live semi-frequently the past year. Recently I started using virtual dj and a MacBook Air with a korg nano control. Such a fun way to perform! So many interesting ways to bend and shape and blend tracks in real-time. It also much lower stress, because I’m working with finished tracks, but still have a lot of expression control.
 

but is that really playing live? What is playing live? Is doing cool live blends and reinterpretations of tracks playing live? Or is playing stems in ableton with a pad controller live? Or does it have to be live vst midi clip launching and parameter tweaking? Or is it playing real instruments into your laptop and tweaking it? Or 100% live hardware?

or is it primarily just about playing interesting/groovy music at loud volume?

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I think its like...

1. Are you having fun playing your music in front of a live audience? Do you get that nice rush and excitement?

2. Is the audience enjoying your performance? Do they get that something special out of it?

 

If you answer yes to both of these questions, then no matter what the technical details were, you played live (and played well).

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This is one of those topics that has really pestered me.  

I trained my instrument to a very high degree,  then fell in love with electronic music.  

I even have dream journals where I'm watching someone playing a apc40 on stage and I'm pissed it just a bunch of flashing buttons.  

 

I honestly haven't really come to much of a conclusion at this point,    

On 10/20/2022 at 11:58 AM, thawkins said:

 

I think its like...

1. Are you having fun playing your music in front of a live audience? Do you get that nice rush and excitement?

2. Is the audience enjoying your performance? Do they get that something special out of it?

 

If you answer yes to both of these questions, then no matter what the technical details were, you played live (and played well).

 

I think this pretty much has the spirit of the matter correct.  

 

Though I have yet to decide a standard method for myself and am finding trouble doing so.  

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I think the dj thing works but if you're playing to a crowd who are into geeky music like idm you should at least tweak something. I've read on watmm so many times that a live set should not just be pressing play. Doesn't have to be complicated though, just play with filters. 

 

Edited by YEK
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On 10/22/2022 at 12:46 AM, Golden Rolli said:

Though I have yet to decide a standard method for myself and am finding trouble doing so.  

I think this is a chicken-egg type situation: you will only be able to figure out a standard method/workflow if you try out a bunch of approaches first (preferably in front of a live audience).

One practical solution I see here is to go on youtube, and search for "my live rig walkthrough", and then see if something inspires you or not. I think one thing tends to be true in general: the more complicated your setup is - more devices, cables, whatever - the bigger is the chance that something breaks. 

Personally I think the ideal live set up would be with a 4-channel DJ mixer that's hooked up to a laptop, with a hardware knobby synth for solos and live tweaking. I have seen a lot of artists do a simplification where you have essentially 3 elements - drums, bass, and the rest. This makes it easier to set up some sidechaining and global effects for the 3 elements so that no matter how complex your material really is, you can always fall back on "making it interesting" by way of muting the drums and piping the melody parts to a delay or something.

(Disclaimer: I have only played my music live electronically a total of 3 times, I don't know shit about anything really.)

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On 10/21/2022 at 11:46 PM, Golden Rolli said:

This is one of those topics that has really pestered me.  

I trained my instrument to a very high degree,  then fell in love with electronic music.  

I even have dream journals where I'm watching someone playing a apc40 on stage and I'm pissed it just a bunch of flashing buttons.  

 

I honestly haven't really come to much of a conclusion at this point,    

I think this pretty much has the spirit of the matter correct.  

 

Though I have yet to decide a standard method for myself and am finding trouble doing so.  

I think that the problem is that as an electronic ‘musician’, certainly when a solo act, you do everything, drums, bass, lead, vocals etc and the closest thing in the acoustic instrument world is the one man band (them dudes with the bass drum on their back, cymbals between the knees and a kazoo etc on a coat hanger….)

 

Joining a band could be an option and have a focus instrument - synths are the obvious but a good pianist should be a good synth player in my mind. 
 

Ulrich Schnauss live was always interesting as he played keys live over I’m guessing backing tracks.  Seemed more ‘live’ than just pressing boxes etc. 

 

All of it needs skills of some sort.

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what a cool vid.   

 

Yeah I was stagnating because I wouldn't want to drag my entire setup out to do a gig, but then wouldn't want to simplify my tunes (I really enjoy heavily edited and intentionally complex stuff) just to stem them out or whatever.   

I'm realizing though I could mix live "jams" with dj elements.  They don't have to be one and the same.  

 

 

One practical solution I see here is to go on youtube, and search for "my live rig walkthrough"

 

This is great advice!  thanks. 

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Yeah I was stagnating because I wouldn't want to drag my entire setup out to do a gig, but then wouldn't want to simplify my tunes (I really enjoy heavily edited and intentionally complex stuff) just to stem them out or whatever.   

In my experience, you can't really exactly plan for whatever really happens on a live gig. Because stuff happens, you get inspired and do something else cool instead of what you planned. On the other hand, things can go wrong, gear malfunctions and you'll be screwed if you don't have a solid backup plan.

So in the end I'd keep my produced and nice sounding stems in the background and then have some fun with some live hardware stuff. Four Tet explains it nicely here

 

This is great advice!  thanks. 

Hope it's inspiring to you as well!

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