OK, But How Can We Play This Live?!

Ok, but how can we play this live?!

Imagine; Everything is going perfect in the studio; creativity flowing, you’ve finally struck that ‘punch’ sound (what we might call a ‘secondary add’ to the music ) that changes a whole song’s character into something fantastic.

But then the realisation dawns, the music in the studio sounds great, “Ok, but how can we play this live?!” … 

It is a question that makes me, and many studio musicians nervous.

The practicalities of getting of getting a sound from studio to stage isn’t as easy at it should be; however there are a number of options open to a musician in this dilemma;

1. If sound is produced on a hardware synth, and there is someone available that can play on stage with you then you could get them to play this secondary add on stage for you.

However, what happens if you are a solo musician or if we have found this sound on a DAW? It’s nearly impossible to find the same sound on another synth/keyboard.

Also your keyboard player might not be happy with such an arrangement, when they also have their own solo parts, and main accompany parts to play during the set. 

The 2 main issues with this arrangement is: 

a. The keyboard player has to re-find this characteristic sound every time you need to play it Live on stage, which can be hit and miss at best.

b. But also he/she has to be busy to play this secondary add sound / FX effortlessly while also performing his/her main partition parts.

By naming these sounds as secondary adds is misleading as it suggests they’re not as important as the main playing activities of Live Performing, in fact the opposite is true. These secondary adds are equally important, as they give character to songs, which is essential to making any partition or jam really alive. Without which, jams and partitions give a dead sound.

2. So do we need a sampler or a  looper to play these secondary adds successfully?

In posts;  How to use sampler in a band situation within synchronisation with drummer? (and)  How to use looper for solo performance ? I have explained how to use a sampler/looper for Live Performing.

2.a. Samplers are not handsfree and playing in sync is difficult; thus not great for secondary adds.

2.b. Foot loopers (with one pedal) are handsfree; but either,

2.b.i. We use one sample for a whole song which is not ideal for jamming. It’s like playing on a CD record, which is not enjoyable.

2.c.  Foot loopers (with many pedals), can record/transfer different parts  of song onto the looper and then launch them when playing live.

This option is better than playing whole song on one go. However, even high-end expensive loop pedals with 3 loop per preset, can’t divide the song into more than 3 parts. I know because I tried to set song structure on possibly the best looper on the market; BOSS RC-300 Loop Station.

The Looper is great for realtime recording, play back and to jam on. It’s made for this and does the job well. But didn’t work for my concept because I needed to make 4 loop able parts + some straight plays between them.

Even if it had more than 3 pedals, Boss RC-300 Loop Station only allows for sequencing in real time; which isn’t very convenient when also playing an instrument and playing to a live audience.

I bought BOSS RC-300 Loop Station, tried it, found it wanting and sold it.

4. THE ONLY SOLUTION. After trying many loopers, samplers and groove boxes. What worked best was Stage Looper (iOS App). The sample based sequencer and looper works whatever DAW you’ve created the song on; and is instantly playable and easily manipulatable during Live performance.

MY TIPS: Usually, I use Propellerhead’s Reason for my production but for live performance I divide the song in 4-5 main parts into intro, verse, chorus etc. Then transfer onto Stage Looper, where I can even re-structure the song, to a different version than what I planned on DAW.

Moreover, for launching, I only need one foot switch. I can play secondary adds straight ahead until I want to stick on a solo,  repeat the chorus, or continue. I only need to press one pedal if I want any changes.

It gives me total freedom, and allows me to concentrate on my performance. Stage Looper is perfect for Live performance; I would recommend it to other Musicians in a heartbeat.

Stage Looper App. Soon available for iOS iPhone & iPad




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