The Performance: Part 9

There’s no midi brick above that arch – just a silent CC1 movement. A nervous tick captured at the beginning of a performance. Something I do every. single. time.

Literally every time.

With the record button armed, that red light illuminates the screen and does something to my brain. And my brain responds.

Get your shit together, you’re about to perform. AND THIS TIME IT MATTERS! 


Now, those of us performing MIDI in our computer know this isn’t true. In a pinch for time, sure. But we aren’t recording on tape anymore. To us, 0’s and 1’s aren’t precious (expensive) resources that run dry if we’re not careful. There’s always next time to get that performance right.

I grew up recording on tape, first, a simple cassette recorder, then I upgraded to this:

Still get the occasional nostalgic-longing to buy one again. 

Still get the occasional nostalgic-longing to buy one again. 

One of the things cassettes taught me was that re-recording parts degrades the quality of the sound (Exhibit A). Which means (back then) ideas had to be finalized before the “real” recording started (I used "sketch" tapes for this purpose). This is a skill that feels lost on some of my younger peers. Because it’s not an inevitable part of recording anymore (at least, not one you’re forced to learn by necessity). It's a skill that one also develops naturally as a live performer. That oh shit moment feels the same in front of an audience as it does in front of that red light. Because you’re performing.

I’m convinced this is one (of the many) reason(s) that professional recordings with professional musicians sound best. Their time is expensive, if you don’t capture what you need during a session, it’s twice as expensive. Problem-solving ahead of time prevents this expense and solidifies ideas in your head – it generates better performances. And as I’ve said, the more complete an idea in your head is before you perform, the easier it will be to achieve your creative goals.

Now, there’s no reason we can’t do this in a DAW. Sketch tapes are exactly what I’ve posted in here so far. And that little OCD tick of mine (the arch) symbolizes the importance of treating music as a collection of complimentary performances. If these performances blend well together, and they tell the story I want to tell, then I did my job.

Kyle Preston