Thursday, September 8, 2016

Is it Live? No, Decidedly Not.

I recorded my CD last week!

I was startled that my engineer's biggest concern in the editing room was reducing the sounds of my breaths.  This had never crossed my mind as an issue - an oboist has to breathe.  Any wind player has to breathe.  Humans breathe.  I didn't see the problem.

I understand  that you don't want to be wrenched out of the pretty music and back into an awareness of the performer's physical struggle - but I've always found an excitement in the sheer humanness of performers.  There was one  particular breath that we argued about a little.   I pointed out that it was dramatic, rhythmic, and integrated into the line of the exciting phrase I was making.  In a live performance that would have been 100% part of the act.

He pointed out that this was not a live performance.  He won the argument.

It was important to me to have my recording feel real.  I didn't want to use the studio magic to piece together something I was unable to play live.  But I also understand that, lacking a visual, certain aspects of live performance don't translate.

Playing live I'm always thinking about showmanship.  Playing for the microphone I was thinking about making my musical ideas come through without the benefit of the look of me.  I had to focus on accuracy and cleanness, because anything less than that would have detracted from the music.

I enjoy my live performances.  I love being on stage.  But it's hard to listen back to the audio of those performances without cringing.  I know that performing is risky, and that in the heat of the moment things can be missed, and that the experience IN THE MOMENT was much more positive than the thing I am hearing - but every small inconsistency glares out at me from the speakers and makes me feel bad about myself.

When I attend a concert, if the artistry is there, I can forgive almost anything that happens to the person performing.  That said, I will never release the recordings that are made from my own performances.  They just feel too appallingly imperfect for anyone else to hear.  But when I see a VIDEO recording, after the fact, I have no hesitation in releasing it.  I'll post it to YouTube myself, and promote it.  Seeing the excitement of a live performance makes everything else make sense.

So, as I sat in the recording studio, my job was to create something that wouldn't make me cringe on repeated hearings, and we mostly succeeded in that, and I'm excited to move forward with the creation of my CD.  But certainly performing for the mic is a different skill than performing for an audience, and it's one I'll need to work on before I go platinum...

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