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Re: Laptops and Performance

At 10:46 AM -0700 6/14/07, Travis Hartnett wrote:
>All the laptop performances I've seen have featured a musician who
>stares at the computer most of the time.  I know there's exceptions,
>but this has been my experience.

FWIW, this has been my experience with the majority of electronic 
performances regardless of whether they used a laptop.  I've been to 
plenty of concerts that featured only keyboardists/synthesists that 
were just as snoozefestival as any laptop performances.

Guys, it's not the laptop or the rack unit.  It's the *interface* to 
the laptop or rack, and how that is used.

If that interface is a computer keyboard and a mouse, most likely you 
won't be able to tell the difference whether the guy is playing music 
or checking his email.  Likewise, imagine a hypothetical where 
somebody takes the hum produced by grounding out a 1/4" cable with 
your finger, for instance, then runs that through an Eventide and 
plays with the processing for 20 minutes.  I'm betting that such a 
setup doesn't lend itself to an interesting performance either.

I think it's the bane of stationary things.  Keyboards are generally 
large and stationary, and don't lend themselves natively to 
interesting performances (setting them alight or sticking knives 
between the keys notwithstanding).  Hell, that's why they came up 
with the Keytar in the first place, eh?

A laptop can be as interesting or as boring as a rack.  You want a 
more interesting performance, find a way to move around.  That can be 
by plugging an interesting interface into it, or strapping the darn 
thing around your neck, or jumping up and down like a monkey while 
you hit the buttons, or.... you can come up with plenty of other 
examples I'm sure.

Relatedly, this brings up another point.  We tacitly assume that 
while performing, *we* should be the center of the audience's 


Is it merely our egos that demand the audience has to sit riveted to 
our every move?  A previous post mentioned playing dance music, and 
this is an excellent example.  Why not disappear behind the DJ booth 
and let the music speak for itself?  Art Gallery openings are another 
good example, as well as any sort of installation performance where 
the performer is seen, but is not the focus of attention.

I'd agree that if an audience pays good money for a "traditional" 
performance, they should most likely get what they pay for.  However, 
it's also perfectly viable to "erase" yourself from the performance 
and let the music itself be the center of attention, IMNSHO.

"I want to keep you alive so there is always the possibility of 
murder... later"