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Performance Gestures [was: Re: Laptops]

Travis Hartnett wrote:
> As an audience member, I prefer that I be able to easily tell the
> difference between the performing musician and someone checking their
> email while the output of their iTunes is pumped through the PA.
> 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. 
Mine, too.  There are others who use computers, but if they're not 
running Live or some other thing that requires attention, then they can 
actually look up from the screen.

I use softwynths on my laptop.  I look at the screen in between songs to 
set up a system and then ignore it during the song.  When I'm playing, 
it's on a keyboard.  Perhaps one day a guitar or bass-to-MIDI converter 
will allow me to use my primary instrumental skills.  (Saving up the 

The crux of the issue is that we've been conditioned to *see* 
performances on music instruments.  A concert pianist's performace 
gestures are the same wether practicing scales or playing concert.  Yet, 
even if he never looks at the audience, he isn't saddled with the stigma 
of "He may as well just be practicing his scales."  This is true even 
though we've been conditioned to allow/expect all manner of antics from 
the way Rock musicians have been putting on shows since the '50s.  
Thanks to Michael Jackson, a pop performer is expected to dance!

In the beginning, a laptop wasn't a musical instrument.  Now it is... 
sonically speaking.  But the performance gestures are all wrong compared 
to our expectations.  Well, there are kids growing up today who will 
never play a CD or vinyl, only play files, and see laptop performances 
as just another way of performing.  We may have to get over it.  We're