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Re: laptops and performance
I guess the cool thing about laptops is that they break down several
walls of what is sonically possible. For example, you could be
controlling several sound sources at once, without necessarily
resorting to a loop format. It's the instrument you build (a 'patch')
and you can switch instruments between songs or shows. So as long as
the musician doesn't get too carried away by the expanse of
possibilities or the novelties of certain sounds/techniques (which I
certainly would), the audio performances can be more rich than you can
usually get with a single instrument. But you're still hearing one
person's sonic identity, which can sometimes get watered down a degree
in a band.
Some of the performers have found ways to make it visually engaging
too. Christopher Fleeger has a little transparent touchpad window - he
puts drawings of his 'controls' for each song behind the window, and
he manipulates the song by touching that. I saw Marielle Jakobsons do
a show where the laptop audio output was being fed into gongs and
cymbals for some nice drones.
I would probably never use a laptop personally - I like having a 'set
of rules' per instrument, and finding ways to bend those rules. For
example, watching someone get polyphonic notes on a flute or sax is
exciting to me.