WHERE IS ALL THAT SOUND COMING FROM?
Well, it's a bit of a long story, but if you like the technical
side of things, here goes! I perform my One Man Band using my
Yamaha Tyros 5 Electronic Keyboard. I also play the acoustic piano
when available, and sometimes the saxophone, guitar and percussion
as the show demands. The Tyros 5 is the state of the art electronic
keyboard on the market today! It is manufactured by Yamaha Corporation,
and is the primary source of my instrumental sound. It's what is
called a MIDI Sequencer Workstation. I also use the finest microphones,
mixers, speakers and other musical gear to get an incredibly authentic
sound, no matter what style music I'm performing! All in real time,
live on stage!
WHAT IS MIDI?
Simply said, MIDI is basically a computer language for music.
This language records musical information as you play it, and it
can then play it back. As you get to know my show, you'll learn
that I am constantly adding new songs to my song list, or repertoire.
And that process of preparing a new song for my 'One Man Show' requires
MIDI knowledge, a good deal of planning and musical hard work. Work
that I love to do!
HOW DO YOU GET SUCH A REAL MUSICAL SOUND?
First I make a series of technical and musical decisions.
For instance, I may compose, or transcribe the song from scratch,
essentially playing and recording each part of a song one at a time
into my keyboard. I may begin playing, say a piano part,
or the drums, then layer the other parts on top, creating a song
piece by piece. It's a similar process to what musicians and recording
engineers do when they record an audio CD, accept that it's MIDI
data being recorded, not audio. Or I may do what singers in the
Big Band Era did, hire the best musical arrangers available. In
fact, that's what I often do, hire great musical arrangers. I am
fortunate to work with some of the finest composers and arrangers
in the music business!
As the song is completed, track by track, in studio, or purchased from
an arranger, either way it is then saved inside the keyboard, on the
internal hard drive. Now I'm ready to mix the song. This
is the process similar to what a conductor does with an orchestra,
when we work with the musicians to get a specific sound, each part
comes together, to create the perfect mix. Then in performance,
I will then use what is called the internal sequencer, also inside
the keyboard, and 'play back' that MIDI Song Data, Live,
from the internal memory of the keyboard. From there, that Midi Song
Data travels into what is called a sound module. That sound module
is also inside the keyboard. The sound module "reads"
the MIDI Data, and "sounds" the appropriate musical request.
It essentially converts the Midi Song Data, such as the notes of
a piano, along with all other parts, including the dynamics, tempo,
etc ... into audio which we can now hear. We hear it exactly as
it was originally played, recorded and mixed. The really cool thing
about the Tyros 5 Sequencer, is that it can record and play back
up to 16 parts simultaneously. So, I can do any style arrangement
from a jazz trio to a full orchestra or rock band in my one man
DO YOU FEEL ABOUT PLAYING COVER TUNES?
"I'm here for the people I play for, and that means playing
their favorite songs. And I love playing cover tunes. The songs
are what connect us. Not only in the performance setting, but in
our personal lives and in our
culture. It's a great feeling, and an honor to make people feel
special by playing their special songs!
HOW DO YOU PREPARE AND PERFORM SO MANY SONGS IN SO MANY
When I'm preparing a song I generally stick to an arrangement
people are familiar with, unless it's a venue or event with
a special theme. For instance, let's say the event is a beach or poolside party with
a Caribbean theme. I might perform the song 'Woman', by Lennon,
in a Reggae style. But usually, I work to create a balance between
an arrangement we are all familiar with and an instrumental sound
that is uniquely mine."
For the vocals however, I do do not imitate or impersonate other
singers. Instead, I employ vocal techniques to emulate the musical
style of the song enough so that it's authentic sounding, but still
sung in my voice, in my own personal vocal style. Something old
and familiar and something new and fresh! People seem to enjoy the
mix. Again, it's really all about the crowd and what they want.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR MIDI TRACKS AND KARAOKE?
It's a big difference, actually, the way I use the technology.
MIDI, as opposed to karaoke, is flexible, and gives me real time
control over everything in my mix, live, very much like live musicians.
Karaoke, on the other hand is set, and really can't be changed much.
With Karaoke, your stuck with the sound of the instrumental
arrangement of the song as it arrived from the studio that put it
together, leaving you with no freedom of creation. That's why people
who use mp3 players or other audio file players on stage for ''backing
tracks' sound so canned. With MIDI, I can not only create and
mix any style arrangement I want, but at any time during a live
performance, I can change or manipulate the MIDI data, in real time.
For example, I may have recorded an electric guitar part for a Clapton
tune, via MIDI, and somebody has requested a Clapton tune. However,
this gig requires a more mellow sound than that electric guitar
sound, and so as not to disappoint a client's request, I can on the
fly in real time, change that electric guitar sound to an acoustic
steel guitar, thus 'unplugging' the song arrangement style,
making it appropriate for the venue and the moment. I can also change
any other element of the song arrangement, as needed. And of course,
I have complete flexibility to choose what instrument, or instruments
I play along with the Midi Song "Live" in performance,
as I sing. Cool huh! It's a lot of work, but if you're willing to
spend enough money, with the quality of current technology today,
and you happen to be an an experienced musician and conductor, you
can achieve that incredible sound of a live band and keep it fresh
and evolving. Or your budget allows and the event requires a multi-person
ensemble, I can bring in the other live musicians from my Big City
Band and do the show all in real time, the old fashioned way.
your performance today. You'll be delighted you did!
Thanks for visiting my web site.
Craig Edward Singleton