Is It Live or is It Karoake?

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There is a trend going on right now in live music performances.  We are seeing more people advertising and requesting a single musician who plays along with pre-recorded backing tracks – ie. Karoake style.  What’s behind this?

In a nutshell it can be a cost saver to hire one instead of two, three, four or more musicians.  The tracks can give a consistency to the performance and a studio like sound quality.  That sounds well and good.  What gets sacrificed?

Pardon me while I get philosophical for a moment.  In my opinion music is a social endeavour and is best enjoyed with other people.  We all love to listen to it and share it with other people.  The same goes for playing music…

When you have two or more musicians playing together (without tracks) something special happens.  It becomes social, organic, responsive, and it allows a real connection between the music and the moment you are creating.  There is a dialogue.  It becomes possible to adjust the timing.  In a wedding processional we can tailor the ending of the song to the time the bride settles herself at the front of the aisle.  Same thing goes for any introduction, ribbon cutting, etc.  It’s a custom fit to the special moment you are creating.  The joy of skilled musicians playing together resonates through to the audience.

When a musician plays along with pre-recorded backing tracks you lose that treasured spontaneity of a live performance.  They can’t extend a song in the middle.  They can’t tailor the ending of the song to the moment.  There is no responsive dialogue, no push and pull, no give and take.  An acoustic ensemble provides an elegance that can’t be matched by recorded music.  We feel that adding recorded tracks to a live classical or jazz performance diminishes this elegance.

If you only have a budget for one person, we think a pianist or guitarist is the best choice.  A skilled pianist or guitarist can provide their own organic accompaniment to a melody.  Check out our solo piano and solo guitar pages for samples.

But if you are wanting a custom created, organic, and social moment(s) to be created at your event, I do encourage getting a duo (classical or jazz), trio, (classical or jazz), quartet (classical or jazz), jazz quintet or jazz sextet.  And if you are wanting something huge, over the top special – consider the Toronto Jazz Orchestra (18 piece big band).  Your guests will be talking about it for years to come!

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