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Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

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Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby 162_Ranks » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:18 pm

Without trying to start a flame war, it seems to me that we should have a third category, to distinguish between recorded performances, which were once played in real time by a human player, and a true "scored" MIDI performance, which was never played. Perhaps 'Live' vs. 'Captured' vs. 'MIDI'?

Live = .wav or .mp3 from performance
Captured = .midi from performance, replayed and captured as .wav or .mp3 on the same or a different sampleset
MIDI= .midi from a scoring tool or otherwise manipulated

Could this simple change remove some confusion and conflict?
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby James » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:50 pm

As I understand it, a live performance on Contrebombarde is a wav or mp3 recording, made on the uploader's own sampleset. That sampleset has possibly been voiced by the person uploading it. Anything else is probably not to be considered live. In the case of Voxus organs, the uploads from the Voxus owner are replayed via midi, as near as I can determine. We are in that case not listening to the actual performer on his own perhaps personally voiced sampleset. I question how this can be called live. It would seem that Contrebombarde is being used to promote the sampleset. I do not think other sampleset producers do this. I see nothing wrong with calling an upload Midi. However, I do like the real live performances very much, and feel slightly hoodwinked when misdirected by a possibly doctored file.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby 1961TC4ME » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:55 am

To me a *live* recording is one that is done on the spot, as played and heard if you were present and is played back without any alteration of the original recording after the fact whatever the method of playback. To take things a step further though and truly make what I consider the best example of an actual live recording, I submitted one where I recorded myself playing my actual HW set-up in it's space using my hand-held Zoom H1 recorder in an attempt to give a person an idea of how it actually sounds in my organ room.

Not the greatest playing on my part but this is a *live* recording >> http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/12891

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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby ajongbloed » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:22 am

Sometimes I use this method to make a recording: first make a midi-recording of myself playing, then using that midi-file to make a sound recording. Having no toe-studs or the like this is the only way for me to make registrations-changes while having both hands on the keyboards. I act like my own registrant.
And I once recorded a piece for four hands; using midi was the only way to do it.

I consider those performances 'live'.

And while making a direct sound-recording I seldom play a piece without errors in one take. So I use software to glue together different takes.

Those performances I equally consider 'live', though clearly the soundfile has been manipulated.

The real distinction is to me whether a real person did play the actual piece; midi or direct sound is just a way to record the performance. And an interesting question is: how much manipulation is 'allowed' in either midi or soundfile for the recording to still qualify as 'live'?
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby Fazioli » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:48 am

99% of the live CD and DVD recordings are being manipulated before we can buy them.
Live means nothing when you where not actually there. But MIDI performance means nothing too if the piece was played by a human being.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby 162_Ranks » Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:53 am

Perhaps we all will need to agree to disagree in the end, but I still feel like there might be a solution. I empathize with both points being made here. Certainly, a captured performance replayed on a different sample set isn't quite the same as "Live", as the performer may have made slightly different choices on registration/phrasing/etc. But it isn't "MIDI" either, as we are hearing a performance that was made by a human musician at some point. If it the playback is done on the *same* sampleset, I even I get muddled about whether it is really "live" or not. Would it have sounded any different than if you had been lucky enough to be in the room while it was being recorded?

When very reasonable people have difficulties agreeing on what category something fits into, it is usually an indication that the categorization systems is insufficient. Hence my suggestion to add an additional category! It would help distinguish between performances that are performed by a human player and recorded as would have been heard had you been sitting in the room, and performances that, while still essentially played by a human, have been manipulated in some way and recaptured.

Does the Live/Captured/MIDI distinction help? Are there any suggestions otherwise?
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby telemanr » Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:04 am

There is live recorded as would have been heard had you been sitting in the room.
There is live recorded using HWs resulting wav file.
There is live recorded MIDI result played back.
And all three can be done with no extra post manipulation.
Then there's manipulation of any of those however slight or major.

It's a rat's nest of possibilities.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby CarsonCooman » Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:51 am

162_Ranks wrote:When very reasonable people have difficulties agreeing on what category something fits into, it is usually an indication that the categorization systems is insufficient.


I'm not sure why the current system is insufficient. The "Live" indication means that the performance/recording was made by a human pressing the keys on his/her console The "MIDI" indication means that it was MIDI file created initially through a sequencer or a notation program and played back with Hauptwerk (e.g., no human being pressing the keys). The latter category has many fine practitioners -- the late "jocr" and still active "giwro" and "Pointyflute" (as just two examples). It is its own art.

But since all of the recordings in question here are being made using Hauptwerk and digital consoles (as opposed to on "real" pipe organs), there is certainly nothing mystical or more real about a "Live" performance captured in real time by microphones or any other system, or somebody who records directly to WAV file. Recording the live (human) performance to MIDI and then playing it back to make a WAV file is not different from hearing it played the first time -- it can't be, because Hauptwerk (unlike a real organ) has no data involved that is not controlled via MIDI. There is nothing more precise available than what MIDI input/data is being provided (from your MIDI controlled console) based on your playing, so there is nothing magical about the performance being captured "live" in the moment, as opposed to being recorded into a MIDI file by a human. When playing a real (mechanical action) pipe organ, there are additional parameters that cannot necessarily be quantified (subtle though they may often be). But these are not in question here since everybody involved is using a MIDI-driven Hauptwerk setup.

I think thus the current two flag system is perfectly sufficient. When there are additional details, they can go into the notes as people do -- for example when a human has recorded his/her performance on one sampleset and then it is played back on another different organ (as Voxus has done). That can be noted there (as to which sets), and people are aware. But it's still very much a human (=live) playing (with desirably "imperfect" human timing and articulation), quite different from using a sequencer/notation software to produce the results.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby 1961TC4ME » Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:31 pm

As to a solution, I don't know there is a perfect one other than offer up an actual live recording like I did above, but I do tend to agree with those here who are saying there are numerous ways to record and play back exactly what was played in the first place, as if you were standing right there listening to the first iteration be it via MIDI or whatever method, as long as it has not be polished, edited or altered, then to me it's live. A MIDI recording used with a different sample set than it was originally played on to me would be a hybrid of sorts, not the original and thus not really live.

While we're on the subject, I too have wondered about this 'live' thing I see on CCH and what exactly it means. Many of the recordings I listen to seem to be polished for lack of a better word and appear to have been processed through another piece of software before being submitted, the reason I feel this way is I have made recordings a number of times myself and have not been able to get any of mine to sound as good as some I have heard, and I'm assuming we're all using the same version of advanced HW. Maybe it's the free Audacity I'm using to convert the files so I can upload them to CCH and I should be using something better?

What I would be interested in is, we often hear about various users sound systems and how good they sound. I'd actually like to hear some actual live recordings of their systems like I did, to me that would be interesting and perhaps recordings like this could be considered candidates for a 'live' category?

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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby jkinkennon » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:23 pm

CarsonCooman wrote:But since all of the recordings in question here are being made using Hauptwerk and digital consoles (as opposed to on "real" pipe organs), there is certainly nothing mystical or more real about a "Live" performance captured in real time by microphones or any other system, or somebody who records directly to WAV file.


I agree completely and would add that recording with microphones is just adding one more acoustic layer to the sound. This becomes a recording of a recording which includes the acoustics of two listening rooms, mine and the organists, layered on top of the original acoustic of the hall where the organ was sampled. My ears want less "fog", not more. I've always assumed that the majority of recordings on CCH were MP3 versions of the WAV file.

Additionally I have no issues at all with editing which is in the spirit of live recording. Obviously that would include an equalization adjustment (as an example) and not include replacing wrong notes. Seems simple enough.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby CarsonCooman » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:31 pm

1961TC4ME wrote: Many of the recordings I listen to seem to be polished for lack of a better word and appear to have been processed through another piece of software before being submitted, the reason I feel this way is I have made recordings a number of times myself and have not been able to get any of mine to sound as good as some I have heard, and I'm assuming we're all using the same version of advanced HW. Maybe it's the free Audacity I'm using to convert the files so I can upload them to CCH and I should be using something better


Occasionally people (particularly those working with dry sample sets or wet sets in very dry rooms) will process the recording with additional reverb and such -- either with software convolution or a hardware module like a Lexicon. Though when that is the case (not especially often), people usually make note of it in the comments.

However, the single biggest factor as to why some recordings (on even the same sample sets) sound significantly better than others in sound quality is simply the audio compression used. I advocate that everybody should be uploading their recordings to CCH as 320k MP3s -- which is the highest bitrate the MP3 compression algorithm allows. Using the WAV uploader is not an improvement, because although the original WAV file is lossless and uncompressed, CCH actually downsamples the WAV file for playback/storage to a lower bitrate. Thus, a huge reason that many people's recordings sound different is that they are creating MP3 files at many different bitrates -- 128, 192, etc.

Taking your Hauptwerk WAV files and then creating 320k MP3s to upload will produce the best possible result within the context/limits of what CCH provides (which is a higher bitrate than many online streaming services do anyway). The actual software you use to do the conversion (whether Audacity or something else) is less significant than the choice of bitrate.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby ReinerS » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:57 pm

The actual software you use to do the conversion (whether Audacity or something else) is less significant than the choice of bitrate.

I fully agree with this statement, however, the mp3 encoder itself does make a difference as well. Fortunately here you are on the "good" side using Audacity, since Audacity is using the free LAME encoder for its mp3 encoding. The LAME encoder is actually one of the best, if not the best encoder available for this.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby csw900 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:00 pm

Hi Live Wires

Let me add my ha'porth.

It's LIVE only if you are sitting in the auditorium while it is being played. It makes no difference
whether it is a real organ or a Hauptwerk organ. If you are ACTUALLY THERE listening to it then
it is live.

If it is recorded then it is NOT live -- hence its called a recording.

There are many ways to make a recording some good e.g. a direct digital .wav recording
without using any microphones and some bad e.g. most camcorders, even expensive ones,
they all have sound compression which totally ruins music.

They are all recordings. When you listen to a recording of a live performance it is NOT live.

Thus NONE of the recordings on contrebombarde are live. Some may have been live once
but no matter what anybody says they are not live now.

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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby deebos » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:50 pm

I have many LP's and cd's labeled " live recording" so maybe it is a marketing ploy.
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Re: Performance Type: Live' vs 'MIDI'

Postby jkinkennon » Tue Jul 26, 2016 4:05 pm

The confusion may arise from the fact that we are comparing live recordings to recordings which are produced by layering or other methods which are not easily accomplished live. We are not comparing "live" to "recorded" as that would make the concept of a live recording meaningless.

There is plenty of room to debate whether a recording should be labeled as live. I would argue that a MIDI recording is as much a live recording as an audio recording in the Hauptwerk realm. The purpose on Contrebombarde has always been to distinguish recordings of actual performances from recordings which are manufactured by building a MIDI file, conceivably with more voices than any real player could manage.
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