“We didn’t think we could touch a live band, ” Robert said as I booked his July shoreline wedding. “I told you it would cost less than you thought, and it would sound awesome,” I answered, smiling as we went over the details of the reception.
This is the reaction I often get when I book my group. We’re part of a new breed of bands making music in the new millennium. We’re in a world where trios sound like big band orchestras and duos boom out the bass with subwoofers only a DJ would envy. How do we do it? The cutting edge musician is utilizing Midi (an acronym for musical instrument digital interface). Without getting too technical, midi enables a controller (often the piano player’s keyboard) to send signals to various synthesized sounds, telling them what and when to play.
I thought sequencing and programming were bad words, I had been in bands of six players or more for over 15 years. Then I heard the sound of a midi acoustic bass played in a Jazz medley. I became a convert.
Bear in mind, a song is only as good as the human that sequenced it and we musicians haven’t been replaced by our laptops yet. The groups that make the best use of midi are those that do not over-utilize its wonders, but incorporate it to expand their sound and to complement their talents.
A piano player’s solo is only smokin’ if he is an excellent musician, no matter how good the midi bass or drums sound. Nothing replaces a smooth vocalist singing your first dance or that special ballad when you dance with your Dad. It’s always advisable to hear the band play live before booking them. That way you know exactly what you are getting and how it will sound.
While midi technology can bring the violins of concertos and the big bass of a dance band to your wedding, the price of these bands is usually a fraction of the cost of larger groups. They are often trios, duos and sometimes even single artists. For that reason they are often more affordable than their larger counterparts. They are usually more willing to learn a special tune for each wedding, since fewer players means simpler rehearsal schedules. It is also more likely that, because of their small size, the band will stay together in the months and years to come leading up to your special date.
The next time you are attending a fancy gala or your best friend’s wedding, close your eyes and listen to the music.Then count the number of players on the bandstand. If the band’s using midi, you may find you are in for quite a surprise.