Does fakery belong in music?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Wednesday June 9, 2010
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I like live music, and I like recorded music.

Sometimes however, the distinction between the two can become blurred.

When I go to a live concert, or see music being performed on TV, I expect it to be live. That is that all the singers are singing and all the musicians are playing.

So if someone is playing a keyboard instrument, I expect to hear that instrument.

What I don't like is for the music to be coming from a prerecorded backing track and it only looks as though the singers and musicians are performing.

OK, reality check...

On many TV shows, this just isn't going to happen. I wish this wasn't so, but I understand economic realities.

However, when it is a dedicated music show, I really do expect all the playing to be live. (I will accept a loop in the background where it is appropriate for the genre of music.)

As an example, I choose 'Later', presented by Jules Holland on UK TV.

So there I am, sat in front of my 50-incher watching live music.

Live music...

Except that something seems wrong. The band 'Metric' are performing their song 'Gimme Sympathy'. In front, Emily Haines is singing and playing keyboard.

She is clearly a more talented keyboard player than I am because she is playing it with both hands!

But hang on... She's playing an old Sequential Circuits Pro One.

Which is a monophonic synth. Like many analog synthesizers of the era, it can only play one note at a time.

But she is playing it with both hands. Here is the evidence...

Metric

Metric

Metric

Hmm... There is definitely something suspicious going on here.

So perhaps the Pro One isn't audible in the mix, although it is plugged in. Perhaps it isn't switched on.

Whatever, when I see something like this it makes me suspect everything else that I see. What other fakery was involved in the performance?

The worst is, the wonderful Corinne Bailey Rae was also on the show, singing and playing a very rhythmic guitar. Then I noticed another guitar player's hands moving exactly in time with the sound of (supposedly) Corinne's guitar.

Corinne Bailey Rae

Could this be more fakery?

My heart says no. But when you have been keyed to expect fakery, it spoils one's enjoyment of a genuine performance.

So, do you have any other examples of fakery in live music, music that you would expect to be genuine?

The bad guys need to be outed!

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