Performance Evaluation

Looking back at the performance I feel there were aspects of it that were good and aspects that could have been improved upon. Generally speaking a reasonably pleased with the way the performance went and but I do feel some disappointment at the way some things panned out.

Firstly I had an issue where just before my set, while tuning the guitar I was going to be playing with one of the strings broke. This was a disaster as there were only minutes until I had to go on stage and perform so there was no time to replace the string. I first contemplated whether I would be able to play the set without that string or whether it was integral to some of the songs and concluded that I would indeed need that string to play several of the songs. Luckily, Joel had just finished performing and his guitar was fully in tact. He allowed me to use his guitar for my performance which was excellent but I had never played this guitar before and was apprehensive about my ability to smoothly play on it. The guitar was relatively similar in style to my own but the strings were slightly closer together which I had to mentally make note of as I was playing as not to hit the wrong strings by accident. This was not a huge worry of mine but was a consideration when playing. I had also practiced tuning the other guitar before the set so I would know the approximate required rotation of each tuning peg to change between each song which now would not be applicable to the new guitar. I therefor had to rely on the in built tuner on the guitar to changing my tuning in the short period that I had between each song. I managed this successfully on all occasions but one. By rushing the tuning for the song Dominos I had either missed entirely or simply tuned to the wrong note on one of the strings. This was a difficult problem to maneuver away from as it would clearly be heard in the chorus which is when I first noticed the issue. I very quickly adjusted my playing style to miss that string out entirely which adversely affected the song that I had written but saved the performance from being completely out of tune.

In terms of the lighting I was slightly disappointed on some of the songs. I found that I kept missing the pedal switch to activate the lights which was not a problem i had encountered before so had not prepared accordingly. This in turn was throwing off my other performers which meant that there were times when the lighting array had to become improvised as apposed to its original choreography. This element of improvisation was acceptable and to those who had not seen any of my original practices would likely not have noticed very much that it wasn’t intended. I was happy with the way that the lights looked on stage and in the instances where the choreography could be executed properly I think it was very effective visually.

The videos that I had playing behind me were one of the aspects that I feel went perfectly. The audio level was good and the visuals were clear and descriptive. I feel as though without them the performance wouldn’t have worked at all which is interesting. My only slight concern is that they maybe could have been more in depth with their description and explanation of the songs. It was difficult when making them to look at the project from the perspective of somebody who didn’t know anything about the p[project and so there was an element of assumption involved.

Vocally I did not think this was my best performance. I found that I was heavily distracted by my monitoring that had the vocal very high in the mix. I was also aware of my guitar tuning issues early on and was singing probably more cautiously than was necessary which resulted in some tuning issues. The monitor issue should have been addressed in the technical run but as the technical runs were complicated by the issues with my guitar it became an after thought that was pushed aside. This was a mistake for me and would definitely have addressed this more fully if i were to do it again.

As a whole the performance was a success in many ways. The set was running on time and coherently despite my issues technically. My other musicians Joe and Zakk played well and I am appreciative of them for putting in the time and effort to rehearse with me. Some songs I feel didn’t translate particularly well to a live performance. Maybe I have been put off them by the tuning issues and perhaps they would have worked well otherwise but looking back at the performance i would say that the second song Dominos did not really work. I was pleased with the other songs generally, especially the lighting and music in the third song Dissonant. In conclusion I would say that i am broadly pleased with the performance but I think that more preparation is always a good thing with situations like this and personal reflection on a showcase is also a good thing to ensure that you are happy with all aspects of a performance before you showcase it.

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Technical Runs and Rehearsal Days

While at Chapter for the days before the show we were able to rehearse technically several times as well as personal rehearsals around our technical slots. This time was used to iron out any issues that were otherwise unknown. The primary purpose of my personal rehearsal time with Zakk and Joe was to fully choreograph our lighting. Using the six lamps manually, with two per person allowed for us to incorporate it as part of the act. We would choreograph to have the lights on while we were playing individually and off when we were not. I particularly enjoyed the moments when we would have off beats and all of the lights were turned off and on again in quick succession.

The technical runs weren’t particularly smooth for me as a number of unforeseen issues occurred with my guitar. On the first day we had trouble receiving a signal from my guitar so had to use a boosted DI box which seemed to work well. However, on the second day there was a random loss and gain of signal from the same guitar on the same DI. We came to the conclusion that there were loose connections in the wiring from my pickup to my jack input. Because of this issue I decided to abandon my guitar for the performance and use another.

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We were otherwise able to participate in the technical runs well seeing how the lighting and ourselves sat visually on the stage and getting good levels for the bass, cajon and guitar.

I was personally involved in the stage crew for the show, helping to organize changeovers efficiently along with Rosie who took a lead role in this which she played well. We were able to effectively run the shows changeovers in a short time frame by carefully choreographing movement of equipment.

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Notes on the Writing Process

Dice

The process of writing ‘Dice’ was a relatively simple one. I decided to start with this particular method as I felt it would be the easiest to attempt with my limited knowledge of the experimental processes. I found that I could apply the number values that were generated by the dice to notes on the guitar. When drop tuning my guitar to a variant of open A, all of the strings harmonize with each other meaning that most combinations of randomly generated notes will harmonize also. I worked out a riff to apply the notes to and simply played the fret numbers according to the dice.

 

Dominos

With this technique it falls very similarly in the same category as Dice for its likewise number generation method. The difference in this technique is that its not quite as random as the dice. With the dominos, a game is played and then the outcome based on the string of numbers accumulated in order through playing is the data used to write the song. For this I decided take the numbers and put them into sets with which I would create a riff. I could then arrange my set of riffs so that they would compile a recognizable song. Without doing this and just incorporating all of the numbers into one string, the song would not be palatable as a piece of music.

 

Dissonant

This process was the most enjoyable for me personally. The process was simply taking notes that clashed and incorporating them into a progression, riff or idea that could be palatable and harmonic as a melody. I found that writing in this way resulted in some progressions that were surprisingly similar to some of Jeff Buckleys work. I took the lyrics from this song from the book ‘A Young Doctors Notebook’ by Mikhail Bulgakov by randomly choosing pages and lines of dialogue from a number generator. This allowed for some unique lyrics as the book is set in 19th century Siberia so the language and terminologies used were interesting and relatively uncommon in more mainstream music.

 

People

This was a very enjoyable process as it took away my creative freedom as a writer. By allowing others to write the music they feel they want to hear, you are automatically creating music for a demographic of people. I simply allowed several people to dictate to me how I should write sections of the song. They would provide input on whatever they felt the song required at the stage they were given to work on. I then compiled all of the suggestions and inputs to the final song.

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Marketing

In terms of marketing, looking at this project as a whole I see two sides to its audience. On the one hand I see it appealing to people in a general music consumer capacity and on the other I see it as an entity to be received and interpreted as an arts project. Firstly, thinking about potential current venues Flatpack would suit currently, it would fit well into some regular gig venues locally such as Gwdihw and Clwb Ifor Bach and in a slightly broader field stretching to similar style venues in places like Bristol and Birmingham. More culturally diverse venues are ideal for this type of project such as Chapter where our final show will take place as well as other arts center based venues as apposed to just gig venues. I think that this particular project does stretch more into the arts while maintaining its accessibility as a regular consumable live performance in the folk or indie genre. I also think that festivals of several varieties would be an excellent showcase for this project. Smaller festivals like Swn in Cardiff would be an interesting option because of it’s diversity and on a larger scale places like Greenman and Nozstock with it’s open mind to new forms of performance.

I would say that from a performance perspective alone, I am similar in style to artists like The Gentle Good and Dan Croll. These artists play in very different types of venues and have very different audiences. The Gentle Goods typical audience is in their post 20’s and generally has an interest in folk music as a primary leisure music. The Welsh heritage side to his act also draws a certain percentage of his audience because he writes and sings in both Welsh and English. Dan Croll on the other hand has no cultural heritage in his act particularly and is definitely the more commonly consumable artist of the two. He presents himself on stage in a similar way to my personal performance style and incorporates some similar writing styles. His particular audience is of a younger age bracket ranging from around 16 to 25. He plays smaller city venues such as the Globe in Cardiff and small stages at festivals whereas The Gentle Good plays more specialized venues for his craft including areas of interest for Welsh culture like welsh festivals and also folk projects and festivals across the country and globally. I like to think that my personal performance sits somewhere between these two artists and takes a portion of influence from both and so i should be trying to market myself towards their audiences using their marketing techniques.

As an entity my persona and the product of my performance should be primarily advertised online as is with most musicians these days. Social media is a powerful tool when it cokes to marketing and advertising yourself as an artist especially when you take into consideration the demographic data that you have access to as an admin of one of these pages for yourself. It could be argued that social media was once a very powerful tool in the world of marketing but has since become diluted by a overcrowded population of people trying to gain attention of users and instead we should be looking towards other methods for reaching out to an audience. I personally feel that there is nothing wrong with having an online presence and is generally needed to survive as an artist but i would not rely on it entirely for my own personal marketing and advertising. Getting yourself played on the radio and in publications that people of my target demographic subscribe to are very good ways to promote as an artist.

 

Strengths

  • Good visual aesthetic on stage with the lighting.
  • Well received music from my small audiences at our practice showcase performances.

Weaknesses

  • Little feedback from larger groups of people.
  • Currently a low level of online and public content.

Opportunities

  • Festivals
  • Radio and publication coverage
  • Arts and songwriting events

Threats

  • Potentially little interest for my niche in the market.
  • Fewer people are consuming music in my genre in a live environment.

 

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First Group Rehearsal

I have briefly made tutorials with Zakk and Joe individually to teach them their respective parts but had not yet played together as an ensemble until recently. The individual tutorials were simple and both Zakk and Joe showed a high level of proficiency in learning and mastering the songs I had written which made me more relaxed about the project as a whole. The track ‘Dissonant’ was one which showed some issues in terms of teaching it to the others. While teaching it to Joe we discovered that I had written it in a strange timing, more specifically in the verses the rhythm is set out in a looping pattern of beats in the form 66365. This made mastering the rhythmic flow of the song difficult for Joe having to create not only matching percussive beats but also ones that would suit the aesthetic of the song but eventually we found the result we were looking for.

The first full ensemble practice lasted a few hours and we were e able to play all of the songs that I had intended for my set. We spent the most time on the ‘Dissonant’ song as it was the one I was most fearful of. The others were far more basic sitting in normal 4 time rhythms and reasonably simple bass parts for Zakk to learn. In practicing this one the most ironically it would become our strongest song as fear of being weak in this song meant that we neglected some time to spend on the other songs. It was also helpful for me as a writer to have the input of two other musicians who were playing the music on arrangement of the pieces for the live performance. We played with a suggestion that Joe gave of playing the final song ‘People’ in a swung rhythm but ultimately decided that it didn’t suit the particular aesthetic I was attempting.

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Zen Bar

I recently played with the other members of the Flux collective at the Zen Bar. I performed some of the material that I would be playing in the final show at Chapter however I played it solo as at this point I have not yet had chance to rehearse with Zakk who will be playing bass for me and Joe who will be playing the cajon.

The performance went well overall. I feel that the songs work in a consumerist environment and can be digested by the common listener while still maintaining a level of interest among those in the field of composition. Generally speak I did not use the videos for this performance as they were not ready in time but the impression that I immediately got from the audience as that they would have only improved the overall aesthetic and given some background to the project which I think was really the missing link.

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Aesthetics of the Performance

My primary plan for the main aesthetic of the performance is to convey the main ethos of my Flatpack project so that the audience is fully aware of what the project is about. The videos played in between songs will serve as the primary indicator of this. They will be made using the same aesthetic as my produced EP in terms of printed black and white flat pack instructions. The videos will be almost instructional in the way the describe the writing process, almost like a tutorial video, the live incarnation of an instruction manual.

 

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