Rikshaw Band Technology

What am I hearing?? (For the curious tech minded.)

 We are often asked; “Where do all of those other instrument sounds come from when I listen to the RIKSHAW BAND? Who is playing them?” It’s a great question and one that I would like to take a moment to answer.

 In this age of computers, digital recording, karaoke discs and other forms of high quality pre-recorded music, it is difficult to know what is live and what isn’t. Even major artists can fool you by lip-syncing or playing along to a pre-recorded track. This is very common these days.

 After many years of playing with bands of various sizes, Susan and I became interested in embracing a new technology which would allow us to create and perform music using computers and digitally sampled instruments to supplement our live performance. While we wanted a bigger sound, we also wanted it to be “our sound” and not someone else’s recorded performance. The question was how to play three or four additional instruments live without playing to a pre-recorded track. The technical name for what we use is MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Lost yet? Try this explanation; Think of a computer created MIDI file as the equivalent of the paper roll on an old fashioned “player piano”. As the roll passes over a pipe filled with air  the holes in the paper tell the piano to play a note or series of notes.  A MIDI file is like that “paper roll”. It tells our keyboards or digital sound modules what notes we previously played, when to play them and what sounds to reproduce (piano, percussion, strings etc.). It’s as if our real fingers were still actually playing the keyboard but it is all done live, nothing is pre-recorded. It’s an amazing technology!

Even though you are not aware of it  you probably use MIDI files every day yourself. That short song melody or series of beep tones that your cell phone plays when it “rings” is not a recording; it is a short MIDI file that is programmed into your phone to play a series of notes. If you have ever downloaded a “ring tone” from the internet into your cell phone, you actually downloaded a basic MIDI file.

 RIKSHAW BAND is a combination of live instruments and vocals with the support of our own live MIDI triggered instruments. We use the most up to date computer technology and digitally sampled instruments so when you hear the Rikshaw Band play it’s not a CD, mp3 or karaoke. It’s all presented live, the way music should be.

 Equipment used for midi file creation:

Cakewalk/Sonor Midi editing/creation software

Roland Sound Canvas (Digital sound modules)

Roland TT1  Virtual Sound Canvas

Alesis SR-16 Drum Computer

Yamaha DGX 500 Midi Keyboard

Dell and HP/Compaq computers


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