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The Playing Mantis

The Playing Mantis:

Interesting thought I woke with this morning:

I've been a bit consumed by the current project of making a vibraphone frame that has all the features of a concert instrument but also portable. My interests in designing and building vibraphone frames is strictly dedicated to the serious music players of the vibraphone (and there aren't many of us left). I spend zero energy for novice players or high school marching bands. My quest is to reach the next peak on the horizon of playing vibes. I think of it like a mountain climber but with musical peaks, valleys and challenges. Some of those challenges would dwarf the largest mountain peaks. There may be no other point to it other than that. However, I do miss the camaraderie, accolades, energy, support that the participation an audience brings to a performance.

For someone like me, there are no places I want to perform at that will have me as a performer. I've played a multitude of bars of every kind. I've provided background music for every kind of event there is. I've conducted fun college clinics and concertized as guest artist back in the day when performing as a professional was still a popular and vogue ambition for young aspiring college students. I've played at every other kind of general business work there is and I'm just not interested in it anymore.

Reality: I'm not famous enough to sell concert tickets (which is the perfect venue for what I do) but I've got the "been-there-done-that" experience that makes it rather pointless to continue that stalemate trajectory of general business work simply for a buck.

However. There may be music mountain peaks yet to explore. I easily build the best vibraphone frames in the world and they're no more expensive to build than the generic frames produced by the large manufactures. I don't desire to become a manufacturer of them nor do I have the qualities of a businessman to do so. The frames I build still aren't suitable for air travel or easy transport in a cab in places like N.Y. City. BUT, if "peak" performance venues aren't available to me, then they're also not available for 99.9 percent of the vibraphone players. So, why fight it? You can't bring back the olden days but the new days have new horizons.

If you're a vibraphone player who is willing to accept the noises and countless other malfunctions and annoying features that come with folding rails, light-weight construction of suitcase models, don't you think a nice studio in your own home and a concert instrument might be a solution? The sound you can create in your own home is WAY better than the nastiness created by instruments that have the poor damping and performance of lessor models. AND, if that's not enough, then go to electric vibes. Take only your bars and a suitcase model frame that plugs in to an amp. That (to me) is the equivalent or better than playing on a rickety vibraphone at a venue that pays pennies for you to work your ass off before you even play a note.

So I'm thinking of redirecting my attention and energy toward an interactive studio in my home with a giant screen monitor set up in my studio so I can perform live (or life-like) broadcasts that is the closest thing to a concert hall live performance. Even if only one person is present for the live performance, I can begin my own library of performances, from a great venue, playing a great instrument for a quality, listening audience. The only draw back and compromise is that the sound I'll put out will go over the air and the audience will be a digital screen but it will still have an element of interactive and informal participation so the audience can contribute with comments, questions and energy.

I realize this isn't new. There are many podcasts that do live performances but it's new to me and maybe it's where we all ought to focus our energy.

We vibe players think we have it bad. I'm just be thankful I don't play the carillon or pipe organ because they also don't fly well in air cargo or fit in a cab.

NOTE: Mention the "Playing Mantis" blog and get $50.00 refunded when you purchase a PIPERvibe Gel Pad from my store - if you don't need one, pass it on to your friends.


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