The Importance of Failure

Dec 15 | Posted by: Fighter #1 |

For those of you who aren't familiar, here is what Regdar (the laptop) does during any given song: he builds a random loop of 2 to 8 beats using 8 percussive noises. He does this 3 times (on average). Each of these is keyed to a button on the DDR pad. Then he has up to 5 "chords" keyed to the other buttons. When one of those buttons is depressed, Regdar plays a random note from within the chord for a set period (usually half a beat or so) before switching to the next one.

There is a lot of randomness, then, in how a song sounds. Once Regdar has decided what a beat is, I have no control over it. Add to that the fact that the DDR pad is not the most accurate control interface, and sometimes the buttons misfire, and we end up with a carefully-manufactured sound that we have little control over.

"Why, Steve?" You may ask. "Why not just pre-program things so that they're more predictable instead of all this randomness, which may or may not sound good from show to show?"

I will answer you in one word: Magic!

Then I will then answer you in more words: Live music is not about perfect performances. If you want to hear a song exactly how it is meant to sound, buy the album. The live show should be a magical, ephemeral thing. The best shows aren't the sort where you can recreate the experience with a DVD and good sound system. The best shows are the ones, where afterwards you tell your friends, "You should have been there! A show like that may never happen again!"

You can't ever cross the same river twice; you can't ever go to the same amazing show twice.

However, as a musician, my goal is to make as many shows as possible be that magical thing. There are two major techniques used to achieve this purpose: The most visible technique is to make each show a big spectacle. Complex choreography! Elaborate pyrotechnics! Expensive costumes! This technique is expensive and hard to pull off, but it's what most big-name musicians will do.

The other technique is to get out of the way and let the magic happen. Play the show. Do a good job of it. But don't try to force amazing, spontaneous things to happen. They will occur, and they will be great. Just let them happen.

That is why Regdar and the Fighters uses so much randomness. The greater the entropy; the greater the chance of failure: The greater the chance that something unexpected and great will happen. Without huge spectacles, having every show be the same is the death of magic. It grows stale and boring. Having this much entropy allows the band to step back and let awesome craziness happen!

You can't ever cross the same river twice; you can't ever go to the same Regdar and the Fighters show twice.

Ah yes, nicely put, eveyrnoe.

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