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Topic: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

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  1. #1

    BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    This weekend I recorded with string performers in Las Vegas (where I live) and the session was....well...disappointing to say the least. My $1600 wasn't totally wasted, though, as I can salvage much of the material using Melodyne and other editing tricks, but my God I feel demoralized. The sad thing is that I was working with the best that Las Vegas has to offer. Even though I gave the sheet music (properly scored by a professional) and my rough-draft audio tracks (using sampled strings) to them 1 week in advance of the session, the performers came to the session ill prepared...some performers hadn't even looked at the scores before getting to the studio. Not one performers even brought the music I sent them . Thank God my conductor brought his printer and computer.

    This was my first experience using real string performers and one performer seemed to use this to her advantage, taking control and at times telling ME what I wanted. I was ill prepared for this and am embarrassed to say that I didn't know how to regain control once I lost it.

    Should I have expected them to have listened to the material beforehand and practiced before getting to the studio? Should I have expected them to willingly take my directions without fighting them? Should I have expected them to play better than they did? My God, these are so called professionals that perform on the Las Vegas strip and professional Las Vegas orchestras for a living.

    I was warned beforehand, though, by several studios in Las Vegas that told me I should have gone to Los Angeles for my string performers. I was told that Las Vegas String performers were not very good and there wasn't many to choose from. Boy, do I wish I had listened to them! I feel like they only cared about getting paid and really didn't care about my music. Why do I have a feeling that if they were playing for someone well known....like Yanni (for example) they would have been better prepared.

    NOW, I am in search of some (hopefully more professional) string performers in Los Angeles to complete my CD. I will travel from Vegas to do this. I have spent too much money to turn back now and am going to get this project done even if I have to go broke doing so.

    Anyone know any good string ensembles in Los Angeles? I need 3 violins, a viola, a cello, and a bass ensemble. Heeeeeelp meeeeee!!!!!!

    Thank you for letting me get all this off of my chest.
    _______________________________________
    "I would rather compose than decompose."


    Sean C. Dockery
    www.SeanDockery.com




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  2. #2

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Man. I feel your pain. I guess thats the risk you take when you venture to write for live players. But when it comes out the way you want, it's worth the struggle!

    Best of luck with your next session,

    Alex

  3. #3

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Geeze, you sure didn't get your moneys worth. I wonder if you should of paid them, not sure of the situation, wasn't there, but I would think they have a responsibility to a minimum of professionalism, and from what you say it sounds like you DIDN'T get that! If they are professional then they just weren't prepared and don't deserve to be paid. Tough break.

  4. #4

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    This reminds me of a DVD concert where Don Henley was trying to get "professionals" to play the string intro to "New York Minute", which is beautiful on the record.

    After several takes, he can be heard saying, " Professionals?, they just can't get the feel"

    An amature/enthusiast with feeling, is much better than a pro, who's just there for the money, and just playing the notes.

  5. #5

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Maybe next time you should draw up a contract where a part of their pay is for preparation. If it becomes clear they haven't bothered then send them home without paying them (not a great solution if you're also buying studio time though).

  6. #6

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Ouch, this gives mes shivers...

    I'm recording a string quartet this week I'll let u know how it goes in Spain...I honestly don't think they looked at the scores I sent them before hand, but at least I hope they'll play it good enough...

    Wish me luck, I'm also conducting!!! Yikes!

  7. #7

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Interesting story.... .

    Quantum, I think it would be great if you let us hear your midiorchestration what you gave them to listen to... , and perhaps the audiorecording with them after the recordingsession.

    Best,
    Gunther
    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  8. #8

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Somehow I'm not surprised they didn't prepare. They'd rather that you paid them to practice right then and there.

    The attitude on The Strip is that if you leave town with money in your pocket, you stole it.

    The real slogan is, "What money comes to Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas."

    Oh well. The Hustleville Orchestra won't be getting your money again!

    (Actually, I kind of enjoy going to conventions in Vegas. But they don't like me. I don't gamble!)

  9. #9

    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Session musicians are a different breed. They get paid a lot more than your average musician, and there is a good reason for that. They can read very quickly, and get it right first or second time.

    Whilst there are many other very good players around, you have to realise that music is a job. Why would they practise when you're not paying them to practise? Does the road sweeper clean streets for fun? Musicians who play in an orchestra or band that plays the same music every night will have the attitude that they only play when they are being paid. Of course, on their regular gig, they already know the notes, there are no surprises.

    I think that you've learned a very good lesson, albeit at a small cost. I have recorded in many countries, and can tell you than cheap is almost never the way to go, if you want a high quality product. In your case, as you only have a very small group, I would look for established chamber players, rather than orchestral, unless you are going to book session players. Most established quartets will know other like minded musicians who they work with when they do sextets and the like. Of course, these sorts of players are very fussy about what they play, so they may not even agree to be involved in a commercial product (pause for sniffing...!)

    Regarding LA, just make sure that you are getting the top players. The fees are the fees, so if you pay top dollar, you might as well get the best.

    D

  10. #10
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    Re: BAD experience with "professional" string performers- Was I expecting too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by quantum7
    Should I have expected them to have listened to the material beforehand and practiced before getting to the studio?
    Not necessarily. I would at least guess that the material you wrote would have been fairly straightforward for a professional string section to play straight off the bat. Maybe a couple of takes. What sort of time was allocated for the recording session?

    Can you put up some MP3's of the recordings?

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