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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Have you ever faked it?

August 30, 2008 at 5:44 AM

Well, the news is in from Sydney: little Lin Miaoke is not the only Olympic faker, apparently the entire Sydney Symphony was simply miming along to a recording -- mostly of another orchestra -- during the 2000 Olympics.

Was the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra not cute enough?

It begs the question: Have you ever.....faked it?

It's actually not SUCH an unusual practice in outdoor settings and/or high-production shows. I can remember when I was in the Disney college orchestra one summer (I think I just won't add the year, here), we had a group of dancers that performed with us, and allegedly, sang. Actually the conductor had a click-track in his ear, which helped us to sync up our live playing with the pre-recorded "singing." It allowed us to have consistency in the show, night after night, and it let the dancers do their thing, which was not really singing -- I'm pretty sure that none of their voices were the ones recorded.

Is this wrong? Is it art? Well, it's entertainment.

Sometimes we are asked to "fake it," like the musicians in Sydney. Hey, the check still cashes. And sometimes people have a lot of fun, spending the day as an "extra" for a movie, in which they "fake it" for the movies. After all, real musicians make the best fakers. For example, can anyone spot the problems here with having an actress faking the fiddle?

Now, I haven't even gotten into whether or not any of you have faked some of those 16th notes in the middlemost sections of the 1812 Overture while sight-reading the Fourth of July concert, etc.

So now. Be honest and answer the question. Then, let's hear your views on "faking it" and also your funny stories.

From Sydney Menees
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 5:57 AM
Don't be hatin' Sydney! ;)
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 6:03 AM
I almost said, "The news is in from Sydney, and it's NOT about Joshua Bell!" ;)
From Perry Spinali
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM
While I've never faked it on violin, I do however use a recorded backing track on occasion that has the full instrumental arrangement to my compositions with which I play live violin.

I did go to Las Vegas and happened to be Downtown where a live band was playing outside and the violinist was obviously faking it...but not really trying to match the recording note for note. It was disturbing. More recently I saw an Icelandic synth-pop group, Mum, that had two members faking violin and viola parts and that was equally disappointing. People seemed to accept the visual pantomines as part of the intent and spectacle. The instruemts were very shiny bright new acoustic instruments and unamplified in an otherwise electric sound. I wonder if audience expectations of commonly enhanced sound production on today's recordings exceed the talent available or reproducaable on tour!

From al ku
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 9:26 AM
not sure what 30% "faking" really entails, but it is quite, hmmm, shocking, esp coming from classical musicians (may be not classical musicians).

the last i heard is that sydney has better dental care and that is why.

in terms of "acceptability" of fake presentation in an otherwise perfect world:), on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 meaning: no big deal, figures, thus not surprising, to 10, meaning: wow, what were they thinking, here is my rating system and samplers:

the vanilla boys: 0. simply junk, non-issue. who cares.

fake or added on firework effect: 1. (the chinese never advertised: come see 100% authentic firework. it is a show, stupid, like magic:)

cuter face win: 3. again, just feeling more bad for the hidden girl than the illusion.

pavoratti lip sync: 7. i would have rated a 11 but since he had pancreatic cancer, he deserves 4 point of courtesy. since he was sick, he was not thinking, i figure.

sydney sickness: massive plague. i simply cannot imagine every single one of the entire orchestra going along with it. best kept secret of the past 8 years. well done boyz and girlz. a 10!

From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 12:29 PM
I have a vague, distant recollection of having missed a 16th note or three in the 5th movement of Bartok's "Concerto for Orchestra".
From Giancarlo L
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 1:55 PM
Well, I don't know how widespread this story is, but apparently Pavarotti actually just lip synched to a previous recording of Nessun Dorma at the 2006 Turino Olympics. So, in fact, while it was his last public "performance" it wasn't the last time he sang.

As for me, I've faked many a sixteenth note in the Firebird suite.

From Annette Brower
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 2:24 PM
Absolutely! Too bad it didn't indicate Fakando or Fakioso in the music.
From Graham Clark
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 5:05 PM
I said I had NEVER faked it.

I faked that, though.


From Bill Busen
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 5:37 PM
Just last week, our pastor gave a sermon on authenticity, one highlight of which was his description of the tape-malfunction moment at which people began to get a little suspicious of Rob and Fob (the Grammy-winning duo Milli Vanilli, who were, um, technically not singing).

At lunch at Potbelly's, over my sandwich and malt, there was a terrific folk singer playing guitar, with an impressive audio setup. I noticed the precise bass over the fluent strumming. Then I noticed the not-quite-so-precise bass fingering. I checked out the interleaved top-plate percussion and full chords. They were a little less than synchronized as well. He started the next song, and I noticed him hit the footplate.

I finished my sandwich, and headed out past him with my malt. Here, the respect I have gained for anyone willing to put themselves before the public took over. So no one heard the line that made me smile, as I walked past him, but which seems irresistible in this context.

(Smiling and gesturing to malt) "Milli-Vanilla!"

From Anthony Fusco
Posted on August 30, 2008 at 11:54 PM
In the Classical orchestral music field I would say that some pieces are almost impossible getting every note . Anyone who says that they never fake in this field are , I feel, not being totally honest .

I have found, for ezample, the end of Richard Wagner's Die Valkyries as being one of those passages . Another is a part of Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis , or how about Ives 4th symphony just to mention a few. And , I am sure there are plenty more passages that are even more difficult . But, for the most part , most passages are possible with enough practice .

Don't tell any condutors I ever said so

From Larry Deming
Posted on August 31, 2008 at 12:09 AM
Paul Potts ("tenor"), Foxwoods Casino (CT), March 5, 2008. We were told in rehearsal that we would be playing along with prerecorded tracks and that we were needed to beef up certain spots. What a joke! Halfway through the rehearsal one of the cellists leaned over and said
"Hey, are your mics on? I've been hitting mine and nothing is coming out!" Indeed, our microphones were never turned on.
From Mazz Swift-Camlet
Posted on August 31, 2008 at 8:05 AM
I have befriended a rock star. His name is Vernon Reid - he's is a guitarist and founding member of the band Living Colour (huge in the '80s - still touring). we play together in various projects around New York City and recently I discovered that his band (The Yohimbe Brothers) and my band (Brazz Tree) were playing on the same bill. so I shot him an email saying "You should let me sit in with you guys!" to which he replied: "that would be AWESOME!" and so it was planned that I would come up and play a tune with the band.

well the day comes and Yohimbe Bros are on stage and rocking out in FULL effect. I'm very excited. I've got my electric violin out - amplifier having been set up already. I hear the bass player calling me: "Hey Mazz, you're up!" I run up on stage and plug in only to find out that it was NOT, in fact, the song Vernon intended to have me play on. Which, in and of itself, isn't a totally terrible thing (though I worried he would think I was being presumptuous in coming up before he called me up, I knew he would know it was a misunderstanding once we talked about it afterward).

The big problem with what happened was that the song I ended up on stage for was completely through composed. No room at all for improv, which I'm actually fairly good at. But this tune was a full on composition. Line after line of the band playing practically in unison and tight harmonies. All the way through.

So I just turned the volume on my violin ALL the way down to ZERO and pretended to be playing along. I think I was pretty good at faking it - cause later people were like "that was awesome! but I wish the sound guy would have turned you up more - I couldn't even *hear* you!"

The story has a happy ending - I stayed up for 2 more songs and both had room for me to play over (esp. the last one, which was the one he inteded to call me up for), so it all worked out. But GAWD was I embarrassed. Can you imagine being trapped on stage (all I wanted to do was RUN), not knowing a SINGLE note of what was being played?

I mean, haven't you even had a nightmare of the exact same kind?! somewhat akin to the showing-up-to-high school-in-your-underwear nightmare that every single one of us has had in some form or another.

I'm just glad I lived to tell the tale...

From Carrie Salisbury
Posted on August 31, 2008 at 2:49 PM
I was in college when the 2002 Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City. The Olympic organizing committee formed an "Inter-Collegiate Orchestra" to record all 116 National Anthems (for the medals ceremonies) and then later back again to perform with Gloria Estefan, Harry Connick Jr., etc for the closing ceremonies. In the week before the closing ceremonies,(instead of watching events) we were all cooped up inside a recording studio, making a tape for the closing ceremonies. For the actual event, we played along with ourselves on the tape. I'm not sure the reason behind making the tape in advance...I think they told us it was for the sound engineers? It was bitter, bitter cold in Rice-Eccles stadium and we were all playing on instruments donated by SWSTring instead of risking our own fiddles out in the below freezing temps. Maybe they anticipated that our live playing wouldn't be as good? Who knows. But it was fun to play along with myself on the tape booming from the loudspeakers.
From Bernice Stochek Friedson
Posted on August 31, 2008 at 9:36 PM
I was a member of the orchestra shown on-screen in the movie "The Money Pit", with Shelley Long and Tom Hanks, filmed in a mansion on the North Shore of Long Island in NYC, in the 1980's.

Though we were all fine NYC musicians, you saw us, but the sound you heard was that of the LA Philharmonic. This probably was done because the actor playing the conductor, couldn't! I really regretted it, though I was well paid for my expertise, which unfortunately nobody could hear..

From Eric Mark Lopez
Posted on August 31, 2008 at 10:18 PM
Funny, I actually had a "faking" incident just this evening. I was asked to accompany a singer, but the kicker was that he was going to play a prerecorded track (which included another violin). What killed me, though, was that the sheet music he gave me didn't quite match up with the track: sometimes a violin would appear in the track without any notice in the sheet music.

Ultimately, though, no one could really hear me or the pianist at all since the track was so loud.

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