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Busted! (Passing off midi as real bass).

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by XavierG, Sep 20, 2002.

  1. I had a discussion with some "know-it-all" types some time ago. They suggested that there is no way to distinguish between midi bass and that played on a bass guitar. Mind you, I'm no expert by any means, but I told them (very politely) that they were full of it. So, I thought I'd conduct an experiment. I posted a midi version of "Donna Lee" which I downloaded from the net on a few forums, as well as here at Talkbass. What I found is that most non-bassists can't tell the difference. Bassists on the other hand, are a suspicious breed. I was found out on 2 other forums, and most recently, here in the Recordings forum by Wrong Robot who accurately implies that the mp3 which I posted in his "Donna Lee" post is a fake. The question I have is, if it's only us bassists that can tell the difference, are we expendable? Does anyone else care that the bassline may not have originated from a stringed instrument?
  2. In my History of Jazz class, there are people who can't tell apart a soprano saxophone and a clarinet. We shouldn't feel too bad.
  3. WildBill


    Jul 7, 2002
    If I was a artist (guitarist, singer, drummer) instead of a bassist Id rather have someone that knows about basslines and what sounds good and have the options of different tones than some computer.
  4. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    I they're fairly easy to tell apart, especially if there are no other instruments in the song.

    That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with using synth bass if that's what the composer has in mind. It all depends on what the song calls for. So I'd say we're not expendable.

    One of my favorite bands, Ozric Tentacles, uses both bass guitar and synth bass, sometimes both in one song. Usually the synth is used for figures that are easy to play on a keyboard, but difficult on a bass, or the band was really going for a tweaked analog-synth sound. Their bass player has often said that he enjoys programmed bass just as much as the real deal, and I agree with him -- whatever sounds best with the song is fine by me.

    EDIT: I just listened to that Donna Lee over in the other thread. Those horns were a dead giveaway that it was midi!!! Bleah. I have yet to hear synth horns that sound good.
  5. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile

    art will always be art. Play the bass lines with conviction on the kazoo and it would still just be an art form.

    Will URB & electric bass go away?
    ... not while I'm breathing.

    Can a good non-bassist writer create a great bass line?
    ...yes, it's happened and will again.
  6. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I thought it was pretty obvious, but I can see why a non-musician doesn't think so. If someone walked up to me with a piece of glass and said it was a diamond, I couldn't prove them wrong.

    Non-bassist, but musician... well... that scares me a bit but then again I could have problems discerning a sampled piano from the real thing. It all depends on the quality of the samples and the programming.

    My turn for a test: is this bass MIDI?
  7. Not to worry Xavier, I only just started playing I don't know much about bass. How ever I can tell the difference between midi and real bass music. I don't think bassist are expendable cause anyone that knows anything about music or has an appreciation of it knows that for the best sound and quality only comes from a actual bass.
  8. iplaybass


    Feb 13, 2000
    Houston, TX
    I definately believe it to be MIDI.
  9. Sounds like the real thing to me. Hey, maybe those guys I was talking to weren't so full of it after all.
  10. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    And what if I say it isn't? ;)
  11. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    I think it's real.
  12. iplaybass


    Feb 13, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Hrmm... well, I suppose I must accept your word as truth, but it certainly sounds drab and MIDI-like to me. Perhaps it is the lack of fret noise or other nuances? Now, show me MIDI that sounds like real bass... then I would be quite impressed. Keep em coming, I like this game.:)
  13. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Dude, have you ever heard Jeff Berlin play? No fret noise there either. ;)

    Well, you're right, it is MIDI. It's from a sample song from the Scarbee J-bass libraries. http://www.scarbee.com. I'm impressed, even old Xav was fooled! :)
    Well, it does sound like a real bass, meaning that it is a real bass (Celinder J Update) played by a real bass player that is sampled. But I know what you mean, it's too polished, making it seem lifeless. There are a handful of people in the world who actually manage to play that polished, though.
  14. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Drum machines are very popular these days, but I don't see the human drummer going away any time soon.
  15. iplaybass


    Feb 13, 2000
    Houston, TX
    During that last scale before the song fades out, something just seems "off", you know what I mean? I'm no expert on MIDI or bass, but there's just some little nuance that I can't put my finger on that gives it away. And, I'm embarrassed to say that even after his stint at Talkbass I haven't actually listened to any Jeff Berlin. I will now though, you've peaked my interest.

    PS- Half Life rules!:D
  16. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    man i just left that sight and whoever is playing those samples is a KILLER!
  17. Thanks for that link, Oyster. I'm listening to the' Scarbee J fingered demo1' and I am truly amazed. Life takes on a whole new meaning after listening to that stuff...... WOW!
  18. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I used to do MIDI music using a sampling sound card. I didn't like the finger bass patch, so I pulled out my bass, recorded about 20 notes up the fretboard, and made a patch using one sample every three or four keys. I put loop parameters and everything into the program so that it could sustain at will, play fast, etc. It was a friggin great sounding MIDI bass patch!! :)
  19. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I actually knew it was fake for sure...I just didn't want to hurt your feelings if you had done it :)....I wouldn't have know if it weren't for those couple of ackward midi time sync moments.
    midi can be very decieving until you use horns....it was a well done midi piece, but midi horns throw it all off.
    midi bass, keys, some simple drums, and some guitar is great.

    but it is a scary thought...that computer music will be come so sophesticated that not even musicians will be able to tell whether its real or not...thats why I'm a strong advocate of electronic music...can't beat 'em...join 'em... :p
  20. Okay you got me....
    so what are those samples on the scarbee site?
    are you saying that those bass lines are midi triggered bass samples, or are these little songs actually person played bass lines, and that they are showing us what a tune could sound like.
    The bass lines sound real to me, real as in human played, and yes i read where you can add fretnoises, slurs and all kinds of stuff, but how difficult must that be to code all that info into midi.
    The midi bass samples I've heard in the past, sound realisitic, just like a real bass. However, its the connecting of all those samples which makes the bass sounds less real and more machine-like.
    the bass playing on the J-slapped stuff sounds real, on the individual tracks you can hear fretnoise- they coded it?.
    I would love to see the musician who is playing the keyboard or writing the midi code to trigger all that stuff. Amazing

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