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Los Altos Musicians and Live Musician in Los Altos, CA for your party

List of 7 Los Altos Party Musicians and Live Musician in Los Altos, CA

Planning a party in Los Altos and need a Musician? Searching for the perfect party Live Musician in Los Altos, CA?

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Magnolia Jazz Band
The Magnolia Jazz Band brings fun and elegance to celebrations, parties, and weddings throughout the... Read More
San Jose, CA Email Request Information Call Magnolia Jazz Band
Cupertino, CA Email Request Information Call KAWEH
Estrellas De Oro Mariachi Trio
Mariachi Trio Estrellas De Oro The Best Trio Give the perfect touch to your party and your guests wi... Read More
San Jose, CA Email Request Information Call Estrellas De Oro Mariachi Trio
Michael Levine Productions
With over 30 years professional experience, Michael Levine has been dubbed "Pianist to the Stars", h... Read More
Millbrae, CA Email Request Information Call Michael Levine Productions
Piper Jonas - Bagpiper
Piper Jonas is a professional bagpiper with nearly two decades experience playing for weddings, fune... Read More
San Jose, CA Email Request Information Call Piper Jonas - Bagpiper
Harpist - Stephanie Janowski
Stephanie is an experienced, professional harpist serving the Bay Area, available for weddings, rece... Read More
San Jose, CA Email Request Information Call Harpist - Stephanie Janowski
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Helpful Tips from Professional Los Altos Musicians

One-Man Bands: No Cymbals-On-The-Knees Anymore All Events How To / Instructional

If you are planning an event featuring live music, it may be helpful to know the latest about the emergence of one-man bands. Technology and creativity have allowed what was formerly more of a caricature or novelty to emerge as a real, credible option in live music. In many cases, using a one-man band can free up funds for other parts of your event while providing for good quality music -- and may suit your event even better than a band or a solo-instrumentalist.
Although the term “one-man band” could be defined as any act in which a single person provides the sound of more than one instrument, including those who actually play more than one instrument at the same time, this article focuses on those one-man bands that use technology to augment their sound. One way to segment these musician further is by how they produce their accompaniment:
- Using a synthesizer or computer that generates accompaniment based on keys pressed
- Using commercially-available recordings or MIDI files as “backing tracks”
- Using recordings or MIDI files that they themselves have produced
Each of these approaches has advantages and limitations which may or may not matter depending on your priorities for your event.
You may have seen a musician using the first approach – for example, they are playing one primary instrument, while pressing one or two keys on a portable keyboard, and the keyboard is playing a full bass line and background chords along with them. The same can be accomplished using a computer instead of a portable keyboard. This approach is a descendent of playing the home organs of the ‘50’s and ‘60s, but today’s technology packs impressive professional-grade patterns and musical variations into keyboards that eliminate the “cheesy” sound attributed to the past’s products. And it doesn’t hurt that many of today’s chart-leading songs were made using similar methods!
With the second approach, the musician has invested in professionally-recorded versions of the songs being performed and is replaying them as he or she performs live. The three clear advantages to this approach are (1) the wide range of songs instantly available to use in your event, similar to that with using a disc jockey; (2) the professional quality of the accompaniment; and (3) the musician can better concentrate on just playing his or her main instrument. A disadvantage would be that each recording has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, making it challenging to “stretch” songs and keep them going (for example, because people are on the dance floor and having fun). This is not a problem, however, for non-dance receptions, dinners, or other events using background music.
The third approach is similar to the second approach, with the exception that the musician has created his or her own accompaniment in addition to playing an instrument live at the event. In this case, one can think of the musician’s creative act as being expressed across more than one instrument, and the main reason for using accompaniment tools at the event is that the musician simply cannot humanly play all the required instruments at the same time. With this approach, by creating all instrument parts, the musician removes the “canned” argument frequently advanced against using a one-man band – the difference is similar to that between a caterer who prepares a sauce from scratch the day before and brings it to the event and one who stops at the local Safeway on the way to the event. Advantages to this approach are (1) the originality of the end product; (2) the overall “tightness” of the sound, because it comes from one mind rather than being one musician playing along with accompaniment made by others; and (3) the ability to create custom song arrangements for specific situations. The main disadvantage to this approach is the limited range of material as compared to musicians using “store-bought” tracks, because each song must be built from scratch. Musicians using this approach deal with this limitation by focusing on timeless hits and classics in the intended genre (for example, in my genre it would be “My Girl”, “As Time Goes By”, etc.), so that no effort is wasted on songs that will not be popular in a year’s time. As illustration, the author (Lee Allen-Pianist) has used this approach since 1986 and is still using songs built during 1986 – some have moved gracefully from “current hit” status through “oldie” and into “classic” status.
Now that you have read a little about the main approaches, it is probably becoming evident that using a one-man may be appropriate for some situations but not others. For example, if your guests are expecting the showmanship and visual appeal of a band, they are likely to be disappointed seeing one person with a stack of equipment or a laptop. There are notable exceptions, such as a solo jazz singer backed by a piano- or guitar-based one-man-band, or a high-energy solo pop singer backed by an offstage one-man band.
On the other hand, many of the problems associated with using a band or combo for background-music events (such as loudness control, physical space demands, time between songs) can be minimized or completely avoided with the use of a one-man band. And, importantly, one-man bands can be very price-competitive compared to using a combo or band. With a one-man band, you are paying for only one person’s expenses plus some small amortization of equipment, as contrasted with expenses for several people plus amortization of the same or more equipment.
All this means that your event may turn out better with a one-man band for a number of reasons – you free up funds to have better decorations or food, the music is not overbearing because it is controlled by one person, the actual quality of the music may be better depending on the skill and approach of the musician. All in all, you owe it to your event and guests to investigate today’s advanced one-man band offerings. Speaking for myself, I promise to leave the knee-cymbals at home.

Submitted by Lee Allen - Pianist of Pacifica, CA

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