Sunday, November 14, 2010
It always startles me a little bit that my husband gets paid to make funny noises, wear cool clothes, and pretend he's a rock star. Also that people take videos of him doing his job. I mean, we don't film lawyers and computer programmers at work, right? And this is just a job, right? Sure he's talented and passionate, but so are most programmers, teachers, and doctors I know.....
The last few shows he's done, Tim has had people come up to him and say, "I hear you are the best beatboxer in the world." What? Where are they hearing this? These shows, by the way, were not even in the same STATES. Opposite sides of the nation, same rumor.
It's funny to hear--Tim can name literally a dozen beatboxers who are better than he is. And we both know there are hundreds more out there.
But Tim did learn a little secret years ago: when you have a choir that isn't very skilled, have them sing simple songs perfectly and they'll come across as the best choir in the world. A very poor choir singing "Silent Night" in unison beautifully will have more impact than a good choir singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" mediocrely or poorly.
That's how Tim does his beatboxing. He can tell you exactly what he can't do well--he just works on those things in private and doesn't put them into his shows. Also, having drummed with a real band on a real drumkit before (Thanks, Ben!), he has a firm grasp of the role percussion plays in a song--something many beatboxers, coming exclusively from a singing background, lack (they are always treating the percussion as another harmony part, and percussion doesn't fit into music that way).
So Tim does what he's confident he's good at, and does it well, and it makes him look really good on stage (and you, as the audience, never know of the thousands of things he's working on still!).
Tim doesn't call himself a vocal percussionist (in fact, when he gets looped into that role publicly, we both laugh--he spent the first 3 years of our marriage analyzing vocal percussion in acappella music and came to the conclusion that it was awful stuff that ought to be abolished from the genre!). (Personally, I think spending years seeing what was wrong in vocal percussion--and therefore not being impressed by it--helped him become a better percussionist. Knowing what NOT to do is as important as knowing what to do, and seeing what others are doing poorly helps you do things better--you can't strive to be the best in your field if you set your standards too low and can't see what things could be improved on.).
Tim, in fact, will be the first person to tell you that, as an "acapella generalist," he is not the best at any one part of music. He knows tenors, baritones, bassists, percussionists, arrangers, composers, clinicians, music directors, etc. that are much better than he is--and he'll tell you who they are. Tim's strength is that he can do all of those things well. He might not be the best at one thing, but he's really good at a lot of things. (Personally, I can't think of anyone with a better, more beautiful voice than Tim's--but he can.)
Thus the Live Looping. Live looping requires you to be quite good at all aspects of music, from the technology to the performance. He doesn't have to be the best vocal percussionist, but he has to be good--and know how things fit together. Ten years of working on this is finally paying off, and he's coming across really really well on stage. It's a good show.
So the "best vocal percussionist" thing may not be true, but as I told Tim, in entertainment, the reputation matters more than the reality....
And he's doing it right.
Posted by Becca Jones at 3:29 PM