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Is TSO it's own tribute band?
#1
I was curious what people thought about this:

A friend of mine was telling me about a TSO tribute/cover band that was playing near him. Seems there are dozens of them these days. He attended and said it was really good - on many of the songs, the only difference he could hear between the "real" TSO and these guys was the tempo (TSO slows their songs down when playing them live).  But then my buddy says to me "I think I will stick to the real thing though".

But what is "the real thing"?  Is it whatever has the TSO name stamped on it?  Look at their first album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories. Middleton, Pitrelli and Plate are the only musicians on stage that played on the album (Caffery only played rhythm guitar on Sarajevo).  So when TSO East plays "Mad Russian's Christmas", for example - only Jeff Plate is "the real thing" - everyone else on stage came along after.  All of the vocalists from that first album, and most from pre-Nightcastle albums are long gone also.

So when does TSO become it's own tribute band?  What makes seeing them "the real thing" musically?

I think the answer lies in that TSO is not a real band.  It is a handful of guys that write and record songs in the studio and then hire a bunch of musicians and singers to perform those songs live.  But even when looking at them that way, it is hard to say what is "the real thing" when virtually the same number of people on the TSO stage played on their Christmas albums as the number of people on a TSO Tribute band stage.  

I just find it curious.
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#2
Uh oh. People are starting to catch on haha. I didn't actually think of TSO as its own "tribute band" until this year either when I started seeing bits of "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve" tour. And I realized it's just all pieces of the Christmas trilogy combined into one, essentially creating a "tribute" tour to themselves. It is a bit of an odd arrangement.

I would suppose what is considered the "real thing" is whoever is hired by O'Neill. Oliva, and Pitrelli. But like you, I wonder what would happen if either Caffrey, Middleton, Pitrelli or Plate decided to leave, though I seriously doubt they will. Bob Kinkel is the only original member of the band not with them anymore (he wasn't on the last two albums). Oliva doesn't play live anymore and O'Neill maybe plays a song or two for opening night.

Here is another kicker adding to your "musicians for hire" theory, MikeNY. They may have lead electric violinists for their tours but they didn't actually have them leading on their albums until Night Castle with Anna Phoebe and Roddy Chong. They had orchestra members for Beethoven's Last Night and The Lost Christmas Eve, but as we know the actual orchestra gets mostly pushed to background drone in those albums. For Christmas Eve and Other Stories and The Christmas Attic, according to the credits, there was no actual orchestra present. Only a single cello solo for Sarajevo on CEAOS. I'm sure synthesizers and fake strings on the keyboard took to the forefront for lack of real strings. That bit has bothered me for a while, though.
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#3
Continuing in the notion of "real".... We saw the show last night in Ft. Wayne, IN. I teach beginning orchestra. It took me not more than five minutes to realize that the lead violinist was not "real"ly playing the violin. I only knew the group from hearing their Christmas music on the radio, so maybe the rest of the audience was in on the secret, but I was very disappointed in the " live" performance. If I wanted to hear a recording I could have bought the CD for much cheaper.
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#4
How could you tell? And I ask because I am also a violinist both acoustic and electric and have kept a close eye on the TSO for years to see if they're actually playing or not. Sometimes I think they're faking it and then other times it's clear they're not. For instance I attended the concert last year in Phoenix and during their performance of "The Mountain" Asha Mevlana, who's the lead violinist for the West group, accidentally knocked her bow into the bridge of her violin and it "popped" loudly in the speakers when she did. It made me so happy because it was proof they were really plugged in, or at least that she was. But sometimes I wonder if they are fake playing. Anyone want to interject on this?

I think they use backing tracks sometimes but apparently half of the actual string orchestra is through a backing track. A violinist who was hired to play for the orchestra section for the "Beethoven's Last Night" tour said they were informed that while there were eight of them (two cellists, three violinists and three violists) there would be eight more string players coming through electronically through the system essentially creating a sixteen-string orchestra backing.
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#5
(12-05-2015, 12:43 AM)joneltso Wrote: Continuing in the notion of "real"....  We saw the show last night in Ft. Wayne, IN. I teach beginning orchestra. It took me not more than five minutes to realize that the lead violinist was not "real"ly playing the violin. I only knew the group from hearing their Christmas music on the radio, so maybe the rest of the audience was in on the secret, but I was very disappointed in the " live" performance. If I wanted to hear a recording I could have bought the CD for much cheaper.

Quite an accusation! Where is your proof to back up your claim?
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#6
(12-05-2015, 11:21 AM)sundance7490 Wrote: How could you tell? And I ask because I am also a violinist both acoustic and electric and have kept a close eye on the TSO for years to see if they're actually playing or not. Sometimes I think they're faking it and then other times it's clear they're not. For instance I attended the concert last year in Phoenix and during their performance of "The Mountain" Asha Mevlana, who's the lead violinist for the West group, accidentally knocked her bow into the bridge of her violin and it "popped" loudly in the speakers when she did. It made me so happy because it was proof they were really plugged in, or at least that she was. But sometimes I wonder if they are fake playing. Anyone want to interject on this?

I think they use backing tracks sometimes but apparently half of the actual string orchestra is through a backing track. A violinist who was hired to play for the orchestra section for the "Beethoven's Last Night" tour said they were informed that while there were eight of them (two cellists, three violinists and three violists) there would be eight more string players coming through electronically through the system essentially creating a sixteen-string orchestra backing.

The 'backing orchestra' is not a pre-recorded track.  The orchestra's own playing is electronically processed, in real time, to make it SOUND like there are more of them.  This is the same technique that is used to make 5 or 6 singers sound like a whole choir.  There is no 'fake playing' or anything like that happening, there is just electronic trickery (phasing, reverb, etc) to make it sound like a bigger group.  The key is that if one of the violinists would make a mistake, their 'partner' would make the exact same mistake.
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#7
I don't see how that would even be possible considering the acoustic string orchestra isn't even plugged in. For the lead electric violinist they do use reverb and duplication but not for the string orchestra. They're more just for looks.
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#8
Wow. Lots of interesting topics here!

First, in regard to the violinist and strings - the majority of what we are actually hearing in terms of string sounds is coming from the keyboards. Are the electric violinists actually playing? Yes - but the better question is "Are they in the mix all of the time?". When Mark Wood was there, you were able to clearly hear him often and discern he and his instrument from the others. There are times now, like when Roddy is playing his violin while running or holding it over his head, he is just playing an open note. So while fans love to say "he ran through the audience and didn't miss a note", the audience doesn't really know if he did or did not miss a note because they are hearing mostly string sounds from the keys in the mix.

As for backing tracks? I have it on extremely good authority that they do not. Again, the keyboards are using string patches to thicken the string sounds. it is very apparent nowadays when the spotlight is on Roddy “playing” the violin during the opening cello part of Sarajevo. The cellist is just sitting there now not playing and the cello sound we hear is coming from the keys.

(12-04-2015, 06:48 PM)sundance7490 Wrote: They may have lead electric violinists for their tours but they didn't actually have them leading on their albums until Night Castle with Anna Phoebe and Roddy Chong. They had orchestra members for Beethoven's Last Night and The Lost Christmas Eve, but as we know the actual orchestra gets mostly pushed to background drone in those albums. For Christmas Eve and Other Stories and The Christmas Attic, according to the credits, there was no actual orchestra present.

Maybe. We will never know for sure. TSO credits (except for the vocalists) are as vague as it gets. There are musicians listed in "The Band" credits on the new album that have assured me that they are not actually on it. In addition, the way Paul conducts his recording, most of the musicians hired for the tour don't know when or if their recorded parts are being used. Is there actual electric violin being played on these albums? Maybe.



(12-04-2015, 10:18 AM)MikeNY Wrote: But what is "the real thing"?  Is it whatever has the TSO name stamped on it?  Look at their first album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories. Middleton, Pitrelli and Plate are the only musicians on stage that played on the album (Caffery only played rhythm guitar on Sarajevo).  So when TSO East plays "Mad Russian's Christmas", for example - only Jeff Plate is "the real thing" - everyone else on stage came along after.  All of the vocalists from that first album, and most from pre-Nightcastle albums are long gone also.

So when does TSO become it's own tribute band?  What makes seeing them "the real thing" musically?

I think the answer lies in that TSO is not a real band.  It is a handful of guys that write and record songs in the studio and then hire a bunch of musicians and singers to perform those songs live.  But even when looking at them that way, it is hard to say what is "the real thing" when virtually the same number of people on the TSO stage played on their Christmas albums as the number of people on a TSO Tribute band stage.

Interesting points. I have never considered TSO to be a band in the studio. It is closer to a touring musical in nature that puts together a band to play the songs live. I know people that tell me that only musicals on Broadway are "the real thing". I have seen Bart Shatto perform in Jekyll & Hyde in a regional theater and it was every bit as good as a Broadway Show. The only thing missing was the giant marquee and the $$ production values. I guess the question being asked is "What is the difference between seeing a stage full of musicians play TSO music vs a stage full of musicians play TSO music with the TSO name?", especially with only a couple musicians on the TSO stage actually playing on those albums. Again, I think it can come down to the $$ production values. If the band on stage didn't play on the album and the band on the TSO stage didn't play on the album (except for one or two guys), then it can come down to the "flash". All of that being said, the tribute band would have to be hiring some very good musicians for this comparison to work. Either way, interesting topic.
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#9
Thank you for being so insightful about these things danfromnj. You are wonderful.
One real quick note though (just for trivia's sake Angel ) as a violinist I can assure you it is actually Roddy, or in my "west-coast" case Asha, playing that lead cello part on their violin for Sarajevo. The kind of violins they have are 5-string Yamahas. On a regular violin they only have four strings but the five string goes as deep as a cello (and a viola) goes necessary to hit the notes the cello normally plays on that song. I listened close to Asha just to "disprove" my wondering mind and she very clearly played that part but moving her bow back and forth four times during the long notes that are held out.
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#10
(12-09-2015, 09:09 AM)sundance7490 Wrote: Thank you for being so insightful about these things danfromnj. You are wonderful.
One real quick note though (just for trivia's sake Angel ) as a violinist I can assure you it is actually Roddy, or in my "west-coast" case Asha, playing that lead cello part on their violin for Sarajevo. The kind of violins they have are 5-string Yamahas. On a regular violin they only have four strings but the five string goes as deep as a cello (and a viola) goes necessary to hit the notes the cello normally plays on that song. I listened close to Asha just to "disprove" my wondering mind and she very clearly played that part but moving her bow back and forth four times during the long notes that are held out.

And for many years, many fans thought that the flute sound they heard was coming from the performer playing the flute on stage. It's all perception. I am well aware of the Yamahas that they use on stage. and the low C String as the fifth string. I never said they weren't "moving the bow back and forth" and "playing", just that the sound we are hearing is coming from the keys. But again, it's all perception.

Big Asha Mevlana fan, by the way. She is a killer player - I enjoy her playing especially when she plays one of Mark Wood's vipers.
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