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TrogL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-17-09 01:30 PM
Original message
Busted as an Aspie
Edited on Mon Aug-17-09 02:14 PM by TrogL
I'm currently involved in a musical production (no, I won't say which one for security reasons). There's only me on keyboards, a guitar player and a drummer trying to do what's normally done by a full symphony orchestra. Obviously, I've got my hands full - literally.

The professionals do it one of two ways, they either can afford a fancy workstation ... (http://www.korg.co.uk/products/workstations/oasys/ws_oa... )



...or the use a computer based solution (which also runs into serious cash).

I have neither, so I've had to construct a custom system out of cheap crap (details below the break). Because it's a jury-rigged, Rube Goldberg nightmare, it's temperamental as all hell and bitch to make any last-minute changes. And, of course, the director wants last-minute changes. Compared to the pretty (expensive) workstation, it also takes up more room; a rack for the keyboards, mixer, one small keyboard/MIDI controller is to my right, another module to my left. I told them up front that I needed six feet by six feet and was promised that. It also takes about an hour to set up 'cause it's a wiring nightmare.

So, now that you've got the background, on to the story. The cast:

  • DIRECTOR - it's his first full production so he's nervous and not used to working with musicians
  • THE STAR - he's also co-director. I've worked with him before, he's a bit of a prima-donna on his bad days but usually reasonable
  • THE CO-STAR - possibly a worse prima-donna than THE STAR, they work together on other productions
  • THE FEMALE LEAD - new to the production, puts up with NO bullshit from anybody
  • SOUND GUY - reasonable, professional, been away from it for a bit but coming up to speed fast considering it's not his gear
  • TROGL - music director, keyboards, assistant sound - some of it's my equipment

    Day 0

    DIRECTOR: Rehearsal is at 11 a.m. I want everybody there on time.
    TROGL: I need time to set up. Can I get in at 10?
    DIRECTOR: Yes, I'll be there at 10.

    Day 1 - 10:45 a.m.

    DIRECTOR: Sorry I'm late - I slept in
    TROGL: OK, I still need to set up. Could I please have some light on stage, the speakers etc.?
    DIRECTOR: I don't know where the lights are. Please set up over here. I see you brought everything - can't you just use one keyboard? It's almost 11:00.
    TROGL: I need a minimum of two keyboards and the mixer - the rest takes another 5 minutes so I may as well do everything so we've got the sound people are used to hearing.

    ...so at 11:40, 5 minutes before the one hour I needed...

    THE CO-STAR: (having wandered in at 11:30) So can we get started, when are you going to be ready to get started, we need to start soon...
    TROGL: (complete, bug-fuck, obscene, full-operatic voice (yes, I can drown out an orchestra), 5-minute-long meltdown)
    THE FEMALE LEAD: (calming voice and gestures) It's OK, TROGL, we love you and need you, give 'em hell.

    Day 2 - 10:30 a.m. (yes he's late again)

    DIRECTOR: We found the switches for the lighting so we'd like to do blocking onstage. I'd like you here facing the drummer.
    TROGL: I wouldn't be able to see him. The keyboards would be in the way. I need to be over here with the keyboards up against the wall. I can look left to see the drummer.
    DIRECTOR: Why can't you just use one keyboard.
    TROGL: As explained when I was hired, I use a multi-layered sound, just like the last time I did this show with these people. I can't afford a $15,000 workstation so I need to use several keyboards, which means a rack. Get over it. (OK, I was nicer than that, but the message was there)
    DIRECTOR: OK, then we'll put you right here (where it stayed for all blocking rehearsals). (right where a bunch of equipment is sitting, which all has to be cleared off, taking about 15 minutes, then I need my usual hour)

    ...so at 11:40, 5 minutes before the one hour I needed...

    THE CO-STAR: (having wandered in at 11:30) So can we get started, when are you going to be ready to get started, we need to start soon...
    TROGL: (complete, bug-fuck, obscene, full-operatic voice (yes, I can drown out an orchestra), 5-minute-long meltdown)
    THE FEMALE LEAD: (calming voice and gestures) It's OK, TROGL, we love you and need you, give 'em hell.

    Day 5 - we have been blocking for 3 days, the cast has the dancing down to a millimetre

    DIRECTOR: OK, TROGL, we need you to move all your equipment to the left about a foot
    TROGL: OK, so where's the guitarist supposed to go? That's where he stands.
    DIRECTOR: We need more room. Why don't we just move this keyboard, you don't need all those keyboards, do you?
    TROGL (full operatic voice): THAT'S IT!!! I FUCKING QUIT!!

    WHERE IN FUCK DO YOU GET OFF TRYING TO TELL ME HOW TO PLAY KEYBOARDS?!?!?? THAT KEYBOARD IS THE MIDI CONTROLLER. IT RUNS FUCKING EVERYTHING. I CAN'T DO THE SHOW WITHOUT IT. IT HAS TO STAY IN THAT EXACT FUCKING SPOT. IT HAS SAT IN THAT SAME EXACT FUCKING SPOT FOR THREE FUCKING DAYS WHILE YOU PEOPLE HAVE FUCKED AROUND. WHY THE FUCK DO YOU BLOCKING REHEARSALS IF YOU KEEP CHANGING EVERYTHING. I AM NOT MOVING THIS FUCKING SHIT ONE FUCKING MILLIMETRE OR I'M WALKING. HAVE I MADE MYSELF ABUNDANTLY CLEAR. I'M NOT HEARING AN ANSWER.

    DIRECTOR: We just need....

    TROGL (full operatic voice): NO "JUST". YOU TELL ME WHAT HAS FUCKING CHANGED. WHEN I SIGNED UP FOR THIS GIG I TOLD YOU I NEEDED SIX FEET BY SIX FEET OR I WASN'T SIGNING UP. I'M NOT EVEN TAKING UP SIX FEET BY SIX FEET. I BOUGHT NEW EQUIPMENT SO I WOULD TAKE UP LESS ROOM. THERE USED TO BE TWO HUGE FUCKING KEYBOARDS WHERE THIS LITTLE MIDI CONTROLLER IS SITTING. SO YOU TELL ME RIGHT FUCKING NOW WHAT HAS FUCKING CHANGED. I'M NOT HEARING AN ANSWER. WHAT HAS FUCKING CHANGED?!?!? (30 seconds of reverb)

    (We got it sorted out. After THE FEMALE LEAD calmed me down, I let them have six inches (pun intended) - yes, it's that kind of show.)

    Day 6 - dress rehearsal

    There's been sound problems all day. Instead of doing my own work, I've been working non-stop with SOUND GUY getting the umpteen wireless mikes working, setting monitors, working with the mix, stringing wire, coaching people on microphone technique. I finally get a few minutes to myself. I need to reprogram one of the synthesizers for some last-minute changes (yes, we're doing last minute changes in a dress rehearsal). To do this, I need my laptop next to the synthesizer on a chair. Its case is nearby. I've been working away steadily and am nearly done.

    DIRECTOR: OK we're ready for another run. Band, how long before you're ready. Can we clear that stuff off the stage?
    TROGL: I need three minutes to finish this, then my laptop and its case will go under here out of the way.

    (everybody starts babbling way at the top of their lungs)

    TROGL: CAN I HAVE SOME QUIET, PLEASE? I'M TRYING TO CONCENTRATE!!

    ...two minutes later...

    THE STAR: Are you going to be done soon? We really need to get started and blah blah blah blah blah blah...
    TROGL (full operatic voice): I TOLD YOU I NEEDED THREE FUCKING MINUTES. IT WILL BE DONE WHEN IT'S DONE. ALL I HAVE TO DO IS CLICK SAVE AND IT WILL BE DONE. HOW MUCH LONGER ARE YOU GOING TO STAND THERE BLABBING IN MY FACE WASTING TIME?!?!??
    THE STAR: TROGL you need to calm down...
    TROGL (full operatic voice): NO, I WILL NOT CALM DOWN. I SAID THREE MINUTES, ALL I NEED TO DO IS CLICK SAVE...AND YOU'RE STILL FUCKING IN MY FACE
    THE STAR: ...it's dress rehearsal and people are nervous...
    TROGL (full operatic voice): ...AND YOU THINK I'M NOT?!?!? GET OUT OF MY FUCKING FACE. DO IT NOW!!
    THE STAR: ...I...
    TROGL (full operatic voice): HOW MUCH MORE FUCKING TIME DO YOU WANT TO WASTE?!!?!?? (sits tapping foot, looking at watch)
    THE STAR: (backs warily offstage as TROGL clicks save, shuts down laptop and puts it away, a 20-second operation)

    ...later, backstage during a break...

    THE FEMALE LEAD: You're an Aspie, aren't you.
    TROGL: Shit. Busted. How did you know?
    THE FEMALE LEAD: You like things to be just so - the position of your keyboards, schedules and if anything gets disturbed, you react really badly...and there's social stuff as well.
    TROGL: How do you know so much?
    THE FEMALE LEAD: My son's full-blown autistic - you've seen him bouncing around. I've had to really do my homework. Kids with what you experience usually get diagnosed PDDNOS - adults get diagnosed Aspergers.

    (Later I got some quiet time in one of the dressing rooms with THE STAR. He expressed his frustration with pretty much everything and we kissed (literally) and made up)

    #
    #
    #
    #################### boring details #######################

    My system uses a total of five keyboards and a module (from top manual to bottom)

    -cheap Yamaha crap #2
    -cheap Yamaha crap #1
    -Korg X50
    -Korg digital piano (weighted keys)
    -cheap MIDI controller (off to one side), there's also an organ module on the other side

    To save money, Yamaha uses the same chip in all their synthesizers, the cheapies just have crappy keyboards and less knobs. However, you can use a MIDI controller to get at the full feature set. So you spend $85 dollars on a crap keyboard, $100 on a MIDI controller and get a $5000 system. You just have to spend two days programming the MIDI controller.

    Korg does the same sort of thing. The X50 is an inexpensive road-hardened version of their big workstation minus all the fancy knobs and switches. It's a bitch to program - it takes a laptop, an external program and infinite patience.

    Most of my playing requires a delicate touch, hence I need weighted keys - missing from most workstations (most also aren't 88 notes). So I play on the digital piano, the output is controlled by the MIDI controller and sent to the organ module, the X50 and one of the Yamaha's (I use the other as a solo keyboard). Hence I'm constantly busy changing patches on all the synths and modules, tweaking volume levels and changing organ rotor speeds. It's all written down on a cheat sheet that's in a constant state of revision every time the director makes a change.
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    Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 08:23 PM
    Response to Original message
    1. Oh god, that is hilarious!!!
    That reminds me of the book Look me in the Eyes, written by an Aspie who was a tech guy for KISS.
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    Kajsa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-19-09 11:42 AM
    Response to Original message
    2. Seen it, been there--
    It's hard to remain incognito when you
    have a mother with an autistic son in the band.

    :)

    Boy, do I relate.
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