2002 issue 100


Future 2 Future Live Tour


When it comes to his live performance setup, Herbie Hancock is no stranger to innovation. At his concert in Hamburg, you would have seen a PowerBook running Logic Audio, an EMI 2/6 audio interface, an MT4 MIDI interface, and virtual instruments such as Emagic's EVP88 electric piano creating sound in real-time.

Herbie Hancock : "We're doing this tour to promote my new CD 'Future 2 Future'. The music is unlike anything that I've ever done before, as a matter of fact it's unlike anything I've ever heard before. It's very hard to describe. Although there are references to some of the new kind of underground things that are happening in music here at the beginning of the 21st century. We have some references to bass, references to techno, we're using some turntable , spoken word, vocals, not on everything, every tune really has a different sound. One thing that makes this tour unique is that we're doing it using surround sound. The other thing that makes this tour unique is that we're also having a visual display. At this point the visuals will probably maybe only be abstract video, but on subsequent tours we hope to get a little more elaborate than that and have some live footage. We're going for it."

Future 2 Future Live Musicians and Crew

Musicians: Darryl Diaz (Keyboards), Terri Lyne Carrington (Drummer), DJ Disc (DJ), Matthew Garrison ( Bass), Wallace Roney (Trumpet)
Engineers: David Mann (Front House Mixer), Gary Hirstus (Monitor Mixer), Noel (Drum Technician), Dave Hampton (Surround Sound Mixer, Keyboard Technician)


Herbie's "Immersive Mixing" Theory.
Immersive Mixing F2F Tour Surround Sound Technology F2F Tour Hybrid System "Immersive Mixing" is a term Herbie created to describe th application of a "real world" approach to mixing in live performance and in the studio. While doing presentations Herbie noted that what was consistent throughout was the fact that when you're in the real world, in real time as you live, you are "immersed in sound", sound is happening all around you, you do not have two speakers equal distance apart always broadcasting audio to you as in your home stereo. So he wanted to make the point of "immersive mixing" by taking it one step further.

Surround Sound Technology

Dave Hampton, F2F Tour Surround Sound Mixer, shares the exploration process.
"The concept of the tour was born out of Herbie's conversations while doing keynotes speeches, addresses and special functions, where we remixed some of his old material what they call resourced the mixes for 5.1, which means we took original stereo productions into the studio and remixed them in surround sound.
During those presentations he worked very closely with Thomlinson Holman who is the father of THX the motion picture sound. What we found was that Herbie kept saying this was just the beginning and where he eventually wanted to see it go was to have live performance that was actually done in surround sound. Probably about two years ago at the AES show, Herbie did a keynote speech and at the conclusion of the keynote speech we actually had the ability to have Herbie play along with one of the track s that we had done and actually fly him around the room and or have his sound move around the room as he played it. And that basic keynote speech was the test for what we're undertaking this summer which was the Future 2 Future Tour.
So those presentations at AES were basically the test that we were doing to first start to play with the idea of actually performance in surround sound. From there we went to resourcing more mixes. We went back in with Tom Holman we did a 10.2 mix which involves a front and rear subroofer and more side and rear listening point. And that was presented at Consumer Electronic Show the very next year. That was again well received. At that one we didn't do any live play but off of the response we got we knew it was time to undertake seriously doing performances and presentations in surround sound.
Before that time surround sound was attempted with the use of the Quad where they just have four stacks. We wanted to take some of the concepts we learned from Tom Holman and some of the concepts that we knew from traditional concert playback and meld them into something that was acceptable for the audience. Acceptable meaning we could do what we wanted to do, in other words, fill the room and have key elements and sounds and ambient tones and all kinds of textures that accompany the music or are apart of the music also going on while the performance is going on so that it all actually melds into one. We were able to achieve that through using two separate systems, we basically used a traditional PA system and we used a special surround system that we developed with DigiDesign and Protools. And that basically allowed us to have two engineers, one who mixed a regular show and one who mixed a surround show. While in rehearsal for this we basically rented a room that's about a little bit smaller than an airplane hanger. We set up speakers in all the positions we needed, and set up our regular house mix console and surround mix console, so that while in rehearsal we could actually work through the moves and hear sonically what the music was doing, how it was filling, where it was filling and what it was doing. It's a combination of things, so many things were predetermined. We did a lot of rehearsal so that we knew the sections in the song where we wanted to use elements. We didn't know exactly where the elements were, we were leaving a lot of that up to the musicians and leaving a lot of it up to the surround mixer and the house mixer. The closest relationship would be Dave Mann, who mixed front of house and myself who had a whole separate dance we had to construct of show tunes, in other words when we did a show it was basically a list of tunes and all the predetermined moves that were going to happen. We had an idea so at any time in the element of music that we're doing the musicians can take off and do anything they want, but because we know the general form of the song, we have a general idea of what they were going to do because Dave Mann who mixes house understands the eight elements that I had, he understood that at any time I could activate those eight within a certain framework. We developed some paperwork and some way to protocol that would happen so that we had one set of activity that was stereo and one set of activity that basically templated over that that equaled what we'll call the surround field. By using that method we were able to meld the two together and have a pleasantly well received performances in every city of our version of live performance surround sound, what Herbie calls 'Emersive Mixing'.
Some of the things we discovered though is that in that element where the audience enjoys it and everybody hears it and everything is great, the musicians are still challenged because they now cannot hear in surround. So that's where we're at this time and that's what's challenging us again and we're going to try to come upwith something there. A lot of that has to do though with having people think different, which is what Herbie is a big proponent of. Trying to get people to think outside the box, trying to get drummers to not think like a drummer all the time, trying to get keyboard players to not think like a keyboard player all the time, trying to get people to come outside the box so they can come with something new".

Darryl Diaz, F2F Tour musical director and keyboardist, explains how the creation of a 'hybrid system' replaced their huge keyboard racks.
"We wanted to have the sound and sonic technique of loops but didn't want to be locked into the form. We wanted to have a real moving jazz approach. So what we created this time was a hybrid system where the computers are generating a lot of the sounds. I'm actually playing samples, vocal samples and other key parts in real time from the keyboards and we all have a rhythmic template to follow but we're not locked into the form. So if we wanted to stay on a section for 6 minutes or for 6 seconds, we have a choice. Ordinarily we'd roll out with huge keyboard racks to accommodate all the sounds that we use and this is the first time that we're actually traveling so light from a tour perspective. I have two keyboards and Herbie has two keyboards and acoustic piano but a lot of our sounds are actually being generated by software this time. All the electric pianos that you hear, all the samples and a lot of the lead sounds are generated by the computer. We're using Reason and we're using
ES1 from Emagic, and the EVP 88 from Emagic for our Rhodes and the EXS 24 from Emagic. And then Logic is controlling all the switching. Pretty much our whole rig is built around Emagic equipment and software. In a lot of respects what we're doing here hasn't been done before and it took a lot of time to get the technology to the point where we could play the music".

Herbie Hancock: "The music on the record as a whole is a bold statement of creativity possibilities for the 21st century. Every piece has its own character and explores the use of spoken word, songs with a message, African chants, environmental sounds, ethnic sounds from many lands, with jazz, hip-hop rhythmic structures, new electronic ambient sounds, and other musical elements assembled with the latest technological editing techniques. In this environment the spirit is very much one of spontaneity and improvisation. We purposely approached the organization of the pieces through a process of reexamining the conventional uses of the instruments and including new uses of those instruments. This opened up possibilities that are unlike any that I have recorded in the past yet utilizing all the experience that the other seasoned musicians and I bring from the past. There are both new young musicians and veterans collaborating on this record. The different generations have brought the best that they have to offer to this project."

Herbie Hancoch Motto:

Future 2 Future Live European Tour (december 2001): Leipzig (Haus Auensee), Frankfurt (Alte Oper), Vienna (Gasometer) , Warsaw (Congress Hall), Tokyo (Blue Note), Seoul-Korea

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JANUARY 2002 issue 100


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