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Is Music in the Math or the Hand that Presses the Button?

I suspect that music creation will go in the same direction that photography has gone. The struggle to learn the many skills which allow a musician to manifest nuanced notes and pitch changes, rhythms and tempo changes will go the way of the need for photographers to understand f-stops and ASA numbers and darkroom techniques. These elite skills that took years of discipline to attain will be remembered nostalgically by a few and remain unknown to the many. Another level of human capability will be diminished by The Machine to simply pointing and clicking. The cover of Life and Time will simply be a snapshot or a photograph so digitally altered that the skill of the photographer will seem near irrelevant, while the new overture will be a finger swipe in Osctouch or an algorithm in Midi.


Creating music with digital technology has changed drastically in the years I've been working with computers. I thought it was amazing decades ago when digital instruments became prolific. It is amazing to think that a "synthetic" violin can be played with a keyboard. It is still amazing to think how that affects music production. How it changed the musical landscape. But that change was long ago. Perhaps the biggest current change is how touch tablets and Apps have altered the physicality of an instrument. I can play a harp by moving my hands in air, or dance sound into an environment using algorithms and synthesizers and cameras and motion detectors hooked up to a MIDI system. It is to be considered what changes this makes to musicianship? what might music evolve into when it stops using new instrument and input devices simply as substitutes for older ways of making music? I don't think new is always better and I really do wonder how the ease of learning new sound manipulators will change how we view the historically necessary discipline of musicianship. Anyone can make interesting piano sounds in only seconds by adjusting pitches and timings and pressing little buttons on various Apps. As this practice becomes the norm, who will work to spend years gaining skill or mastery over the ivory keyboard? The analogue is superior in sound quality to the digital, but, will anyone even know what that quality difference was in a few years? If we do not practice listening to various tones we stop hearing them. Mp3's do not have the same range of sound that "real instruments" do, or even that analogue recordings do. A person who grows up listening only to digitally created music will not be capable of hearing the difference between real instruments and digital instruments. They will not have the experience to discern various qualities of reality. But if they don't know, then they can't be concerned.

Maybe it will be better for humanity to have music creation back in the hands of the many. And maybe out of sheer mathematical formulations, or out of necessity to make Art, there will rise a new type of composer who composes a new type of music. It will be a sound that we can not yet fathom for the instruments of this orchestra are not yet invented and the sounds have never been heard. Then perhaps a new aesthetic and a renaissance of sorts? Maybe everything will change only to remain wonderfully the same?