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Re: Basic intro (OT)

On Wed, 15 Aug 2001 13:06:17 -0500, "Dennis Leas" <dennis@mdbs.com>

>As another view, perhaps this is a "deployment of technology" issue...

I tend to think it's more of a generation gap. Each generation of
technology provides simpler ways to make music. The previous generation,
being jealous, claims the music isn't "real". When I use looped samples,
people complain that I didn't make the loops myself. When I use loops
composed from one-shot samples, people complain that I didn't produce
the sound myself. When I use a series of software synths, people
complain that they aren't real synths. When I use rack-mounted synths
via MIDI, people complain that I'm not really playing. When I play a
keyboard-equipped synth, people complain that it's not a real
instrument. When I play an electric guitar, people complain that the amp
and the effects are doing all the work. When I play an acoustic guitar,
people complain that the instrument is doing all the work. When I sing,
people complain that my singing is simplistic and uninspired. And when I
try to sing complex operatic solos, everyone complains that I suck. ;)

The fact of the matter is that you can't win. I constantly hear people
complaining that since I use looped samples, I must not be *able* to do
any of the other things listed up there. It's usually a guitarist. But
once I pick up a guitar, play something, and offer the complainant a
seat at my workstation to try this "easy" looped sample stuff? Oh,
that's okay, he doesn't need to cross this line. And incidentally, I was
a little flat on the last part of that solo, so he was right all along. 

What I think has actually happened is that everyone reaches a level of
incompetence -- they get to a certain point, look at the next level, and
can't make head or tail of it. So they say "sour grapes", and claim that
wherever they personally tapped out is where everyone ought to be. This
is why there are people who can't shred sitting around going "dude,
speed metal sucks!", and people who can't program a drum machine going
"dude, drum machines are stupid!", and people who can't make head or
tail of a sampler saying "dude, samples are gay!"... because, quite
simply, they can't do it. 

This isn't a universal truth, of course. Some people have gone the other
direction; Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple is currently releasing
almost-ignored CDs of medieval madrigals with his wife, because he
doesn't really find much pleasure in playing hard rock anymore. (It's
probably a little disheartening when you play something grand and
majestic like "Gates of Babylon" and people just keep saying "dude, play
'Smoke on the Water'!") He's been there, done that, and decided he
wanted to do something else. In some interviews, he's said that he left
the rock scene because he wanted to play "real" music. And then you have
a bunch of people who look at DJs and synth jockeys and say "wow, man, I
wish I could do that -- but all I know how to play is this stupid

Everyone gets to a point where they can't do something. I'm just in awe
of people who can create the exact sound they want from scratch; I
always come up with something that's nowhere close to what I want and go
"oh well, it still sounds pretty cool anyway". If I want something that
sounds *almost* like the orchestra hit at the beginning of some beat or
other, I have to painstakingly filter that hit out of the beat and then
tweak it. Other people would say "let's see, that's an A flat triangle
wave with some second harmonics and about 25% distortion on an inverse
logarithmic curve with a 2.5 ms choral delay detuned by around 4 Hz, and
the decay rate is proportional to the integral of time t cubed -- but
I'd like a bit less distortion and more of a square wave with pulse
width modulated by a 1.3 Hz LFO". I'm so jealous of those people it's
not funny. 

And yes, it IS tempting to say "what you do isn't REALLY music!"
whenever I see them. After all, they're not "really" musicians, they're
mathematicians and walking DSPs. But what comes out in the end is still
music, and what I'm really complaining about is my *own* shortcomings. I
think what we really need to get past is the concept of music being
"real" before it's finished. A musician, technically, is someone who
makes music. Who cares how he makes it? Who cares if it's what you do or
not? It's music in the end, and that's what really matters -- isn't it?