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Old 14th June 2014, 02:54 AM
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GefferyMorgan GefferyMorgan is offline
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Default Digital Music vs. "Real" Music

As many of you know, I, along with a couple of friends, make music on my computer. We've been doing it about 9 months now and have done around 70 reggae songs (I have linked some of them on this board before). The program that we use is very detailed...it's like a professional studio right at your fingertips.

Anyway, I linked one of our songs to my brother on Facebook today. I should have known that it was going to start a heated debate. My brother has been involved in music since about age 12 (he's 35 now) and he can play probably 10 or 12 different instruments. That's great stuff! I play drums myself and can play a little bass, but right now I don't have any real instruments. So I just use this program that I have to make music on my computer. Well....I linked a song to my brother and what was his response? He said, "It's too digital. I don't like digital music AT ALL....it takes away from people who work very hard to learn to play REAL instruments."

I was taken aback. Without wanting to start a fight, I simply said, "We will have to agree to disagree on this. Digital music is a big part of the music industry now and I think that music is great no matter how it comes together. I can already play the drums and I want to learn the bass more, but until I can afford to buy a bass, I will continue to make music digitally, and it's not taking away from anyone at all. Because it's not about THEM. It's about ME using my own talents to express myself."

I just can't believe the nerve of some people. Oh well...what are brothers for? I could produce a #1 worldwide hit and he would still be bound and determined to find something negative about it! lol
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Old 14th June 2014, 05:25 PM
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JB40 JB40 is offline
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I think your brother is wrong on this one.

His thinking is a bit old fashioned.

Just like movies, the question "is it digital or is it real" is a redundant one, because the answer is "it's both".

When ub's record we use software that allows us to record by playing live, but once it's in the computer we can manipulate it as if it was MIDI. You can quantize and get at any individual note to change any way you want. You can turn your performance into a visual graph and move the components around.

Would you call that "real" or digital ????

I don't think it fits either description.

When it comes to playing live, that's different. In that case your brother is right. We don't really want to watch someone miming or look at a computer making music. You want to see real musicians. That's been the same for thousands of years. But recording is one of the "plastic" arts. It's only been around for about a hundred years (like movies). They both rely on an industrial process. So as an art form it's still changing. Even a top orchestra will use digital technology when recording. Why wouldn't they, it's a wonderful tool which gives a producer god like control over the music. But also, digital technology democratises music. It makes multi track recording available to everyone.

I've said many times how expensive it used to be to make a record in a state-of-the-art studio, a couple of thousand dollars a day. For less than one days recording costs you can have your own digital recording studio in your own home. Making the process of making a record open to anyone with a good idea. That must be a good thing, it breaks the stranglehold of the major companies.

Also, dance music has embraced digital technology before anyone because the tightness of the machine is what creates the tension that makes people want to get up and dance. As a drummer you could spend hours trying to recreate that machine tightness, so why bother ? Let the machine do it.

As I said, your brother is insisting that there's adividing line between "real" and digital. I'm suggesting that, with today's technology, those line have become increasingly blurred.

When an actor records a performance, and that performance is digitally enhanced in post production. Would you say it was a computer or "real" ???
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Old 14th June 2014, 05:38 PM
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GefferyMorgan GefferyMorgan is offline
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I agree, Jimmy. Someone else put it very well also, when they compared it to books. Centuries ago, before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, books were ALL written by hand. I'm sure there were some people back then who were book writers and it pissed them off when the printing press was invented. I'm sure some were saying, "oh it's not a REAL book because it's not written by hand! It takes away from those of us who wrote our books by hand!" lol Same thing goes for music....I see music as an AWESOME thing no matter how it's put together.

The point I made to my brother was this: It may not be REAL in your eyes, but I still have to figure the chords, the notes, the timing all out in my head. I'm still an artist working with a blank canvas.

As for playing live. You're spot on about that. My band aren't even attempting to play live until we can play all our real instruments. Even then, we will still incorporate an element of digitization in our music. Because there's certain sounds that real instruments cannot make.
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Old 15th June 2014, 04:52 PM
mrClaypole mrClaypole is offline
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I'm an amatuer musician who uses digital instruments when recording. I can't play the instruments in real life but know enough musical theory to program chords and to get them to sound like proper songs. My problem is when I over dub my real guitar. I find the interaction of the false with the real too noticeable. I guess its probably down to the mixing process. I need to improve on that.
I'm constantly frustrated at people who criticize the use of digital instruments as if you are somewhat less of a musician and that What you produce isn't valid. Yet you still have to compose and think like a song writer to get a song. Owning a synth dosent mean the songs write themselves. It still needs the human interaction of being played.
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Old 15th June 2014, 05:28 PM
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GefferyMorgan GefferyMorgan is offline
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My sentiments exactly mrClaypole! My brother's argument was basically, "how dare you make that music on your computer and think you're as good as I am? I've been learning REAL instruments for 25 years! You're not a musician and you're taking away from my hard work!" The only problem with that is, he knows how musically minded I am as well. We grew up in the same household, I spent two years learning to play the drums in beginner band and intermediate band in high school. I've always practiced singing since I was 7 or 8 years old. My brother knows that, but he still feels the need to treat me as if I'm a no-good wannabe, who just fell off the turnip truck yesterday. lol I'm no "Johnny-come-lately". I've been into music just as long as he has. The only difference is, he can play 10 or 12 instruments and I can play 2.

So he's got that whole, "you're not as good as me, because you don't work as hard at it as I do" mentality. Does it matter how hard you work if the outcome is the same?
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Old 17th June 2014, 12:47 PM
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pedromenedro pedromenedro is offline
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Makes no difference where or how music is made, if it moves the listener it has done what the artist has set out to do in the first place.
We have all heard 'live' instrument recording that have been good and bad, just like we have computer generated.....music good or bad.
The only thing I would say is that it is difficult to get that human feel in totally computer generated music, but that in itself is not a problem, because some tunes sound better live as others do computer, and of course some artists go for a completely digital feel.
I remember back in the 80's that when I first heard computer generated music in reggae I was firstly horrified because my opinion at the time was it could never live up to some of the great bands/recordings that had gone before. But looking back now I love some of that stuff and realise it was just another way of certain artists using the technology of the day. Same applies now.
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