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A Computer Now Counts As An Instrument?


Tman5293

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As for the kazoo vid...

 

Oh, my goodness - or badness, I'm not sure.

 

It ain't how Jesse Fuller played San Francisco Bay Blues... <chortle>

 

Anyway, my only real disagreement on the computer is really technical in that, in a sense the computer cannot in any manner create sounds. All it really can do is mess with binary math. But the programming and interfaces can convert that to sounds.

 

Actually I'm convinced that there's a great opportunity for software for what I'd call "saloon performers" even if they're playing in a church. Song lists, built-in throughput with the same sort of "sound" control used in recording software instead of what's now done with stomp boxes and fancy amps.

 

I get the feeling most of us would not consider the computer per se a musical instrument. There are, however, farious sorts of digital analogs of various sorts of musical instrument that might be computer controlled. The question is at what point the human is doing the creating and at what point is the computer programmed to do "X" that would replace the human touch. I don't think we're even close now, and frankly a lotta stuff I've heard that was entirely computer generated as opposed to the computer modifying sampled sounds isn't very good.

 

I'd also disagree about a keyboard not being a musical instrument. I think there's a lot of option for the human side to come out of one. Regardless of various other controls available to a human (or even computer), it's a matter of timing. There are dynamics on a piano, also, which brought it almost to replace the harpsichord entirely. Both those older types of acoustic keyboards also will have a great deal of the human touch in terms of timing. I don't think we can yet teach a computer to "swing." Someday perhaps.

 

A computer aside... The player piano has some similarity to the computer punch card used in the olden days and to the jacquard loom that's yet older. I'm actually somewhat familiar with a player pipe organ. One set of player piano rolls is said to have "recorded" Scott Joplin playing a piece. The human factor will emerge even in such relatively rudimentary recording methods.

 

That last is where things really get to be difficult from my perspective as to where one draws the line between programming - and art itself - and "playing" music. My response simply is, "I dunno."

 

m

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Yes, a kazoo is a musical instrument. Where and with what you chose to play it is not germane to this discussion, but I find where your mind went to be interesting, to say the least. :)

 

 

 

 

I think that for something to qualify as a musical instrument it requires these key things. It must have some form of human interaction, meaning that someone should have to be physically playing it and creating music. Computers generate sound on their own based on pre-recorded simulations. Also, I think that a musical instrument must convey some form of emotion when played.

 

For the record, it was a Wiki defintion, tman5923, and you're not likely to be the only one who disagrees with a wiki-definition :)

 

However... the computer does require someone to interact with it in order to make "music" with it. You like games... in LOTRO you can play any number of instruments using the keys on the keyboard. (Ima hella lute player :D!) Ergo, the PC can be used as an instrument.

 

Yes, they can be exported, and yes they can be scripted to play themselves, just like you can use a loop station to continue playing music you just played. You can use the ctrl and shft keys to do ptich shifting, iirc, thereby conveying some form of emotion. However, the midi controller IS a functioning computer with an actual pitch bend wheel. They can be set to be touch sensitive and respond to the amount of pressure or duration you press the key so as to let you convey more feeling.

 

As for "pre-recorded" sounds... If I press the A key on a piano, does it not play a preset sound? If I press the top string on my guitar at a given point, does it not give me an associated sound?

 

 

Now, you might could argue that digital music sounds more... mechanical or robotic... to your ear, but you can hardly fault it for delivering a preset sound.

 

If you did, then many actual instruments would then have to be lumped into the "computer" category. Some with nary an electronic component in it.

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Great topic, but it's also pretty complicated, which makes it difficult to discuss on the computer.

 

IMO there is no way to deny that a computer can be used as a musical instrument. People do it all the time, both at home and on stage, i.e. they use computers to make music. But I think what you're really asking is: "Will computers ever replace all other instruments?" and "Will "computer players" ever make all other musicians obsolete?"

 

Never. Just listen to "2112" from Rush. Some day the guitar players will return to Earth and kick the priests' butts. Then they'll throw away the computers. [biggrin]

 

And since I'm on the subject of Rush:

 

"All this machinery making modern music

Can still be openhearted.

Not so coldly charted,

It's really just a question of your honesty."

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Yeah, it's a pretty complex subject when you figure that the player piano and jacquard loom and Babbage's "analytical engine" led to the punch cards of early computers and...

 

Is a player piano roll of Scott Joplin functionally a recording or a computer generated reproduction or...

 

My brother uses a keyboard and computer programming for his music. Sez he'll never be a guitarist like I am although, at 28 years younger, I think he has the potential. But brought up as a programmer and now a pro at making various music stuff work with operating systems, I consider him a musician when he does what he does. And yeah, we've talked about it.

 

On the other hand, you start to have problems when you do the creation through programming. Is composition on a computer through a program that much different from a deaf Beethoven penning notes on paper?

 

I have a "classical" musician acquaintance who plays violin in an orchestra and does various group and solo performances on piano and is incredibly well-trained with top Russian academic credentials as well as being quite creative now as a composer. She uses a computer "score" on her piano and the computer adds a bit to the sound as well. But watch her performance and... she is performing, not a computer.

 

That's where I think "we" are going. People may be happy in some circumstances with listening to "piped-in" music, but music as a performance art ain't going away that I can tell. It certainly hasn't disappeared in one form or another for at least 3,000 or more years, so I doubt the computer will kill the human desire to see and hear a performance art, nor inclinations to be such a performer.

 

Instruments? Yeah, I think they'll change, but honestly, I think the increasing addition on on-board electronics will continue. What will become most popular? I dunno. We've had "built-in speaker" electric guitars for ages but they've not been popular either as electric or as an alternative to acoustic. We've had various sorts of pickup alternatives. Discussion on the Gibson forums has included "how does a tone control work." Heavens, that's electronics too.

 

The guitar itself will, I think, almost inevitably change even in the acoustic field that likely always will be with us. Woods likely will give way to something else. Steel strings may also be made of some alternative. Amplification will change, too.

 

We also ignore that changing venues has changed music itself. Consider the changes in "viols" when steel strings became increasingly practical and in use and venues grew from "chamber" music to huge public performances before thousands. The archtop was a revolution as non-electronic recording and then radio emerged. Guitarists wanted something to give them equality with the volume of a swing era band. Then the combo era adopted the electric guitar and bass for all styles of music.

 

And now? Who knows. I have a feeling that the PA and various modes of feeding instruments into it will take over the "guitar amp." Stomp boxes and multi-effect boxes are nothing more than brain-damaged computers as it is.

 

What "we" performance artists should be thinking about, IMHO, is how best to use technology to improve the audience experience in various venues. Nobody badmouths a PA system nowadays and yet... they're already awfully close to being computers themselves. The question is how we want all that electronic stuff packaged for performance.

 

E.g., is HenryJ correct in betting on the electronic guitar? Personally I like that idea in ways better than I like the idea of increasingly complex amps. OTOH, I wonder if something more like the Robot with piezo and magnetic options but sans fancier electronics isn't more likely, along with a dedicated computer interface - and then plain jane amps for practice and a good PA for performance.

 

We're in an exciting time for music.

 

m

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My sons think being a DJ is being a musician. Utter rubbish.

When you listen to all of the new music. ie, Xfactor etc, the backing music is 'tat'.

I hate hearing drum machines. Compare M J's 'Beat it'. to Led Zep's 'rock and roll'.

The real music always comes back and rock music comes in phases.

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My sons think being a DJ is being a musician. Utter rubbish.

When you listen to all of the new music. ie, Xfactor etc, the backing music is 'tat'.

I hate hearing drum machines. Compare M J's 'Beat it'. to Led Zep's 'rock and roll'.

The real music always comes back and rock music comes in phases.

 

I'm pretty sure that "Beat It" relies on some pretty heavy programming, at least if I am remembering what was written in the liner notes correctly...

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So I was having this argument with a friend of mine the other day.

 

Were talking about this software he is currently using called Reason. It basically allows him to create an entire virtual band. He then proceeds to tell me that creating background bands for a singer on a computer is the way of the future. dry.gif I argue back saying that it takes close to zero talent to do that and if he thinks that eliminating real musicians and just having one singer is the way of the future then he is really screwed up.

 

Screwed up ... yes. Wave of the future ... yes. The future, as glimpsed in

the present, is really screwed up.

 

I spoze that pretty much anything that can be played in tune and on time

can be a useful instrument. But it's not an instrument if it's not played in

real time ... IOW not if it just plays back pre-recorded sound or stored

synthetic sound. Computers were not always digital. Digital devices are

not necessarily 'computers'.

 

 

I can agree that IF a computer, or multiple computers, are played in real

time then they are not just instruments, they really are "the band". By

definition, I would not deny that they are "the band'. But in the current

state of the art, it's nothing I care to hear. I can't even stand a duo or

trio that leans a bit to heavily on it's midi KB to "double the size" of the

band. 50% synthetic is already enuf to trigger my allergic reaction. I

depart the premises for health reasons [prison chow, I hear, is not so

good for you .... ].

 

 

 

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`

 

 

I'll say again...a computer can't WRITE a song...you still need a human

songwriter to do that part...which takes talent. The computer just plays

the parts that the human wrote.

 

I use Reason...thats actually what i wrote that beat that i posted with...

`

 

Pooters do more complex artificial intelligence tasks than writing

songs, so I don't doubt that pooters CAN write songs. Maybe they

wouldn't write any really great songs, but if they have blonde hair,

major cleavage, and a heavy PR operation, they could easily write

what currently PASSES for great songs .....

 

An analysis of harmonies, rhythms, and language patterns would

easily allow a pooter to equal or better the "talent" of your typical

angst-ridden singer songwriters, hot arena-pop divas, etc. All that

crap is so repetitous it's just BEGGING to become lines of code.

 

All music is based on predictability mixed with sooprize, but the

sooprize hasta follow expectations built by the predictable parts,

so I spoze pooters can write any kinda music you ask them to

write, and do a great job at it. Which points up how important the

DELIVERY is, the performance. To some degree [varies with the

genre] the performer is doing the final stage of writing the song

and/or tune, but thaz true whether the pre-performance authoring

is by humans, machines, or cockroaches.

 

 

 

 

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`

 

 

Making music requires human interaction.

 

The instruments used are just tools for the job....a computer can be the tool.

 

I think its fine to have an "all-electronic/computer" instrument band....

but no i don't think its the way of the future.

 

If ALL bands were drums, 2 guitars and a bass, music would get boring REAL fast.

 

Since 93% of all bands ARE "drums, 2 guitars and a bass",

93% of music gets boring REAL fast. I don't even lizzen to

that stuff anymore .... not cuz it's "bad" .... but just cuz it's

worn out, bores me to tears. Plus, there's them geetards .....

What can be more tedious than a shredfest ?

 

 

I admit I overstated the 93% thing .... but in certain periods of

pop/rock/commercial music, the 93% is pretty close. All those

"other" genres are just micro-niche markets compared to the

800 lb gorilla of guit-guit-bass-drum.

 

 

 

 

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Are you talking about 'bands' or music production/composition [confused]

 

Bands on a computer - no. Does not make sense. Bands by definition are groups of real musicians.

 

Music production/composition on a computer - by all means. Yes it's ok for a solo artist to eliminate musicians and yes it takes talent to make good music, real musicians or not.

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1. XD asked for a definition of a musical instrument. Chanman gave him one. However, I disagree with the definition given. I think that for something to qualify as a musical instrument it requires these key things. It must have some form of human interaction, meaning that someone should have to be physically playing it and creating music. Computers generate sound on their own based on pre-recorded simulations. Also, I think that a musical instrument must convey some form of emotion when played.

 

Wow. So much BS here.

 

 

I'll say again...a computer can't WRITE a song...you still need a human songwriter to do that part...which takes talent. The computer just plays the parts that the human wrote.

 

 

This man speaks the truth.

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Mac...

 

I'm not so sure that a computer can't compose music, depending on definition.

 

When I was in college I wrote an atonal piano piece that in retrospect probably could be done as well by a computer with a bit of programming and a random number sector generator, depending on how you did the programming. I didn't think of computers back then, but essentially the function was more or less a matter of numbers, a main theme, retrogrades, inversions, retrograde inversions, an A-B-A2 sorta form... <grin>

 

On the other hand, frankly I very much dislike the concept of 12-tone music and considered it more of a mechanical exercise than one truly in music. Still do. But I think it's something a computer could do as well as I did with a bit of programming.

 

m

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I hear you milod, although randomly generated 12 tone music is not really what this thread is about [tongue]

 

I believe that one day someone will create a melody/composition generation algorithm that will have good results. Until then I guess we'll have to compose music with instruments (including computer based instruments) with our brain/ears.

 

On the other hand, frankly I very much dislike the concept of 12-tone music and considered it more of a mechanical exercise than one truly in music.

 

I don't think you're the only one. There has been research done which that suggests that our brains naturally prefer tonal music. It would explain the unpopularity of 20th century 'classical' music.

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  1. Computers won't replace real musicians because it takes a real musician to play the computer - there was a time when electric guitars were not considered real instruments - (I guess we showed them <grin>)
  2. Definitely the way of the future - soft synths - sequencers - most electronic keyboards, MIDI (and probably those "robot") guitars, wind synths, MIDI drums, samplers, and most recording studios rely on computers, whether it is a big all-purpose one, or a small computer buried inside the skin of the instrument
  3. I make all my own backing tracks and I write aftermarket styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith and it takes talent, lots of practice, knowledge of musical arrangement, and even more practice --- plus to play a synthesizer (wind, keyboard, guitar, etc.) means even more practice because you have to learn what each patch (voice) can and cannot do and learn it as if it were a separate instrument

 

Computers, for better or worse, are here to stay in almost every industry. They eliminate a percentage of accountants, factory workers, receptionists, luthiers, photographers, map makers, and just about every other job known to humankind. On the other hand, they create jobs in the computer industry.

 

Of course there are pros and cons to computers entering the workplace, and I have mixed feelings about that, but the fact is they are here, so to survive we must adapt to them.

 

In the mid 1980s I was in a 5 piece band with my wife and 3 other musicians. We had personnel problems so I bought an Atari/ST computer and learned how to sequence. Leilani and I started a duo, and the two of us made almost as much money as the five piece band, with fewer people to split the money up with. That was a bonus but the real reason why we did it was so we didn't have to depend on other musicians. We had too many weeks of breaking in new people and not making any money. One bass player had family problems, a drummer moved away, the replacement spent two weeks learning the material and then announced that she couldn't play in a bar because of her religion - hello computer!!!

 

At the time, computers in music were very new. Many of my friends said that I was putting musicians out of work with the computer. I replied that I was putting a musician to work with the computer, ME!!

 

Many of those very same musicians are now buying my aftermarket Band-in-a-Box styles.

 

Sure, I'd rather play in a 100% live band than with my own backing tracks, but unless a golden opportunity arrives, I don't see myself going back. True there are musical compromises, the arrangements are the same every time we play the song and there is no other musical input other than the ideas from Leilani and Myself. But on the other hand, there is more money in my pocket, there are no personnel problems, Leilani and I are self contained and can exercise our "workaholic" work ethics without others protesting, we can take gigs wherever and whenever we want, and we make all our own business decisions and either prosper from them or learn from our mistakes.

 

The computer will be with us for a long time, so adapt or perish.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

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Adding to my previous post......

 

IMHO: Those who use computers to copy and paste snippets of music made by others, are more arrangers and musical collage artists than actual musicians. There is a lot of common ground between the two, but there is a difference, just as there is a difference between an oil painter and someone who snips out art to make a collage. Two different art forms.

 

Progress is progress.......Computers are not musical instruments. Computers are tools to assist recordings and the recording process...<...>

I respectfully disagree. While some computers are assist tools, others are musical instruments. Virtually every keyboard since the Yamaha DX7 is a specialized computer. My wind controller and synthesizer are specialized computers. Software synths reside on a general purpose computer and are controlled by a MIDI input device which is a specialized computer.

 

Musicians play instruments or use their voice to make music. All a computer can do is use a program to simulate. It is not capable of original thought, therefore it cannot make music.

 

A guitar is not capable of original thought either. If a person uses a computer to make original music (like about half the current film scores and quite a few top 40 recordings) it's a musical instrument. Depends on how it's used.

 

Sure a computer can be a musical instrument. But it's not going to replace wood and wire

and reeds and brass. <...>

 

Agreed. The computer won't replace traditional musical instruments anymore than the electric guitar replaced the acoustic guitar. Instead of replacing traditional instruments, they simply add another musical instrument to the collection we already have.

 

<...>What "we" performance artists should be thinking about, IMHO, is how best to use technology to improve the audience experience in various venues. Nobody badmouths a PA system nowadays and yet... they're already awfully close to being computers themselves. The question is how we want all that electronic stuff packaged for performance.<...>

 

You are a wise man. I couldn't have said it better myself.

 

Sequencers have been used in live performances for decades. It's all a part of the show.

 

[thumbup]

 

I was at a pre-computer concert by a major rock band who was pantomiming a special "concert recording" when the tape machine broke or the tape itself broke. The music stopped.

 

<...>For some reason I can't enjoy Schoenberg the way I do Beethoven or Liszt or...

 

The Rolling Stones or Chris Ledoux or Bill Monroe.<...>

 

What is music to one, is noise to another. Although I have very varied tastes, Schoenberg doesn't turn me on either. On the other hand, Prokofiev, Muddy Waters, Yes, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Tchaikovsky, Manhattan Transfer, Stanley Turrentine, and a host of others do.

 

Most rap music bores me, but when I was young I listened to a lot of music that bores me now, so I can't complain about it.

 

Bach and Mozart bore me even though they were certified musical geniuses and at one time I loved them. But I moved on and for me music gets interesting starting with Beethoven's 3rd symphony. But not all generally accepted as great music turns me on, I won't go to a concert to hear Aaron Copeland. But I will pop Robert Johnson into my CD player.

 

I'm one of the minority of sax players who doesn't like John Coltrane. I appreciate 'Trane, I understand what he did, I agree he was a musical genius, but his melodic lines just don't speak to me personally.

 

It's all a matter of personal taste.

 

Who or what makes the music is not as important to me as what effect the music has on my soul. If a computer composed a great piece of music (and they may have for all I know) that speaks to me personally, I'd still enjoy the music.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

 

BTW, this is fun!!!

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