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Condemnation towards computer generated music (Sample libraries and such)

Now this is something that happens to me quite often. Have you ever been in the situation where someone asked “What are you using to create your music?”. Probably since most people aren't familiar with the technology nowadays, at least where I live. I cannot recall how many scornful looks I've received for stating that I take my Horns and Violins from an orchestra library. Most people don't even want to take a look at it because it seems totally ridicolous to them. I don't know if it's pure ignorance or the technology that most people aren't aware of. I guess it's a mix of both since people are trying to avoid it.

I highly respect the real orchestra and I would always prefer it if I had the choice, but samples became really important because they give people with lower budgets the chance to listen to their compositions. Yeah I know, that's nothing new to everyone who reads this. However, I wish more people would acknowledge that.

So how's it where you live? Well I can imagine that sample libraries are much better known and understood in states like LA, the situation in my country (Germany by the way) is stated above.

Any similar situations so far?

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Today, this topic brings to mind Kid Rock's appropriation of Warren Zevon's 'Werewolves of London' and also Skynrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama'. What I hate about that appropriation technique is that it is lazy musicianship. What makes many of these new songs good, are the pre-recorded parts, not the new parts. Kid Rock is riding the backs of those who composed, arranged, recorded, and engineered the originals. It's like taking a huge beautiful building and then pasting your flag on top of it, and then posing as an architect. It's too easy- and it lacks a degree of emotional vulnerability inherent in true 'composing'. Hey, when Rauschenberg appropriated the Mona Lisa, the end result was predominantly Rauschenberg. He wasn't relying on the Mona Lisa to lift his art up. I am OK with the idea of appropriation in art. It can be amazing stuff when done correctly, but a lot of the time we see or hear lazy crap that owes most of the art's power to the appropriated sections and not the new juxtapositions, or the new additional elements. A cut and paste collage technique can yield great art. Just about any technical strategy can work, but for it to be good, the musician must be a good composer. He or she must have 'good taste' and that is difficult to define. It's like porn- You know it when you see it. :)

Now...back to the topic of using samples, ie orchestral samples. I think most would agree that you should use the best orchestral and choral samples that you can afford. ...Just as a side note: The soundtrack for Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut' uses only one instrument- a piano.
I was just discussing the piano cue early in the film where Kidman is sitting on the bathroom floor with a long monologue and simple piano as underscore. I don't even know what the music is. But one note at a time was shifting the energy so beautifully.
(sorry i have not posted in a while, been working hard and funny, been doing a lit of photographing, seems to be a budding second career!)


thats well put! I have been mulling that one over for years now as I have been working hard to build and spend loads of money on gear in order to have an ideal and competitive workspace...but it never ends...always something else you need!

I had to just stop and realize that it is all more or less, detrimental to my creative ability. The key for me is to create, period. I stopped and realized that I have tools and I can create just fine and to satisfaction with them. Friends and peers might have more expensive gear and better recording capabilities but I have what I have.

Actually, it has been much more rewarding to focus on creations utilizing your limitations. To me, it focuses my energy and helps me to learn better how to use the tools I have to make the most of my compositions. So, I am better at composing and better at using the tools. I am also retaining a sense of honesty, the sounds and the final outcome is categorized by the period I am in creatively as well as financial!

I agree, a good artist will be able to create a composition with a (pardon the exaggeration) coke can. Its all in where your voice leads you and knowing how to
use the tools available to speak your voice. Its all in perspective.

I usually always tell people where the sounds come from if I can, even if I use samples in studio or live...Im a percussionist so Im used to that, but I dont tend to get the same negative generalizations as some of the others have mentioned...guess I am just in a good open minded community here in Nashville.
I agree Doug! For many years I did all of my big band (20 piece) and 5/6 horn arrangements with a piano and score paper only. That is ultimately the best way to find unique music IMO as the single sound of the piano forces you to hear in your head the timbres and hear only live the very simple sound of the piano. Then you focus on the craft of the melody and harmony and not as much on which sample fits where and such

I think young guys coming up today who dont learn to master the crossover extension of the mind to the ear, music theory to the soul by writing with paper only by hand lose a significant portion of the meaning of the art. So for me to call you my peer, not only do I expect you to not use prefabricated loops or re-purposing other peoples music, but I also expect you to be fluent with pencil and score paper, in the least to be able to communicate your ideas in the written language of our spoken(played) one
Absolutely Chris!

I studied music for 5 yrs at a State University and have always been taught and utilized theory and musicianship only benefits an artists ability to communicate. And being in touch with the simplicity of a pencil and paper, is very elemental.

Although, there are two ways of looking at the process of how music is composed. (this is just the way I view it...)Compositions are not always to be viewed as emanating from a pencil or from a "sketch" perspective as did the Bach's and Mozart's, but it can come from a pseudo 'jazz perspective' where it is felt and captured, tweaked and then finalized to complete form. There is room for all kinds of process, it is all what is the most natural and comfortable to the individual. So, I guess, I would not derive a judgement or label on a peer if they do not understand theory or harmony etc...i would just want them to look into it to facilitate their understanding and expand their horizons, although I would not expect it. i have friends that do not understand a lick of theory or of what they do and they just astonish and inspire me as to how they hear phrases and create parts...i could never do it as I think completely different and more ordered to a point, but I consider them brilliant non the less...In my many years of performing, recording and writing, I have learned to never expect anything!! ;P

I do agree that one should always study the art of what it is they do and understand it to their best although, music and all art is unique to the soul, notes, rhythms, theory, etc are all tools to document and widely convey the communication to the masses for performance or for creation, but, it is not the art itself. The end result in music is the music that the ear hears and the soul feels and the mind wanders...that is the communication, and however one gets there or however one finds it their way to communicate it is ok.

Of course, I do not use pre recorded samples in my music, Id rather make my own, but I will program. Also, I think the re-mixers that are using whole song sections to regenerate new songs sometimes completely different than the oldie it is referencing, is really, well, up to them. In one sense, it is cool if someone can make music with someone elses music, together. If it is a cover, re recorded and the old is mixed with the new, but enough on both sides, then I think there is something amazing about how that is possible with our technology and how it bridges gaps in time and its brilliant.

Also, that use is really not included in the genre that I think most of us work in or create in...that is more of a pop, top 40 genre that is more single and street created and purposed for radio and its their artistic right to make it, i especially can not stand the Kid Rock and Skynards 'Sweet Home Alabama!'

Honestly, I am defined by how much I have let go of over the years. After college and after immersing myself in freelance work, on my own or with a band, I learned that there are so many definitions that we educated artists hold. Sometimes, those definitions only limit creativity...we want to put it into a box that we can understand. But really, we lose sight of what art is or music is altogether. We just have to remember that education is good and non education can be good...if its good, someone will be moved and if its bad, you might not be moved, but someone might and usually is...but its art and still music either way.

sorry for the long rant, didnt mean it to be a rant...have been editing photos all day and am ready to play some music!! or run around the block!!

thanks for the great discussions and insights here...I need to check in more often...
Some interesting experimental music, that uses pre-recorded samples/loops:
dont forget music and art are two different things. TO me beauty in art is defined by its complexity, its ability to move me on many levels at once. Something simple can be beautiful but that isnt "art" to me, that is "nature". Music can be music and not art. Actually very little music is art. SO there you have to define the purpose of your music: to entertain, to create art, or just to fill a void where you are required to make neither music or art with the same tools, ie sound design. Some people may get into textural awareness and really love ambient music but to me you have to be into LSD or extasy pretty thoroughly to get into those kinds of music
Yes, experimenting with the way sound affects our ears, our emotions. Just as visual collages can be an entertaining or artful experience, so can aural collages.
I think the difference between art and non-art is the degree of quality. And, as we know, that involves a subjective judgment. In art, I feel that 'simplicity' has its place, like the simple motif in Beethoven's 5th. Art can be 'too simple', but can also be 'too busy, too complex'. Music without structure is often too uniform in emotion and boring, uninteresting. On the other hand, I've heard electronica that was very interesting and emotionally jolting, while being very abstract, with lots of changes that shift one's emotions. Even 'utilitarian' music for film can be raised to the level of high art. ie Bernard Herrmann.
I agree with Doug. Using samples can expand our hearing permiting us to transpose them, manipulate and emphasize some of its characteristics. Not to make music you´ve already heard but one that comes from the unexpected, from within sound itself. Never tried to transpose a glass being broken about four of five octaves down? It was really enlightening to me years ago. It made me more aware of the music in everyday life. Just a passing thought. Best.
I enjoyed the unexpected sound effects and various recordings of dialog from interviews, used on the Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' album. Some beautiful aural landscapes were created.

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