Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

This came up in another thread.

And to answer it I think we need to look at just what music is, and is not.

I think that music a multifaceted experience. Most people know it only as a listening experience. But up until the age of recording, music was also a live production experience. The only way to hear music was if someone played it. Music was special. Now it's kind of a throw-away thing.

Music is to be listened to.

Music is to be written.

Music is to be performed ( live ).

As  a recording, music is a reproduction, and as such is certainly a commodity to be bought and sold, and eventually thrown away. 

I grew up playing trumpet. As an instrumentalist, I played in concert band, marching band, orchestra, pit bands, studio band, jazz band, and more. I was inside music as it was being produced. In some ways, I feel there is no better way to experience how instruments fit together, than to be inside the entity producing the music, and contribute to it. 

I know, I know, not everyone plays an instrument, and now there are computers that let us bypass the boring process of having to know anything about music, and go right to the producing part. I get it, I really do. I get the attraction. I produce music with my computer, too. But no matter the quality of any software I might have, it does not take the place of a live performance. 

Learn to play guitar. You hardly need a musical bone in your body to be able to play well enough to play with other equally learned players, in order to feel what it's like to be inside the music. As a guitar player, I can say that.

We all have our favorite recordings of our favorite pieces. But those recordings, no matter how perfect, are static. Every time we listen, the music is the same. We depend on it. We become addicted to it. But a professional orchestra (any group, really) never plays a piece the same way twice. Can't be done, and why would they want to, anyway. The music is alive, apprehensive, leading, pushing, and dynamic. I think our reliance on recording leads some to think that we don't need musicians, any more. Randomness could be programmed into software, but it's not the same. Musicians don't study to play random. Then there are microphones. Mics lie, rooms lie, even our ears lie. Storage devices lie. 

I don't think that music is commodity to be bought and sold. At least not like like a loaf of bread. Although like the baker, the musician should be paid, but paid well. It's not easy to learn to play any instrument.

Do you know who makes the most money every time a recording is sold? The musician makes only a fraction of each dollar. Same in a concert situation. The musician sucks hind teat. Concerts and recording situations are so expensive. Is it because we need thousand dollar mics and several multi channel mixing boards, in special rooms. Well sure, I know all that can make a big difference. On the other hand, I've heard recordings made on a four trac cassette with a $50 mic, that were just awesome. This guy was a fantastic performer who knew how to use his equipment. 

Which brings us to the touchy subject of copyright. Did you know that the creators of costumes for Mardi Gras copyright their creations. Did you know that if you take a picture of a horse, and later you want to make a drawing of that photo, that you need to get the permission of the owner, especially if you might make some money from the drawing?

Yet we all post copyrighted material from YouTube all the time. We think that if it's on the internet, than it belongs to everyone. So far, that is not true. Should it be? 

I could go on. But let's open it up. What's on your mind about this?

Views: 1508

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Two things about this jump out and slap me.

1. Limitations of human playing. While there are some things humans can't play, don't sell them short. I once saw a guy play three independent melodies at once on an 8 string electric bass.

2. Artificial emotion. Oxymoron.

Em Coston, (MM) said:

Anyone who has ever heard a great live performance of music would probably believe that musicians are important at least in regard to what they heard. However, a good portion of people have not heard live music beyond neighborhood garage/bar bands or regional traditions and have no idea what they are missing. I once saw/heard a harp in real life and have a good idea what I'm missing. However, almost everyone I've ever known has never seen/heard the instrument (as well as many other instruments), they live their entire lives then die and never know the better. The most accessible music is in the form of recordings which, in the mind of an uninformed listener, could be considered on par with electronic music. In fact, it sadly could even be perceived as inferior to electronic music due the limitations of human playing.

Music is what it has been historically defined as but it also has much more potential than has been realized. Its among the most powerful of artistic mediums. One can fairly easily escape the influence of a painting or story by ignoring it, but its much harder to not be affected by music when its presence envelops everything in its physical range. I don't think this aspect has been fully exploited yet.

The treasured ability of music to convey ideas colored with emotion as well as communicate pure emotion itself has thus far eluded (a level of realism in) virtual music. However, the work of those who meticulously shape the sounds of virtual compositions could prove to be the bridge between the present and future and not just in the realm of music proper. While entirely hypothetical, it could be that such musical products are a step toward a computer program using transcription software and a data base of such detailed music transcriptions to identify and use as a blueprint for artificial emotion (addressing the problem of humanizing robots). This, of course, isn't practical as a database for each culture and some sort of scaling software that could transpose diatonic melodies to the microtonal melodies that permeate speech would also be required. However, this is just an example, albeit imaginative, of the unrealized potential of translating the acoustic tradition to electronic and a hint of what roles electronic music could play in the future. I'm certain there are many more possibilities that I can't yet begin to imagine.

To give my answer to the question: I personally see value in both traditional and electronic forms of music. I don't think we "need" musicians as they are quickly becoming akin to a "medium", however they, like an oboe or cello, can make a unique contribution to a composition.

(Note: While I don't like my answer as it isn't what I want to believe, it is what I truthfully think.)

I'm just going to put it this way, a couple of months ago I had to travel an hour and a half to play "Taps" at a veteran's funereal. After I played both the family members and the servicemen thanked me for not letting them suffer by hearing just a recording played through a fake silver bugle.

Deleted for inappropriate content

Its an insult being called a troll, Em, and Dave has no right to call people names, especially when youre one of the most serious posters here, and your comment was fine..why he or anyone would accuse you of being a troll because of your post is beyond me..

Please dont limit your comments because of this..keep posting as you have been doing  as your posts, and music are enjoyed by many here including me.

Thanks Bob

https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Em Coston, (MM) said:

Just looked up troll on Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
I take it you are saying my comments in this thread are upsetting or inflaming?
I will delete them. Sorry about that, I was only stating my real thoughts on the topic and not intending such an effect, the possibility of which hadn't occurred to me.

To prevent any similar events in the future, I will refrain from commenting here except on posts of actual music.

I couldnt agree more Em..Ive tried getting it addressed but with no avail..

What we're told is NOT to respond..which simply doesnt work when a lie has been told, or real insults spoken..and those posts arent being deleted,  so they just hang there with no response for all to see..

Its simply NOT fair..

And you ARE qualified to say anything on any topic here..dont let other posters--ANYONE of them-- take that right away from you..please continue posting your music and ANYTHING else you want to share. There are many of us enjoying both your music and opinions.

Thanks Bob

https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Bob, I don't understand the reason for all the animosity and strife here, where it originated or what it has to do with me. I've only gathered that it goes way back. But it does seem that there are a couple of real jerks here. One lurking behind the guise of paraphasia (at least anytime he's commented toward me) and another seems to be seeking every opportunity for confrontation. It doesn't make sense to me to even want to continue commenting in this environment especially since I'm not really qualified to say anything on any of the topics here anyway.

To me music is unique and essential. The people who create it, be they live performers, digital producers, pokers of notes on a piano roll, sound designers etc. are all part of the eco system that keeps producing new music! So yes, we need musicians.

Copyright is a nice to have imo.

To me music is unique and essential. The people who create it, be they live performers, digital producers, pokers of notes on a piano roll, sound designers etc. are all part of the eco system that keeps producing new music! So yes, we need musicians.

+1

Thanks Bob

https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Vn said:

To me music is unique and essential. The people who create it, be they live performers, digital producers, pokers of notes on a piano roll, sound designers etc. are all part of the eco system that keeps producing new music! So yes, we need musicians.

Copyright is a nice to have imo.

Deleted for inappropriate content.

Here are a few things that came to mind when reading this discussion:

First, I think the bigger issue is do musicians need modern composers? I mean, as musicians we are so per-occupied with learning all the heaps of music from previous eras. It is so easy for us to play music from other centuries that we do not take the time to look into new music being written that desperately needs performing. Those who do take time to learn and understand 21st century music are much more daring and harder to come by than the average musician.

Second, while computers can attempt to replicate some fragment of emotion, nothing compares to the finesse and attention to detail of a well-trained musician. Watching a performer provides greater appreciation for the music, and feeling the vibrations in person is far more moving than putting in headphones.

If musicians stop feeling the need to connect with modern composers, and modern composers stop feeling the need to connect with musicians, than a great economic balance will be disrupted. Composers have a hard enough time making a living as it is, and same goes to musicians. Orchestras all over the place are finding it difficult to stay funded and break even. The stronger the connection between modern composers, musicians, and audiences becomes, the more our musical community and economy will flourish.

Excellent, Emily,

It has been stated many times that the audiences for Modern Music, whatever that may be, are much smaller that those for standard classics. Right or wrong, orchestras need to pay the bills, and, hopefully, musicians.

Agreed, there's nothing quite like feeling the room come alive.

Your point of musicians needing to perform modern pieces/stay connected with modern composers is very valid!

W.r.t computers vs live music, i think its not a case of either or, because both serve different purposes. If you take music for video (movie, tv series, video games etc), most of this content is consumed by the end users in the comfort of their homes or a movie theater. In that case, most consumers are unable to differentiate between a sound track performed by a real orchestra vs a sample based orchestra (assuming the composer did a good job and not just hold down d minor for an entire scene).  Given that, producers of content cannot justify the budget to use a real orchestra which could run up to $100/hour/musician, and a 60 piece orchestra for a few days to rehearse & record a 120 min movie becomes a decent chunk of money. In this case, real musicians dont help the music director, only a computer can - cos thats all the music director can afford. So we need both (the performing musician and the computer musician/composer).  Does this make the music director/composer not a musician - no, imo he/she created original music and so is very much a musician. Would this music have sounded better with real musicians, yes almost certainly but would it make the movie goers feel the energy and emotion of the players, not in most cases, so there is no added value here as far as the producers go.

On the other hand, thankfully we have not come to a point where one goes to the local performing arts theater to listen to Beethoven's 5th symphony live and all there is, is a computer in the middle of the stage, playing back a sequenced rendition of it! So when consumers go to listen to a live performance, the performing musician/instrumentalists are the stars and in this scenario, you can feel and experience the emotion and energy of the players.

Emily F. Singleton said:

Here are a few things that came to mind when reading this discussion:

First, I think the bigger issue is do musicians need modern composers? I mean, as musicians we are so per-occupied with learning all the heaps of music from previous eras. It is so easy for us to play music from other centuries that we do not take the time to look into new music being written that desperately needs performing. Those who do take time to learn and understand 21st century music are much more daring and harder to come by than the average musician.

Second, while computers can attempt to replicate some fragment of emotion, nothing compares to the finesse and attention to detail of a well-trained musician. Watching a performer provides greater appreciation for the music, and feeling the vibrations in person is far more moving than putting in headphones.

If musicians stop feeling the need to connect with modern composers, and modern composers stop feeling the need to connect with musicians, than a great economic balance will be disrupted. Composers have a hard enough time making a living as it is, and same goes to musicians. Orchestras all over the place are finding it difficult to stay funded and break even. The stronger the connection between modern composers, musicians, and audiences becomes, the more our musical community and economy will flourish.

My wife is an expert at calligraphy. Before home computers could print music, she would write out my music on staff paper she lined herself, in ink with a calligraphy pen. Depending on the nib she wanted to use, some of the pins used cartridges, some she had to dip in ink like a quill. She did this time and time again without error. It looked like it came off of a printing press. She also did wedding announcements and place cards, on occasion. As computers took over printing like this, she counted her talents as another useless skill. On occasion, someone who wanted the charm of hand-lettered things would contact her. She's also a colored pencil artist. You know, those crappy things folks my age had to use to color maps in elementary school. But no, turns out there are very expensive ones that are oil based and quite lovely. She also knows charcoal, watercolors and oil. But to do any art with those things takes a lot of space and time just to set up. So she does it all on an iPad Pro with a $10 app that she says is so close to real medium that she would rather use the iPad. Of course there are differences but she knows how to use the real medium. And that makes all the difference. If I were to pick up her iPad, I would only produce junk. Sure I would have fun, but In order to produce anything worth looking at would take the same decades of study my wife put in. Oh, and talent

I think you all can connect the dots. Nothing wrong with using a computer, but it seems to me that just as much skill is involved whether you use one or not.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Sign up info

Read before you sign up to find out what the requirements are!

Store

© 2018   Created by Gav Brown.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service