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Have we become to DAW dependent or is music notation become less relivant in our computer age?

Over the last few months I have noticed a trend in the forums, especially in the music dissection forum. More and more of the comments about music posted here have been more about music production (i.e. sample
sounds used, mix of DAWs, ect, ect) and less comments about the overall music
itself. Along with that, I have seen less actually sheet music posted on this
forum, and more composers admitting that do not have any notated music to show
what so ever. I make these observations
merely as a composer who considers himself as a concert composer more than a
film composer (though I do have film experience). With so many composers here
now not posting sheet music, my comments are limited to what I hear and since
my knowledge of DAWs and sequencers are very limited. Likewise is made towards
my music and the music of other concert composers here. Since I do not have the
greatest sample library, nor do I have plans to obtain such a sample library, comments
are minimal at best. In addition, often I have read on mine as well as others posts
more comments on the quality of the audio clip then the actual music.


This has got me thinking; has the art of notating music become a lost art on this forum, or is this just a sign of the times and the interest of up and coming composers has just shifted towards sample sounds more than
notating?


Now I am not worried about the any diminishing need for performers, there will always be more performers then composer and a lifetime amount of music to perform. However, I do ponder as to why this change. Is it because of
the computer age we live in, is it easier to bypass notation and to write music
solely through sequencers and sample libraries, is it due to a heavy influence of
popular music and popular music production for film, television, and pop
artist, or does it stem from our declining and shifting standers in music
education worldwide?


Just something to I have been pondering lately.

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Comment by Doug Lauber on September 5, 2010 at 1:25pm
Having a proper score is essential for the aspiring composer who has the goal of having it performed by an orchestra. So, in this competitive world, how does one entice the people who decide which new compositions will be performed?

Let's say there are two amazing composers of similar abilities. One has crap equipment and poor technical knowledge about recording and the other has a beautifully realized VST performance- a performance that is so good that it is fairly close to sounding like a 'real' orchestra. It goes without saying that if you have a great score versus a great score w/ a great recording, the latter will more easily open doors for the composer.

Now about the issue of discussions about technical qualities versus musical qualities.

Music and art are topics in the land of 'taste'. It can be so subjective and ethereal and murky.
On the other hand, technical qualities are more concrete. If the virtual orchestra sounds too fake it easy to point-out and it certainly does smear the intentions of the composer. I agree- I would rather hear a criticism that asks where a melody line leads, or why a theme is not repeated, or question the effect of a change of key.

It is possible to use sample libraries while performing the music on MIDI keyboard. With this approach, the recording has more of a human feel to it. The timing will be less than perfect, but different from going from notation in a DAW/sequencer, which has been randomized in timing, to the completed demo recording. ie If you are writing a flute part, please play it into the sequencer, using your MIDI keyboard.

In general, the recording has taken the place of a score, with the exception of the score for orchestra, and in that case a great recording is also available as a demo.

For me, it's all about the recording. I devote and have devoted a lot of time and energy in learning about the technical aspects of recording and mixing. I limit my work to small electric ensembles because I have a lot of creative freedom and I don't have to worry about cash for the best sample libraries. Today's composers are forced to consider recording techniques.
The reality is that a composer with an expensive recording studio will have an advantage over a composer with no interest at all in recording techniques.

So what are the essential ingredients for a good recording?
Basic equipment:
At least one nice sounding instrument. I recommend a MIDI keyboard.
A basic DAW that records audio and MIDI.
A decent microphone or two.
A good mic preamp.
Good studio monitors and headphones.
Orchestral samples- virtual or external (Akai, etc.)
and then you have to read all of the forums about recording techniques.... !
and experiment with the equipment!

and re-read Chris's post. AWESOME!!
Comment by Hayden Isaac on August 10, 2010 at 6:39am
I think both are important. notation is important and its a big apart of western art music, and its the only reason why the musical works from the greats still get play today, Also i think with notation, you can get a better understanding how the composer put the song together. So i do see where your coming from Tyler. But that being said I sometimes find notation and sequencers to be limiting for some ideas i want to express sonically so i like to step out of that frame work completely from time to time, which is quite difficult to notate, and leads me into the world of computer Sci :S.
Comment by Adrian Allan on August 7, 2010 at 4:51pm
We've had this discussion a few times here before, and it's one which won't go away, and equally one which will never be resolved.

All technology is a double edged sword. It can yield great results in a short amount of time, but it can also make its users mentally lazy.

A time taken away from technology gives people a deeper undertanding of a subject. For example, who had a better grasp of the function of maths at school, this generation, or my parents', where mental arithmetic was at the core of the subject and calculators didn't even exist ?

I'm with you totally on the issue of scores. For film music it's not necessary, but for "classical" music where the end game if a performance, scores must be the key issue, not the VST realization.

I say that the score is not the key issue with film music "cues" because (rightly or wrongly) a large proportion of film and tv music nowadays uses mainly virtual sounds with some live overdubs.

You can't turn back the clock, but my view is that when reviewing "classical" music people should mainly comment on the score or the potential of what they hear (less so the actual sounds)

and in film music or cues meant as the end product, it's perfectly fine to place the emphasis on the sounds.

However, it could be said that even classical composers are more likely to get a piece played if they produce a recording which really whets the appetite of an ensemble, so we're back to where we started.
Comment by Ann Rodela on August 7, 2010 at 4:19pm
Tyler, I think that composers are under the pressure to wear many, many hats until you have manifested a renaissance man or woman as the result product. You want to share your music, therefore the need to share it in mp3 and out of that arises the need for a notation software that offers instant playback and exporting to mp3 and DAWs that knead sound like dough. That isn't enough people want to see your music on video. So there is a lot emphasis on that. Reaching farther into different specialties. Tyler you made a music video. Kudos!!!!

On a different note, if you are a poet you have to draw via photoshop or photogragh something to draw the viewer to your site. This is a trend that hounds many different art forms.

Going back to basics is a difficult path.
Comment by Tyler Hughes on August 6, 2010 at 5:23pm
Well I woudnt call dumping midi tracks into a sequencer until and tinkering with it until it sounds OK a performance. Its computer generated sounds, and unless you have a performer that can sit their and play back exactly what they hear it will never be performed. Music produced on DAWs will remain on your computer unless you produce a record and sell it yourself.

And as far as it being irrelevant to comment about instrument writing, well I hope it isnt. Especially since I just posted a call for scores on this site, giving EVERYONE that chance to have their music performed by living breathing performers. And even so, their are plenty of opportunities to have yours and everyone's music on this forum to be performed. And besides It would be foolish to ignore such comments on basic orchestration just because you may have no plans for your music to be heard beyond this site. I mean, no one is above learning here are they?
I know personally I would much rather read comments about my instruments playing out of their comfort range over how shitty my sample instrument sounds are.
Comment by Tyler Hughes on August 6, 2010 at 11:51am
But not every one is posting the complete final work. For instants those of use who post works in the Music Dissection Forum to better edit their technically incomplete pieces. A concert composer wouldnt have a live recording of that piece since it is still going through major editing (well at least I would hope no one would put live performers through that). In place of a live recording you make a mock up as quick as possible so that you can disseminate your music to those who can help you make corrections. So wouldnt it be obvious that the composer would spend more time working on the notation of the music then the midi mock up? So wouldnt it be more beneficial to a composer that post the sheet music along with a mock up to comment on the music rather then the quality of the mock so that he/she can later produce a proper recording of their music?
Surely we are all talented enough composers here to be able to follow along in a score and mentally hear the music as it would be live while listening to any midi mock. Surely Im not the only one that can do that.

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