I believe that those who use a DAW very effectively are at the helm of a new art form. They take a raw product, sound samples, and mould them into something expressive and beautiful, just like a painter creates something great from a palette of primary colours. Like an artist, the colours in the music are mixed and refined to bring out every nuance of expression, dynamics, velocity, expression, tempo curve, etc etc. Attention is applied to every single note, just like Yehudi Menuhin invested meaning in every note. In fact DAW users have more parameters to deal with for every note. Menhuin never had to care for panning. The fact that some of these masters of DAWs have limited traditional skills is only a side issue. How many people in reality can even spot dodgy voice leading, if the end result is, overall, musically convincing? Their tools are pro tools and cubase and a whole host of sample libraries. So let us celebrate this new art form.

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –


  • But ray, if somebody is able to invest expression, meaning and beauty by using these tools, then surely we have an art form.

    A manuscript book and a pencil are tools as well.

    You can get a beautiful end product with both, so this is art, but expressed through a new medium.

    The skills in this new medium are radically different from those of the old composing method, so I do think that it is a new art form, or a new branch of the wider art form of music.
  • To me, art is a combination of craft and expression.

    Each to their own definition.

    But i would say that there is artistic merit in a finely crafted DAW rendering, just like there is artistic merit in a great score.

    Some traditionalists think that where computers come into play, it cant be classed artistically.
    They used to say the same about the electric guitar...
  • I use both notation (in Sibelius and pen/paper) and a DAW (Cubase) in my work. I actually agree with the above poster in that they are just tools to get the job done and it's how proficient you are in using those tools to express your musical vision that matters. I'm quite sure there are as many bad practitioners of traditional notation (and music theory thereof) as there are those who who use a DAW regularly or exclusively.

  • If they are just tools to get the job done, how do you explain a DAW recording with great samples and perfect programming that has an emotional impact on a listener?

    If that's not artistic expression at its best, then please tell me what is.

    The person who got the samples to "talk" on an emotional level and breathed life into mere samples is truly an artist.

    I never disputed that the daw itself is a tool, but the act of using that tool for expressive purpose is an art.
  • I didn't say the music itself wasn't great expression, it surely is and the person who created is definitely an artist, no matter their approach to the task, but the pen/paper or DAW is just that, a tool to express your artistic intent. It's no different to using a hammer and chisel to make a sculpture.

    Using the tool itself isn't an art, it's a skill and/or craft. the artistic result of the use of that tool *is* the art.

  • Yes, so somebody who is skilled in music production using a DAW is an artist...

    And the skilled use of a DAW to create music is indeed an art form.

    Lets start valuing these people as such, and not just the rather lowly reputation they have amongst a "musical elite"

    Ps the same musical elite who themselves often produce scores of rather dubious artistic merit.
  • Well a working definition of art may be craft plus expression.

    Of course there is the full spectrum of artistic merit from those who are incompetent to Beethoven himself.

    Just as there are those who cannot mix to save their lives and then there are those who can fool the ears into thinking they're hearning the Berlin Philharmonic on a good day.

    I think that your definition of art is not just art, but "great art , like beethoven, bach, monet, picasso, etc.

    Im just saying that those who can work wonders with a DAW are artists, not just technicians.
  • Well now this is just verbal semantics. I do not agree with you on all your points Adrian, but obviously there's nothing to be gained from discussing this further so I'll leave it here.

  • So before you go, would you agree that those who work wonders with a DAW are artists and not just technicians as they are often perceived?
  • Sorry yes, you agreed with me earlier.
This reply was deleted.