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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
How does recording technology affect music-making?
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Antimon



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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 10:58 am    Post subject: How does recording technology affect music-making?
Subject description: Some rambling...
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I was daydreaming and started thinking about how all music from the days before recording technology existed (ignoring amazing but crude machines that played music) has been passed on to this day either via vocal tradition or musical notation. There has to be a lot of music that has been lost in time. How precise is vocal tradition? Did composers take crucial details for granted, and thus didn't note them down on their sheet music? All home-made tunes sang at bars or streetcorners or in lounges or kitchens that we'll never hear.

From the phonograph and onwards we have been able to store everything that is made, so that we can reproduce works that are a hundred years old today faithfully. We can follow the evolution of music pretty accurately from then on. How did music evolve before that point? Do we have any concept of the degree that "common" music interacted with the geniuses hard at work at royal courts? Did such a thing as "pop" music exist five hundred years ago, and what did it sound like? In Europe (as that's what I relate to) was it christmas carols, irish fiddlings or something totally unknown?

My first thought was that music ought to have changed faster before the phonograph, since it had to be passed on vocally to a greater extent, and thus would change like language does. Looking at classical music, that's not my impression (though I may just not be trained enough to hear all crucial differences between the centuries). Were there parallell developments that we can't follow on sheets of paper?

Music seems to have changed more rapidly over the last century. I wonder if that was because you had recordings to listen to, enabling you to compare what you did to everyone else's work. To hear more, inspiring you to do your own. To use recording technology itself as a music composition tool.

I wonder if that vein of inspiration that recording technology gives us will eventually dry out, at which point it will turn around and choke music's evolution instead. If we can constantly hear everything that has been done, will the stuff we do ourselves seem pointless? Not because "everything has been done" - we know that there are practically endless variations of notes and sound , rather because we overdose and just get sick of it all. I sometimes hear people say that the most important thing when making music is to do something new and original. Doesn't that sound a bit desperate? Why is just making a nice tune not good enough?

I'm mostly thinking about pop music here, stuff that me and my friends listen to. Are kids less into actual songs and albums and more into the image and lifestyle of the artists these days?

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RF



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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The book "The Producer As Composer" by Virgil Moorefield should be on your reading list. A couple dollars for a used copy on Amazon - also an opportunity to read the first few pages there. All about the activity of recording and the studio itself shaping the music...
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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think good songs are still being made, it's just that we're all getting older, and have memories of time gone by, and so modern electronic music just doesn't appear to have that 'cutting edge' we once craved for, and pushed to achieve?

Also in a strange way, the latest tools both software and hardware, and their creators have become the new stars, not the artists themselves. I watch so many videos of the latest and greatest modular synth setups, but few appear to use them to actually create songs, and prefer what I perceive to be rather random, chaotic noise. Otherwise it's yet more dance music. Not that I've got anything against these, it's just that this is what mainly gets played or passed on. If it's not chaotic, it rarely leaves 4/4.

'Pop music' I would say has been around for eons, but because very little of it is actually published, or written down as notation, it doesn't last, unless it is handed on generation to generation in the form of nursery rhymes or traditional folk song.

Like I said, maybe it's just because I'm getting old?! Wink

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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think music changed less in pre-modern times because fewer people had the luxury of instruments and leisure time; and there were fewer people.

I do think, however, that mass media has a homogenizing effect that discourages innovation. If you don't know what it's "supposed" to sound like, you are likelier to play it your own way. Pre-mass-media, village musicians had no standard they were expected to emulate. So more variations were inevitable.

I think I just contradicted myself.

I don't try to copy anything but my head is full of 50+ years of listening to every kind of music, so elements of all that music come through in my tunes.

I'm just happy that I have the endless sonic palette provided by synthesizers and the ability to layer these sounds endlessly with my digital recorder. I can do things that Mozart couldn't do. On the other hand, imagine what he could have done with my equipment! Wow!

I guess it's cool that "producers" can use software to make music that they can't really play. But being an old-school musician, it bugs me that push-button music gets so much attention and my silly hand-played tunes get so little.

I've never been mainstream anyway. I was in love with prog-rock when it got pushed aside for disco, country rock and punk.

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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:06 pm    Post subject: Re: How does recording technology affect music-making?
Subject description: Some rambling...
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Antimon wrote:
I was daydreaming and started thinking about how all music from the days before recording technology existed (ignoring amazing but crude machines that played music) has been passed on to this day either via vocal tradition or musical notation.

You may want to checkout David Byrne's "How Music Works" as he discusses how technology (and venues...) shape music.

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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:06 pm    Post subject: Re: How does recording technology affect music-making?
Subject description: Some rambling...
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I think music is like air. Animals breathe it, and plants add oxygen during the day and then consume it at night, and it carries thunderstorms and tornadoes and hurricanes around, and song birds, and airplanes, and leaves falling to the ground, and water vapor rising up to the clouds.

Sure, people capture bits of air and condition it etc. for their own uses. None of that changes the nature of air. So it is with music. It's all around, rustling the leaves, cleaving the air with thunder. Music is where air meets perception.

Antimon wrote:
Are kids less into actual songs and albums and more into the image and lifestyle of the artists these days?


My kids introduce me to all kinds of music, some of it new and some of it old, all kinds of stuff I never would have had time to search out. Of course, my kids are musicians, and they aren't kids any more. But even in their pre-teen Michael Jackson days, I'd bang out tunes like Black or White in square dance style on a banjo to amuse them, and it would be something new. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

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Antimon



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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very good insights and points all around in this thread so far. Smile Stuff to look into.

One thing I was thinking about was the out-of-contol feedback you can get when everything is recorded and you build on that rather than your memory. When you build on something that you can reproduce exactly, will that be a different process then when you build on something that you just heard somewhere, but can't bring back with the push of a button?

Maybe you feel you don't want to build on something, you want to do your own thing. But music exists in context - you can't understand a Skrillex tune without first having experienced twelve tone scales, rythm structures that have developed from rock'n'roll and backwards, house music etc. At some point the Skrillex tune (for those who take interest) will become self-sufficient, at which point other music can build on that and things develop further.

Doing your own thing - is that easier or more difficult with recordings available for comparison? Maybe it's easier to break out of a context if you have a sharp, clear view of that context. Is it possible to make music that is completely outside all contexts - anti-music - by looking at everything that's been done and only using the gaps that haven't been exploited?

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Antimon



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PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Incidentally I saw this on Cracked.com yesterday. Check out #1.
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Manuel Marino



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Music is all about melody. Arrangements and styles can be more or less complex but music is melody, no one can argue on this.

Anyway, often old arrangements or nice rhythms are licensed to be reused in new productions.

So, infinite combinations, but not so infinite catchy ideas Smile or producers would never reuse content from the past.

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