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Are electronic instruments unemotional
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mosc
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:37 am    Post subject: Are electronic instruments unemotional Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In another forum, in another topic... http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-598.html
a100user wrote:
... some people suggest that electronics are unemotional, they don't have to be.

I think this warrants a discussion in itself. What do you think?
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting topic. But..how can any instrument be considered unemotional? That does not compute at all.
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seraph
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

too bad it is in Italian but this article I wrote for this Italian website is called: "the virtuoso synthesist"
http://www.jazzitalia.net/lezioni/musicaelettronica/me_lezione2.asp
it talks about something related to this thread: many synthesists have yet to develop a specific technique for their instruments.
Being a piano player does not necessarily mean being an expressive synthesist Very Happy

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mosc
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have heard people say that synthesizers are cold. That's close to unemotional, maybe even the same thing.

I know we talk about warming up the electronics' sound by adding reverb, or adding even-order harmonic distortion, but that's not what we are talking about here.

In the simplest form, electonic insturments can be unexpressive, and the sound can be static. Music like that might be unemotional. I have heard unemotional music played on all kinds of instruments.

Maybe some people haven't opened themselves up to the possibility that you can express your feelings with a complicated electronic machine, or worse, a computer.

Also, some people love non-electronic instruments because thay are individual. No two guitars sound the same, for example. There is an emotional response to the instuments themselves. They love the organic quality of them. Analog synthesizers have this quality to a very limited degree. Digital synths and computers lack this quality completely. However, certain musicians, see in a well designed digital synth or computer program a wonderful tool for self expression and communication. They can get emotional over a new subroutine. Laughing
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seraph
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Electronic Musician, September 1997 wrote:

...the typical keyboard player looks only slightly more thrilling than a librarian sitting behind a book counter. That's not exactly the most brilliant way to excite an audience...

why you think manufacturers stopped implementing polyphonic aftertouch or release velocity and few implemented breath controllers? users were not using them!
Many of MIDI features are very much still untapped, after all these years Exclamation Shocked

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
I have heard unemotional music played on all kinds of instruments.


True. So have I.
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seraph
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
t..how can any instrument be considered unemotional?

it's not the instrument to be unemotional but the performer Confused

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey, did anyone see all those Whitney Houston sketches on Mad TV?

Hilarious! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Jeff Harrington said this at beepsnorto:
Quote:
Quantity of Detail in Realization as a Deterrent to Electronic Music Acceptance


I"ve been thinking about why many classical music lovers have a problem with the basic textures and sounds of electronic music. Obviously there are huge changes in how the music is produced, resulting in potential perceptual enigma, such as the lack of personality in the performance itself.


But I recently remembered an editorial in Computer Music Journal where the writer (sorry can't remember the reference) was theorizing that more synthesizers, much more, and a doubling or tripling of the textures would produce an effect that would be more compelling to more listeners.


In other words, most electronic music relies upon a 'chamber music' performance space while removing the most exciting part of chamber music performance, the individual musicality of the small ensemble.


Its possible that with larger virtual ensembles, some of the well known problems in electronic music, the lack of personality in the offset characteristics and the overuse of hard attacks because of this problem might be obviated. I'll be writing more about this as I begin exploring generative methods that might be able to simulate these massed virtual performers.


This is related to the basic discussion here... kinda..
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
Being a piano player does not necessarily mean being an expressive synthesist Very Happy

Yes, that's interesting. I have brought several really good piano players (classical and jazz) into my study and they can't play my Kurzweil, even when it is set up with the classical piano sound. Even though the touch is excellent and the sound is very authentic, it isn't close enough. They haven't developed a comfort with using the keyboard for other sounds, and they don't want to explore new instruments and new ways of playing the keyboard expressively. There is resistance. When I switch to a different sound, say a vibraphone, they say something like, "I don't want to ruin my technique." They often stop playing and walk away; that's when we usually leave the studio. I can understand this, because these really good players are masters of a particular style. There is comfort in these limits, discomfort when there are none.

I feel differently. When I come across a new instrument I've never played before, I feel like I can make music immediately; and I usually do so, sometimes to the chagrin of the instrument's owner. Smile

The thing for me is not to be a master (and a student) of a predefined style or technique or instrument, but a master (and a student) of myself. I don't write music that I perform or repeat again. It's all created in the moment.

The more degrees of freedom the better. Electronics provides almost infinite degrees of freedom.

Like Greg says, It's really fun when I can do this with other people. It's more than fun, it is consciousness expanding - transcendental.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
I have brought several really good piano players (classical and jazz) into my study and they can't play my Kurzweil, even when it is set up with the classical piano sound. Even though the touch is excellent and the sound is very authentic, it isn't close enough..

that's where the Moog Piano Bar comes in:
http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-562.html

mosc wrote:
Like Greg says, It's really fun when I can do this with other people. It's more than fun, it is consciousness expanding - transcendental.

this one is worth one more thread Very Happy

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Indeed it is!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Electronic music can certainly be expressive.
However, lots of it is unemotional - if you just program a computer to play the music and don't actually play it with your body, it's very likely to come out sounding unemotional. Of course you can program in swells and modulations and timing variations, but that's a lot of work to make it convincing.
Being expressive with an instrument is just a matter of learning to play it - that's true whether or not it's electronic.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have to say the truth:
these days I seldom listen to jazz but, boy, when I listen to Charles Mingus, to John Coltrane, to Bill Evans, to Miles Davis....those guys could really be expressive. The energy that comes out of those recordings is still very powerful. I hardly feel so moved by electronic music. the human element is still beyond the reach of any machine or computer.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Emotion is NOT just about the instruments themselves and the players but also about the composition and structure of the piece.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EMOTION is a psychic and physical reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling and physiologically involving changes that prepare the body for immediate vigorous action( from Latin emovEre to remove, displace, from e + movEre to move)

as the definition says it's very subjective

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:46 pm    Post subject: Silly Thread Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In a way, this is a silly thread because we're preaching to the chior. We all know that there is as much emotion in a synthsizer as there is in a piano, or violin, or saxophone. There is none because these are inanimate objects. Of course the emotions lie in the combination of performer(s) and composition.

But we EM folk go a step further and expand our idea of what constitues music. The "noise" we sometimes make is emotional music to us which may be considered as being cold and unemotional to those who operate under a different lexicon. It's a perception thing and requires a willingness to accept more than just melody, hamony, and rhythm as the basic elements needed to create music. Even the use of a metronomicly perfect drum machine has an emotional context to it. Like me, you probably feel that such a thing has its place in our music provided that it is juxtaposed against other textures. For some, EM is mostly about texture. And like listening to notes, we like the texture to change so that we don't get bored too quickly.

Perhaps this discussion should be:
1. How do we gain control over more parameters to allow us maximum expression when we play?
2. How do we convince "non-believers" that we're not nuts? Should we even try?

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Agreed.. I suggested:
Quote:
..how can any instrument be considered unemotional? That does not compute at all.
...because we are only talking instruments here. -Not the music, not the composition, not the musicians and not the audience.

I guess most of as are well into the 1 bit .. and for 2.. is that really important? Very Happy [/quote]
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think there is some electronic music that is intentionally unemotional.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Good point. Yes.. it can be intended! And if so, who are we to argue this?
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is an interesting statement.

[quote="elektro80"]Jeff Harrington said this at beepsnorto:
[quote]Quantity of Detail in Realization as a Deterrent to Electronic Music Acceptance

In other words, most electronic music relies upon a 'chamber music' performance space while removing the most exciting part of chamber music performance, the individual musicality of the small ensemble.


Its possible that with larger virtual ensembles, some of the well known problems in electronic music, the lack of personality in the offset characteristics and the overuse of hard attacks because of this problem might be obviated.[/quote]

Part of it comes down to good orchestration and also the use of sounds and tuning differences in those sounds.

In an acoustic ensemble there will always be slight tuning differences amounst the first violins etc. Also there are timbre differences between instruments and each making strives for that "sound". It is these subleties that make the overall effect so vibrant (plus of course natural reverb etc).

Also I would like to say that playing styles and knowledge of the instrument is equally important.

To elicit emotion in the listener is to tap in to that part of their brain that triggers a response, different for everyone, yet I imagine that most people would agree that Mozart had the knack.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

a100user wrote:
To elicit emotion in the listener is to tap in to that part of their brain that triggers a response, different for everyone, yet I imagine that most people would agree that Mozart had the knack.
This may be true in part. But I also think that we need to acknowledge that we are conditioned by the music of our times, too. Violins going, "twee, Twee, TWEE!" in the movies was an innovation but has become a musical lexicon of danger. The first time you heard Mozart as a young child probably had a lot less effect on you emotionally than it does now. At the time, you had no idea about how to process what you heard.

Once society's music has conditioned people with orchestras, chamber groups, rock bands, etc., they need similar exposure to EM in order to learn how to respond to it. Imagine growing up on Bali in the 19th century and knowing only Gamelan. What would your reaction be to a symphony?

IMO, YMMV.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The ideas in that beepsnort quote were interesting but probably irrelevant. I guess one might argue with success that those ideas reflect a very limited perception of what electronic music can be and how to make it.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The "personality" that comes from larger ensembles is because there are humans playing the music. You may be able to capture some of that effect by simulating e.g. random variations in layered parts. But it's still just a simulation, not the real thing.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A major bulk of my own music is in fact ensemble pieces. When I record these I use the various sequencers for the lines written for sequencers and I play all the other voices.. and keep on redoing them until the performances are OK. I have no real idea if this adds some more emotion or not to the music, I write ensemble pieces when I want to write ensemble pieces. I have no problems with electronic music of "lesser" complexity. You all know I like the early LPs by Tim Blake etc. which proves this. And I really enjoyed the Xeriod Entity CD which Howard gave me as a gift. hey... I even like a lot of music for solo flute. Shocked
And I do not Carlo to tell me I am a geek Cool

Robert Hagstrøm just sent me his 4th Symphony. He has recorded it himself using softsamplers.. in his home studio. This piece did not lack anything. A major work of excellence and he recorded the piece at home himself Shocked Very Happy
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