Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Yeah why? What a question to ask Eh? It’s one of those reoccurring questions. A phenomenon that plagues every generation of documented distributed music within the music industry as we know it.
In this B(L)og we’re going to check out what the reason is for the state of our current time in music. Why our music generally sounds uninspired or “completely predictable” as I like to put it?
Well we oughta get started but before we do; I want to personally thank you for hanging out with me in written form. Your presence is much appreciated!!! And with that……….
What’s So Different About Our Present Music Environment?
You mean in one word? Technology! We have gobs of it! It’s all over the place and it’s hard to keep up with. Every year we’re getting major advancements in technology that's supposedly (among other things) is meant to make our lives “easier”. This is also prevalent in the tools that we as artists and consumers use to make and experience music respectively. And while I definitely feel for the average music consumer, I completely feel bewildered and excited for the musical artist.
Why? Well as an artist; How are you supposed to make sense of all of these modern advancements at the current click that we’re going? How do you settle down into your instrument when you know there’s going to be a major “update/revision” of it in a few months? It may seem like an exciting thing on paper but in my experience of listening to people throughout the years, what it really translates to is an odd form of anxiety.
Believe me; Folks love new technological features in musical instruments. They’re exciting and they’re also a definite timestamp on how far we’ve come from the seemingly archaic past of electronic music instruments. Nonetheless this constant stream of “newness” has birthed a healthy sense of uneasiness towards the music making process.
“I like it I just don’t know how to work up anything worth listening to!”
You see that statement right there! It’s the total reckoning that’s put a handicap on the music that we listen to. It’s exactly why our music sounds the same.
You see what has happened is that instead of using new gear and all it’s novel innovations to create new music via new ways of working, the common artist has internalized their nervousness towards “new tech” to the extent that they simply don’t exploit it to it’s full extent. They treat these innovations with kid gloves or better yet through the lens of past practices; Thus finding solace in old tried and true “old-school” methods that work. And of course these old methods of working are a cinch to do when done with new powerful gear. The idea of using the new to make the old is commonplace and is detrimental to the progression of new ideas and sounds in music.
Well let’s take chopping samples. Remember when that was somewhat of a task? You remember those days right? How easy is it to chop samples today? How easy is it to play in key today? How easy is it to automate anything within your musical environment today? I could go on……...
The kicker is in the reality that our current technology eclipses any of the procedures I’ve just stated; And yet, here we are using extremely powerful gear to make these old ideas ideal. Do you still think we do that out of preference or are you beginning to see that most of us have a fear (even a mistrust) of the capabilities of new musical instruments?
Of course not you! But tell me if everyone you know is completely comfortable with the role of Artificial Intelligence and the advancements being made with it in music?
So we’ve erroneously boosted our egos by creating retro-music on overqualified equipment. Not realizing that we’ve neglected to create anything that truly represents the time period we’re in. This is why everything sounds the same. Because we can do it. And it’s easy to do. And furthermore who’s really complaining about it? I mean every now and then when we come up for air we notice it but then we happily go back to doing the same ole things that we’re familiar with.
2010 Surly TDS ranting on the lack of originality in music.
Well What Should I Be Getting Into?
For starters I’d say:
1. Live Coding (and coding in general)
2. AI implementation
3. Surround Audio
Notable mentions would be:
4. Modular Instruments
5. MPE Protocol
6. Wearable/Motion Technology
Whether you believe you can make great music with this stuff or not isn’t the point. You can learn! Trust me you can! Nothing you hold dear in music was developed overnight!
Even with the above stated; While the platforms aren’t new, the developments being made within them are incredibility so. Are we ready to move forward? (In our case wayyyyy forward). Or are we going to keep it as is?
The silver lining is that there will always be another generation on the rise to take our place, and hopefully they’ll take music where we should have during our tenure.
Something to think about. But for now……
Thanks for reading!
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