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Topic: When technology is too much

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  1. #1

    When technology is too much

    I visit my local music store every so often. Sometimes I'll go long droughts between visits though for a couple reasons:

    1/ techno lust isn't all that productive when it comes to writing music

    2/ obstaining from buying new gear makes me think of using what I have creatively and to the best of its possibilities.

    When I do go, there's one salesman that's always asking "what sound card do you use", "what software do you use" like these are the lynchpins of my music credibility. The last time I was in, and I mentioned using a M-Audio 24/96, he said "ever thought of using something more professional?". Maybe I was just impatient or was tired of talking tech. but I responded by saying that it works just fine with what I need it for. A friend, an acoustic guitar player, has an Echo Layla. He needs all those ins and outs, but I don't.

    Sometimes, I have had great dialogues with fellow musicians in music stores about...omigod MUSIC. Like talking about voicings that Pat Metheny uses as opposed to Alan Holdsworth, or modernist orchestral techniques of Ligeti's or Xenakis', or the economic arranging of Henry Mancini's. But far too often it's the standard "what gear" "what samples" "what software" do you use.

    Even when I post a piece on a board (not singling this one out per se) invariably I get the "sounds realistic" or "great sound, what samples did you use". To me this is only half the story. What about my choice of chord voicings or thematic immitation between the violins and celli? Maybe my music isn't that interesting to many.

    I go through periods where I'll just turn on Finale, play it through some crappy GM sounds, and concentrate on the musical content not caring how accurate the playback sounds. And while all these libraries by EWQLSO, Garritan, Sonic Implants, Project SAM, and VSL are great (I'm certainly not ungrateful for the times that I live in where one can have a symphony orchestra on their computer) sometimes I personally find them distracting of the compositional process of figuring out overall structure, melody and harmony. For example, I'll work soooo hard to get that crecendo just perfect that I forget about the piece itself because once you're dealing with almost perfect recreations of a symphony orchestra, you become obsessed with making it as real as possible technically. And this is why I take a break sometimes and go back to the piano and manuscript, or else, the aforementioned Finale/GM sounds.

    Anyone else have those days/weeks?

  2. #2

    Re: When technology is too much

    I agree that too much of the techno jabber you mention can get wearing and sap the creative side (nothing makes me roll-eye more than seeing someone's setup details as their signature!). And when the means become the main point of interest rather than the end result then its often time to get a bit of fresh air.

    But it all depends on what's required I suppose. If you have a deadline for a radio commercial or something then you need all the equipment necessary to hand and you need to know it well enough to get the best out of it, which means staying up-to-date with everything. Technology has forced a learning curve on us that I don't think many of our predecessors had to deal with to such an extent. They wrote the score and conducted the orchestra. Today we're generally required to know a lot more but it doesn't always equal better music.

    This past couple of years I've been taking on less and less film and commercial music as I don't like to spend hours of creative time constructing works on computers. It wasn't how I started and using sample libraries a lot sometimes makes me feel as if I'm in danger of losing touch with my inner ear, if you get what I mean. Sometimes its great fun and doing rather less has certainly helped me enjoy it a lot more, especially electro-aoustic work, but I don't know how people enjoy it on a daily basis. That said, I kind of drifted into composing for film when I was asked to score a short at music college a few years back; it was never an ambition of mine to begin with. Composing alone was my only aim. Everything else was just for funding a decent enough lifestyle.

    If I'm writing, say, a symphonic work or something non-commercially related then I don't go near a computer and use good old pen and paper. But for commercial purposes that's not the way to go these days and there's plenty of good composers who can happily pump out music quickly using the technology required on a 16-hour daily basis. They're the future for the music business.
    Trev Parks

  3. #3

    Re: When technology is too much

    I feel the same .
    Theo Krueger - Composer

    www.TheoKrueger.com

    Kontakt 2 Scripts

  4. #4

    Re: When technology is too much

    ....When people start believing that the technology is going to make or break their career so they have to rush out and spend thousands on the latest greatest.

    I have an old G3 running DP 3.11 and it rocks. One crash every 5 to 8 hrs of continous work. I know the machine inside out and customized the entire system. On the other side I have a PC and it rocked until I put gold on it. Now I'm upgrading the PC. But even when I was only able to bring up 1 instance of kompakt at a time on it, I was still able to get great music out of it. Buy laying down each individual section at a time to my DAW.

    But inspite of that I'm able to get great results because I use the equipment to serve me instead of the other way around.

    I think that the only reason to upgrade is when the upgrade will save you actual production time. I still use the G3 because I only do sequencing and digital audio on that machine. And It moves speedily with just that going. I'm now thinking of using convelution reverb so I'll need to upgrade to more power very soon.

    Right now I'm putting most of my money on building PC's for VSTI hosting. For some reason I find VSTi very stable on my pc and it never crashes.

    So I'll probably always just use a mac for DAW work. And build PC's as stand alone VSTI units.

    I could have upgraded a long time ago but I still don't see the enormous benefit of DP 4.5 other than VSTI hosting which I probably will never do on a mac.



    But even with older equipment I still can produce some pretty well liked and accepted music that people will pay for. That's the important part along with speed of delivery. So when purchasing equipment I just think of those things. Quality, Speed of delivery. Any improvement in these things is a worth while investment if you can afford it.

    Cheers,

    Jose

  5. #5

    Re: When technology is too much

    I feel the same either. Sometimes technology is just too much.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Re: When technology is too much

    I have an old G3 running DP 3.11 and it rocks. One crash every 5 to 8 hrs of continous work.
    Jose --- Hrs or days?

    Gotta tell you, that's a LOT of crashes... My G5 2.5 & G4 1.25 don't crash at all. (the G4 hasn't crashed since I switched to OSX.. and the G5 hasn't crashed 'ever' since I've had it --- @ 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week -- running DP 4.5, plugs, VST's and softsamplers)

    Just a heads up... buddy.

    --------


    But yes i agree, sometimes this stuff is just too much BS... that's when I find I need to split out and go surf. Click out of the Matrix so to speak.. like right now...


    KID

  7. #7

    Re: When technology is too much

    Oh, heck yeah .. I know that macho BS
    I've gotten so sick of it through the years. Now when ppl do that crap I can go as far as giving them "the eye" .. sort of back off, and go play that teeny *I'm better than you* game on the likes of yourself. I just hate it.

    Actually made a little personal gimmick out of this as time has gone by, by being a relatively quiet guy about what I do and what I use. Not quiet as in "secret", but just not showing off at all .. and then "innocently" playing something incredibly worked out done on a 4 track casette porta .. or something like that. Quite fun to se the macho leaders of the pack trying to manage their surprise and stressfully thinking about how they can dismiss this as "not good" It's just teasing, I don't put my ego into it at all.

    I mean ... a cat can do incredible things with its body - we all know this. But do the cat go around showing that off all the time just because it can? heck no. It doesn't even do that stuff to impress females. It just does it when actually needed or just for fun sometimes. I tend to see it like that when it comes to myself as well. Of course, I know that women don't wear furs because they are cold, it can be used as a status symbol, but .. well, I guess it's a "working class hero" type of thing
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

  8. #8

    Re: When technology is too much

    Quote Originally Posted by kid-surf
    Jose --- Hrs or days?

    Gotta tell you, that's a LOT of crashes... My G5 2.5 & G4 1.25 don't crash at all. (the G4 hasn't crashed since I switched to OSX.. and the G5 hasn't crashed 'ever' since I've had it --- @ 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week -- running DP 4.5, plugs, VST's and softsamplers)

    Just a heads up... buddy.

    --------


    But yes i agree, sometimes this stuff is just too much BS... that's when I find I need to split out and go surf. Click out of the Matrix so to speak.. like right now...


    KID
    Cool good to know. I just talked to somebody who has one crash per hour on a G4. He blames his protools hardware. I'm glad to hear that things are rocking with the right setup. Is the program that stable or is it just the OS?

    Jose

  9. #9

    Post Re: When technology is too much

    Personally, when the technology works I find it can increase workflow and lend itself to creativity... not the contrary. I don't find myself overwhelmed by tech talk or the gear and software itself.

    To answer one of Dcoscina's points, in the world of MIDI mockups I would say that the sound, quality or realism of the samples is as important to the integrity of the piece as is the composition. The reason for this being that either poor samples or poor use of samples can completely distract the listener from the contents of the piece and also can fail to relay the nuances and dynamics that the piece requires. This does not necessarily factor into a live performance so long as the player's instruments aren't broken or out of tune.

    When listening to a live performance, a listener can experience a more detailed connection with the contents of a piece of music as it is assumed that the players are playing the correct instruments and that the particulars of the piece are being interpreted. I find this to be far from the case when it comes to MIDI orchestra mockups for several reasons. Without the proper manipulation, all sample libraries will appear dull and lifeless in a performance, no matter how realistic the individual samples are. This is due to the simple fact that the minute dynamics of the individual sampled instruments have to be carefully recreated electronically and that the energy and dynamic between instruments and sections have to be balanced. Without this level of attention and manipulation, what you have is a poor MIDI rendering of what would have been a compelling live performance. As a result, it is difficult to remove the conversation about the use of the samples themselves while listening to a MIDI orchestra mockup.

    With that in mind, the technology becomes most important for those working in an environment where budgets for live players aren't always present and where producers and directors, more and more of whom are not musically savvy, require immediate musical gratification in the form of the mockup. It is of course, as Dcoscina mentioned, important to talk about music itself. However whether it be fortunate or unfortunate, the technology of music, particularly in film, television and advertising, is a huge component of conversation and importance and will continue to be.

    Best,

    Kaveh Cohen

    www.kavehcohen.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Re: When technology is too much

    Cool good to know. I just talked to somebody who has one crash per hour on a G4. He blames his protools hardware. I'm glad to hear that things are rocking with the right setup. Is the program that stable or is it just the OS?

    Jose
    First of all -- for the record my PC's don't crash either... just to be fair to them.

    Jose, I think it's both actually, the app and the fact that it's OSX. I find DP 4.5 very stable, and OSX seems a lot more stable too. I upgraded my main box and app (G5 2.5/DP4.5/OSX) all at once, so it's hard to tell which is the "most" stable of the two (previously on G41.25/DP3.11/OS9.2.2). My G4 used to crash about once every 10 days, which I felt was about the best I could ask for... seemed reasonable. But no, not anymore... I'd have to guess much of that is due to OSX (then again I really don't much about computers).

    That person you speak of has some major issues somewhere... I went through a few days of bad crashes on my G4 when I first got it. Crashed more frequently as the days went on, till it finally was crashing about every 5 minutes. Turned out to be bad ram.


    Cheers...


    KID

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