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Topic: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

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  1. #1
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    When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    In society there are many pressures to conform to societal ideals. One of the ideals is the media's notion of beauty and the unattainable "ideal" body image. Unrealistic expectations and pressures to conform have led to a variety of eating and psychological disorders.

    But there is also an ideal being perpetrating by the music industry that is also leading to a disorder. An ideal where every instrument is always perfectly in tune, where every player intonates perfectly, where dynamic ranges are compressed, and mistakes are never made. This strain of infectious disease common amongst electronic musicians is known as "MIDI-ITIS"

    The GPO Orcestration Competition Concert taught me a great deal.
    During the rehearsals, Andy and I wrote and told you about my bout with MIDI-itis. http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=32891
    The real orchestra did not sound exactly live the MIDI-mockup and I had some unrealistic expectations. But listening to all those players, what made it great is that nobody was perfect - but when it was all put together - it was great!

    We are so conditioned to hear perfect music to a point where it is almost superficial and sterile. Our ears are so trained to hear perfect pitch and perfect intonation by every player that would be impossible in real life.

    Are we beginning to miss something?

    Are we forgeting what a real orchestra sounds like?

    What are your thoughts?

    Gary Garritan

  2. #2

    Unhappy Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    Yes Gary, the doubt is strong.

    I frequently think about that, and for instance I like to insert in renditions random timbre, intonation and rhythmic "imperfections" to make it perfect!

    The best result is when it's not random, but it's included by human touch (life playing, and analytic variation during programming).

    But the pro recordings are probably creating a false image of music, that is frequently producing disappointment during true performances.

    I'm anyway optimist: the sound of acoustic instrument and the atmosphere of the concert are enough to make us forgive the "different-from-the-record" effect...in both classic and pop music!

  3. #3

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    I think that there's a strong case for both types of music. Nothing will ever replace the nuances of human players. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes that's a bad thing (don't ask about my experiences with rock & roll drummers... ).

    On the other hand, having been through countless struggles over the years where we desperately tried to fix something wrong with the song (poor timing screwing up a heartfelt percussion track, bad intonation trashing the perfect emotional vocal take, etc.), I find it entertaining that these days we long for the imperfections that we used to abhor.

    I'm a very strong proponent of the "if it sounds right, it is right" school of thought. I think that either approach is flawed only when you lose sight of, in my opinion, the only question that's important in music: what does the listener hear when they press Play?

    Intellectual and professional curiosity aside, no one gives a rats rear end what brand of paint Picasso used on his paintings, or how many bristles were in his brush. The only question was, "is this painting cool, or is it junk?" Depending on, say, your opinion of the cubist stylings (hope I said that correctly, I'm not a painter), you might dig it or want to burn it. Ultimately, who was right? Were Picasso's bizarre creations what painting was supposed to be, or was it rather the impressionistic approaches of Monet, or perhaps the more realistic approach of Rubin? In the end, none of them are "right" or "wrong". They're just different things, and what hangs on the wall at the end of the adventure is all that matters - does it convey what the artist wanted to convey? Everything else is incidental.

    Are imperfections in human performances good or bad? Is the computerized, tweakable perfection of MIDI good or bad? The answer is... it depends. What was the composer going for? I've written some pieces of music where human nuances were mandatory and MIDI would never do. I've also written others where the regimented "perfection" or consistency of MIDI perfectly expressed what I was feeling, and a human player would never do.

    Bruce Lee created his own martial arts system called Jeet Kune Do. One of the fundamental principals was to explore every style you could, and take what works for you personally from each, building your own customized approach to fighting that made sense for your physical strengths and weaknesses. If you adopted one technique but not another, the latter wasn't considered "bad" - just not right for you. The mantra was simple and practical: use what works.

    MIDI, people, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri... these are just our paints and brushes, folks. In the end, nothing matters except what you hang on the wall. Don't limit your creative options by coming down on one side or the other of the MIDI-itis issue. Use the strengths of each when they further your creative goals, and call them both correct accordingly.
    Christopher Duncan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer
    www.PracticalUSA.com


  4. #4

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    The incredibly tasteless auto-tune abuse pervading the (music) INDUSTRY is what really bugs me. Nobody sings like a robot, and it sounds lame when you make a person sound like a robot. Yet the "trend" just becomes more entrenched with each passing merger.

    This robo-geek music is for wimps who can't handle anything with balls. When did muzak become so hip? Blah...! It just drones on and on with zero dynamics and robo voices and not a single memorable tune to speak of. Wake me when it's over... I'm going into cold sleep for now!

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    In society there are many pressures to conform to societal ideals. One of the ideals is the media's notion of beauty and the unattainable "ideal" body image. Unrealistic expectations and pressures to conform have led to a variety of eating and psychological disorders.

    But there is also an ideal being perpetrating by the music industry that is also leading to a disorder. An ideal where every instrument is always perfectly in tune, where every player intonates perfectly, where dynamic ranges are compressed, and mistakes are never made. This strain of infectious disease common amongst electronic musicians is known as "MIDI-ITIS"

    The GPO Orcestration Competition Concert taught me a great deal.
    During the rehearsals, Andy and I wrote and told you about my bout with MIDI-itis. http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=32891
    The real orchestra did not sound exactly live the MIDI-mockup and I had some unrealistic expectations. But listening to all those players, what made it great is that nobody was perfect - but when it was all put together - it was great!

    We are so conditioned to hear perfect music to a point where it is almost superficial and sterile. Our ears are so trained to hear perfect pitch and perfect intonation by every player that would be impossible in real life.

    Are we beginning to miss something?

    Are we forgeting what a real orchestra sounds like?

    What are your thoughts?

    Gary Garritan

  5. #5

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    Imperfection is the heart of humanity.

    -LFO
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  6. #6

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    I agree with Christopher.

    Basically it's down to the person creating the music to decide what level of "perfection" (and this has to be a subjective term with any sort of art) is required in each piece of music.

    However, I would comment that even those who strive to create a "human" sound through incorporating imperfections in their creations are actually trying to achieve a sort of perfection - i.e. the perfect balance between a mathmatically accurate, and an amateurish error ridden performance. Surely they are trying to create a "perfect" imperfect performance that still sounds professional?
    Richard N.

    Finale 2003 to 2007 ~ Garritan GPO, JABB & Strad ~ Sonar 6PE ~ Kontakt 2 ~ WinXP Home SP2

    Athlon XP 2200 ~ 1.5 Gb RAM ~ M-Audio Sound Card ~ M-Audio 88ES MIDI keyboard ~ Evolution MK-461C

    Bach Strad LT16MG, LT36G, 42B + B&H Sovereign Studio Tenor Trombones ~ Holton 181 Bass Trombone ~ Getzen Bass Trumpet ~ Yamaha TR4335G Trumpet ~ B&H Euphonium

  7. #7

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    Isn't the cure for MIDI-itis just a little beverage poured over the head?
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  8. #8

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin
    Isn't the cure for MIDI-itis just a little beverage poured over the head?
    Sean, for someone so young you do have a real drink problem.....

    The beverage goes into the mouth, NOT over the head.



    With a couple of beverages inside me, I can be almost as imperfect as a real human!
    Richard N.

    Finale 2003 to 2007 ~ Garritan GPO, JABB & Strad ~ Sonar 6PE ~ Kontakt 2 ~ WinXP Home SP2

    Athlon XP 2200 ~ 1.5 Gb RAM ~ M-Audio Sound Card ~ M-Audio 88ES MIDI keyboard ~ Evolution MK-461C

    Bach Strad LT16MG, LT36G, 42B + B&H Sovereign Studio Tenor Trombones ~ Holton 181 Bass Trombone ~ Getzen Bass Trumpet ~ Yamaha TR4335G Trumpet ~ B&H Euphonium

  9. #9

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    Seems to me a great many people are listening to the sound, and not the music.

    etLux
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  10. #10

    Re: When Perfect is Imperfect - Are we Forgeting What a Real Orchestra Sounds Like?

    Wow. What an eye-opening perspective. I remember when I was so buried tit-deep in all the music I was doing via MIDI. Then, I was lucky enough to catch a live performance of the Strauss Death and Transfiguration - a work that I was recently pouring my heart out on in a MIDI realization (sequenced of course by Dr. Siu), and at that point, I was shocked back to reality. I'm not saying that the sound I was producing sucked, but let's get real here, it severely lacked the nuance, detail and otherwise Humanistic touches that I heard at that live performance by the DSO in the Meyerson in Dallas.

    The result of that experience was to motivate me to drop back the scale of the works I was doing. Instead of 123 piece orchestra, concentrate on works that could be performed by a much smaller ensemble, maybe even chamber works or similar. This makes me think that the next generation of music-making tools that we encounter really need to have a sense of randomization about them - that is the abilty to vary the timbre, intensity, and volume from note to note. Our control would need to be limited only to the level of this randomness.

    Stevemitchell

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