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Ask Slashdot: Can Digital Music Replace Most Instrumental Musicians? 328

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-buy-the-cow-when-you-can-get-the-moosic-for-free dept.
deviated_prevert writes "Most instrumental music used today in television commercials, background sounds and themes even on the majority of produced shows comes from completely digital composers who produce the product through digitized instrument samples. This has almost eliminated the need for real human instrumental musicians. For many listeners this makes no difference, as such music is essentially background in nature and does not need to have a true musical interaction with a listening audience at all. The same thing applies to the waves of digital music produced for things like raves. To quote one observer at the Globe and Mail 'So now we know why Deadmau5 and Daft Punk wear helmets when they perform. Everybody is digging the music, but no one is dancing. It is a sad development; the headgear of the maestros is there to mask their tears.' Will the live performance of instrumental musicians also become a thing of the past, or will there continue to be a real need for it? Purely instrumental groups like Booker T and the MGs, as well as solo performers like Herbie Hancock or John McLaughlin, seem not to take the spotlight as they once did. It is apparent that unless someone with a young fresh face is singing, today's producers will not attempt to seriously promote them. Regardless of how great today's instrumentalists are musically, there no longer seems to be a market for real musicianship. Even great performing classical musicians and ensembles are becoming scarcer due to faster and cheaper digital music production."
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Ask Slashdot: Can Digital Music Replace Most Instrumental Musicians?

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  • Rodrigo y Gabriela (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:11AM (#45722835)

    ... would like to disagree.

    Instrumental groups have a hard time up against bands with singers; they always have. As a species, we like singing. But there _are_ instrumental bands out there still.

  • Oh, please... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @01:31AM (#45722949) Journal
    1. They said the same thing when the Mellotron was built back in the 1960s. In fact, members of the Musicians Union would picket Moody Blues concerts because they felt the Mellotron was taking away jobs from hard working union member musicians.

    2. No recording of an orchestra is going to sound like sitting in the same room with an orchestra playing. Period. End of discussion.

    3. There are PLENTY of instrumental bands that are doing just fine. Examples:
    Animals as Leaders: []
    Explosions in the Sky: []
    And boodles of electronic music bands that have no interest in whether or not you dance to them, for example:
    Boards of Canada: []
    among many others.

    Then this howler:

    Purely instrumental groups like Booker T and the MGs, as well as solo performers like Herbie Hancock or John McLaughlin, seem not to take the spotlight as they once did.

    WTF? Booker T's bass player died last year. HE WAS 70 YEARS OLD. How many pop bands of any stripe are in the spotlight at age 70? Herbie Hancock is 73. John McLaughlin is 71. They Are Old People. What do you expect from them? Then this bit of cluelessness:

    It is apparent that unless someone with a young fresh face is singing, today's producers will not attempt to seriously promote them.

    It's not their producer's job to promote them. It is their PROMOTER'S job to promote them. That's why they're called PROMOTERS. The producer helps direct and manage the PRODUCTION of the record. Believe me - I know these things.

    This article is basically flamebait.

  • by bmajik (96670) <> on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @02:27AM (#45723233) Homepage Journal

    Hi. Former guitar shredder here.

    I have news for you. The idea that the instrumental performers with "the most talent" will no longer get paid big bucks in the future isn't something you have to wait for.

    It has been going on for at least my entire life.

    After I had been playing guitar for about 2 years in high school, I could play nearly any guitar part of any popular song (I came of age in the 90s, the grunge time frame. So, admittedly, a low bar.)

    Most of it just wasn't very complicated. If what mattered was being able to play things note for note, capturing all of the "feeling" and what not, for most popular music that just isn't a tall order.

    I'm not being a braggart; I was nothing special. My point is that youtube is filled with kids who are _astounding_ guitarists.. and who will never make any money off of their guitar work. Technical proficiency isn't what gets you paid.

    I still love all of my Shrapnel Records artists that I dutifully bought albums from growing up. I am thrilled beyond belief that monumental talents like Tony MacAlpine are still able to record and perform after decades of being unknown outside of the guitar-nerd community. And I am escstatic that new younger talents are emerging and doing cool stuff (Seree Lee -- youtube him).

    But Katy Pery or whoever the next anonymous pretty face is will make more money off of one single than someone like a Tony Mac or Vic Wooten or Seree Lee or (take your pick) will make in their multi-decade careers. And that's not new, and digital music isn't going to fundamentally change that.

  • by Matheus (586080) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:45AM (#45726301) Homepage

    I would like to *emphatically disagree... matter 'o fact I'd just shove this into the usual /. reactionary article category. Whomever thought this was a valid premise spends their time no where near the vibrant music community. There is no decline... As a direct hit to the reference in the summary: Daft punk wears helmets to hide their tears because no one is dancing? Are you f$%^ing kidding me? As a specific point their most recent album was significantly *less digital than their previous and there are no shortage of people dancing their asses off to it.

    I spend my life in the music biz and this article really angers me not because it has any grain of truth but because there are people out there who really think it is! The only links in the article are fairly laughable... sorry a soul band from the 70's can't come back and see the same draw they had before. There's a saying I like which applies heavily to the music biz "So what have you done for me lately?" people are very forgetful and extremely ADD when it comes to music. Keeping the audience's eye for year after year requires constant attention and you still might lose 'em.

    As for the no one dancing? BS. Crowds at any show that gets packed have to figure out how to move with limited space... that's logistics not music or some change in the landscape. the people who really want more room to move you'll find at the edges and you'll see *plenty of movement in the middle it just takes a different form.

    Anyway... dunno why I'm arguing this logically... it really wasn't worth the energy I put into it... I'm going away now.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren