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Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music? 121

Posted by timothy
from the all-musical-instruments-are-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes This article in The New York Times shows the clash of purists and people who desire to experiment with "new technology" available to them. The geek in me is really curious about this concept of a digital orchestra (with the ability to change tempos, placement of speakers in an orchestra pit, possibly delaying some to line them up ...). I understand that instrumentalists feel threatened, but why not let free enterprise decide the fate of this endeavor instead of trying to kill it by using blackmail and misrepresentation? Isn't there a place for this, even if maybe it is not called opera ... maybe iOpera?
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Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music?

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  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @03:28PM (#47237427) Journal

    All this machinery making modern music
    Can still be open-hearted
    Not so coldly charted it's really just
    A question of your honesty, yeah, your honesty

    Rush, The Spirit of Radio. Full lyrics easily found elsewhere. This was the first thing that popped into mind when I saw the summary. That was recorded in 1979 and released in 1980 according to Wiki.

    • There have been machines made to do things like play a real trumpet with some success. I suppose that a robot could play a violin or other instruments as well. So fat it is a question of how well a robot can play. Then we have the idea of electronics creating instrumental sounds of an instrument that does not exist. That could be of real value to traditional instrument makers as much of the science behind producing items like a really great trumpet are poorly understood. One problem is that people
  • "That's not music, Martelli. That's masturbation"

    Fame, 1080

    • by sycodon (149926)

      Link [youtube.com]

    • Wow. I never imagined Romanesque people being so open about stuff! But then again, with their treatment of heretics, anything that didn't resemble the Gregorian chant would have probably gotten described as something obscene.
    • They actually let someone use that word in a youth-oriented prime time show in the early '80s?
      You guys really have regressed.
  • By order of the prophet We ban that boogie sound Degenerate the faithful With that crazy Casbah sound But the Bedouin they brought out The electric camel drum The local guitar picker Got his guitar picking thumb As soon as the shareef Had cleared the square They began to wail
  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @03:35PM (#47237467)

    I personally don't find the sampled sounds to be as nice to my ears. But the threat of boycotts, coercion and retaliation against artists that choose to use a new medium is nothing more than unionism to protect salary and I find *that* despicable.

    I may be older than the bulk of the /. crowd, but some of my favorite music simply *cannot* be played by an orchestra. I remember when they had the same lame outcry against electronic instruments.

    • I realize that anything that can be tenuously connected to 'unions' is intrinsically evil and all (though, while TFA had a couple of quotes from musician unions, obviously against the idea, it had no mention of any union acting against the outfit staging this sampled version, just individual nastygrams sent without any broader consultation or endorsement); but, in an enterprise like theater where individual people, at least stars, are commonly economic actors in their own right, is telling a performer "I fi
      • I know the article didn't mention unions, I said those tactics (which the article did mention) were the same type of strong-arm tactics used by unions.
        • Why does the Free Market only allow powerful and wealthy individuals to force change? I really really don't understand why organized labor, or boycotts for that matter, is --morally-- wrong for so many people.

          Is there some natural law that says if you don't have a lot of money you have to take what's handed to you? Like it's some kind of sin to say to your neighbor "Hey I don't like what these guys are doing, so us good people should not patronize/work for them."

          When all the business owners get together a

          • by sFurbo (1361249)
            Part of it is due to the dislike of monopolies, which is founded on the fact that they skew the market to the disadvantage of the non-monopolist. A union is basically monopoly on (a certain type of) work. Saying "no union member will work for you if you employ non-union workers" is equivalent to Microsoft saying "you can only buy Windows if all of the computers you sell comes with Windows installed", the latter of which is illegal. So why should the first be legal?

            That does not explain why boycotts are fr
        • by dryeo (100693)

          Yet it is rich people (think Rudolf Hearst) that have been responsible for pushing for laws that put millions of Americans (and millions of non-Americans) in jail and totally ruining their lives to protect their businesses (pulp paper) from new technologies (efficiently separating hemp fiber for paper), not unions. Even now it is industry groups pushing harsh penalties for interfering with their business models (control and distribution of intellectual property) and pushing the American Government to bully

    • Re:Union tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cryptolemur (1247988) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @04:04PM (#47237601)
      I may be protectionism, or it may be serious consern for quality. Or both. You do know that the luddites didn't oppose machines, but machines that produced poor quality stuff -- they were afraid that people would be fooled to buy third grade crap instead good quality products.

      Too bad they were beaten, shot and hanged for it, and we have the world we have now...
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I went to a live jazz concert last night and sat about 3 feet from the pianist. It's definitely not the same as sitting by a loudspeaker.

  • Probably a good number of the engineers designing digital orchestra hardware and software might be keen on exploring new possibilities in music, but the suits who have chosen to use them to replace live musicians in musicals, and now this opera production, are thinking first and foremost about how much money they can save when they don't have to pay human beings any more. I have no particular opinion on the use of digital orchestras, but I wish their use were motivated by something deeper than filthy lucre.
    • It is worth noting that, while money is definitely on the table, odds are good that at least part of the bitterness, and conflict, stems from the fact that only opera levels of money are on the table: Opera as a genre, while it has some 'High Art' old money and classy buildings here and there, faces a dwindling and aging audience, relatively weak interest in younger demographics, and production costs that remain comparatively high.

      On the one side, even people who are wholehearted opera enthusiasts, dedic
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      This.

      And the reality of the matter is that digital instruments do a good job of replicating piano, organ and other keyboard instruments. They can also do a halfway decent job with mallet-based percussion. However, it really isn't feasible to digitally replicate the sound of non-percussive instruments like brass and woodwinds, because there are simply too many different things that a real instrument player can do to change the quality of the sound. For example, when playing a brass instrument, you can:

      • V
      • by CRCulver (715279)

        You've just explained why the Vienna Symphonic Library will not be playing Ferneyhough or Saariaho anytime soon. However, the provincial opera performance in question is of Wagner, whose scores (like most from the early-mid Romantic era) do not call for extended techniques, and the VSL was designed to represent this era fairly well.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          None of those things qualify as "extended techniques" except the pitch bends, multiphonics, and lip slurs. Everything else is stuff we instrumentalists do every day, in pretty much every piece, sometimes because the director says, "Could we make that a bit brighter/more brassy," but more often, intuitively, based on what's happening in other parts, without any notation to guide us.

          That's why it is always almost immediately obvious whether a brass recording was done with real instruments or synths, even wit

          • by Mal-2 (675116)

            That's why it is always almost immediately obvious whether a brass recording was done with real instruments or synths, even with really good sample sets. The sample sets just can't reproduce the richness of a real-world performance.

            Okay, maybe not for trumpet punctuation in a pop song, but....

            maybe to the people who have played them, even if they no longer do... but to the rest of the listening public, it is anything but obvious. If an unsophisticated listener can't tell the difference between a tuba and a cimbasso (same range, VERY different timbre), how can you possibly expect them to know the difference between a real tuba and a well-sampled synthesized one? They're not going to.

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              True, and it also depends a lot on how thick the orchestration is. In the middle of a dense mix, I'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the real thing and a virtual instrument. In a solo passage over thin orchestration, the difference is usually glaringly obvious, at least to people who have spent any significant amount of time listening to the real thing.

              BTW, what does a cimbasso sound like? I'm guessing it's a lot like a bass trombone, just judging by the shape of the tubing. No?

              • by Mal-2 (675116)

                A cimbasso sounds just like a bass trombone, except for the technique differences between slide and valves. It *is* a bass trombone, as far as acoustics go. What makes it not a typical "valve trombone" is that it often has six valves, one for each slide position, which completely sidesteps the usual issues with combining valve lengths in a brass instrument. They aren't terribly common instruments, so there's still little uniformity among them.

                I tend to write for fairly minimal instrumentation myself, so eve

      • by mean pun (717227)

        And the reality of the matter is that digital instruments do a good job of replicating piano, organ and other keyboard instruments.

        My son, who is a talented piano player, disagrees. He has played some of the electric piano `replacements', and he says they are interesting to play, but the real thing is still a far richer and interesting instrument.

        There are still plenty of effects in real pianos that are not emulated properly. Two examples: resonances in the other strings of the piano when you strike a string, and striking a key, leaving it half-pressed, and striking again. The piano pedals are also not easy to emulate, I understand, bu

        • While I agree most digital pianos do not have the greatest sound, VST plugins (particularly Kontakt) can emulate a piano quite closely using libraries that are gigabytes in size. It's not uncommon to see a MacBook chained to a digital piano during a performance.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          There are still plenty of effects in real pianos that are not emulated properly. Two examples: resonances in the other strings of the piano when you strike a string, and striking a key, leaving it half-pressed, and striking again. The piano pedals are also not easy to emulate, I understand, but I don't know the details.

          No question about it. There are things I can do on a grand that I can't do on any synth that I've tried. One trick I like to do is bell tones, where you give it just enough sustain pedal to

          • by Mal-2 (675116)

            The bass trombone stop has the range, but unfortunately, it has a very slow attack (which is somewhat realistic for larger bore trombones, mind you). To sound correct, the player should compensate for the slow attack and should play slightly ahead of the beat like a real trombone player does. Unfortunately, it doesn't, and as a result, in fast music, it ends up playing a quarter beat behind the rest of the ensemble, and it sounds like utter crap.

            There are several parts to the answer for this. First, Garri

      • by Mal-2 (675116)

        This.

        And the reality of the matter is that digital instruments do a good job of replicating piano, organ and other keyboard instruments. They can also do a halfway decent job with mallet-based percussion. However, it really isn't feasible to digitally replicate the sound of non-percussive instruments like brass and woodwinds, because there are simply too many different things that a real instrument player can do to change the quality of the sound. For example, when playing a brass instrument, you can:

        • Vary the position and tightness of the lips and jaw to change the tone to be brighter or more mellow
        • Start and stop notes with anything from crisp tonguing all the way down to "lip tonguing", resulting in radically different attacks and cutoffs
        • Lip slur between notes instead of tonguing
        • Vary the volume of a single note arbitrarily while you're playing it
        • Vary the pitch while you're playing it
        • Sing while you play a note (multiphonics)

        And so on. There's simply no feasible way for software to simulate all those different variables without modeling the entire instrument, and even if you did that, you'd have to have a much more complex input controller than keyboards or wind controllers or any other MIDI input device that currently exists. By the time you've learned to play something as complex as that, you'll probably find that it's easier to learn to play the actual instrument. :-)

        You haven't used the virtual instruments made by Sample Modeling [slashdot.org] then. I have. They're well worth the money.

        Breath-based vibrato. Volume (and timbre) that tracks breath in real time. Pitch bends that alter timbre. Asymmetric (easy to bend down, hard to bend up) pitch bends if you desire. Attacks are based on three factors: initial velocity, breath data (or aftertouch) following note-on, and the space following the preceding note. It actually does quite a nice job -- it takes a bit of adjustment to know that

    • by u38cg (607297)
      This is not a case of dispensing with the musicians to make money, this is about staging opera in a time and place where there is no way you could afford to produce a full scale production. And it's not like the avant garde of opera isn't already neck deep in digital production anyway; the ENO has produced stuff like Sunken Garden which integrated orchestra and digital music throughout, and done it brilliantly (from a technical point of view; the show itself was dross).
      • by CRCulver (715279)

        This is not a case of dispensing with the musicians to make money, this is about staging opera in a time and place where there is no way you could afford to produce a full scale production.

        And why can't you afford to produce a full-scale production? A lot of the push for replacing live musicians with the VSP is coming out of the United States, where there are insufficient cultural subsidies. This development will only make the problem worse, as now the state or private patrons are even more likely to deny

        • by u38cg (607297)
          Sorry, but I really struggle with the idea that government should be in the business of funding culture. And moreover, this is about introducing new productions, not slimming down old ones.
          • by CRCulver (715279)

            Sorry, but I really struggle with the idea that government should be in the business of funding culture.

            Basically the entire West has stronger cultural subsidies than the United States. This is something utterly normal, and the fact that some Americans act like it is some kind of eregarious transgression is baffling. (Even our right-wing parties generally support funding the arts).

            One can hope that the tide may someday turn in the US to greater subsidies in at least some areas. In fact, the US already fund

            • by u38cg (607297)
              I'm British. We don't subsidise as heavily as heavily as some European countries and we have much more mixed funding, but I'm still not keen on cultural subsidy. Not least because it picks winners and losers - traditional music? Screw you, here's a few million quid for opera. Broad based subsidy via tax law is one thing but throwing millions at 17th century art music sticks in my craw.
  • Remember when drum machines threatened to put all drummers out of work?

    .
    Well, drummers still have a lot of work, and drum machines are a rare site nowadays.

    • by Threni (635302)

      > drum machines are a rare site
      Well, it's hard to open port 80 on them...

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @04:11PM (#47237649) Homepage Journal

      Drummers? The article is about musicians.

      • by rochrist (844809)
        What's the difference between a drummer and a drum machine? You only have to punch the information into the drum machine once.
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Remember when drum machines threatened to put all drummers out of work?

      And now, a rather large percentage of modern music uses at least some sampled drums. Mind you, it is often triggered by an actual drummer, though not always.

    • In the live performance world, live performers is the norm. On the other hand, drum machines have pretty much been replaced by MIDI sequencers, so the drum track is CH 10 of the 16 channel MIDI specification for General MIDI. MIDI is quite common in recording. The insturments can be repeated perfectly every time while he vocals can do as many takes as required to get their part right. Sequenced music is common in soundtracks and many small artists recordings. For good insturment sounds, the MIDI is oft

  • I don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @03:48PM (#47237525)
    Are these people looking for stagnation? I suspect that new technology will produce all kinds of horrors (think synth and drum machines in the 80s) but all kinds of interesting things will no doubt come out. The music and the technology that make the music should be an endless dance. Acapella continues to amaze and that is about as technology free as possible, yet some acapella is generated by having a single singer and playing games in the recording studio.

    Some painters use amazing techniques to blend and layer very complex paints and lacquers to great result; yet Picasso apparently used a common house paint for some of his greatest works.

    Often the medium is the message. For instance if a wood carver is working with wood they might allow changes in the grain of the wood to dictate what they are doing potentially resulting in beautiful art. Yet putting a block of wood into a CAM machine and allowing a 3D design to be precisely cut can generate a whole different and also pleasing result. One or the other is not necessarily wrong, just different.

    So if a purist wants to be pure then they should have fun with whatever purists that want to play with them; but the moment that they tell another artist to stop what they are doing then it is no longer art but a stagnant religion.
    • Well, parts of the genre do celebrate 'tradition', which is pretty close to stagnation with higher culture cred; but I imagine that they are also nervous because more or less any endeavor(some fields more radically than others; but all of them to a degree) tend to depend on having some minimum scale, above which economies of scale help make them viable, new people can be trained and educated fast enough that the field's unwritten knowledge(and yes, no matter how you try to document stuff, every field has a
      • Yes my technical experience with this was watching IT people fight for Novell. There was this one IT asshole where I worked and he liked to brag that he had well over $20,000 worth of Novell certifications. So he called me with great excitement when a new very powerful server was delivered from Dell. I was admiring it as he struggled to get Novell on it. So he called the Dell uber support line and they laughed and said that none of their new machines were tested for Novell compatibility.

        I should have loo
    • I suspect that there would be less objection if the intent were to make new music with new technology, but this is taking Wagner and apparently pretty much just replacing the instrumentalists with samples. So, old message in a new medium.
  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @03:50PM (#47237535)

    Let me start by saying that I think anybody should be free to put on whatever kind of performance they want, and if people come and pay for tickets, so they make money -- terrific.

    But this whole thing is a little weird to me. The entire style of singing in traditional opera (especially Wagner, which is what this particular story is about) is predicated on traditional acoustics, without electronic enhancement. Those crazy warbling sopranos do so to differentiate themselves timbrally from the orchestra and allow their voices to get to the audience. A singer otherwise would often get lost among the wash of sound from a 100 orchestral instruments.

    So, if you want to get rid of the acoustic instruments, why the devil keep the operatic vocal performances the same? Give the singers microphones and let them perform in varying vocal styles, as done in most pop music and on Broadway these days.

    This all strikes me as an incredibly odd project -- they're going to replace musicians with oodles of speakers pointed in various directions to simulate musicians playing? All of this technology to propagate an art form whose style of performance and singing is predicated on acoustic real-life performance?

    And why bother with all the sampling at all? Why not just hire real musicians to perform, record them, and then play that back with just the singers doing their thing? Surely the investment that's going into this to figure out how to place oodles of speakers, getting all that sound equipment, etc. could probably pay for a one-time investment in a decent karaoke-style recording of actual instruments?

    From TFA:

    Tino Gagliardi, the president of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, in New York, likened it to operatic karaoke.

    That sounds precisely like what it is. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- if they can get somebody to pay for it, why not? I don't get why the heck anyone would want to do with opera, whose aesthetic is all about low-tech, but whatever floats your boat.

    For the purists, there is one further question, though:

    Staging a "Ring" cycle in Connecticut with a digital orchestra is the dream of Charles M. Goldstein, a musician and would-be impresario who was once an extra chorister at the Met, and who founded the Hartford Wagner Festival with the idea that one day Connecticut could become the only place outside of Bayreuth, Germany, to perform entire "Ring" cycles every year. He argued that there was no loss of jobs for musicians because, from the outset, he had never planned to use live players in the pit.

    Here's the problem -- what does "perform" mean? Literally, from its etymological roots, it means to put something into its final form. Actual live music depends on responsiveness between singers and conductors and orchestra. Nothing is ever quite the same twice -- and that is often one of the cool things about live music.

    This guy is proposing to "perform" pieces by using canned sampled pre-recorded "orchestras" (if I understand it correctly). I'm not saying it isn't an interesting idea, but why do it with Wagner or traditional opera at all? Is there really an audience who really wants to see effectively a dressed-up opera karaoke?

    • by tomhath (637240)

      I wish I had mod points for you - these are my thoughts but expressed better than I could have.

      If someone wants to go to a performance and listen to recorded music while they watch a "artist" prance around lip synching to a backtrack they can buy tickets to any pop or hip-hop concert. No need for trained or talented singers there.

    • My understanding (from TFA and from very peripheral involvement as the support techie in a few situations involving sampled music reproduction(not for performance purposes; but it's actually a fairly popular thing in music education/guided practice, where the computer records you and plays accompaniment for whatever instrument the student is supposed to be learning)) is that the synth-orchestra is midway between a live one and a 'just a recording' background music.

      With the more or less exhaustive sampling
    • Hold on to your hat.

      Seriously.

      There are lots of little productions of all kinds of opera all over the place, using a piano. Yes, a piano, instead of an orchestra.

      You want to know how it is received?

      Very well. Especially because the venue tends to be tiny, and a huge operatic voice in a tiny venue is almost physically overpowering. Any loss in using a fake orchestra is gained in just having the purity and proximity of the human voice.

      I saw La Boheme with just a piano, and it was great. As great as one of

      • I know of opera performances with piano. I've seen them, though usually they are in a smaller venue with limited staging. That's a different animal entirely -- turning large concert music into chamber music, and it's been done for centuries.

        Such performances also retain the feeling of a truly live performance with acoustical instruments, with musicians interacting with each other rather than following some fake karaoke contraption with speakers laid out to simulate the layout of an orchestra.

        I'd defin

    • I went to see an opera recently (free tickets), and given that the orchestra was hidden from view, I imagine I wouldn't have been upset much had the music been prerecorded -- all of my attention was on the stage. Maybe we are naturally more impressed by people singing and moving about than by great instrument playing.

      The net (short term) consequence of the project is, if it happens, people will be able to see and hear masterful singers performing live to the background digital music. Compared to nothing at

  • It's the clash between prerecorded samples and real live instruments.
  • The margin, it's called.

  • Opera attendance in America is dropping off dramatically. Most of the audience are older women and couples. Over 50. The opera community is having a very hard time attracting younger members. Competition of other types of music and high ticket prices.

    So I think what this person is trying to do is great. It probably won't be a success. But it may draw new audience members in.

    Once when I complained about modern classical music to a friend of mine who composes new symphonies, he said:
    "Traditional classic

    • by westlake (615356)

      Opera is a dieing art form

      and so, it would appear, is correct spelling.

      It probably won't be a success. But it may draw new audience members in.

      Why would new audiences be drawn in by a mechanistic note-by-note MIDI performance of a Wagnerian score?

      • by rlh100 (695725)

        Sorry about dieing. It looked wrong but aspell liked it.

        When you comment on someone's spelling errors do you ever think about how that might hurt the writer. I know you probably thought it funny or helpful but spelling has always been a struggle for me. Up until 10th grade when an English teacher looked at any of my writing, the first thing out of their mouths was "Robert, you need to work on your spelling". Like Calvin, I would tune out and visit planet Zoke. It was not until age 16 that I got an Engl

  • It's hard to see MIDI accompaniment as "new technology."

    Player piano rolls were edited to achieve a kind of mechanical perfection in performance or to weave in showy theatrical effects no human keyboardist could produce. The problems begin when you to try to synchronize a live performance to a recording.

    For greater economies outside the major cities, you could simply dispense with the sets and local casting and show the movie.

  • "Art" is a very subjective thing. And coming up with a novel way to use technology to create art, isn't that art by itself? The first person to discover that you could create music with a Gameboy sure was an artist.

    It's questionable, though, if the thousands that copied him, are.

    Art, like everything, evolves. Develops. Some say that one of the "duties" of art is to break down boundaries, to evoke a reaction from the one consuming it, to stir emotions and to make people think. All this does actually require

  • Because e- is for Electronic. Unless the Internet (or, <deity> forbid, Apple) had something to do with it.

  • Threatening someone that if they do X, you won't hire them and will do your best to convince others not to hire them, is perfectly compatible with a free market. In some regulated markets it might not be allowed (e.g. some such tactics might fall afoul of anti-trust or collusion laws), but in a completely free market, such tactics would be allowed.

  • The Australian Chamber Orchestra used a virtual version of itself to reach out to new potential audience members. This was using real audio and footage though - reassembled into an interractive experience. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s... [youtube.com]
  • I think the real dichotomy is more between modern composition and older works. I'm only interested in listening to Wagner or Mozart for so long, at some point I'd like to hear something that's fresh. But many of the modern composers seemed to me have lost sight of what sounds good, preferring to take some kind of conceptual approach that may be of interest to other composers but I find often isn't very interesting to listen to. After the likes of Xenakis, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson and a few others, I
    • by CRCulver (715279)

      There are some academic composers out there who, while not writing specifically for an academic cognoscenti, tend to be known only among such peers. However, Xenakis and Glass are not such composers. Many thousands of people visited the installations that Xenakis set up and came away wowed. Even today, a Xenakis orchestral concert is likely to sell out, with only the great expense of additional rehearsals getting in the way. Most performances of the string quartets sell out too, and the Ardittis and the JAC

  • Round one: Digital music replaces musicians. Actors and audience don't much care.
    Round two: Holograms replace actors. Audience doesn't much care.
    Round three: Virtual audience replaces real audience. Real audience doesn't even notice, as the computers find that the all-digital performance can be optimized by running the simulation at many times real life speed. Der Ring des Nibelungen takes only 1.5 seconds in the new theater.
  • Symphonic, operatic, and chamber music at the world-class level is about nuance that only educated ears will understand. It's already a small market. That market is likely to balk at the use of electronics. That's ok.

    People who don't care if it's electronic should go ahead and enjoy whatever they think they like.

    However, don't tell me for a second that some computer can match the transcendent quality of a lifelong trained live orchestra and soloist for nuance, presence, and artistry. The instant you argue

    • by Mal-2 (675116)

      Computers aren't musicians, they are merely instruments, and we've gotten to the point that for an awful lot of things, those instruments played (programmed) by actual people can produce quite good results.

      In the case of a pit orchestra, this just means one player could cover an entire multi-instrument "book" with a single EWI/EVI and laptop rather than actually physically switching instruments, but it would do nothing to alter the actual number of people required. Each person could still only play one part

      • by digsbo (1292334)

        You clearly have a good understanding of the situation, and I agree with you in the general case. Specifically, you mention augmentation of a horn section, and acknowledge it's a good tradeoff when faced with a limited budget. I couldn't agree more.

        My comment was more directed at people who have said things like "Computers are better at producing music because there are no errors and it's always the same."

        I don't think I could roll my eyes dramatically enough to address all that is wrong with such a state

        • by Mal-2 (675116)

          My comment was more directed at people who have said things like "Computers are better at producing music because there are no errors and it's always the same."

          With a group of top-flight professional musicians, there are astonishingly few errors, and once they figure out what they want to do, the performances tend to close in on a repeatable target. The main advantages there are that (1) they can follow verbal instructions, or listen to something else and emulate it, and (2) they do a lot of thinking for themselves, when the composer is less than specific. Computers do neither of these things.

          On the topics of EWIs, I have Michael Brecker's "Don't Try This At Home" album featuring an EWI and I like it. Is yours the trumpet style (a la Jon Swana) or the sax/flute woodwind type? How good is the approximation of wind instrument sound these days?

          The trumpet style is called an EVI, the clarinet/soprano sax style is ca

  • Speaking as a singer, the machine orchestra needs to track and anticipate solutions to the singers variation of rhythm, pitch and dynamics. The singer is carefully monitoring the audience and deciding when a strict rhythm is needed to set up their expectations so that he can express by slowing down or speeding up their rhythms or using slightly blue notes or by changing the level of sound or even the nature of the phoneme that he is yelling. He is actually using the audience's pattern judgement to draw th

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