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Re: [microsound] Getting started

whoa baby.

this is one loaded post that i really don't have the time to deal
with properly but for starters...

On 14-May-07, at 5:28 PM, craque wrote:

I have such a huge problem with music software being so expensive.
It's among the reasons why I have shied away from using Live any
more, and barely use many other expensive packages.

music software is expensive? not really.  well, i suppose everything
is relative.  but that said, for the price of a professional trumpet,
you could have an entire computer, reaktor, and the means to
distribute your music to anyone in the world with an internet
connection. with a trumpet, you get a trumpet.

When you learn to play the trumpet, you buy a trumpet. You might
upgrade, or you might even start learning on a pro model. But once
you know the trumpet, you know any trumpet. The quality of the
physical instrument itself will affect how you're able to interface
with it, but basic use and musicality never changes.

an antiquated ideal indeed.  a trumpet, like any instrument, is
simply an interface that converts YOU into MUSIC in a specific way. a
computer is no different.

i'm guessing what you are opposed to here is the built-in
obsolescence tied to consumer electronics, which is (seemingly) not
as prevalent in, say, the brass musical instrument manufacturing
industry.  i can tell you, though, that as a saxophonist, They (as in
the Man) are still trying to get you to upgrade your mouthpiece, your
strap, your flight case, your reeds, and just about anything else
that will apparently make you a better musician.  this is not to say
that there aren't legitimate technological advances in the field of
traditional musical instrumentation. i'm just pointing out that this
pressure exists wherever a marketplace exists, whether it be ukuleles
or laptops.  see paul théberge's Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making
Music/Consuming Technology. it's all about this kind of thing and
eals with a lot of your points in your e-mail.

Perhaps this is an antiquated ideal. Any amount of expense might
get you a primo instrument, but no amount of money will ever
fundamentally make you a better player.

agreed. but that said, a beautiful computer and all the software in
the world will not make you a better musician either. as they say,
you can't polish a turd:)

It seems like the cost of music software equates to the cost of
being able to use someone else's imagination.

i don't think so. but that said every instrument has its own built-in
idiosyncratic aesthetic proclivities. there are plenty of ways to
play slide guitar.  but is buying a slide stealing someone else's
imagination? every instrument has the potential for originality and
innovation within an essentially set or closed structure.  if
anything, this is even less so with computers than traditional

And not because a user asks around for tips, but because the user
can so very easily default to the loops shipped with the app, or
the way default plugins make echo/delays sound, or whatever.
Harkens back to that question of plugin presets that's shown up
here before.

yes. but no one likes that kind of music. authenticity is a huge deal
in music, both academic and popular.  music that uses presets is
largely deemed inauthentic and therefor has less cultural worth. and
it is quickly exposed.

I guess what I mean to say is that to 'start' in microsound
shouldn't necessarily mean finding the right software package
first. Is this too idealistic of an approach to creating music?

you mean by making a kazoo out of wax paper instead of buying a
computer? or maybe recording the colliding beads of an abacus?
microsound is digital music. it is computer music.  at the most basic
level, you need to be able to either manipulate or generate digital
data.  for that you need a digital computer.  if you are getting into
microsound as a genre, then i might add the need to manipulate music
at the microsound level, through some kind of granular synthesis,
let's just say.  so any software should have these elements.

Maybe this has nothing to do with the original question (surely,
there are many more answers to be questioned when starting to make
this kind of music than just what software is in use), but I just
have this uneasy feeling in my gut when it comes to music software
these days. Everything is trying to be everything to everybody,
which is probably why stuff like max, sc and pd are in such large
use with people on this list (at least), because they are
programming languages, not software packages.

there is definitely a kind of elitism here.  just because someone is
an expert programmer certainly doesn't make them a brilliant
musician.  programming can be music. but it can also just be
programming. in this kind of community there is often a sense of
authenticity that comes from writing all the code oneself.  but what
really counts is the end result.  one could spend years learning how
to program an ableton live style program in max/MSP. or you could buy
the software and spend a year making music on it.

and learn how to take something designed by another and make it your
own. just like playing the trumpet.

adolf sax and joh coltrane don't have a hell of a lot in common other
than the saxophone. coltrane didn't have to built one from scratch in
order to revolutionize music, push boundaries, and express his own
individuality and human spirit.  the same goes for software.

The point was hit home with me when I was (thoroughly) enjoying a
listen to Download's new album, "FiXeR", with a friend of mine. In
the middle of some really cool section or break or something, he
pipes up "HA he's using Live for that, i've used that same exact
pattern" and it kind of ruined the listening experience for me at
the time.

live doesn't have a sound, per se (although in the past i have argued
heavily that software environments lead to particular musical
aesthetics, particularly in loop based music, such as techno).  maybe
he was referring to one of the effects, such as beat repeat.

My buddy isn't at fault for this, but it proves there is a certain
approach to listening to electronic music these days that is more
"how did he do that?" than just plain listening.

see glenn gould on this and why he stopped playing live.

My friend personally knows better, but I think there are a lot of
people that just want to replicate what they hear instead of being
inspired to create something new.

yes. but these are the first steps to learning a musical language.
imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also the
way language is learned, mastered, and, ultimately, evolves. just
think how a child begins to speak a language.  eventually they may go
on to write a great novel.

Folks too often seem to want to know why 'technically' something
was done instead of what creative process on the back-side inspired
that something to be done.

true. but what is more useful and interesting? the story of newton
getting hit on the head with an apple? or the actual theory of
gravity? i'd say, both:)



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