Here's an interview with a live musician discussing the issue:
A ban-related link from her union is here:While the use of synthesizers has become routine in many types of music, they continue to be controversial when used as a replacement for a traditional orchestra. Kiku Enomoto and her six colleagues at the Opera Company of Brooklyn, members of the local musician' union, refused to play with the OCB last February when it tried to use a virtual orchestra machine during performances of The Marriage of Figaro. Their actions resulted in the first ban on virtual orchestra machines in the world.
Mikael Elsila: Did you hear the virtual orchestra machine as you were rehearsing with the OCB?
Kiku Enomoto: I definitely knew that I heard something that we were not playing. There were only two violinists in our orchestra, and it sounded like there were 20 or 30 violinists. I knew there was a computer of some kind. The person that was playing it was a pianist. And then a couple of rehearsals into it, I went back there and checked it out. I saw it only had five keys. I got to know how it was run. But still at that time, I didn't know it was the virtual orchestra machine, the machine I was told to stay away from. But that night when David Lennon and his staff approached us, I realized that what I had seen was the virtual orchestra machine.
This would seem to open up quite a few issues. On one level it seems live musicians do not think that virtual orchestra programmers have musical talent (but synth programmers are OK). On another there's this whole Wizard of Oz thing with the strange, forbidden 5-keyed whirligig behind the curtain.Having a ban on the machine and the ability to boast union musicians and the union's logo have become a badge of honor for employers. At a recent negotiation session, one employer read the union's proposal, saw the clause banning the machine, and exclaimed, "Oh, look -- I've got it!"
A lot of producers and employers are now getting it. The union has now negotiated twelve agreements that include the ban.
Then there's the fact that the union is trying to bust up the scale economies that samplers allow. As an aside, in a recent conversation at a party it came up that I'm a musician and I use computers to do that. I was then asked if I was a Garageband user.
It seems that no matter who you are, if you're in this as a user or developer, there is a predatory thing going on. It makes the technology disruptive and that disruption has a certain power to it. Sampler users make life more difficult for live musicians, library developers complicate things for instrument builders, and musically-dangerous producers with Garageband threaten virtual orchestrators.
Nancarrow (R.I.P.) must be spinning in his grave!