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Topic: Virtual orchestras banned

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  1. #1
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    Virtual orchestras banned

    Here's an interview with a live musician discussing the issue:

    http://www.synthtopia.com/news/04_11...Orchestra.html

    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.

    (snip)

    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.
    A ban-related link from her union is here:

    http://www.local802afm.org/frames/fs...Entry=15951414

    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.
    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.

    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!

    - Andrew

  2. #2

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    Sigh. Do they not realize that they were, in fact, working?? But if they make a federal case out of it, simple ecomomics will probably determine that if they make it an "us or it" choice on a given limited budget they will lose to the machine. If they machine is banned it will be tape. If tape is banned it will be a guy with a triangle. If the guy is banned they'll just skip music completely. This violinist will not win.
    If orchestral musicians are fearful of losing their work to machines they should either: ensure that the sound they make is better than the machine and affordable, so that they will be a viable option, or B) learn to be the guy with the machine.
    This is typical union stuff, IMO. Monolithic, inflexible and ultimately archaic.

    (And what is this mystery 5 key music mahine?? Something with a little M-audio USB controller hooked up?? It all sounds like some kind of put on.)

  3. #3

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    If orchestral musicians are fearful of losing their work to machines they should either: ensure that the sound they make is better than the machine and affordable, so that they will be a viable option, or B) learn to be the guy with the machine.
    This is typical union stuff, IMO. Monolithic, inflexible and ultimately archaic

    Sorry Fred but I can not agree with this type of Wal Mart mentality. We are becoming so freakkin obsessed with technology and the cheaper/faster mindset that we are ultimately doomed to lose something very precious.

    Does everything have to become a $1 Macburger in this day and age? Look at Disney, they suck now, you want to know why? Because they allowed their accountants to be in charge of creative decisions. They (the accountants) could not see the value or use for high(er) paid artists so they slowly started replacing everyone with cheaper abroad counterparts. Now they are left wondering why their movies are bombing, and the only reason they can come up with is because they are not computer animated....what a bunch of idiots!

    Can we please make at least a small effort at not becoming like them? Can we please try to preserve a small amount of value and dignity to the art?
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  4. #4
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    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    Fred, who knows what it was... I also thought that was strange about the 5 keys thing. Maybe she was looking at a set of release triggers highlighted in purple on an otherwise greyed-out keyboard on screen. Also, on that union site there are quite a few press releases and so forth about banning virtual orchestras and how they are in the vanguard of that fight.

    Midphase, you're right I think about how the system must squeeze every red cent from the status quo before anything will really change. That is the Wal-mart mentality. In fact I would not be at all surprised if Wal-mart ultimately faces the same Teddy Roosevelt-style trustbusting that went on with Standard Oil, Ma Bell, the JP Morgan railroads, and may yet befall Microsoft.

    I do not shop at Wal-mart, by the way, just as I don't buy from the absolute cheapest website I can find. It's a race to the bottom in which we all lose, until the international equity Elites permit the cycling forward of the bust period into the next boom period (at the midphase, if you will).

    R.I.P Nikola Tesla and Philo T. Farnsworth...

    - a

  5. #5

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    Sorry Fred but I can not agree with this type of Wal Mart mentality. We are becoming so freakkin obsessed with technology and the cheaper/faster mindset that we are ultimately doomed to lose something very precious.

    Does everything have to become a $1 Macburger in this day and age? Look at Disney, they suck now, you want to know why? Because they allowed their accountants to be in charge of creative decisions. They (the accountants) could not see the value or use for high(er) paid artists so they slowly started replacing everyone with cheaper abroad counterparts. Now they are left wondering why their movies are bombing, and the only reason they can come up with is because they are not computer animated....what a bunch of idiots!

    Can we please make at least a small effort at not becoming like them? Can we please try to preserve a small amount of value and dignity to the art?
    Well, what are you going to do, pass a law that they see the light?? The point is that there is in fact a Pixar. If competitors cannont comprehend the real reason for their success well, that just leaves the door open for someone who does. You can't have a law that says "if you use these types of musicians it will be good". You have to look at the situation and say "if they are going to use a computer to do music than I'm going to be that guy and I'm going to be a real artist about it". At the end of the day, this type of thinking did not stop radio, TV, the pipe organ, sampling or anything else and musicians are still working all over the place, thank you very much. But every decade the union thinks this time the sky is falling and no viola player will ever work again.
    I'm not making an argument for McCrap, seriously.

  6. #6

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    I know but I don't have a problem with orchestras and unions resisting the idea of mixing a couple of token musicians with sampled orchestras. It creates an issue that could also create confusion with the audience...in a very Ashley Simpson sort of way!

    I think that if Unions want to hold out on this one, they have my blessing. If cheap producers only want to use a guy with QLSO and a laptop, let them...but they are also going to either have no orchestras or have no access to union musicians.

    I think that this type of behavior leaves the door open for orchestras to be cannibalized and become exinct at an even faster rate than they already are. If you are a great violin or flute player, your carreer options are now severely llimited.

    Society needs to look at the big picture beyond the simple economics....art will never make economic sense, but it is needed by society nonetheless.

    Pixar is making tons of cash with their films not because they are cutting corners, and not even because they use the latest gizmos, but because they understand art. The Incredibles' great characters and great story is something which Disney el cheapo movies haven't been able to touch for at least the past 5 years.

    Look, all I am trying to say here is not that we need to limit technology, but that we have a responsability in preserving the arts and making sure that the arts continue to be financed and that the musicians are taken care of.

    When things get too far one way, I think it's a good thing for someone to stand up and stop us from going too far.

    Keep in mind that non-union musicians can do whatever the hell they choose to....but hopefully this also means that you get what you pay for and that the quality of musicianship also suffers.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  7. #7

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    I think that this type of behavior leaves the door open for orchestras to be cannibalized and become exinct at an even faster rate than they already are. If you are a great violin or flute player, your carreer options are now severely llimited.
    I would be pretty shocked if that happened. An orchestral concert is a pretty specific thing and no one is going to pay to see it dilluted wth synths and computers. Probably at this point symphonies have dwindled to as much of a niche as they are likely to. But, if it happens it's the consumers fault. It's like anything else. If people want it they have to open the wallets and pay for it.
    I totally agree that if live symphonic music goes the way of the dinosaur it's a pretty pathetic reflection on the state of taste and culture in the world, but again, you can't force it. The best you can do is try and educate people and be ambassadors. As far as making a noise and saying "We need real music. This is good and here's why!" I'm totally behind you.
    I also think it's a shame that if you're a talented flute or violin player your career optons are highly limited but that's reality. You choose it. You could have been a keyboardist.

    As far as the Pixar thing goes, yes. Exactly. That's exactly the point. And nobody said "They're putting the cell animators out of work!!1 They're putting the cell animators out of work!! Let's stop it!!" Well, they did, but it hasn't helped. And the smart 2D guys bought computers and learned fast, and taught the 3D guys how to incorporate what they do so well into the 3D world. This is the model for how art will survive.

    As for this statement- "When things get too far one way, I think it's a good thing for someone to stand up and stop us from going too far."-- do you mean sound the alarm?? Or actually stop us- for our own good? because there's a word for that...

  8. #8

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    I would be pretty shocked if that happened. An orchestral concert is a pretty specific thing and no one is going to pay to see it dilluted wth synths and computers. Probably at this point symphonies have dwindled to as much of a niche as they are likely to. But, if it happens it's the consumers fault. It's like anything else. If people want it they have to open the wallets and pay for it.

    I think that we, the average people are so manipulated by the media that we are brainwashed into thinking and liking what they want us to like.

    I've been watching VH1's worst metal moments. They make fun of the very bands that MTV was stuffing down our throats just a few years ago (Limp Biskit being one of them). Although the show was amusing, I found myself so manipulated that I couldn't help but wonder who will they make fun of me for liking in a few years?

    I mean, people are convinced by TV that their wallets should be open and giving to the latest batch of crappy lip-sinking artists (term used loosely) while paying money to see a real orchestra is sooooo uncool!

    Orchestras are in trouble, performing musicians are in trouble. If I go see some Las Vegas show on the premise that there will be a real orchestra in the pit, and I come to find out that it's really a couple of guys with samples and a few real musicians addiing a bit of icing on the cake, I would be pretty upset. The worst thing about it is that the majority of the audience would be oblivious to the fact, and it would set up a precedence for others to do the same. Before you know it, no shows of that type would have a sizeable amount of players anymore and the worst thing is that nobody would know or care.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  9. #9

    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    I think that we, the average people are so manipulated by the media that we are brainwashed into thinking and liking what they want us to like.

    I've been watching VH1's worst metal moments. They make fun of the very bands that MTV was stuffing down our throats just a few years ago (Limp Biskit being one of them). Although the show was amusing, I found myself so manipulated that I couldn't help but wonder who will they make fun of me for liking in a few years?

    I mean, people are convinced by TV that their wallets should be open and giving to the latest batch of crappy lip-sinking artists (term used loosely) while paying money to see a real orchestra is sooooo uncool!
    Well, there's no question of that. The ability of certain groups of people to create and guide public taste (to a very low common denominator) is a serious problem. In my experience the internet is changing that though. Young bands that I work with are being exposed to music from around the world that no one has ever heard of- yet miraculously they have and they have a cd of them. My band is able to exist totally outside of the commercial music structure thanks to the internet. So things are going the right way there, albiet slowly.
    Orchestras are in trouble, performing musicians are in trouble. If I go see some Las Vegas show on the premise that there will be a real orchestra in the pit, and I come to find out that it's really a couple of guys with samples and a few real musicians addiing a bit of icing on the cake, I would be pretty upset. The worst thing about it is that the majority of the audience would be oblivious to the fact, and it would set up a precedence for others to do the same. Before you know it, no shows of that type would have a sizeable amount of players anymore and the worst thing is that nobody would know or care.
    Come on, a Las Vegas show isn't about the guys in the pit. The audience doesn't care. It's about the talent on the stage. It's all glitz and show and BS anyway. There's no implied contract that when you go to see Wayne Newton he'll have a real 50 piece orchestra and not a 10 piece orchestra and two keyboard players. He probably will have a big orchestra, but it's just beacuse he's Wayne, it looks good and he can. And if it turned out they were augmenting the sound, so what? That's different from going to see the LA Phil. and finding out they are misrepresenting thier performance by incorporating samples or some such thing. If a guy in the pit of a Vegas show knows there is sample augmentation going on and has a real ethical crises over it he's welcome to quit. Everyone has a choice between their pride and a paycheck.
    Ultimately there are two types of musicians; those that think the rest of society owes them something because of their romantically heroic and tragic choice to be an artist and those that just get on with it. I'm sorry, but all this hand wringing ultimately boils down to, "BUT- they OWE us!!" No they don't. You have to make a case and pursuade people to support excellence. You can't make them. If all you're talking about is deception, well yeah, that's wrong. But if you tell people the truth and they go "meh", well, time to take another tack...

    You know, the reason I get mad is because i'm NOT that cynical about people. I think that when given a fair chance, they often choose something good. Not Brittany Spears. Not the fake orchestra. I really think your point about the state of media forcing crap on people and not letting them make up their own mind-- I think that's the REAL problem.

  10. #10
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    Re: Virtual orchestras banned

    In the last couple of hundred years countless thousands (nay..millions) of folks, who made their living out of crafts (and music is just one of them...at the end of the day) have lost their jobs due to advances in technology. Why should musicians be any different?

    It's sad, it's not right and it's probably a world direction I'm not happy with but that the way it is and the way its going.

    Just my tanner's worth,

    Frank

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