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Topic: Moral dilemma

  1. #1

    Moral dilemma

    I get a lot of requests from internet piano sites for my Bach WTC, which I do with the BOS 291 wet, plus a bit of verb. I don't tell folks that I've extensively edited the stuff (on midi), or even that I use a sampled piano to record it.

    The material is happily entered onto the site; folks love it; and it's free of course.

    Then someone notes that JG's stuff is "not real," becuase they've heard from someone else on the net, who's heard from someone else, etc., etc.. Otherwise, they would have literally NO IDEA.

    So then the folks at the site get kinda embarassed, cause #1 everybody loves it but #2, it wasn't done the old-fashioned way, slaving away in front of a mic, splicing like mad, and doing countless retakes in an attempt to get something you really like.

    So should I feel compunction (guilt)? I mean, I can certainly play the piano; but I get super results using gigastudio (and now with 24 bit processing plus all the available 24 bit effects you can blow away a lot of commercial piano recordings--hey, and all in the comfort of your home!!!) And I've edited my stuff so many times over the last ten years (that's how old these files are) that they bear no relation to the initial inputted material. But editing is not sitting down at the instrument and slaving away. IE it's not "real." Yet, as I say, until I "'fess up" folks just have no idea. They just think, WOW this sounds great. In fact, if I'd never opened my trap on the internet about how I make music, NOBODY would know, period, how I produce the music. It's that simple.

    Anyhow, to make a long story short, when (some) site managers find out it's not real, they wanna boot me. They feel, too, that I ought to have told them about the process of production.

    I figure that if Rapheal can produce art by (for the most part) telling others what to paint, and only painting certain elements himself, then surely I can use GS and my hands and my brains to make music. I figure that if people react only AFTER they find out about the process, that's a good education for them, and they should dig it. They should say "Wow, I never thought that was possible. I should look into that technology myself." But sometimes people are just "stunned" that they have been so completely "fooled." And they're a little angry if they're pianists trying to do it, and to make it the old-fashioned way.

    Hey, I've sweated at the keyboard learning technique more than most, so I know in a way how they feel. But I'm adding another layer in using GigaStudio, and all the attendant processing and production capabilities.

    Wherein have I sinned by not spelling it out, ad nauseum every time I put my stuff up on the internet? Isn't it the MUSIC that counts in the end? Not how it came into being?

    Any similar experiences out there? How do you handle it? To "tell" or not to "tell"?: that is the question. You tell, they don't listen. You don't tell, they listen, they appreciate what they hear, then they feel betrayed somehow when they find out the so-called "secret"!!


  2. #2

    Re: Moral dilemma

    There's no need to feel guilt, or hide your process.

    If you were playing the midi file live on stage while key-syncing on the air-piano, then you'd have a moral dilemma.


  3. #3

    Re: Moral dilemma

    Well in real live performance, or a recording of a Real live performance, everything is interpreted instantaneously. The process you describe is totally different. Isnt similar to a Jazz Muscian who alters the Solo after the recording with the band is made?
    I dont know about moral dilema, i would of thought its more of a musical dilema, and what and how you choose to practise your art.

  4. #4

    Re: Moral dilemma

    Anyhow, to make a long story short, when (some) site managers find out it's not real, they wanna boot me. They feel, too, that I ought to have told them about the process of production.
    Tell them to try it, editing as much as they want.

    I guarantee that'll shut them up.

  5. #5

    Re: Moral dilemma

    Perhaps the music files on the site you mention have the purpose of demonstrating techniques of live performance, to let the listeners judge which pianists are the most talented. If that is the case, then I understand their arguments.

    If the purpose of the site is simply to let people enjoy final piano recordings, then all arguments are on your side.

    I know exactly what you mean because I have myself edited my own piano works which were recorded via midi 10 years ago... This is how pianists surely will record their performances in the near future. Actually, I myself produced a recording 5 years ago were a professional pianist performed everything on a Yamaha Clavinova! It was unusual to him but the editing possibilities resulted in a close to 'perfect' recording. And... just like an old piano roll, it is well conserved for the afterworld with an amazing sound quality and with the resulting performance "cheated" in Cubase!

    Do a comparison with athletics using drugs to improve their results. Yes, they are cheating because these drugs are forbidden. They are forbidden because they are bad for the health. Otherwise all athletics would use them.

    Is midi editing bad for the health? No. Does it affect the resulting piano recording badly? Hell no.

    The best is simply to tell everyone how you did it. Performing it via midi, editing the midi files and recording it using a piano sample library. You are simply using a modern recording technique. I can't see what would make your recording less respected. The midi editing and other post processing work require talent as well. You do it well, thus with an impressing result.

  6. #6

    Re: Moral dilemma

    All of the above is true. The problem is that many people just won't listen at all if they know the process. I say nothing (sort of a "white" lie, or lie by exclusion) and they DO listen. Hence the "moral" dilemma! So is the white lie bad or good? Good, I think, in the sense that it introduces the technology to many people who otherwise wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

    Bad because it's, you know, contrary to the ten big ones.


  7. #7

    Re: Moral dilemma

    Hi John,

    As a pianist myself, I completely understand your situation. Midi-recorded piano music is certainly a different medium. It is "different", but not necessarily "bad". However, I would strongly recommend that you tell your audience your process of making the recordings. Tell them it is not the traditional way of recording classical piano music. Explain to them the details. They deserve the right to know, and they can choose whether to continue listening to your music or not.

    In internet chess playing, using the computer is forbidden. However, there is a new kind of medium called "advanced chess". Both players can use computer for assistance. I know that chess is a kind of competition, and listening to music is not. But there are some similarities here. The most advanced chess players will tell you that computer still can't play chess. However, a computer can give you certain assistance that when combined with human skills, the chess game can be played in near perfection. The same thing applies to music. But the other "party" has to be informed before hand.

    I personally don't prefer listening to midi-recorded piano music. The reason is very simple: I will have no idea about how much editing has been done on the recording. The potential ability to edit midi data is just enormous. I am not talking about correcting wrong notes. I am talking about like playing something in a slower tempo and speed it up later, or splitting a one-hand part into a two-hand part, etc. These can all be classified as "cheating", and when done with skills, nobody can really tell.

    For all the pianists that I admire, I have seen them all played live on stage or on video. I don't think I will shift to enjoy a "midi artist" in the near future. But in this case, I would like to propose two "solutions" that you may lide to consider. First one: Go out and promote your medium with as much effort as possible. And hope someday more people will accept it. Second one: Be less obsessed with midi-recorded piano music, and concentrate more on playing the real acoustic piano, especially live on stage.

    Hope that helps with your dilemma.

  8. #8

    Re: Moral dilemma

    I actually still play much more acoustic than a controller plus computer. I enjoy it more. Much more. Who wouldn't? But that's not the issue for me. The recorded medium, as Gould pointed out long ago, is a completely different kettle of fish, but no less musical. Just different. In Glenn Gould's day (1985) sound editors spliced out what they didn't like, and spliced in what they thought was better. The listening audience didn't know the difference, and most didn't care. Some, like Gould, thought electronic enhancement, if it made the recording better, was a good thing. Midi, as it has developed, wouldn't have bothered him at all, as long as the end result was musical.

    Rach 3 says he prefers the real piano. Sure, concerts are great, for pure sound quality (except for the coughs, etc!). But recorded medium is what I'm concerned with. Not live concerts. We have a situation now, with the current state of technology, where even the trained musican, not just joe public, can't tell the difference.

    They really can't.
    So Rach 3's statement that he prefers the real thing doesn't work in the recording industry. In many senses there is no "real" thing for piano recordings any more, unless they are recordings of live performances. But that's the exception, not the rule.

    Now the folks who here my stuff, IF I don't follow Rach 3's advice and say somewhere that my stuff is sampled, get to actually enjoy the music, because their enjoyment is not hampered by extraneous considerations, ie, the question: precisely how did the music come about?

    So, I have a different answer than Rach 3's to my question: to tell or not to tell? You tell, but you don't make a big deal out of it. Thus, it's not the first thing a llistener notices, but if he or she looks further, say to find out more about the artist, he or she discovers the production process.

    Again, my premise is that the music or product is the primary consideration from the point of view of appreciation; the process comes in later, and is a matter of interest to other artists, and to listeners who are curious.


  9. #9

    Re: Moral dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Rach3
    I personally don't prefer listening to midi-recorded piano music.
    Well, I agree as far as much of mid is concerned. But, not to brag or anything, nobody, I mean nobody including the some of the best pianists on the planet have the faintest idea my stuff is midi. I have to tell them.

    Sure, all of us know here that JG is midi, becuase that's what we do. But the pros in the acoustic world just don't. Myself, I can't tell that something's played on sampled piano unless, that is, it is a/b ed with a real piano. I don't know anyone who can. So, the technology is so good that faced with an excellent product we're not in a position anymore to say "I prefer a real recorded performance to a midi one"!!


  10. #10

    Re: Moral dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGrant
    Again, my premise is that the music or product is the primary consideration from the point of view of appreciation; the process comes in later, and is a matter of interest to other artists, and to listeners who are curious.

    I dont agree with that John, because the process does have a bearing.
    In Jazz you can definetly tell if someone is being 100% spontaneous, that is composing on his feet, and i would of thought that the same process is noticeable in a great interpretation of Bach. So i think its a matter of degree, for example a Jazz muscian is interpreting a certain range of parameters that are used in the music, and the classical muscian is interpreting a different set of parameters.
    But Jazz is not Jazz without Improvisation. So the more editing after the event the less improvisatory it is and the less likely it is to have the spontaneous element that distingusih's great Jazz

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