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Topic: A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

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  1. #1

    A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

    http://www.celemony.com/cms/index.php?id=dna

    Some will argue this technology is evil and will replace capable musicians (as was the argument against synths, drum loops, pitch correction algorhythms and so on) and that it should not be developed or sold at all.

    I say the very opposite: Let it develop even faster and become even more available to amateurs. Let the scientists further strive to develop automatical singers, instrumentalists up to the point of physically modelling the very bodies and minds of existing (and deceased) artists.

    WHY?

    Because the new technology will force artists to develop their truly human skills, to search for unique and unimitable techniques. We enjoy the voice of an ethnic singer from another continent today all the more exactly because Melodyne has made all our so-called pop stars sound alike and perfect. Clinical perfection is not a part of human essence; the elusive and beautiful random varnish IS. (evidence: the popularity of vinil records over digital media)

    To anyone who says computers are taking our jobs, our creativity, our very human essence: If something can be duplicated by a computer exactly, it could NOT have been rightly called "human" in the first place! True human touch will always be sought after, long after the Melodyne's magic will have become commonplace. Just and only because what we admire in fellow Humans is the ability to go further on the road to the unreachable goal of Perfection - the goal that is just an illusion. The Search itself will reveal new and wonderful secrets, as it always has, despite the paradoxical fact that Perfection itself can not be reached by any man.

    (That was poetic, wasn't it? Gotta cut down on sugar and coffee, I know The train o' thought was triggered by a thing somebody said after watching the vid: Do we need live musicians anymore at all?)

  2. #2

    Re: A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

    Aziraphal -

    Very well put! Technology is a tool, a supplement to human endeavors, not a replacement.

    Beyond this, I think you allude to something we might be well served to make note of. This is that some of the technology actually inspires us to do better. In the right hands, sound samples become prototyping tools for composers and arrangers who aim for live performances. They offer simulated bands and orchestras for students who might otherwise never have an opportunity to explore and develop their talents - which might encourage the entrance of potentially great musicians into the fold.

    You point to Melodyne as a "for instance." I would open a discussion about the newly released Songsmith, and to karaoke as instances of invitation to people to actually engage in music making! In neither case is a "poor" or marginally talented musician made into a great talent . . . but in both cases they are, by golly, invited to take part, to be engaged in what they do. If nothing else comes of it, they've (usually) had fun doing what they do. They've also had a chance to see that producing quality music isn't simple--and so they might develop a respect for those who work hard at making music for everyone else.

    I'm sorry if I took you off track. Your post just jumped out at me as something wanting discussion. We've had some of this discussion in the past concerning "automated" writing/composing systems, but those discussions sit somewhere in the archives.

    Thank you for your insights. I absolutely agree with you when you say
    If something can be duplicated by a computer exactly, it could NOT have been rightly called "human" in the first place!
    Joe

  3. #3

    Re: A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

    Aziraphal,

    I totally agree with you. Computers will never totally replicate the genuineness of a human performance. However, I feel you may be acting overly idealistically and ignoring business realities. The fact is that synthesizers, prerecorded tapes and other electronic tools have replaced human musicians in many venues because employers - film directors, high school drama teachers, videogame designers, etc. - don't care to hire real musicians. Technology is great for those who don't have the means - and we're seeing its benefits across the board - but in the hands of those who don't care it can do great harm to the livelihood of working musicians. As synthesizing and sampling climbs ever higher toward that singularity of real performance, people will settle for less. They absolutely will. I've mistaken samples for orchestras on occasion. So what it comes down to is, who will clamor for the real stuff when the fake stuff is so good it tricks people? Not too many, I think.

    I don't see the death of acoustic music as imminent or anything like that. Human performance will always have a place in our society. People like to sing, they like to drum, they like to whistle. You can't change instinct. Still, we can't presume that technology will never have significant, negative effects on the performance industry.

  4. #4

    Re: A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Buck View Post
    The fact is that synthesizers, prerecorded tapes and other electronic tools have replaced human musicians in many venues because employers - film directors, high school drama teachers, videogame designers, etc. - don't care to hire real musicians.
    On the other hand, there are those of us who are greatful for this downside to technology. As a music teacher in high school I am often called on to supply music for the drama productions. But we musicians are treated like irt, and as though our art is something anyone could do.

    The head of drama (who is also the senior vice-principal, so we do as we're told) has just decided he's doing a production of something called Assassins. It turns out it's a very heavy going musical, bordering on operatic. Well we don't have any singers within a million miles of the calibre required. But that's irrelevant, because he didn't ask - instead he cast the thing with his best actors, most of whom are tone-deaf, and then sent them to us to 'learn the tunes,' as though the music were some type of very minor 'bolt on' to the more important aspects of the production. Rehearsals will be given over to silly things like telling the cast where to stand, and which curtain to come through, which block to stand on, etc. The music will simply be expected to be delivered by the first rehearsal, so the apparently very heavy rehearsal schedule doesn't even come close to showing the extra time I'm going to have to put in.

    This isn't even the only production this year - I've already done A Christmas Carol. For that one I had to write half the carols, because he wasn't prepared to pay the license fee for the ones Nigel Hess wrote, when the RSC did it. Having written them half of them got scrapped when he realised the play was going to overrun. He gave me nine of the cast to carry the singing, but, after I'd taught them all the music, it transpired he had also cast them as principle parts in scenes where they needed to be singing.

    I realise professional directors act this way, but I'm not being paid anything at all beyond my teaching salary, so I don't see that I should be putting up with it the way I would in a professional theatre. When he does productions where he uses a CD I rejoice, and, if there were a computer that could do my job I would personally buy it for the school.
    David

  5. #5

    Re: A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

    Thanks for your input Henry & Joe!

    Indeed, when there's progress there will be what our enlightened leaders love to call "collateral damage" (like the workers at the outbreak of industrial revolution). As for mistaking samples for real orchestras - yes, it happens to me all the time. But call me heartless, I believe it is nothing more than a sign that composers, conductors and musicians should move on and start making music that transcends available technology. (Some years ago I complained in a post here about all Hollywood orchestra soundtracks sounding alike and boring and hinted it's the composers' and producers' fault that musicians will be put out of their jobs; for you don't need the Berlin Philharmonik-ers to play a slow C7maj chord with all bow-scratching and scorepaper-shuffling edited out, over and over again, you get a library if that C7maj is all what you need to fulfill your contract)

    THe fake stuff is not "good"; people just find it good because their senses were dulled.

    Interestingly enough, there was a Songsmith-like technology described in 1984 The message is clear IMHO: Keep the masses un-humanized and they'll be satisfied with mechanically generated arts.

    Cheers

  6. #6

    Re: A tiny essay on Melodyne's Direct Note Access and its effect on the human race :)

    --!!!! lots I could respond to on this thread--but this part strikes my heart the most immediately: Pingu's story about the school production of "Assassins" and the drama head's incredibly stupid attitude towards what it means to put on such a show.

    "Assassins" is a very brilliant and operatic stage musical by Sondheim which has nary a "tune" in it. Like most of his work, learning how to perform the score is the biggest task given to the performers.

    While staging is something I wouldn't call "silly things," - the rehearsal schedule Has to accommodate for the heavy the load the singers are given. When I did "Dorian" here in Salem, we had a 14 week rehearsal schedule, and the vast majority of the time was in vocal rehearsal, because it's a score as difficult as Sondheim, full of its pesky chromatic leanings.

    Pingu, I really feel for you. The time and effort it takes to perform music properly, or to compose good music, is incredibly misunderstood even by people who should know better. And the advance of technology probably is the reason people tend to think it's all a matter of flipping a few switches. ARGH!

    Randy B.

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