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Topic: It's A Wonderful Life?

  1. #1

    It's A Wonderful Life?

    [Please feel free to jump this introductory pre-amble and get straight to ##THE POINT##]

    While I'm only a provincial amateur musician, I was fortunate to study and work in London for 10 years.

    During this time, I played in many good but easy going amateur groups (mostly orchestras, concert bands, brass bands) which more often than not attracted regular attendance from top professionals and upcoming music college students eager to get one thing they couldn't seem to get enough of in their professional careers - the chance to socialise in a relaxed environment while still being able to make great music.

    Having returned to the provinces I've been able to play with all our top local bands, even at a "semi-professional" (i.e. paid!) level - no doubt thanks to the experience I gained in London and originally still having lots of time to practice.

    But more recently I've been failing miserably just to find a nearby, easy going group to play in ... one not bogged down by egos and politics ... one that will fit around my ever increasing work and family committments and decreasing spare time ... one where I can be free to play well on the days I am in practice and not so well on others ... that can still make great and entertaining music ... and even allow me to indulge a growing interest in arranging, computerised music and recording, by which means I hope to make a more permanent mark on our local music scene than is afforded by playing alone.

    Maybe that's an impossible goal to aim for ... but I've been really impressed recently by the samples posted here in the Listening Room ... both those which use live recorded instruments/voices but even more so those making best use of sample libraries such as the Garritan ones ... getting results which I feel I may one day be able to emulate/achieve myself.

    I'm so impressed, in fact, that it makes me think:

    "Wow! if I could make recordings like that ... I could achieve all I want to do and without needing to play in a band!"

    ... or at least I might be so unrestrained by the need always to have to work with and around others that I might achieve so much more in what little spare time I have.

    While I'm still near the start of my learning using sample technologies (and a decent sequencer!) I'm interested to know what life might be like in years to come and what risks/opportunities to look out for perhaps, or at least learn from the experience of others ...

    So ... my question for all you guys who are much further ... maybe at least 5 or 10 years? ... down the line is this:

    [##THE POINT##]

    Picture yourself in a George Bailey type scenario (as in the film "It's A Wonderful Life") ... imagine you are able to see your life as it would be now but NOT having had access to any recent home computer music technologies (but perhaps most particularly sequencers and sample libraries) ... and were limited to largely acoutsic and manual modes of music production.

    More specifically, you might be able to ask yourself:

    How would your life be different?
    How have you/your family/firends benefitted from these technologies?
    What do you do now (or what do you feel you have achieved) that you wouldn't otherwise have not been able to do?
    What do you feel you might have missed out on? ... Do you wish you had spent more of your time doing other things?

    ... or any other similar questions you care to answer!

    Hope this makes sense ... and provokes some interesting thoughts and comments ...


  2. #2

    Re: It's A Wonderful Life?

    Hello Peter,
    Welcome to the forum! Your post is filled with interesting and relevant topics. I'll add my 2 cents, though it probably is not worth that much.

    The issues with a band you brought up are typical, at least in my experience. Some get along better than others, but most have time commitments simply because we all have `real' jobs and families to take care of. Thus, finding a band without any of these issues would be like finding a woman with perfect looks, a killer body, amazingly intelligent, independent but willing to tend to your needs, etc. (The same could be said about men just keep the fairer from thinking I'm a chauvinist pig!) She (or he) simply does not exist. So we work with what we can find and what we find figures out a way to deal with us! Short version - where there is a band there are issues.

    So, does moving to a computer based music making hobby nicely replace a band? You can certainly make some great music on your own. Thousands and thousands of people do. But, at least for me, I yearn for collaboration, for interactivity and feeling like I am a part of a bigger whole. So I do a bit of both. Much more independent work than collaboration just because of time constraints. However, when I can work with others I do. This might be recording a singer or a teen rock band (my kids are in high school) or putting together a dance mix for my daughters dance recital or providing a an arrangement of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer that the neighbors kids can be recorded singing to and sent to their relatives. There are lots of possibilities, you just have to figure out what will give you the most satisfaction.

    So, for your list of questions, here is my take:

    If I had not had access to computer based music / technology:

    How would your life be different?
    I might be playing acoustic guitar well by now, or still playing the euphonium. I regret not having been a part of Tuba Christmas for so many years. *sigh*

    How have you/your family/firends benefitted from these technologies?
    I have written both original pieces and arrangements for family members and friends. I've passed out Christmas music I've written with the goodies we give to friends and family and neighbors. I've accompanied choirs that needed trumpet, bells,organ, etc. accompanying them when none were to be found. I've provided arrangements for kids, adults, choirs, families, etc. that either needed scores or music to accompany them, I have frightened trick or treaters with scary sounds and voices during Halloween, I have become somewhat of a mixologist for some of the dance groups at my daughters high school and I have brought my rig into schools to teach students about synthesizers and home recording. Technology has been a real blessing!

    What do you do now (or what do you feel you have achieved) that you wouldn't otherwise have not been able to do?
    I've been able to realize both classical, funk, rock and electronic music that without technology would not have been possible to do. Also, see above.

    What do you feel you might have missed out on? ... Do you wish you had spent more of your time doing other things?

    Actually, when I've spent quality time with the wife and kids and I can have some `me' time, I wish I had been more focused on doing more music instead of other things. Maybe just not music. Anything creative. I love to take home movies and make them into `films' with Final Cut. I made a home made video camera stabilizer so my kids and I could shoot smooth video shots of various (mostly goofy) things. To me, spending time being creative is 100000000 times better than watching TV or even (*gasp*) playing video games. (Yes, I am guilty of both, mostly the latter.)

    Maybe what you are asking has to do with if it is worth investing money in this world of computer based music. The answer only lies within you. If you have passion, a vision, a desire then yes it is. If you think it might be cool but you aren't sure, then maybe not. There are ways of dipping your toe in the waters without spending much, if any, money.

    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Just north of Sydney

    Re: It's A Wonderful Life?


    To some extent, my experience is similar to Kevin’s experience.

    I like to add that there can be a lot of competitive behavior among musicians, destructive at times.

    Managers and members of choirs and orchestras often feel insecure about midi music, mostly based on their lack of understanding and a fear of being replaced by the all mighty computer.

    I am blessed by being married to a very talented singer. My wife Margaret and I have a lot of musician friends, including singers. I am kept very busy by producing backing tracks for rehearsals and for concerts, often at short notice.

    Midi orchestration and recordings are valuable when mixed with live performances, or in sound tracks for motion pictures. As I see it midi music has an important role to play as a support to the main feature, but is not an end in itself.

    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

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  4. #4

    Re: It's A Wonderful Life?

    Thanks guys!

    It's oddly reassuring to know that the same kind of band issues are experienced all around the world.

    Given what is now individually possible with modern technology and global communications through the internet, committing so much time as I do to regular local rehearsals in what are often very hierarchical groups with very strict limitations on what is possible/allowed and only priviledged (and sometimes inexperienced) leaders get much chance explore their creativity ... seems a very antiquated thing for anyone to do nowadays.

    Up to now, I've considered just publishing arrangements and making high quality demo recordings, which may gain a somewhat remote audience but seem somewhat isolated and unsatisfactory - on their own they lack that vital element of collaboration with others that you both highlight as the most satisfying activity.

    I've just starting working with a singer-songwriter to make an arrangement/backing track of one of his songs and I think my future musical activities will indeed be much less routine and more based around grabbing whatever such ad hoc opportunities come my way, perhaps gradually building up a network of like-minded collaborators.

    It's interesting to see what others have done in this way (including participating in this forum!) to be aware of opportunites to look out for which I might otherwise have missed. I guess the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.

    I have made a moderate investment in equipment/software and I'm sure this will keep me busy for several years to come just getting the most out of it. If I can get good use/value from it in that time them I'd gladly spend more later on.


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