[Harp-L] Butter Churns and the 21st Century

Richard Hunter wrote: "The fact is that it's not all that easy now to tell
when something is happening in software, as opposed to for real, especially
when you're listening to a recording. Players in future will really need to
ask themselves whether they want to behave in a  19th-century way, for
example by mastering a musical instrument, or in a  21st-century way, for
example by realizing the sound without having to spend 5-10 years learning
to play the instrument half-decently... I decided to do the 19th century
thing.  But I was born in the mid-20th century--lotta old attitudes still
in the air.  By the end of this century it's possible that a musician will
be able to hear a sound in her head and translate it directly to a sound in
the real world without touching an instrument.  When that happens, musical
instruments will seem like butter churns--they do the job, but why bother
with all that work?"

I think this is a situation/dilemma all musicians today are facing! It's
relatively easy to just use "soft synths" or trigger midi samples and get
ANY sound imaginable. I have a GR55 guitar synthesizer that will let me
play just about any instrument sound from my electric guitar.... whether
it's a slap bass or a jazz trio, a passable chromatic harp, or a full brass
ensemble! There is a readily available patch for the Roland Gaia synth that
sounds remarkably like a blues harp (first one I've EVER heard that sounded
good). You can even do full on orchestral work with a simple laptop.
Apparently most movie soundtracks today are largely from the synth/software
world. It's crazy.

But like Richard I have a 19th century mindset. I think you ought to learn
to play the dang instrument! Certainly there is a learning curve with the
software and DAW, but not as much as with actually learning an instrument.
But it somehow seems wrong to do it all that way. Fake. So as a songwriter,
when I make recordings, I play bass, guitar, drums, harp, and sing all the
parts as best I can. I don't mind using electronic enhancement... vocal
effects or harmonies for instance, but it doesn't seem right to just point
and click when making music. I know there are good reasons for using the
software based stuff for ideas and creation and economy (it's much cheaper
to buy a software program than rent an orchestra!!!)... but I think if you
have a reasonable choice between hardware (instrument) and software... go
with the hardware. Play the instrument. Learn something real. Don't just
point and click. Fake is fake is fake is fake is fake. I don't mind the
fake in a Hollywood soundtrack, because everything in Hollywood is fake.
But when I BUY music and LISTEN to it... I want the butter churned. So when
I make music, that's the way I want to make it... real. If it can't be done
live (and you can't point and click music live) then don't do it. That's my
eighteen and a half cents.

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