Music and Technology

There have been a lot of discussions recently about how robots are taking over our lives and taking our jobs. The biggest field for robots and robotic devices that we hear about and discuss is in the medical field. One aspect of this idea that hasn’t been brought up too much is in the music industry. Live music seems to be disappearing. Much of our music has evolved from having a live orchestra and band backing up some of the biggest artists or a stage production to having fewer people backing up a performance with a machine whose technology can repeat, amplify, and layer sounds that it has recorded or that is being played in the present by the musician. Many of the original roles of humans have disappeared to technology. While this technology isn’t exactly “robotic”, it also isn’t human, and it tends to mimic the musicianship of humans.

Which would you rather? Imagine you’re at a concert with some of your best friends, near the front of the audience- close enough to see the sweat on the artists’ foreheads, and the atmosphere is exhilarating. The crowd is eclectic and the music connects with you and creates this peaceful aura from within you. Now answer this, when picturing the above scenario, do you picture a stage with musicians elated and jamming on perhaps the keyboard, guitars, trumpets, or any other instrument- OR do you picture the musicians on stage flipping switches and turning knobs on synths to create this sound?

In the above situation, I personally pictured a band containing a handful of musicians, and between them they had a drum set, a guitar or two, a keyboard, and a couple brass instruments. While this could easily say more about the genre of music that I enjoy more, I feel that it could also describe the type of music that I feel is most human. While this may be my more ideal concert setting, many of the concerts I have attended in the past year or so have had synthesizers on stage with them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the digital synth sound and am awed by the cool layers of sound it can provide, but I miss seeing more of the talented musicians who enjoyed performing their passion in front of live audiences. These digital devices have added another aspect to many genres of music and provided an innovation in sound, but they have also replaced many jobs of humans because they can imitate so many parts with one device.

I guess the question comes up again; what is human? So many humans enjoy, connect, and express themselves through music. Does this music need to be produced by humans to satisfy our ears and wants, or does any sound that moves us define as music that meets our standards? To what extent are humans part of music and music part of humans? These questions are hard to answer, and while I have my own ideas in my head, I really feel that there is no definite answer and that with music there may not need to be a line drawn between humans and technology.

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4 Comments

  1. I work at the Schott and last night was the Michael Buble concert. During my shift I was able to watch the last couple of songs and for the very last song, Michael put his microphone to the side and belted his heart out. The entire arena was silent as his voice was booming. It sounded amazing. There was no help, his voice was not coming through the speakers, solely a one-man performance. No one saw it coming because you rarely just hear someone’s voice singing in its raw form. In a sense, this is what made him human. Unfortunately, this could only be achieved through a live performance like this but it was very cool and it is a shame that this does not happen more often. It seems like every singer’s voice is now altered in some way through a computer.

  2. The age of EDM has definitely taken full swing. Electronic artists are taking over the nation and people seem to love it. Personally, I don’t get the same feeling I would with a live band, it almost seems fake to me. Although they are still creating the music, they are simply pressing play instead of performing.

  3. I agree I would much rather see a band on stage playing instruments. To me that is what music is. Yes, I do enjoy listening to other music, but it is not as entertaining to watch. It is weird to think that even music is changing and becoming more and more technological.

  4. I think this is what separates humans and robots. Robots cannot be creative. They may be programmed to create music but again it is programmed. They cannot come up with new original ideas. If robots become a larger part of our lives, one part where they wont is the arts: paintings and music and the likes.

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