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23 June 2010


Could it be that it was all so simple then, or has time re-written every line? Of code? A while back, I was the group editor of FututreNet, Future plc's online presence. All we did was hand-coded, Flash was still Macromedia's (and wasn’t very flash), the inter-web was grindingly slow and Google was still a twinkle in the eyes of two, now very rich, code-monkeys. How rapidly times change.

Now we’ve megabit access, cloud computing, social networking on our mobiles, GPS on our microwaves and more spam than Scotland has batter in which to deep-fry it. Even Cook Island has a commercial domain (.co.ck - stop sniggering at the back). What does this mean for the modern musician? Mucho. I was in wanton need of some cinematic, vaguely horrific, pads just lately. Not merely to frighten my sister (again), but for a sage busk on a psychological theme. Bad dreams gone bad, or something like that. All I needed to do was access Native Instruments’ website, pay a few Euros and download Paranormal Spectrums, then load the library into freebie sample player NI Kore 2.1.1. All of five minutes to service me with more scary shit than you could beat off with a faecal truncheon. Incidentally, make sure to grab your freebie Kore Holiday Collection from Native's instrument library, 'ere it disappears.

Way back when, in portastudio days, I would have been scratching around for sound, but now the pertinent timbre is but a few clicks away. Stuck for a groove, I headed for reFX’s Nexus and its gated pads. A few tweaks later and I had something worth sharing online with a muzo friend of mine. Them folks at Ohm Force, over the channel in France, are pushing the networked collaborative thang with Ohm Studio. Check out Ohm’s blog-terview with former Rocket Network collaboratist Engin Assan. He has interesting comment on networked music making and the challenges involved. As I always say: The more things change, the more they get different. Always, mind.

While the purist may sit, quill in hand, occasionally scratching ants onto the telegraph wires of score as inspiration comes to a rolling boil, all the while eschewing this gross technology that we muzos deploy when creating a racket, let us consider the piano. Used by composers for centuries, the piano is perhaps the most ridiculous instrument of the orchestra. Each note supported by three strings; mechanical hammer-and-mute action; in essence, a row of buttons; a bugger to tune if you move it or turn off the central heating. Now that’s music technology gone mad. It makes us modern muzos, with our calculating engines, left-field input devices and swathes of binary code, look almost sane.

What I’m driving at is that no matter the hardware, software or wetware (ie, people) applied to the creation of a musical work, what matters is the work itself. Be it easy or difficult to create, be it of your own fume or inspired by another’s, so long as it’s honest expression and gives something to others, perhaps in a challenging way or just merely for fun, then it’s justified. Frankly, I’d rather work with today’s sonic tools than arse about with orchestration, even though I’m a big fan of orchestral timbres. If you’re on this website, reading these very words, then you’re probably already biased towards modern musical methods, but your comment is still very welcome. What gets your juices flowing? What kit do you turn to when the groove needs to engage? What moves you musically? Click the envelope below and aver. No time like the present...

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