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How is new technology changing the way music is produced?

stephen arnold music

Everything can be done faster and cheaper — or so clients keep telling us. The problem is that modern recording technology allows you to delay spontaneous (and sometimes brilliant) decisions as you save layers and layers of takes to evaluate later, instead of trusting your initial instincts. Come to think of it, technology doesn’t really save you any time. It just allows you to create more versions and gives you more choices to make, which ends up filling the same amount of time – if not more! Singers can sing out of tune and be corrected later. Some instruments can be pitch-corrected after the performance. Whole tracks can be transposed into different keys. And instrument samples have become so sophisticated, that many times, you don’t need a live performer at all! So what’s the end result of all this hi-tech? Science is literally sucking the life out of the art. (Now you got me going.)

Listeners and viewers are becoming more and more desensitized to great music because they are being exposed to so much “programmed” and electronic music, and listen to low-quality mp3 files on cheap earbuds. In fact, I’m not so sure that stringing together loops, pads and textures can even be called composing music. Personally, technology often gets in the way, since so much time is spent turning knobs and scrolling through sounds, menus and windows, instead of working out the actual notes and melody. I prefer what we call “hands-on music.” I typically go straight to the raw guitar or acoustic piano, work out the “idea,” then use the technology to execute it. That’s how sonic branding works for me.

stephen arnold music

But hey! Everyone’s different, and it’s all subjective, right? Honestly, there’s been some great music recorded in bedrooms. And some of the younger artists are putting together tracks using pure technology that literally blows me away. But I prefer the studio, with real arrangements, sheet music and living, breathing musicians. We really need those talented musicians, because arguing with musicians is SO much more rewarding than arguing with clients.

Leave a comment:

  1. Steve Sobiech says:

    I agree completely. I find I waste a lot of time with countless takes, instead of just working on the idea. I almost always know that sitting for a couple hours, letting an idea ferment, always produces something better than the crap I create with many takes. Thanks!