This month (February 2016) is Country Month at Toontrack, online maker of sample-based software and other songwriting tools. I’m honoured to have been asked to write an article for their Country Month launch, and they’ve posted Part 1 over on their site. Here’s a short excerpt:
Has Technology Changed the Nature of Music?
Only a few years ago, computers played mainly a two-part role in the music industry: 1) synthesize sounds, and 2) record music. Today, computers still do that, but they do much more, not the least of which is to act as a songwriting partner: to suggest ideas. That is what Toontrack’s EZKeys and other software does, and does well. It offers loops and other musical fragments that a songwriter can use to create songs. In that way, songwriters are in an interesting co-writing partnership with computers.
It is an exciting world, one that a 18th century composer like Mozart would be astounded by. He would be stunned to know that you can write, record and mix a song on your smartphone (What the heck is that??) this morning, and be streaming it to billions of people around the word before supper time. In Mozart’s day, music was composed on a piece of paper, using pen and ink, sitting at a keyboard, or perhaps holding a guitar, lute, or other stringed instrument. Essentially, it was nothing much more than an imagination and a pen.
And nothing much changed in that process until the 1980s, when computers became a household item. Sound sampling, sound synthesis, sound manipulation, and sound recording… the world of music changed incredibly quickly.
Every facet of our lives is now controlled to some degree by computers. Our cars, our house security systems, our communication systems, even our toasters – they all use computers, and it’s easy to think that music should be no different.
With today’s music, we hear the ever-powerful influence of computers in the way it is written and recorded. And that leads to an important question: Has technology changed the nature of music? Is the structure of the music we compose different because computers are involved? We might use our smartphone as a kind of notepad, to sing ideas to ourselves. And we might use software to get our ideas down into some useable form, rather than using pen and paper. But what about the music itself? Has that really changed in the computer age?
To read more, head over to Toontrack’s site.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter
Gary’s new ebook “Writing a Song From a Chord Progression “ is offered free with your purchase of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook Bundle. Don’t miss this time-limited deal. Read more.