Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Live music can never be replaced

Hi Pliable, Thanks for the article about our NOTION software. It's an interesting article and a point of view that VirtuosoWorks (makers of NOTION) are aware of.

If I may talk a little about the flip side of this point of view, which by the way is not a new one; drummers thought the drum machine would be the end of live drummers, movie theaters thought VCRs (and later DVDs) would be the end of going to the movies, and musical instrument manufacturers thought software would be the end of their business. In fact, all of these areas are healthy and in the case of musical instruments, growing.

The bottom line is that listening to and playing live music is an experience that can never be replaced; and the goal of
NOTION certainly is not to try take jobs from musicians. It is a composition, learning, and accompaniment tool to substitute for a live orchestra when one is not possible.

The creator of
NOTION and founder of the VirtuosoWorks, Dr. Jack Jarrett, comes from the world of classical music and academics and sensed an opportunity to give composers the orchestral experience while composing, and to give performance venues the opportunity to add any number of live musicians back into performances where there were none before.

By composing in
NOTION, music students, classical composers, TV/film composers etc, get instant feedback as to what their composition would sound like with one of the world's top orchestras. It helps them learn and hone their craft as well as deliver life like mock-ups to teachers or directors, use as a practice tool, or accompany live performances.

The NTEMPO real-time performance feature lets a musician play or conduct
NOTION to play along with other musicians or live performances. This may sound like taking jobs aways from musicians, but consider that many theater, dance, and ballet productions have been hit by budget decreases over the past years and must invest first into dancers, actors, sets, etc. In addition, smaller theaters have space constraints in fitting in large numbers of musicians. Many of these performances have resigned their music accompaniment to CD playback - the worst all all scenarios. No musicians and no flexibility in performance.

With
Notion, a performance can add a soloist, 4, 6, 12, 20 or however many live musicians they can afford and fill in the rest with NOTION, giving the performance more life. This is actually being done with the Greensboro Ballet who once relied upon CD due to budget cuts and now employ several musicians and NOTION, giving them more flexibility and life in their performances. Also, schools are using this feature to teach and accompany soloists where in the past a CD was used. Notion is a bridge back to musicianship and live music in these scenarios once lost to CD playback.

It's natural for musicians to be paranoid about losing work to technology. The reality of economics, space, and other factors sometimes prohibit the ideal situation. However, technology is not the cause, and should be embraced as a means to foster creativity and creating opportunities for musicians by adding flexibility to otherwise inflexible situations.

Thanks and feel free to post this,
Brian McConnon

6 comments:

Guthry Trojan said...

Of all the claims that Notion could make with regard to this programme, to assert that it adds "life" to a performance strikes me as rather bizarre. Shrouding the recorded sound of a few real musicians with a stylised inorganic sheen has quite the opposite effect.

It is now quite common to engage only a few musicians to record film scores; supplementing and mimicking their artistry with computerised samples to fill out the textures - just as Mr McConnon describes. Presumably, even these musicians will lose their meagre income as samplers become more adept at quantizing and quantifying more and more aspects of performance.

And as it becomes more common, fewer people will be equipped or able to tell the difference.

Pliable said...

NOTION has its own blog, follow this link.

Anonymous said...

Guthry,

I think you missed his point - Using this software would be more "musical" than a CD, which is all too common. Having live musicians play with Notion is better than none at all.

I don't think he's saying Notion would add more "life" than real perfromers, but is a suitable alternative when they are not feasable.

In these economic times, I don't think it's realistic for productions where the central focus is not music - dance, theater, film - to always employ an entire orchestra.

Guthry Trojan said...

I don't think I missed his point.

"...they can afford and fill in the rest with NOTION, giving the performance more life."

Notion may not take jobs away from musicians directly, but it most certainly provides a pleasantly economic alternative!

“You have to make sure the technology doesn’t outpace the humanity." - Quincy Jones

"If something makes a lot of money, it doesn't make it cool.
People worry about missing out on that pot of gold. But what
they're really missing out on is their creative process." - Wayne Shorter

"All these purists are walking around talking about how electrical instruments will ruin music. Bad music is what will ruin music, not the instruments musicians choose to play. I don’t see nothing wrong with electrical instruments as long as you get great musicians who will play them right" - Miles Davis

Anonymous said...

Economics is part of life. This looks like a "glass half empty, glass half full" debate and whether one chooses to fight against technology, or embrace it and use it to one's advantage.

To Mr. McConnon's point that NOTION allows musicians to be added back into a performance that once relied entirely upon CD playback; they seem to be the only company I know of that has actually documented several cases of this happening (see their website). Bravo!

Add to this the opportunity for music students and professional composers to compose with an instant, realistic-sounding orchestral mock-up and this technology does far more good that harm.

The rest is typical "doom and gloom" of the purists as far as I can see.

Jon said...

I think the natural reaction to this from a professional musician is one of fear and curiosity. There are obvious benefits to this technology. If its used in schools for example, to accompany/extend,a small town amateur, semi pro band/orchestra/society, miles away from any professional Orchestra's/halls to put on a perfomance of xyz, nutcracker, Guys and Dolls etc, it could encourage that audience to make a trip to hear the real thing, or even to invite an Orchestra to the town, outdoor concert etc..
However they WON'T be encouraged to hear the "Real Thing" if they are using the same machine in London/New York/Berlin/Vienna etc.
Live performances of ANYTHING will ALWAYS prevail. A Playstation can show a game of football for you but you still want to watch Manchester United V Chelsea, and not an autoplay with a pre programed result!
I don't see it as any different to CD's, no one sits down in a concert wall to watch a HI FI, even if its the greatest of all the greatest, human beings want to hear,see, feel, absorb the Human excitement, anxiety, tension, passion emotion, EVERYTHING that machines do not do and never ever will do. Machines are the same everytime, even with all the Rubatos, crescendos and all that, just like the CD which is(or could) be from a live performance, if its the same EVERYTIME you hear it and its 100% predictable, it becomes boring. You can watch the 1966 world cup final video as many times as you want, but unless you were there you will never know how amazing that moment was, it an never be replicated, and this is what keeps all artists employed. Blood Sweat and Tears is what people want with all entertainment,to feel engaged and part of the performance. This will never happen with anything thats prerecorded hence why live entertainment still exists all over the world.