Can Music Production Systems Produce Music Originality?
With today’s music production systems there can be a lack of originality for the ear to appreciate. It begins with the producer who relies on a computer rather than live instrumentalists and ends with the devices we use to consume our music, which cut out the dynamics captured in the recording studio.
With many of the mainstream music production synthesizers most singers, instrumentalists, and drummers are expected to sound like machines. When vocalists were slightly off key, they could be auto-tuned. If a bass player isn’t perfectly in-time with the drummer, their parts could be processed in a recording program that syncs them up. Of course, that’s if a live musician is used at all—many producers in pop, hip hop, and R&B now use samples or synthetic sounds generated by computers instead of using their human progenitors.
And that could be having a big impact on our appreciation of the music: There is some scientific evidence on the value of giving listeners something they’re not expecting. “Music that’s inventive excites neural circuits in the prefrontal cortex,” says Daniel Levitin, a neuro-scientist and author of This is Your Brain on Music. “It’s the job of the composer to bring us pleasure through choices we didn’t expect.”
With a live drummer, producers have a limited number of sounds to choose from, but with a program, they can quickly and easily experiment with dozens of different options until they find the one that sounds right. Petros says that most of his friends who are producers in the music industry don’t even know how to record a live drum set, and that a significant number of people who have songs in the Billboard Hot 100 don’t have any formal music training. But do they need to, any more?
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