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The problem with technology . . .

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jhan, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. jhan

    jhan Guest

    I'm sure people have talked about this here before . . . I think technology is really messing with a lot of musicians - especially young ones. It's a shame, really. A lot of kids could be really good . . . if they would just get the hell away from their computers and practice a little bit!!

    While it's true there's a wealth of information available now, and computer technology can be great, how is it being used? To what end?

    Easy and affordable access to high powered computers and DAWS means that a lot of mediocre/poor ideas come to fruition - ideas that should have been killed seconds after birth. During the writing process, a lot of young musicians are very quick to jump in front of a computer before they have an idea of where they're going. The result is songs that sound like a bunch of riffs strung together without any direction or purpose. No groove, poor transitions, etc, etc. Before they know it, they're leaning on the limitations of technology rather than being creative. They're hemmed in because they're spending time on TECHNOLOGY rather than learning how to be creative. The result: less time learning how to make music, and more time making, uh . . . STUFF.

    A good example is a band that wanted me to join. One of the members writes everything on a computer. Then the band spends hours discussing how they can do this on the computer, that on the computer, etc, etc. But the reason I'm not joining their band is not because of technology issues; it's because A) their songs SUCK, and B) They don't even play the songs they wrote that well.

    I didn't have the heart to tell them that they all need to shut their computers off and go practice their damn instruments.

    Problem is, they've spent so much time tweaking their songs on a computer, and they've invested so much time and emotional energy on it, that they have no distance. Gone. Poof. The 'Suck' detector is gone because they're caught in a technology vortex. Any wonder why they've been through three bassists in the past six months?

    Yeah, I have a computer. I use a DAW. I Have mics and preamps and drum software and EQ plugins and soft-synths and all that happy crap. But my most important piece of technology, besides my ears, my hands, and my bass . . . is a metronome. That thing that goes tic tic tic and tells me when my timing is off. Sometimes it's the simple things . . .

    You know, man, they designed the Empire State Building with paper and pencils - and the thing is still standing. We did a lot of good stuff fin this world before computers.

    And hey, young-uns; forget the damn TABS already!! Just use your freakin' ears, will you?!! That way you'll know what a major third is, what a harmonic minor scale sounds like, etc, etc. You won't have to look at my fretboard while I play. You can just LISTEN to what I play and work it out for yourself. Do that over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, and you'll become a musician, rather than some guy who plays a guitar, can program a drum loop, but doesn't know anything about music.

    Now, on to my tenth cup of coffee . . . :hyper:
  2. I hear ya. Lots of absolutely atrocious stuff out there courtesy of easy tech stuff, as you say. Fortunately most of it's so bad it'll never see the light of day anyway. Some people would tell you to lose the metronome too.

  3. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    Ever since I read a Sun Records biography, I've tried to approach my recordings in the same way. The final tracks that made the albums weren't always the best technically, but the ones that really had that feel, groove and emotion. As much as I enjoy technology (especially the fact that my laptop can be a simple recording studio), I realize that it really is only a tool, and can't compensate for a lack of emotion or feel in a song.
  4. somegeezer


    Oct 1, 2009
    I feel ashamed to say I'm one of those tab kinda guys now. =[... Though I've never used a metronome, I have brilliant timing. I also think people use computers more than they should be practising, but those people are the ones who won't make it in the industry. Their own fault.
  5. Shmone


    Feb 16, 2009
    I agree with some of the things you mentioned, but I think that if you combine musical knowledge with technology, you can create some awesome things.
    For example, writing songs is much easier sometimes with a computer because you can hear it and not just look at a piece of paper and try to imagine how it sounds. I find myself combining writing music on the computer and writing with a pencil and a piece of paper. Obviously no amount of technology will make you a better player or a better musician, but I think that technology can be very helpful with music.

    I agree about the metronome thing you mentioned, as a trumpet player, I practice alot with a metronome and there are way too many musicians that underestimate the importance of the metronome, I've seen too many "musicians" with such a lousy timing and feel and indeed only practice can fix that.
  6. jhan

    jhan Guest

    I definitely agree with the first part of that. There are obviously some people out there doing brilliant stuff - and not just in electronic music. I really wish I could meet some of these people!!

    The experience I've had mostly is this: someone asks me to jam, the send me a few wav files of their stuff, and when I show up, they ask me how I liked their 'songs.' The first thing that pops into my head is, "Well they were actually a bunch of riffs just strung together."

    Maybe I just haven't caught a break and met any good songwriters yet. Regardless . . . if I'm writing a rock song, there's only so far I'll go on a computer. I'll NEVER be able to hear how something really sounds unless an entire band is playing it. I'm just not that talented on my own.

  7. joebingo


    Aug 23, 2006
    London, UK
    I've only skim read this, so what I'm about to say may have already been said, but here goes.

    Personally, technology has been nothing but a help for me musically. I wouldn't be anywhere near the bass player I am without access to the internet (even just working out basslines from songs I've heard on youtube which I liked for example. As well as this, my PC allows me total creative freedom when writing a song. Lay down a part on guitar, program some drums, add bass, vocals and keys if need be and I've got a song that sounds near professional quality in the space of a day.

    The problem with technology, i find, is that it spoils you!
  8. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    I've really enjoyed having my own home studio over the years. I find that midi / audio recording really helped me in the area of playing the keyboard. I never did before, and it was a boon to be able to noodle on the keys and actually create melodies, harmony, etc. I even used Cakewalk for DOS back in the early 1990's.

    For bass, I use the computer for playing back songs that I want to play along to (from my band rehearsals, from Youtube, mp3's etc.). But it's just me, the wood, and fingers and strings.

    Also, for linear recording. The recordings I've done have almost never used any loops or clips (only on drums). Play through the song, add some variations to verses and choruses as you move through the song to build dynamics or scale or change the feel. I've done some live off the floor 10 track songs with my band that were pretty fun and the results weren't bad.

    I don't use tabs. I find them more confusing than standard notation. Just give me a fake sheet with chords. I learned about a hundred jazz standards that way. Taking some lessons and learning the scale and chord notes on the fretboard helped me immensely. I also agree about the importance of just hearing and playing by ear. Figure out the bass line. Pretty soon you learn to instinctively work ahead of the tune and find the 3rds and fifths.

    It really is all about the groove. You have to feel it. Tech has its place, but it's defintely not an indispesable part of me being a bass player. Recording musician, yes. Bass player, no. That comes from playing with other people and there's nothing digital about it, just wood, fingers and strings, playin' off the drums and other parts, breathing in the pocket, creating the groove.
  9. I believe you when you say you have brilliant timing, BUT, record yourself playing different exercises to a click. Even just quarter notes at 45bpm. You'll hear things you never did just listening to yourself.

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