On Real Music or Lack Thereof

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A common thought among many is that today’s pitch and/or time corrected music is not real. In some ways, this makes sense in that its artificial enhancement, as contrasted with live playing. On the other hand, I’ll argue that today’s music, with all of its technical enhancements is even more real than what we had prior to the digital world.

The reason for this, is emotional content, music from the heart so to speak. Back in the days of tape, it wasn’t unheard of for some tracks to require a ton of takes, in some cases, maybe even 30 or 40 of them to get a pristine version. The problem of course is that such gets pretty fatiguing on the part of the musician, and emotional content starts to wane. In todays world, maybe only a few takes are needed such that digital enhancement can take care of the rest. Such presents emotional content in a much more raw and pristine fashion, even if the technical aspects need correction. As such, the potential is there not only for real music, but music thats even more real than what we had in the multitrack tape era. Yes, I fully get that a nearly untalented individual can be pitch and time corrected, and that seems a bit shafting to the audience… but music much is much more than technical accuracy.

If real is what one is truly shooting for, I tend to think the very early era of wax cylinder recording is probably the answer… there was no possibility of digital correction, or even multiple passes with such systems. Pretty much each recording sold required the musician to perform it, with quantities limited only by the fatigue of the musicians in combination with number of parallel recorders one had available. Alas labor costs being what they were, the process soon morphed into recording one master, which would be played and linked with rubber tubing to provide inputs to multiple recorders at the same time… so yes, not very high in the fidelity realm.

The thing is, at some point or another, technology will evolve to create emotional enhancement… or even emotional masking, at that point, I think the concern over fake music would become very real very fast. Granted, such an approach, just as pitch and/or time correction is asymtotic, ie, it will get closer and closer but never get there. Alas, just as rubber tube recording was good enough… maybe time, pitch, and emotional connection will good enough, and what then???

I think we already have the answer… live, in your face music. Its as real as it gets, its where the greatest value of music truly lives, and I think the market is already pointing us in that direction. Alas, it will not be without its own set of expectations and challenges.

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