smh.com.au

Out of the box

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Once pop stars worked hard to sound good. Now a button does it for them. I have a confession to make. I play in a band and we just recorded our first CD. That isn't the confession. The confession is that we cheated, writes Sacha Molitorisz.

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During recording, we used just about every trick modern technology allows. Nay, encourages. Notes sung out of tune were automatically corrected. Chords strummed out of time were cut and pasted into their rightful place. Keyboards were made to sound like strings. Plastic pads were made to sound like a vintage 1950s drum kit. We were made to sound really quite good, actually. (Well, so says my mum.)

This magic didn't happen in some fancy $200-a-minute, super-high-tech studio. The songs were recorded in a humble apartment in Bondi, often using little more than our instruments, a good quality microphone and a standard home computer kitted out with some relatively inexpensive recording software.

Let's be open about this: musicians are cheating like hell - and few are admitting it.

What exactly are all the nifty recording studio secrets being used today? Here are some we exploited.

Auto-Tune
Of all the secret music tricks, this is the most devious. "When an out-of-tune performance is a problem, PitchDoctor is nothing less than a session-saving miracle ... it's the only choice for truly challenging correction work," reads an advertisement for one technology. Auto-Tune is "hailed as a Holy Grail of recording" and "used daily by thousands of audio professionals around the world", claims a rival product. Both work with the ubiquitous ProTools music program used by artists such as Outkast, Beyonce and Alicia Keys. And now it's been used by my band, The Wakeman Kill Switch*.

Twiddling the knobs during our recording was John Kilbey, who has extensive experience as a producer, working with everyone from untalented novices to natural-born nightingales.

Auto-Tune is one of Kilbey's secret weapons. It allows a producer to adjust the pitch of a note - whether that note is sung, hummed, plucked, blown or beaten. If, for instance, a singer cannot hit a high note, the technology can bump it up, pitch it perfectly and delete any ungainly wavering.

"You can take a beginner and turn him or her into a killer," says Kilbey. For The Wakeman Kill Switch recording, we didn't use the Auto-Tune. Much. Says Kilbey: "I often wonder when I'm playing with a track, say, when I'm auto tuning a vocal, if I do that without a singer's knowledge does that give them confidence to become a better singer?

"Or falsely confirm what they always believed: that they're a great talent?"

Cut and Paste
Everyone knows how to cut and paste text to edit a document in a word-processing program. These days, similar technology is used to edit songs. For example, if a song contains a repetitive guitar riff and the guitarist is not very good, that's not a problem. As long as he or she plays the riff correctly once or twice, it can be cut and pasted over and over.

That's just for starters. Says Kilbey: "You can record a vocal, say, in the first verse, then cut up the words a little and rearrange them and paste them into the third verse. Hey, presto! Third verse! This takes an inordinate length of time to do, but it's possible if you're really stuck. Say if your singer dies in the middle of the second verse."

A producer can even "cut" a band out of a bedroom and "paste" them into an expensive studio with perfect acoustics. As Marc Geiger, co-founder of the Lollapalooza tour, explains: "Most recording is not about the sound of the room, which can be manipulated with ProTools the same way Photoshop can manipulate photos. A home bedroom is almost as good as a big studio these days."

Virtual instruments
Can't afford an expensive guitar, synthesiser or drum kit? Buy a computer instead.

Some bands used to take up to a week just to set up a perfect sounding drum kit for recording. "Now we have V-Drums - Virtual Drums," says Kilbey.

Virtual drums look like a bunch of thick plastic plates on posts. They are played like normal drums, but can be programmed to sound like a retro Gretsch kit played with brushes, a crisp Yamaha with sticks or even a cheesy Flock of Seagulls set-up.

Guitar amps have gone the same way. Kilbey's favourite "virtual amplifier modelling system" is called the Pod. "At the flick of a switch, you can sound like Jimi Hendrix or Bryan Adams - or a bit of both. One software program, the AmpliTube,
lets you call up sounds of your favourite guitarists - George Harrison, Dave Gilmour, Adams - recreating their classic sound on your crappy little guitar. It doesn't help get the notes right, though."

Backmasking
You know when bands put weird bits in their music that, when you play them backwards, say "Worship Satan"? That's called backmasking and it's been long used to produce interesting guitar sounds and many other effects, as on the Stone Roses' debut album or the Beatles' Revolver.

It used to be a difficult process - but now it's easy with ProTools.
"In the old days, it took ages to wind off the tapes, learn how to say 'Satan made our mothers sweat!' then record it, turn the tape back over, and so on," Kilbey says. "Now you can just select the evil phrase that you want and again 'Hey, presto!'

"I guess some of the [backmasking effects] are now second nature to me - such as aligning backing vocals to the main vocal with a nifty little plug-in called VocAlign."

Plug-ins are small software programs that work with ProTools to achieve one particular trick. They can be used to "lock in" guitars with each other; to remove extraneous coughs and sniffs between verses or to help out-of-time musicians.

"Say a guitarist can't play in time," says Kilbey. "I take the bits I like, lose the rest, nudge them into time, Auto-Tune them, rearrange the melody - and fly it through the song. So who should get credited on the album sleeve?"

Kilbey gets a credit on our album.

Automatic Mistakes
Many musicians and fans criticise technology for creating soulless music. As Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl told Guitar Player magazine: "I think that the struggle for perfection is the biggest problem with recording today. So much music lacks character, charisma and personality because people are too concerned with making things as glossy and glittery as they can get.

"For example, ProTools and digital editing have almost destroyed the things that I loved about drummers from the '60s and '70s. The legendary drummers - whether you're talking about Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, John Bonham or Keith Moon - were famous for having their own feel, which meant they weren't perfect metronomes.

"It was nice to hear John Bonham's laziness or Keith Moon's sloppy aggression - or even their drunken drum fills. That stuff sounded cool. The current focus on perfect metronomic time really detracts from the overall feel of a song."

Fortunately, there is a digital solution. Some digital programs, such as drumming programs, deliberately make small mistakes. That way the drumming sounds less robotic, more human.

"It's called a 'humanisation' feature," says Kilbey. "They don't really make mistakes, but, as I understand it, shift the beat a little to make it sound more human. So I guess technically they do make mistakes.

"Music is all about feeling and every time you digitally 'jiggle' it, you are removing a little of its soul. Overall, we used the 'tricks' very sparingly.

"ProTools can be deftly handled to create a masterpiece or to incompetently bludgeon something to death. It simply allows greater freedom.

"I guess it magnifies what your personality already has a disposition towards. I know some people who are paralysed by the seemingly infinite options and never get anything finished. The wise digital musician remembers to focus on the song - not the process of recording it. There are plenty of tricks but - like with all things - without knowledge and, dare I say, talent, they won't save your songs. Nor help write them."

*Not our real name. Our real name (Miss Venezuela) has been suppressed in order to spare ourselves unmitigated embarrassment.

Posted June 23, 2004 8:51 PM

LATEST COMMENTS

im 14 and i am able to become a pop star, all you need is a beat, a decent program, a cd burner and your all set,
the only hard part about it is the singing,
but thats still easy

A Davis

  • Posted by: Aaron Harding-Davis at May 4, 2006 4:14 PM

Hi, I,m wondering if anyone can help me. I have some 1" 8 track reel to reel tapes which were recorded in the mid 80,s by a band I was singing for in Adelaide. I have tried to get them transferred onto Pro-Tools so as to hear them but no one in Adelaide has an * track reel to reel recorder if somebody could help me out with this it would be greatly appreciated thanx Digby

  • Posted by: Digby at December 6, 2005 9:15 PM

Michele,

I disagree with your statement that people MUST like digital music because they buy it.

You are assuming that there is a wide range of options readily available to the consumer and that is not accurate.

Ask your mother if she can buy any clothes she actually wants. Even the bread I want has been discontinued at the supermarkets.

If you are lucky enough to have the time, know-how and resources to bother with downloading music from file share transfer networks, then you are in a position to get thre music you want.

Most of us are too busy working to do that, so we rely on what is in the stores. There are many artists who don't make it to the shelves.

- Richard

  • Posted by: Richard at September 8, 2005 7:05 PM

To most of you:

Is English your first language?

Perhaps your spelling and grammar would benefit from a little computer-based auto-tuning. It's called a spell-check.

As far as music is concerned, you can polish a turd, but its still a turd. It might look shiny, but it will still stink.

  • Posted by: Cameron at July 31, 2005 7:09 PM

Are computers destroying music? Maybe, maybe not. They might be destroying musicians. I once saw a TV doco claiming that there used to be people who went around pubs playing music and singing songs without the benefit of electricity! Can you believe that? Muso's I know often moan about the lack of live performance work and blame it on technology. The two most vocal moaners play keyboards. Their usual job is to replace the strings and the front-line brass in "live" performances and recording sessions...go figure.

  • Posted by: Mike the Tyke at June 27, 2004 9:50 AM

If you need a computer to make it seem that you can play in time or sing in tune get back into the shower where you belong. Not everyone has the right to be a pop star - if you are no good then tough luck - stop pretending and let people with talent do it.

  • Posted by: John at June 24, 2004 4:08 PM

Apparently, somebody likes the "Computer enhanced" music, cause it's selling. Not everyone has to like it but that's what make the world so good, people have different tastes. For example: we know that people have plastic surgery more commonly these days. Do we feel decieved by them? I think not. The general public speak loudly by consumerism. I'm not particularly crazy about soem types of music i hear on, t.v, the radio, videos etc.. but others are and we all live in this world together.

  • Posted by: Michele at June 24, 2004 10:37 AM

It's good for us to me informed about this new technology (those of us who are not musos and audio technicians). Seems like a great idea to me for home use maybe 10 years down the track when it becomes very cheap. You could record yourself, family and friends, and it would be excellent for bands starting out.

  • Posted by: good to know at June 24, 2004 9:58 AM

Technology has enabled a once peniless musician to get ideas up and happening. To level the playing field enables true musicianship once again to flourish with the emphasis turned back on itself to structure, beat,harmony ,melodics and creativity. Where it was once only the domain of those with the cash to record, those who can truely write, have the tools at their fingertips to produce a viable product. Technology does not write the song - it simply records it.

  • Posted by: equinox at June 23, 2004 11:10 PM

What a silly article! - if only we had the equivalent of Auto-tune for 'journalists' (still wouldn't make up for the lack of ideas in that case either)

SOUL people...if it aint got SOUL, it dont matter if its made on a iMac or a banjo

crap is crap is crap

doesn't matter if it's rock,dance, pop - whatever..stop thinking in such rigid terms as 'acoustic' and 'live' and 'electronic'...

  • Posted by: quantize at June 23, 2004 10:22 PM

if you want to make shite for the radios, quickly recorded, quickly produced, quickly sold, quickly forgotten, cheating is okay, but remember, it's shite.

great musicians never die.

you cant access posterity as a good musician or as a good band if youre not... good.

shite doesnt last. when you'll be asked to play unplugged/a cappela what will you do if you cant sing or play an instrument ?

  • Posted by: roms at June 23, 2004 10:09 PM

Problem is that bands turn out shite produced to perfection in a bedroom without having gone through the studio process and they cannot develop any further. Learning from the note perfect studio cats really makes you a better musician and helps you to make better records. That scene seems to be dead now.

Computers arent killing music though. It's the same tricks we've always used...just now it's easier to accomplish them. What used to take days with a razor blade now takes a minute with a computer and studio guys have always been brought in to play the parts the 'stars' cant.

A bad song will be a bad song...computer or no. Some computer musicians have taken creativity in a different direction...Chemical Bros, Crystal Method....

Horses for courses...god William Hung sells records and he doesnt use autotune!!

  • Posted by: Greg at June 23, 2004 10:09 PM

Computers have opened up many avenues for exploration of sounds and new colours and textures. However with new technology it also brings severe draw backs like music that has lost its soul through perfection. Although programs have tried to emulate a group dynamic it is just that an imitation of a group dynamic. Real musicianship comes from hours of practice and communication through sharing of experience and a creative energy that pervades the ensemble. Whether a computer has been integrated into that to make a new type of experience thats a different thing,but supporting dull nane reflections of superficial parts of our society well basically they shuv that immemorable crap down the lifeless hole it came from!

  • Posted by: Dave at June 23, 2004 8:23 PM

If an artist really needs a computer to do their best work, they shouldn't be working- or else they should at least say that they are a band who uses synthetic modification to sound right.

No, I don't think computers are destroying music (what is electronic and the rap/hip-hop movement without computers?) But its a bit rich calling yourself talented if your HAL-9000 does the work for you: "I can't let you perform, Dave, you just don't sound the way I made you perform."

If artists need technology to live their dream, then their lives are a lie and they're living in a dream world. If you can't sing or can't play, don't.

  • Posted by: Trent Shannon at June 23, 2004 8:15 PM

I mostly agree with your perspective on this issue, but it does have its advantages. Being a musician and a rock music fan, I think computer technology really kills the warmness of the sound. The seeming flawlessness that can be created by computer software (and admittedly I have used it personally) loses the musicality and feel of the music. ONe of the greatest joys i think is to listen to how a track or an album was built from scratch. Listening to the Beatles Anthologies is a source of great inspiration and laughter becuase it is so 'human'. I think that subtlety, touch, rawness and warmth is mostly lost today by over using technology. Over digitalising the recording process makes it sound mechanical and loses character. BUT, conversely, it can be used lightly to touch up things and tighten up the finished track. It certainly makes editing so much easier and it allows experimentation without the expenses of hiring an orchestra..etc. Exciting things can be achieved. But using it extensively makes music sound programmed and detatched. I respect that people have choices in how they conduct the creative project, but i however resent the "trend" of a bland digital sound and over looking the reliance on musicianship, intuition and even humour.

  • Posted by: Jackie at June 23, 2004 7:21 PM

"It would be a quiet, lonely place if only the most beautiful bird in the forest sang."

  • Posted by: Brain of Pooh at June 23, 2004 7:21 PM

Don't like the music you're hearing on the radio? Or on film/tv? Don't agree with what's available in record stores? Look elsewhere! There is so much music in the world today! Don't just use Austereo as your filter. Look on the internet, go see bands, seek out community events. You will have a real affinity for the music you find and you'll be supporting the artists who make it. There is music outside the "music industry" and often it's a whole lot better.

  • Posted by: mjk at June 23, 2004 6:54 PM

get rid of all these producer tools. if u cant sing u cant sing full stop. if cant hit a note go somewhere and practice until u do dont be lazy and use a computer tool. People hav forgotten that a voice is like any other instrument: guitar trumpet piano etc that it takes years of practice to learn to play. Not with these vocalists that singing is just gettin up there and doin it, LEARN TO SING!!

  • Posted by: Alex at June 23, 2004 6:54 PM

sounds like a former luddite had their eyes opened to the wonders of audio technology.

The first truth is that a tool is only as good as the artisan wielding it.

The second is that it's songwriting that makes a good song, not the tool used to make it.
You can't go in off the street, strum out a few barre chords, sing out of tune, press a button and get a gold record (not that that is a measure of "goodness" either).

A musician creates an arrangement of notes and sounds that people find pleasing.. does it matter if they cut and pasted a few bars if the listener could never tell? what about bands where 100% of the music is synthetic? does that somehow devalue the song?
to use an analogy based on the article - is your word document a fake and devalued piece of writing because you copy and pasted a few of the bigger words several time? Hell no it doesn't.

like all technology computer audio helps save time and makes things easier.. copy and pasting helps musicians on a budget not have to waste hours (read money) trying to "get it" in one take. vocal tuners help weed out the occasional bad note so that you're not hoarse at the end of a session and light of wallet trying to get it 100%.
A computer will never write a song to make you a star.. if it were that easy every musician out there would be an instant success the moment they loaded up protools.. luckily for everyone talent is still one of the overriding arbiters of success. Even musicianship isn't as important as songwriting skill.

There is basically no argument against using computers in the song writing process, it's like complaining about using computers in newspaper layouts, car designs and everybloody thing you interact and put your hands on everyday.. using a computer isn't cheating, it's commonsense.
-talkaustralia.com

  • Posted by: bhutos at June 23, 2004 6:39 PM

As many of the respondents have attested, all the "cheats" that Sacha identified are really just new instruments to play with. We should all turn our attention to the composers, producers and mixers who are masters of these new tools. Some are groundbreaking artists who churn out highly innovative sounds.

And from my own experience as a music producer I can tell you that there is no technological antidote for a bad singer - we are all at the mercy of the voice behind the mic. There is no plugin in the world at the moment with a 'sing well' setting on it and I have never seen Autotune save a bad performance.

  • Posted by: Mark at June 23, 2004 6:36 PM

Wot a load of bollox....it is like saying 'once apon a time they used to make movies for real...now they just press a button.
If only it was that easy. Yes is is easier for the singer....but the computer does not write great songs or make songs sound great.
These are all tools. Just cause you have power tools...doesn't mean you can make beautifull furniture.

Yes the art and craft has changed, but it has not made it easy.
I am waiting to see if this authors song becomes a great hit!

  • Posted by: Ramesh Sathiah at June 23, 2004 5:35 PM

What on earth is this article all about!? Anyone who knows the very least about music technology knows that samplers, and their "pitch shifter" variations, have been around since the mid 80's. How do you think jokes like Kylie ever made a record? Have you heard her in concert? It's all fake. Newsflash ... the whole business is fake, recorded and "live" and they've been doing it for decades. The scariest thing is that any "average consumer" under the age of 21 has probably never heard actual live music!

  • Posted by: Cranky Old Man at June 23, 2004 5:23 PM

I am a radio announcer for a local radio station so I get to see a lot of what really happens in the industry. Many of the bands that my station plays are Australian independents. They often say that to keep costs down they use software to 'tweak' songs.

Without the software, many of these bands would not be able to keep up with much less talented pop bands signed to multinational record companies.

The thing that I am really annoyed with is that the pop industry have brainwashed their market to make them believe that the artists are talented.

Most pop-stars don't have to write lyrics or scores for songs. Their fans then think that this 'talent' is from the artist. A majority of the time, the 'artist' is given the lyrics to 'sing' and all the rest is left up to the producer.

Good examples of this is Nicky Webster and the whole Idle franchise.
However, at the end of the day its the record company/producer/song writer who is laughing all the way to the bank.

I have noticed that 99% of the time, bands that have done the hard slog stay around. So called 'talent' thats pops up over night is usually gone the next day. Who remembers that Big Brother housemates 'Bum dance' single for example? Or how about Scott Cain?

  • Posted by: Lachlan Ashley at June 23, 2004 4:30 PM

rob is a funny luddite.

a drummer with an earpiece might need to hear a sample in order to play around and off it....and besides I'd bet that most bands record with a click track - because in the end it makes things easier in the studio.

seems a lot of people comment who dont play. as a producer I would love to have access to these 'easy cheat' computers you talk about. None of the tools I use will turn out anything but that which I tell them to.

use the shovel that gets you results - but not everyone desires the same results, some want to make music others want to make product. if you think modern music sucks then go find some that doesn't - or better still make some - rather than winging about it

  • Posted by: m at June 23, 2004 3:12 PM

What are you people on? I am sick of the music taliban telling us what is, and is not acceptable as 'music'! Once upon a time we made music with old bones and animal skins, once upon a time we made stringed instruments out of cat gut. Music is culture, culture is about progression and change, infused with tradition. E-music is as valid, creative and communicative as any other form of music. It contains the lements of all forms of music - be it classical, jazz, punk etc. Music is still about communication and innvoation in how we communicate mood,emotions, and ideas.

  • Posted by: Tyrone S. Pitsis at June 23, 2004 3:05 PM

Regarding Rob's comment that "Next time your at the pub look for an earpiece in the drummers ear, a sure sign that they are sequenced.", while it also makes me pretty sad to know that a lot of music is mimed, the earpiece in the drummer's ear is most likely their foldback/monitor, the speaker wedge or earpiece that the musos use to hear the other members of the band. As drums are quite loud a lot of drummers opt for in-ear monitors so that they can hear the rest of the band as clearly as possible.

For me the sure sign that a band is miming is when you can hear two guitars but there's only one on stage, or when you hear the singer singing, but their lips aren't moving... of course, this is much more likely to happen in a larger venue than your local pub - it's those fake MIDI drum sounds you have to watch out for in the local scene!

  • Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2004 2:55 PM

Oh dear, Sacha; 'cheated' ?

Come on now, admit it: you were just attention-grabbing there, weren't you ? A little research on society's response to the invention of the piano will show you that this kind of over-reaction has been repeated ad nauseam for centuries.

Technology has facilitated the production of good & bad music. It has also enabled unknown people with no chance in the world of getting published by the big names to produce music & be heard.

So Sacha, if you want to focus on something that really matters, write about the biggest record companies' systematic control (& in some case, elimination) of avenues through which the public (in particular, 4 - 14 year olds) may listen to new music. But I guess I'll have to go to Crikey.com for investigative journalism won't I ?

Populist nonsense: I expected better of you.

  • Posted by: Jem at June 23, 2004 2:54 PM

Reply to David Higgins:

Hey, David! We muso's walk around with ipods listening to our own original music, made with ProTools, auto-tune, reverb plug ins and wood, wire and sweat! Of course we would never stoop so low as to infringe copyright laws!!

That's just very naughty indeed! ;-)

  • Posted by: Jack at June 23, 2004 2:45 PM

If it sounds good, it is good! Unfortunately, in the quest for perfection it is easy to forget that what sounds really good is often something a little more organic - something with sound we can believe or relate to. Something that sounds like it was created by humans with imperfections, emotions and vulnerabilities just like every other human.

Technology can be a very useful thing if it is used to create music that further achieves these goals, (afterall, even a violin or cello was new technology once), however in the wrong hands it can lead to antiseptic, processed and de-humanised 'music' that fails to provide the degree of expression that a more subtle use of technology can provide.

In summary, the tools aren't necessarily bad in and of themselves, and they can sometimes be a catalyst for the creative process, but like any tool, there is ample scope for misuse.

  • Posted by: Tim - Citrus at June 23, 2004 2:43 PM

Talent will always shine out ... but it takes a live show (with no lip-synching, thank you very much, Britney) to prove it. There have been bands I've admired on recordings but, when it comes to a live show, they couldnt string more than a couple of notes together without losing the plot. True talent is even better on-stage.
Unfortunately, we've become jaded by the spin doctors and PR people who manufacture the next "sensation" and tout the new wannabees as the next Elvis, the next Beatles, the next Dylan, etc., etc., when all they really are is someone with little talent and wouldnt know more than two chords.

  • Posted by: Lynne at June 23, 2004 2:42 PM

"fresh raw young bands like Jet", Dale don't make me laugh, they sound and act like every other rock wannabes out there, with no "fresh" ideas, inspiration or music style/structure

as many have said, computers don't "make music", they are a tool, like any instrument.... give a crap violinist a violin and it will still sound like crap

  • Posted by: Sick of Luddites at June 23, 2004 2:20 PM

This is slightly off-topic, but Jack writes:
"Now we can download to our ipods and listen wherever we like... Technology makes it possible."

No it doesn't, as far as I can tell.

It's illegal to copy a song from a CD to your iPod and -- correct me if I'm wrong -- none of the Australian online music stores supply music in iPod format.

  • Posted by: David Higgins, Radar editor at June 23, 2004 2:07 PM

As a guitar player for the last 14 years, it is sometimes frustrating to see people achieveing 'success' with no apparent musical ability. People appear drawn to the image of the pop star, rather than being willing to understand the complex art of music that underpins it. I can recall few 'Popstars' contestants who play an instrument. However, truly talented musicians, whether they play an instrument or sing in a boy band, endure, and those whose talent pool is shallow are soon exposed and disappear. While not being a fan, there is no doubt the Justin Timberlakes, Beyonce Knowles and Robbie Williams (to name just a couple) of this world - all of whom rely heavily on synthesized 'electronica' - are talented people and, moreover, very talented business people. They just rely on their producers more. Perhaps we should recognise sound engineers and producers as much as the stars? George martin was recognised as "The Fifth Beatle" afterall.

  • Posted by: Adam P at June 23, 2004 1:49 PM

Computers don't kill music - people do.

The pre-fab popettes and "DJs" are using the same technology - ProTools, virtual instuments etc - as the legit serious artists. The difference is how and why they use it.

Cheating? Consider this...the humble microphone/amplifier/speaker combination is technology which allows a singer to be heard above a rousing symphony orchestra or an ear-spliting speed metal band.

Wow! The singer isn't even using his/her own vocal capacity to be heard. They are using technology to make music!

Is this cheating?

Didn't think so......

Have the imagination to remember that, not all that long ago, there was no way of recording music. In order to hear it, you had to be present in front of somebody actually playing it at that moment in time.

Now we can download to our ipods and listen wherever we like.

Technology makes it possible.

Hooray!


  • Posted by: Jack at June 23, 2004 1:20 PM

I think some people have missed the point, all my favourite albums are live recordings, it's not that the songs sounds the same as the studio original, it's their differentness that makes them interesting. What they lose in bum notes and missed timing they more than make up for in energy & drive.

Are computers killing music? I don't think so, computers allow a lot of crap music to be produced but crap music has always been churned out by the industry. Alongside the mindless hip hop, dooff dooff, and maufactured pop divas, fresh raw young bands like Jet and the Cat Empire are proving that if you're good enough you can still produce quality music and poeple will buy it. What's extra nice is they can also re-produce it live !!

If you're disappointed your favourite pop stars can't play the songs "like the cd" get over it, it's cos you're listening to crap!!

  • Posted by: Dale at June 23, 2004 1:06 PM

I am only certain on one area of music that is being destroyed by computers, and that is live music. It's not actually live anymore! Next time your at the pub look for an earpiece in the drummers ear, a sure sign that they are sequenced. Mime baby mime.

  • Posted by: Rob at June 23, 2004 1:02 PM

Technically perfect recordings don't necessarily impress. The X factor will always remain.

Computers are simply tools. Just because you have the latest version on Microsoft Word doesn't mean you can write like Shakespeare.

Sadly, a lot of "musicians" fall into the trap of thinking that a whizz bang computer will solve all their woes- and there's plenty of companies happy to sell the myth.

Besides,you might be able to hoodwink in the studio but try playing live and you'll fall to bits.

  • Posted by: Stuart at June 23, 2004 12:58 PM

It ain't about the technology ... it's about the song. Who gives a toss if auto tune is used to make something or someone sing in tune. I don't see this as cheating ... unless you've ripped off your lyrics or melody without permission. If you don't have the basic creative juices to write/compose a good song or a good piece of music - nothing's going to save you. More power to new technology ... and more power to inspired creative souls.

  • Posted by: Geekhead at June 23, 2004 12:51 PM

You have to program a computer. So if your not musically minded it won't come out. Computers are just another tool for people to use.

As for crap music today, well let me tell you, crap music has been around forever the same as good music has. There was crap performers long before computers came along and in the anologue days a good producer could still make someone who sounded bad sound good and then you would see them live and find what they were really like.

In the 70's most bands and I mean 90% of them sounded crap when they were live, this was mainly due to bad engineering at concerts so all those people who have misty eyes and ears for the old days before computers came along, sorry it's all up to how you use something.

People make music not a computer. A computer can't make music it can only do what you program it to do.

  • Posted by: Andrew Thomas at June 23, 2004 12:51 PM

computers are destroying music...bollocks!, so people say "well just look at all the tallentless pop idols selling millions of computer processed records"

um, i don think tallentless pop idols are a new phenomenon, there has always been talentless pop stars doing their thing. yes modern commercial music is all about image, but since MTV in the 80's this has pretty much always been the case. its just they now sound better

open your eyes people, computers are a tool, that can expand music exponentially. As far as im concered, the real tallent is in writing the songs, if its a good song, it will shine through, if its a bad song, it will not stand the test of time, computer magic or not.

The chance to get out there and make music in your bedroom is fantastic. so what is the drums are samples, so what if you use a software synthesiser, the fact is your creating music.

stop being so elitist people.

  • Posted by: tim h (bedroom mixer and proud of it) at June 23, 2004 12:40 PM

No amount of high tech gadgetry can make up for lack of talent and song writing ability. What about the Beatles recording on 4-track reel to reel analog tape? Shock horror how dare they - they'll destroy music...

  • Posted by: Jeff at June 23, 2004 12:32 PM

Computers help create music... TV and Music company execs are the ones destroying it by producing lowest common denominator mish mashes for the 'me too' generation.

  • Posted by: Ak at June 23, 2004 12:21 PM

anyone remember Madison Ave live performance from the ARIAs?? - need I say more

  • Posted by: sam at June 23, 2004 12:12 PM

With all of the digital wizardry we still haven't found the cure for what ails most pop music today...it's just not good...the songs are terrible and so is the creativity going into them...So all that wizardry and software and digital magic just lends a shine to crap and you can polish the crap all you'd like...it's still crap...

  • Posted by: Dennis De St Jeor at June 23, 2004 12:08 PM

Computers arn't destroying music they are just making things harder for engineers. I think its more time consuming doing one take in the digital domain and fixing it up later, than doing a few takes to get it right in the first place on analog. I say bring back more analog and chuck digital

  • Posted by: Mitch at June 23, 2004 12:06 PM

The use of computing software to affect changes to the abilities of muso's and singers will only be to their detriment at 'live' events when digital only listerners are unable to reconcile the real to shop bought.

  • Posted by: Ben at June 23, 2004 11:50 AM

The other side of the 'problem' is that most Australians listen with their eyes and not their ears ! They wouldn't know a good performance or song from a Big Mac. As someone who has spent 20+ years studying my instrument I find the talentless DJ's and PC jocks very disturbing. They'd better hope the power doesn't go off.....

  • Posted by: dazzjazz at June 23, 2004 11:47 AM

The technology is there - but you aren't forced to use it. Recording artists have the option of preserving the original "take", or editing/correcting it. To my mind, that doesn't equate to computers destroying music. Computers are just tools - albeit very capable ones.

Computers, and the Internet, also allow consumers to seek out interesting music from anywhere on the planet. If you are serious about appreciating music, you don't have to just settle for what's on the shelf at your local mall any more.

As Devo put it many years ago:
"Use your freedom of choice!"

  • Posted by: DaveW at June 23, 2004 11:44 AM

It is articles like this one that destroy music. Once there was a mystique about music artists: something that made them unique, special and somehow out of the ordinary. Now Sasha is suggesting they're all, well, ordinary. Even you can be one...just what we need!

  • Posted by: robert at June 23, 2004 11:35 AM

The true benefit of the influence of computers in music is not what they can change or improve in our current perception of what music is, but rather use of computers can allow us to expand upon the entire concept of music. Look at the way computers have changed what we see in motion pictures, and consider the same boundary expansion applied to music. While the mainstream pop culture of music is cheapened and plasticised by the effectiveness of computers, the fringe elements are feeling the shackles coming off and letting the taps of inspiration flow with renewed vigour.

This is just the beginning of truely exploring music. No more are we limited to the physical constraints of instruments. With computers we can build music from its most atomic structures upward.

  • Posted by: Thomas at June 23, 2004 11:29 AM

people that listen to anything that is on the radio are what is ruining music, use your head and find what youy like stop being told what to do, OPEN YOUR MIND.

  • Posted by: adam.ski at June 23, 2004 11:18 AM

With the emergence of affordable home recording many musos now have opportunities to record the music they otherwise could not afford to record. This is good! The down side is a bit like what gets published on the internet. There is no editor saying "this is crap, do something else with your life". There is any number of hip hop groups who prove this. Once you take away the challenge of writing a melody (the most difficult part of song writing) you contribute to the death of quality.

  • Posted by: Jwoo at June 23, 2004 11:12 AM

In 1994, my band and I forked over $3000 for a two day session to record a CD EP at a professional recording studio. Last month, I bought a digital recordig studio complete with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink for less than $3000. I'll tell you, the recordings on my home studio sound 10 times better than the ones done 10 years ago. Technology rocks! As for allowing talentless people to become stars - hey, welcome to the world.

  • Posted by: Dtrain at June 23, 2004 11:03 AM

music has always been packaged ie the stones bad guys, beetles good guys etc would a talent like Bob Dylan emerge in todays environment, I doubt it, great songs, terrible voice, head like a dropped pie, no personality. The packaging of music has just gone to a new level and computers are part of that process, good looks, personality, average songs and poor musicianship, easy fix with last two with computers presto boy bands, Britany

  • Posted by: David at June 23, 2004 10:58 AM

Saying that computers are destroying music is rubbish. Was there the same reaction when guitars became amplified or electric pianos became popular? My uncle Merve is a gun at playing the spoons. He also just bought a Korg synth. Just because things change and develop, doesn't mean that there isn't room for what's made music in the past.

  • Posted by: Felix Davis at June 23, 2004 10:54 AM

I totally agree - 5 years ago i was introduced to Led Zepelin and purchased their digitally remastered CD box set. Last week I bought their live DVD and none of the songs were like on the CD - then it clicked - they were musicians, not popular recording artists - I think that is the case with 95 % of music you hear to day, and it is due to the technology at hand to the prosperous labels - but- god bless the internet and the shake up of music cartels - it may change the cycle.

Stewsart at Hotmail

  • Posted by: stewart at June 23, 2004 10:44 AM

Computers are doing for music what they once did for publishing - now millions of people can create crap music, just like they used to create crap desktop published newsletters.

  • Posted by: Jellicle at June 23, 2004 10:41 AM

Everyone should watch the Classic Albums episode of Dark Side of the Moon. That shows how to create and album. The technology has taken allot of the skill out of the music making process, but worse still, it has allowed all thw white trash/rap/hip-hop crap to flourish where a minimum of talent is needed. The best remedy - bring back the pub circuit where a band had to cut it live before making it big. And, remove marketing from the equation!!

  • Posted by: Pablo at June 23, 2004 10:40 AM

I'm a sound tech and I do a lot of work with musical theatre. Honestly, auto tuners are not so fantastic for those who know they're there and can hear the difference, they make the music sound deadset fake. A heads up as well for all the teenie boppers who thought their "Idols" and "Popstars" were so amazingly fantasitc.....you guessed it....often they are so "fantastic" due to the use of the auto tuner. Personally, I still think they sound crap, but hey, I just do this for a living....

  • Posted by: Adam at June 23, 2004 10:37 AM

Destroy music? No such thing. Computers make music? No such thing either.

  • Posted by: Yobanich at June 23, 2004 10:29 AM

Yes, I agree that computers are destroying music. In many cases musicians can cheat audiences in nifty recording rooms. When we go a live concert, we sometimes have an experience disappointing the singer's song.

If producers can make good music by twiddling the knobs. we won't need good singers anymore. Although it is inevitable to some extent in the hightech stage, I argue that musician should think their morality ahain and audiences should have an good ability to listen to a good music .

  • Posted by: JAE EUN LEE at June 23, 2004 10:09 AM

I don't think computers destroy music but helps it because there are not so many people with talent to sing songs in the world.

  • Posted by: Naomi at June 23, 2004 10:06 AM

Before, I thought music stars are singing by their own talent, but after reading this article, my view gets bigger. However, I think computers are not destroying music. The reason why I think like this is, for me, whatever way they use to make music, if the music is good, it's alright. Therefore, I still think it's alright to get beautiful music by creathing sounds by computer.

  • Posted by: simon at June 23, 2004 10:05 AM

computer technology has made music be developed more artificially than it used to be, for example, even though musicians do not have talent as they wish, technology can upgrade their work much more smoothly and it is easier to either listen to or enjoy the music for audiances. therefore, ther are lots of people who are singers but can not even sing their songs appropriately in front of listeners.

  • Posted by: kate at June 23, 2004 10:03 AM

I quite agree this topic. It's very different with listening the CD and joining the Live show with the same singer. You can listen the beautiful songs in CD, but when you join the Live show, you may find the singer is not very good at singing. Out-of-tune happens frequently. Then, you will find it totally waste your money and time. All you heard are noisy. For me, I prefer the true voice in the CDs. It can show your personal character and your idea. If we listen the technological songs, our life will be boring. Everything for us is like a kind of machine.

  • Posted by: Cecilia at June 23, 2004 10:02 AM

These days, too many pop stars have no talent. When they sing a song live, like in concert, sometimes i don't want to hear that song! It's quite different from music on their CD ; even if they are dancing while they sing a song. In my opinion, the singers must have talent. Not just a good appearance. But many companies make singing barbie girls for making money. To change this society, people have to recognise the song first and listen to the one they select themselves.

  • Posted by: Julie at June 23, 2004 10:01 AM

Personally I think computers are destroying music. The most interesting thing about composing songs is to realise how can someone do that just playing instruments and using his/her voice. Usually the best way to listen to a song is live and if the singer can't do it, it sounds false. If I go to a show and I know the singer is just pretending he is singing, I would feel like a fool. That doesn't make sense. If we are going to start to compose songs on the computer, we can just eliminate the singers! Let's have dancers instead!

  • Posted by: Ivana at June 23, 2004 10:00 AM

In my opinion, I am a professional dancer, and I've been dancing professionally for 17 years, I think there are two different sides of this new technology, because if it is used for cheating on the audience,it is very unfair and I totally disagree, because if you become a famous artist it should merit your talent. On other hand if you have a real talent and need to improve then the technology should be used.

  • Posted by: Marcos Vinicius Sant'Ana at June 23, 2004 9:57 AM

Are computers destroying music? Or is technology letting us all live out the dream of pop stardom - whether we have talent or not?

  • Posted by: Radar at June 23, 2004 7:56 AM

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