43 thoughts on “Archie On The Future Of Music (Retro Futurism)

  1. OUCH! Who knew Archie was so prescient? The beat has taken such precedence, a lot of people seem to have lost sight of actual syncopation and harmony. A standard is only as good as its ability to help create memorable contrast. I love a good beat, but its the way everything else weaves around it that gives it real muscle.

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  2. We live in times full of irony. Although mankind’s knowledge is available for free on the internet, people are growing dumber. Although we have access to treaties on music making and tutorials on how to learn instruments, people decide to ignore music theory and call themselves musicians because they make BEATZ with cracked plugins, torrented loops and badly-sounding samples they steal from films they downloaded.

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    1. Which is exactly why helmets are a good idea. For all the face-palming us players do. Not to mention the head-on-wall-banging and incessant head-scratching. We are old and in the way… of dubstep.

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    2. Yeah, unlike all those shitty electronic nerds who don’t know anything the dipshit kid who got a guitar for christmas and plays a bunch of bon jovi songs out of a tab book is a True Musician!

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  3. I think the word you are looking for is “treatises”

    There are many smart and learned people who know what they are doing musically and otherwise.

    What is different is that now there are tools that allow the rest of us to make music, too. The upside is that more people are actively participating in the music they hear/make– i.e., the boundary between artist and audience is narrowing. The downside is that there is SO much more audio out there in the market.

    It does seem that new tools are arriving to help the best, most interesting music find an audience. And the often-art-killing record industry is being replaced by the iTunes, Amazon, Google empires– who will not exert much creative control, but will take a piece of everything.

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    1. Yes, “treatises”.

      I am sorry, but your computer isn’t a musical instrument. You are not a musician if the only instrument you can play is your DAW. People’s standards have gone way downhill.

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          1. Well a composer tells the musicians what to play doesn’t he? & a laptop is a great tool for composing music.
            Whatever, I don’t care.
            Who are we trying to impress with our titles and tired cliches anyway.
            Maybe next time we read the book of revelations first, and then see who cares if this or that is called a musical instrument or a toy or grumpy mister Berklee is in a bad mood about peoples standards and whatnot.

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          2. Learning an instrument is not really much different from learning to play a video game. You just memorize a sequence of finger movements through hours and hours of repetitive practice. I’m about as impressed by playing a Chopin piece perfectly as I am with a kid who can beat Super Mario World without dying, not even kidding.

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      1. Wow, that’s super-arrogant. In my opinion, EVERYBODY who creates music or sounds of any kind and in any way (be it an instrument, a computer, a hardware sequencer or random objects) is a musician.

        Many people seem to confuse the term “musician” with the term “instrumentalist”. I create music via hardware sequencers and software programs.
        Am I an instrumentalist? Based on my pretty bad skills at playing guitar: most likely no.
        Am I a musician: since I write, record and produce my own songs – definetely yes.

        Please try to see the difference. Everybody who makes music is a musician. This label is not restricted to people with good hand-coordination but to people who willingly spend time to learn a craft, no matter the tools.

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          1. I guess you don’t give much on respectfulness, good sir?

            Sorry to hear that you keep sticking to your narrow-minded point of view. Sad, but not my business. I just wanted to give you a hint to maybe reconsider your attitude.

            The fact that I create soundtracks for movies and video games is good enough for me. By whichever rights you assume to hold, deny me the title “musician”. I have my gear, my studio and my fun, so why should I care about some random, bigoted opinions?

            Have a nice day 😉

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      2. I shouldn’t have to say this, but a music instrument is a purposeful tool or device that produces musical sounds. A kazoo, a trombone, a whirligig, a computer– all musical instruments. You can judge whether you think such instruments are easy/difficult, good/bad, shallow/deep, whatever, but to dismiss the computer and MIDI controller as non-instruments is pretty narrow-minded and kind of arbitrarily weird.

        If a musician connects a MIDI controller keyboard and a breath controller and a wind-controller to a computer or a computer-based synthesizer, they are playing MODERN musical instruments.

        A virtual-instrument is a software plug-in that when combined with a controller IS a musical instrument.

        But I’ll agree, the skill-set to play an instrument is different than the skill set to sift through loops and combine them into a piece of music.

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      3. nice strawman but plenty of electronic music producers can play instruments and have played in bands. Also most “instrumentalists” are not particularly creative as they just play other people’s songs as a hired gun so not much musicianship going on there, sorry.

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  4. Oh. And I do agree that YES, people’s standards have changed– in terms of the mainstream.

    I’m at an age where listening to pop music is often pretty boring and much of it sounds the same. The range of sounds, ideas, etc. is very narrow and pattern based. The lyrics and chords seem empty and insipid.

    But people can like what they like. I just hope that folks can still seek out music that is wild and interesting and made by non-instrumentalists, or made by self-dubbed geniuses.

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  5. Jim, do you realize that many of the most famous composers were very lousy/mediocre instrumentalists? Or do you not consider them “musicians” either?

    I’m a pianist since the age of 6, but I create music using sequencers as well. If I were to quit the piano and make music only with a sequencer, it would make me no less of a musician. I know some very talented composers, arrangers and producers who can’t play an instrument. Open your mind just a little bit.

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    1. Which famous composers are you talking about? Bach was a virtuoso on both organ and violin. Same goes for mozart. Vivaldi was good at the violin. Liszt and Wagner were very good at pianoforte. Get your facts straight before you spread ignorance, sir.

      You see, the fact that my comments have gotten low ratings just goes to show how mentally impaired people have gotten to be. In times where art meant something, people saying stuff like “learning to play an instrument well takes as much talent as learning to play your computer” would have been ridiculed.

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      1. Well I recall reading that Mahler was a terrible pianist. Berlioz too, and he was critisized for that during his lifetime.
        Anyway – what does it matter? In the end of the day, it’s the music that counts. If your music requires human playing and expression to sound better, then either play it yourself or hire an instrumentalist to do so. If your music needs to sound precise/robotic to get the effect you’re aiming for, use a computer/sequencer/whatever. Plenty of great music has been made in either way. I really don’t get what you’re complaining about, you realize this IS an electronic music website?

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        1. By today’ s standards, both Mahler and Berlioz would be held as virtuosi.

          In any case, both guys knew more about music than all the readers of Synthtopia together. That’s what I am saying. We complain about kids “producing” dubstep tracks that lack artistic content, but then again, we appease that kind of approach to art and music?

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          1. Jim, you are, perhaps unintentionally, espousing a culture where only professionals are considered musicians. What about the cultures we all spring from, where everyone took part in music, eg, ritual and religious music. African communities may have their “professional” musicians, but they also have a tradition of community music…are these people anything less than musicians?

            While I certainly advocate the advancement of knowledge, denying someone a place in something so intrinisic to human expression and society does far more harm than good, particularly if you want people to keep making music.

            Study music. Practice music. But above all, PLAY music.

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          2. What a thoroughly hideous view of (a) the readers on here and (b) the pleasure of music that can give so many different people, not just those with traditional skills and regardless of genre.

            I play (piano and drums) at half decent graded levels but I get just as much enjoyment as noodling with a filter for hours creating a god awful racket.

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  6. If you make music your a musician, if you play an instrument your an instrumentalist, at least that’s how I always felt. As a bassist, I make electronic music that incorporates my bass playing when i can, and I love what others who don’t play regular instruments create.

    The “you don’t play an instrument so your not a musician” has always been lame to me. I’m glad that technology allows composers and musicians to create music with tools that didn’t exist before, just enjoy the music, no need to be a musical snob 🙂

    Even Kraftwerk, who is known for their minimalist synth music were instrumentalists, early kraftwerk was very different, more prog than electronica. Also, you don’t have to be an awesome instrumentalist to be an awesome composer, though it gives you an edge when you can use multiple musical tools.

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  7. My thought always comes back to “So, what do people have to EXPRESS?” You won’t hear anything very personal from D&B or Vangelis covers. All those say is
    “Look, I can haz synthesizers!” Its not just about my opinion, either. I saw a guy get snorts as he set up a Roland keytar on a stand, at an angle towards the audience. Then he played 30 minutes of the sweetest, two-handed GUITAR I ever heard. He did both acoustic and electric pieces, knocking both out of the park. No one was snorting after that. Was he “faking it”? No, he was or COOKIN’. If more people had the drive/talent/imagination/whatever to play like that, you’d hear a lot less cookie-cutter dance material. Dance has a lot of heat, but too little warmth. There are acts such as Orbital, Banco de Gaia and Deep Forest who put some real humanity in their work without being slaves to a MIDI clock. I wonder how we can impart that special, vital THING to someone whose first musical tool is an Electribe? Its not “wrong” at all. Its just missing a key element. Broadening your tastes and listening habits can’t help but improve your central specialty. As for Jim, people who resort to name-calling are a bunch of morons. 😛

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  8. Jim holds a somewhat a somewhat traditional view about what is “legitimate” and what is “not”.

    Perhaps most of us have worked with monster players who cannot improvise; or fantastic jazz musicians who have never composed an original piece, or who have non-standard technique; or a kid with a laptop who is prolific as hell, but uses the same 3 chords for all 100 of his productions.

    I have no guess as to why someone would want to sit on a perch and judge some as musicians and some as impostors or worse. There are only so many hours in a day, years in a life– I listen to the music that interests me. I compose music that scratches a hard-to-reach itch. I’m glad that others are doing different things than me– than were done before.

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  9. I’ve always been confused by the importance people give to traditional and acoustic instruments. There’s a connotation that they are somehow natural. They are just as man made as any modern electronic/digital. The piano, guitar, violin; these aren’t holy relics given to man from on high. They are arbitrary systems of tonality constructed to give man an easier way to make music. The reason we still play them at all today has more to do with tradition, momentum, and the love people have for them than them being “real” instruments. The truth is the difficulty in mastering them was never a feature. It was a bug. If Mozart or Bach had Pro Tools I guarantee they would have used it (though they would have prefered Logic LOL). And in a parallel history, the design of instruments would be totally different and the skills required to play them equally different. Don’t mistake skill with a specific interface (i.e. piano, guitar, etc) with musical talent and ability.

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    1. I don’t think acoustic instruments are better than digital instruments or vice versa, and I enjoy playing both types everyday. I do think that one of the special qualities that acoustic instruments have is that when you play them you actually feel the vibrations that the instrument is producing while you play it rather than just vibrations being reproduced by a speaker. like I said I don’t think that makes acoustic instruments better at all but that is something that makes those instruments important and maybe causes people to label them as “natural” instruments.

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