PSA: Don't update to iOS 12.4 if you use apps in AB output slot or IAA apps that use the mic.
https://forum.audiob.us/discussion/34030/urgent-psa-hold-off-updating-to-ios-12-4-if-you-use-apps-in-output-slot-in-audiobus

Are Robots My True Partners?/The Role Of MIDI In Creation

Lately I have been relying more and more on my original MIDI track to generate all, and I mean ALL, the other tracks in the stretch. BTW, when I use the word "stretch" I mean the improvised piano part I begin most of my stuff with. It's a word I learned from Connie Crothers and is apropos to a length of music and "stretching" oneself musically beyond what went before. Anyway, it is the antithesis of a composed piece, which makes it germaine to this discussion.

So, I find myself "creating" and recording music for three minutes, say. If I think it worth it I might add a second stretch of four minutes ( it just happens, no particular plan) Now I have an audio track of seven minutes of piano and a canvas of midi info. Time to call in my collaborators. Lately, for example, Mr. Tardy Grain (always delayed for rehearsals) that Bohemian, Beat Hawk, and that master synthesist up on charges of sexual harassment, SynthMaster Player.

The boys all light up and plug in. We are immediately rocking. But it's quite the cacophony. So I take charge. If not me these guys sure won't do it. So,I say, ok, Tar, baby, you come in at the beginning at this volume and pipe down on the eighth bar, I'll tell you when I need you next. Now you, Mr. Beat... please put down that blunt and give me a nice smoky horn swell at 2:20. And finally, S&M Player, can you put down the porn and pick up your arpeggiator at the crescendo. Working with fringe elements always gives me a thrill!

And so on and so forth, until out of the two stretches I have created a fourteen minute epic that came from @michael knows where. This process is so fundamentally different from how I created music for fifty years that I must ask myself... what the hell am I doing? So I have thought about it and this is what I think....

It is all legit, IMO. In fact, more than legit. Chance always plays a part in discovery. The burrs sticking on Mr. Velcro's sleeve, the chocolate bar in Mr. Microwave's pocket. Randomizers, Riffers, Chord creators, Arpeggiators, the saxophone. All invented as tools for the musician. Even the iPad itself can have a live orchestral accompaniment.

At least it is legit here. On a more "Serious" forum... these ideas would be soundly 😬rejected. But it seems like they would reject a shovel cause scratching in the dirt is more... earthy. For me these talented little robots are more than welcome. In fact, they are often more imaginative than I could ever be. They need guidance but who doesn't? They lack... no, they sometimes even have a sense of humor. But where does this all lead? In the future these binary partners will be able to do what? and how much better than I ever could? At what point do we call a music making program an actual artist? There was a thread about a commercial music generating program that is currently utilized which needs no musical input from the user ( as I remember) just type in candy bar music, please.

So, your thoughts? What is the the true face of midi before it was born? When you meet the Midi down the street, should you kill it? And what is the sound of one midi input clapping? ( I have heard that sound quite often from my wife).
And lastly, if you were to advise a newbie to the iOS or desktop platform, what would you impart about the role of MIDI?

«1

Comments

  • @LinearLineman said:
    So, your thoughts? What is the the true face of midi before it was born? When you meet the Midi down the street, should you kill it? And what is the sound of one midi input clapping?

    Hey now.. be kind to the venerable MIDI! It is older than half the participants on this forum!

  • But not me @brambos. I still have my original mastodon pelvis drum!

  • To me no midi band will ever substitute human entity. Ai in the future,.maybe but we're still relatively far out.

    The thing with (the right kind of) humans is that they bring themselves into it and guide you as opposed to the other way around.

    This is my own personal battle and I just can't seem to win it.

    Good luck with your midi band though. ;)

  • I don't think what you are doing is that weird TBH - look at classical music - large chunks of it are variations, inversions, manipulations of themes

    In some ways it is more fun with software because you can do it on the fly.

    As for the software doing it all -one of the roles in music creation is editor - Andy Mcclusky of OMD talks about how his role in the early days was listening to the things Paul thingumy came up with and choosing what he thought would work best - picking out the gems is part of music creation IMO

    Personally (& I hate to talk about my own work but it's bang on topic) - I'm interested in things that help, amplify and maybe take you places you wouldn't get to yourself without taking over completely

    Modular music is also very much along these lines with CV but I don't think one is better than the other (& let's face it a lot of us have both going on in at the same time these days)

  • If we go way back we find chance playing its part in Cage’s 4:33. But until recently it’s been fringe affair in music; now I think you’re right - possibilities have grown and need to be examined. I’m uncomfortable with Garageband’s automatic drummers, for example, even though I’m not a drummer and my drum parts are banal. Deep down, I suppose I feel that anything I didn’t do isn’t really mine. I can’t take any creative credit for recommending a piece of music, so how can I claim this new act of « pointing » at something inside the ipad is anything personally musical?

  • but collage (which I tend to think translates into sampling in music) has been around forever

    I think we all draw the line where we need to - but the assembly of elements is as much a creative act as playing of the notes

    and if you are too worried - think of all the musicians over the years who contributed bass lines or drum parts or piano lines un attributed or all the folk tunes that went into classical compositions, We all of us are part of a melting pot of the music we listen to

  • MIDI is the language used to communicate the music to devices, much like an old world handwritten score plus a conductor, it really is that simple.
    The music itself still has to come from somewhere. There are of course programs that will generate musical parts and then use MIDI to communicate those parts to players...those players are usually devices, but could just as easily be a human sax player, for example, sight reading from a MIDI driven display !

    @LinearLineman
    You are still being the composer and conductor..you are making the chord progressions and melodies and then directing which players should be playing when and how, the only difference is that you are using MIDI to do that rather than your hands and/or words and/or a musical score !

    @supadom
    A year or so ago I watched a documentary where they were trying to create a hit song using only computer based composers, lyricist and players, it was very interesting....
    A simplified version of what they did was
    Composer programs were fed information based on popular hits from all time, allowing it to determine the most popular key, tempo, style etc.....this was used to generate a chord progression, melody etc....
    A lyric writing program used information about popular songs and phrases and general language rules to create the lyrics..
    Programs analysing the audio were used to mix the performance.
    In the end they had to use human intervention to get the song completed to a point that it would work, but only very little..the programs couldn't make all the right decisions.
    They got industry guru's to review what they ended up with, which sounded OK, but the concensus was that it sounded good but too generic and that it wouldn't be a hit !

    @pagefall
    I'm interested in things that help, amplify and maybe take you places you wouldn't get to yourself without taking over completely

    Yes...external influence will make us think outside of our own little box, whether that be from a music generating program, listening to something else - a sample, a synth preset, or playing alongside real players, all are valid things to use. I agree with @supadom that for me human players are the best form of outside influence, but I think that is only if they are in the room with you, once you introduce the delay of email then you lose the spontaneity which is what gives the impression of better results, it's more likely just that you get there much quicker which means in the same amount of time to can try out far more things.

    @brambos - MIDI was concieved and first published in the early 80's...I would suspect that perhaps there are far more than half of us on here over that age :D

  • @pagefall said:
    but collage (which I tend to think translates into sampling in music) has been around forever

    I think we all draw the line where we need to - but the assembly of elements is as much a creative act as playing of the notes

    and if you are too worried - think of all the musicians over the years who contributed bass lines or drum parts or piano lines un attributed or all the folk tunes that went into classical compositions, We all of us are part of a melting pot of the music we listen to

    I’m with you on this, iOS lends itself well to composing pieces with a collage approach. To paraphrase @LinearLineman we come up with music that comes from we don’t know where. Unlike traditional musical composition we might not be able to recreate our composition simply because we can’t keep track of all of the decisions and modifications we’ve made along the way.

    I can understand why people like @Purpan will balk at using GarageBand drummers. I think you can still use resources like this as a starting point if you’re able to do so in a way where you transform it to make it your own rather than simply trying to disguise it so others won’t be able to recognize its source.

    A central question is how creative is your musical collage? Are your musical robots doing all the work while you sit to the side and wait until they’re finished so you can stamp your brand on it? Are you a good robot supervisor who gets the best work out of them? What quality control programs have you implemented at your musical robot factory? Are they more productive when set to their factory settings? The answers are very subjective.

    Music has always been a collaborative effort. We’re strongly influenced by the musical traditions we’ve been exposed to. The collaboration now includes the tools developers provide for us.

    Visual artists use collage without many of the hang ups so many musicians seem to have about this approach.

    As with all artistic endeavors, I’d urge people to focus on whether they enjoy the creative process and the results. Other concerns would seem to be distractions coming from a place of orthodoxy and judgment which will inhibit rather than enhance your efforts. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. We’re not always as unique or plain as we think so a focus on producing music which appeals to us will create music which others will appreciate too.

  • I think whether you use instruments or apps to produce music there is a common creativity and we are all musicians. However, I am a bit old school and think that actually playing a conventional instrument provides more soul to, and satisfaction from, the music produced.

    I play guitar and piano badly and use apps to tidy up my “real “ instrument performances. I have apps to help sometimes with progressions, chord fingering but then prefer to actually use my actual instruments to record. Sometimes, I use apps to change the sounds. But, I prefer to input iand arrange nitially using the guitar/keyboard.

    Creatively, I cannot come up with anything half as good as some of these music arrangement producing programmes. But, I get a much better sense of creativity, feeling, soul or whatever through my fingers.

    The thing is that using the ipad and virtual instruments is still using my fingers. I like Thumbjam and Geoshed but it is not the same somehow.

    Am I cheating on my creative satisfaction if I use something like Gestrument Pro to produce a bit of fine music. After all, my only input is moving my finger around the screen.

    Am I right feeling better by producing a less complicated piece of music by using real instruments ? I dunno.

  • @Jomodu what you get from a real instrument is more expression.....MPE is giving electronic instruments more expressive capabilities.

    As far as not being creative if you don’t play it yourself....have to wholeheartedly disagree I’m afraid....I wouldn’t mind betting that Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms etc....couldn’t play every instrument in the orchestra ;)

  • edited January 11

    MIDI is just a documentation and communication means, a standard invented to make life easier. Thinking about "killing MIDI" would be like giving up you current spoken langue just for the sake of doing something new, without worrying about the world around you.

    We sometimes tend to take things which have been existing for long for granted, until one day they don't exist anymore ;)

  • @AndyPlankton . Yes....point taken. But I wonder if those composers would have been just as fulfilled if they had been able to just jumbled eight notes into a melody, feed this into a program and a whole arrangement/variation/symphony produced for you?

    I think the ability to do this now with some of these programmes is fantastic but at what cost to your creative satisfaction? Or, does it really matter?

  • @Jomodu said:
    @AndyPlankton . Yes....point taken. But I wonder if those composers would have been just as fulfilled if they had been able to just jumbled eight notes into a melody, feed this into a program and a whole arrangement/variation/symphony produced for you?

    I think the ability to do this now with some of these programmes is fantastic but at what cost to your creative satisfaction? Or, does it really matter?

    There are 2 things to think about...the composing and the playing....they are not worried themselves about the playing....but I agree, the composing yes....although I do often wonder if Mozart were born today, what he would come up with with all the ‘aids’ we have, would he still stand out as a genius compared to the big producers of today ? Would the tools dumb him down, or would he take them where no-one else yet has?

    If you showed them something like gestrument pro back then, they would probably have burned you as a witch :D

  • @rs2000 said:
    MIDI is just a documentation and communication means, a standard invented to make life easier. Thinking about "killing MIDI" would be like giving up you current spoken langue just for the sake of doing something new, without worrying about the world around you.

    We sometimes tend to take things which have been existing for long for granted, until one day they don't exist anymore ;)

    I too think that for people who are newer to MIDI that there is a misconception that MIDI is responsible for the generated music and composition tools...which isn’t true...like we have both said, MIDI is the communication these programs use to talk to the instruments, the ‘magic’ doing the composing and arranging is within the programs themselves equipped with either pre programmed maps or AI doing that part, and I wouldn’t mind betting that a few old world (draw cards or roll dice) Randomizer tricks were tried even by those giants of composition.
    The circle of fifths is evidence that folks were studying this kind of thing.

  • From self-satisfaction POV everyone will have a respectable opinion even being totally opposite.

    From productivity POV these tools are useful in the right hands and could substitute some musicians in different scenarios for certain demands. As example there are places where backing tracks musicians aren't allowed meanwhile other places require just that approach. The same for drummers vs Cajón (Peruvian/spanish box and nothing related with cOjón/cOjones, thanks) when you find places where drums aren't an option or others where are a must.

    From the humanity factor it's arguable since the worst live player isn't better than the best programer/arranger but we have greyscale luckily...

    So IMO the job makes the tool. I prefer play/compose with real humans but machine are less problematic most of the time, usually get drunk and make expensive the total budget but that doesn't make the result more trusty or profitable. Also the usual haters or purist of their craft are usually lazy people who never tried to use new tools or are enough skilled to use them properly. It's easy to reject than learn/evolve.

    As conclusion I will let you with R.I.P a Remix Manifesto.

    1- Culture always builds on the past.
    2- The past always tries to control the future.
    3- Our future is becoming less free.
    4- To build free societies you must limit the control of the past

    — Brett Gaylor in Rip! A Remix Manifesto

  • edited January 11

    @AndyPlankton said:

    @Jomodu said:
    @AndyPlankton . Yes....point taken. But I wonder if those composers would have been just as fulfilled if they had been able to just jumbled eight notes into a melody, feed this into a program and a whole arrangement/variation/symphony produced for you?

    I think the ability to do this now with some of these programmes is fantastic but at what cost to your creative satisfaction? Or, does it really matter?

    There are 2 things to think about...the composing and the playing....they are not worried themselves about the playing....but I agree, the composing yes....although I do often wonder if Mozart were born today, what he would come up with with all the ‘aids’ we have, would he still stand out as a genius compared to the big producers of today ? Would the tools dumb him down, or would he take them where no-one else yet has?

    If you showed them something like gestrument pro back then, they would probably have burned you as a witch :D

    I like this quote from Elgar when I think about using randomisers etc.

    (https://forum.audiob.us/uploads/editor/5b/lxgly7jr4r65.jpeg "")

  • A lovely quote by Michael Jackson:

    “People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It's like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song.”

  • Well, you are all coming thru loud and clear, as I would expect.
    @InfoCheck said this along with other good stuff:

    "I’m with you on this, iOS lends itself well to composing pieces with a collage approach. To paraphrase @LinearLineman we come up with music that comes from we don’t know where. Unlike traditional musical composition we might not be able to recreate our composition simply because we can’t keep track of all of the decisions and modifications we’ve made along the way."

    Exactly. Especially the last part. I am an improviser at the core.
    I guess you could call it "fast food composing style". The excitement for me is that it happens fast, is created on the fly and the decisions that follow re mixing and effects are rapid as well.... Always to be completed within a dusk to dawn time cycle.

    Which leaves the whole goulash impossible to recreate! Ironically, even when I try to save a project, when I look for it next it is gone! The iOS gods have reclaimed it.

    So I wind up with a snowflake. And then I am able to preserve that snowflake, work it, like a flint knife, to a certain edge and send it up to a cloud of sound for posterity. For me this is the most fun, the best result I could get anyway and gives me a creative rush.

    But it is not retrievable. The energy has melted away. Only the imprint of the experience remains..... and the desire to pay my fifty cents and get on the ride again.

    Midi allows me to do this efficiently ( though over the summer, improvising those two synthonies, I relied much more on creating individual tracks), and apps like Tardigrain and SMPlayer are useful robots for fleshing it out quickly. I imagine I will return to individual tracks eventually, but not till I have exhausted myself on the joyride.

  • edited January 12

    It’s painfull to make something truely beautiful . It’s rare and wonderful and it’s something a software randomiser Couldn’t even hope, to dream about .

    :)

  • Robots, you say?

  • @AndyPlankton in the static home recording, layering tracks type of composing I agree with you. When it comes to writing in a group/jamming situation , humans trump bots hands down. I'm not only talking about musicianship but also sense of humour cameradery, warmth, ego blend, sharing the moment kind of thing. I'm lucky enough to have such a writing group. The idea/sketch for the song usually is brought by one of the writers but then they let go and let the group do its magic.

    Respect is high on the list and of course having creative and musically capable folk within is absolutely crucial.

  • @supadom said:
    @AndyPlankton in the static home recording, layering tracks type of composing I agree with you. When it comes to writing in a group/jamming situation , humans trump bots hands down. I'm not only talking about musicianship but also sense of humour cameradery, warmth, ego blend, sharing the moment kind of thing. I'm lucky enough to have such a writing group. The idea/sketch for the song usually is brought by one of the writers but then they let go and let the group do its magic.

    Respect is high on the list and of course having creative and musically capable folk within is absolutely crucial.

    You are a fortunate man (I am lucky to have collaborators as well and am eternally grateful for it).

  • @supadom said:
    @AndyPlankton in the static home recording, layering tracks type of composing I agree with you. When it comes to writing in a group/jamming situation , humans trump bots hands down. I'm not only talking about musicianship but also sense of humour cameradery, warmth, ego blend, sharing the moment kind of thing. I'm lucky enough to have such a writing group. The idea/sketch for the song usually is brought by one of the writers but then they let go and let the group do its magic.

    Respect is high on the list and of course having creative and musically capable folk within is absolutely crucial.

    This is what I meant when saying that the delays of email when collaborating with humans makes it slower and you lose that immediacy...it is when you are physically together that magic can happen ;)

  • edited January 11

    This thread is a fun read. It is a helpful discussion reminding me and instructing me, as I have noted in the 2019 goals thread, I really need to work on getting my head out of being so strictly tied to non-electronic composing. My background being very rock and classical, I usually have not recorded until everything was fairly well set.

    I have used midi since the early 1990s. But I just used it to record more similar to how you'd record audio. I've never even used step sequencers because I can't deal with what passes for 'swing' there^.

    But this all to me is a bit more about randomization or generative or similar aspects be they midi or audio modulations and delays than midi itself as just a notation/communication language. I really need to play with those things more. My rut is that I almost always start with an Init patch and a riff that I've written on guitar or bass. Midi is just how I record my riff, not what I record. I don't even often simply copy a midi track I've recorded for another plugin. Always have the synth or drum sound first and then hit record.

    This is all much more of an adaptive problem for me. I understand technically how to do it all. I just have to actually compose that way. It would take me in new directions.

    It is also an interesting contrast with your improvisational approach. Which is not even what I'm talking about. Not even interested in that. Just interested in seeing what new ideas the algorithms contribute.

    ^When some DAWs had 'groove templates' you could make yourself, I have sometimes used those, but my habit of recording midi more or less live is still so dominant.

  • edited January 11

    This is a very shallow contribution but whenever I hook up my '81 (just before MIDI) Moog Rogue to record, I get the feeling that I've just put sunglasses on. I feel off-the-grid and like I'm doing it how 'they used to do it', how it 'should' be. I feel real cool.

    Funny enough, I always get my best playing out of using that Moog, while simultaneously using less conscious thought. Funny enough.

  • @oat_phipps said:
    This is a very shallow contribution but whenever I hook up my '81 (just before MIDI) Moog Rogue to record, I get the feeling that I've just put sunglasses on. I feel off-the-grid and like I'm doing it how 'they used to do it', how it 'should' be. I feel real cool.

    Funny enough, I always get my best playing out of using that Moog, while simultaneously using less conscious thought. Funny enough.

    This is a good point, just because you can sequence something doesn’t mean you have to. I have a BassStation 2 a circuit and a Mininova....I get what I feel are the best results and have the most fun and get lost in what I’m doing when playing freehand.

  • @AndyPawlak said:
    It’s painfull to make something truely beautiful . It’s rare and wonderful and it’s something a software randomiser Couldn’t even hope, to dream about .

    I like this, the fact that a software randomiser can’t hope or dream makes the point even stronger

  • Here's my reaction to the idea of robotics your music.

    @Linelineman - It sounds like you've discovered the musical printing press and you're playing with different inks.

    You are making copies of your images in different inks and overlaying them on a canvas with a common timeline.

    The Soft Drummer used on you @TozBourne tribute is a robot but one that passes the Turing Test (you can't tell it's a robot).

    Your musical evolution since discovering IOS has been interesting and creative. You keep adding and using new technical skills.

    You could argue that just being able to playback performances is a robotic function like the Player Piano made purely digital and you'd make your case. You play with robots and teach them to play your creations.

  • @AndyPlankton said:

    @oat_phipps said:
    This is a very shallow contribution but whenever I hook up my '81 (just before MIDI) Moog Rogue to record, I get the feeling that I've just put sunglasses on. I feel off-the-grid and like I'm doing it how 'they used to do it', how it 'should' be. I feel real cool.

    Funny enough, I always get my best playing out of using that Moog, while simultaneously using less conscious thought. Funny enough.

    This is a good point, just because you can sequence something doesn’t mean you have to. I have a BassStation 2 a circuit and a Mininova....I get what I feel are the best results and have the most fun and get lost in what I’m doing when playing freehand.

    It's not even about the sequence vs. freehand for me...playing a synth thru MIDI keys just creates a disconnect that isn't there with an actual instrument. That extra step from synth > output to keyboard > synth app > output really screws with my mind for some reason. There's a hollowness that's introduced and I think it's from knowing my keyboard is a dummy, and not fully 'trusting' MIDI to translate my playing language to the synth app/output (even though MIDI is spot on). Kinda like talking to someone via a translator and bugging the shit out of the translator: 'Did you say ____?' 'Did you use the tone and inflection I did?'

    While it's a personal hangup, I'm sure I'm not the only one that's had it.

  • Jackson Pollack made some great stuff. Chance is OK!

    It's a lot easier to afford/find/play a B3 than it is a pipe organ. Technological achievement in music is OK!

    Terry Riley made some incredible music with both machines and chance. Even according to the 'serious' people.

    Robert Fripp made some incredible music that was only possible with machines. Even according to the serious people.

    Future looks good. :star:

Sign In or Register to comment.