The intrinsic value of Sequenced Music vs. Live Music

"Why is it that people have to mock the concept of real instruments by imitating them with technology?"

"Evidently, [JigginJonT,] you abandoned your previous ambitions about making music with instruments and replaced them with the lower, easier ambitions of sequencing music."

...going so far as to say that he did not consider sequenced music as part of his personal definition of music.

That being said, it was quite a while until the $64,000 question came up from Andy Jayne:
"The majority video game music has been sequenced, do you consider it not to be music? If so then what are you doing at a place which is based on the appreciation of video game music?"
Considering that OverClocked ReMix is predominantly a community of amateur musicians, it is understandable that the major majority of the arrangements hosted there would be sequenced rather than performed with traditional physical instruments. Continue's cutoff point for what was acceptable vs. unacceptable use of sequencing all hinged on live performances:
"Still, you could make do with a synthesizer of some sort and still avoid the sequencing - as long as it's a human playing it and not a computer, it'll have that human quality, though it won't be the actual instruments playing. One of bladiator's mixes, "Super Mario Grand Valse" [sic], was played by a synthesizer, and it retained that human quality; it did not have that precise sequenced quality that is often so easily detectable in those types of mixes. By far, the most abominable thing I find about sequenced music is that it lacks that "human quality" - as soon as you insert sequenced material in a song, you have that mechanized, precise, machine-like taste, even if the instrumentation you used doensn't [sic] sound "techno" or mechanical."
None of the debates or arguments such ignorant statements were due to conjure up resulted in any understanding on the part of Continue until one man showed up and laid the debate to waste. Mike "Kanthos" Chase encapsulated a definition of music that worked under no pretentious assumptions, reaching more to the heart of music-making:
"If sequenced music lacks human qualities, that's because the arrangers suck. There is nothing inherent about sequencing that *forces* music to be made in a more mechanical way. Besides, some people like me who have musical ideas that they can't translate to sound using an instrument alone (I have tendonitis [sic] and was forced to really reduce the amount of time I spent playing the piano, so my playing skills now are not what they used to be, nor will I ever hit that level again); should those good musical ideas be lost because of some idealistic, pretentious crap?

Also remember that a lot of people use things like MIDI keyboards to play their parts in, only resorting to sequencing tools like a piano roll when editing is needed. And before you say that editing is just trickery used by sequencers, you're ignorant if you don't realize the amount of editing that happens on nearly every album released in every genre, including classical and jazz.

Either way, I'll be damned if some pretentious loser comes along and says that because I don't have the skills to make top-quality recordings live and don't have a band to play with or a drum kit or piano in my apartment to record on, that I'm not making real music because I use a MIDI keyboard and a bit of editing to get good results.

Music isn't notes on a page, data on a computer, audio waves, tone colors, and anything else that someone like you would typically associate with music. Music is a language of self-expression that transcends and encompasses all of these. Maybe someday you'll realize that.

So tell me, what do you do? You play a handful of acoustic instruments and jam in a garage with your brothers. Have you accomplished anything creative? Do you fairly regularly create music that makes people with more musicality (note: this doesn't just include technical skill or even experience as a player) be impressed, not because of your tone quality or things like that, but because of what you've done? Have you taken any genre and pushed its limits? Have you re-imagined any music in such a way that would get the original composer, should he happen to hear your music, take notice? Have you tried coming up with a new sound that no one else has done before? If not, then why are you insulting those here who have?

Every new genre of music has had its critics. There will always be some narrow-minded buffoons who will hear something going in a direction they didn't imagine and try to discredit it, because they have mechanical skills and maybe even some semblance of musicality, but they do not have creative ideas. Right now, you are one of the ignorant."

And in fact, there was really only one appropriate way for Continue to respond. Mea culpa:
"First let me say that you've just convinced me to accept sequenced music as music - I guess I was being a little ignorant of others' preferred performing methods. I kinda got too obsessed with fending off all of your arguments and didn't pay attention to what I was actually implying. To everyone out there, I'm truly sorry if I said some things that got you upset. When I read Kanthos' post I realized that I really was ignoring one aspect of music: the fact that it's a "language" that everyone can express in their own way; whether it's with instruments, computers, synthesizers, etc. I shouldn't expect everyone else to create music by my own standards (which are now changed) that I inherited from my childhood - again, I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I'll gladly say that both sequenced and instrumentalized music forms have their ups and downs, and neither is in any way "superior" to the other, especially when some people have disabilities or medical conditions that prevent them from using one way over the other. I see now that everyone has the right and the choice to express themselves musically in any way that they wish."
It's belief systems like Continue's, touting the worthlessness of sequenced music, that negatively affect the reputation of video game music and the video game music arranging community. Half-jokingly, perhaps we can enlist Mike Chase to be the community's spokesperson, opening eyes and ears, converting one listener at a time. Good start, Mike.


YiQi C. said...

First off, thanks muchies for commenting on Century Fille.

Secondly, this debate reminds me of the cgi vs. non-cgi issue. It's not an identical conversation, but I think it touches on similar fundamentals. Is a film still a film if it's not made using actual film stock?

Is a digitally created fire any less of a fire than one that was started and photographed on set?

Moreover, that an assessment of what makes music music or film film has to take place suggests that the real question is where and when is the "art" being made?

This is Stina by the way.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. OCR needs a spokesperson.