My spouse, Andy, used to always have a lot of old music-oriented magazines lying around, because he worked for Guitar Center back in Ohio. The magazines were primarily focused on recording, live audio, djing, and the like. Most of them didn’t make the move to Virginia, but a few weeks ago I picked up one that did, an issue of UK-based Computer Music from last April (2012), and read “Get Real!”, an article about “programming your own totally convincing ‘live’ drum tracks.” The article includes screen shots of midi controls and descriptions of the drum fundamentals as played by a human drummer, suggestions for how to make the drum tracks sound realistically dynamic, etc. The article ends with step-by-step instructions for six different “drum rudiments.”
Pull-out quote from the article: “No drummer can hit more than two drums with their sticks at any one time.” [sic? Is that "their" okay in British English? Personally, I don't mind it--English is a ridiculously clunky language when it comes to grammar.]
So, I’ve been thinking about this article lately when I hear electronic (dance) music, and I’ve realized that organic or realistic sounding drum tracks are part of what I hear in music that I tend to think is good. It was a bit of a revelation, because I have trouble explaining sometimes specifically how I discern what I think is good EDM from crap. I am trying to decide now if that’s always the case for me, or if I do like some music that isn’t realistic.
This raises a question and one more comment.
First, is it problematic to expect a digital medium to represent or emulate an organic one? Does this desire extend to other technologies?
Second, I’m interested in learning how to create music; I’ve been learning how to edit music and do a little bit of remixing for the last couple of years, which I mentioned in a previous post about my workflow. Ultimately, I’m realizing, my most sincere interests in the digital lie in the realm of multimedia–I want to design, create, record, & edit audio, visual, and multimodal work–music, podcast, video.
I started a project the other day with one tiny piece, using the most basic technologies at my disposal: after using PhotoBooth on my MacBook (really basic, I know) to film myself messing around with a song at the very beginning stages of choreographing it, before I have even decided how to edit the song. I was wearing headphones, so the video has no sound. I used iMovie to edit a short video of my favorite part, attempting to sync up the audio to my dancing. It’s a very early part of a work-in-progress. And the sound isn’t really synced. I even see my body in the video at an early stage in a work-in-progress. I wanted to have a continuing record of my progress. The composing process.