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why bother learning any instrument other than the keyboard


Eric VB

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The keyboard is a very bad interface between humans and musical sounds.

 

A wind or string instrument produces tone which is directly affected by the physical gestures of the player.

 

On a keyboard instrument you are pressing a key which either has a mechanical or electrical (or both) interface to the actual sound production. This eliminates some of the human element.

 

There has long been a debate as to whether one player can coax a better tone out of a piano than another. I'm in the camp that says no. IMHO the people who can hear the differences between pianists are hearing phrasing, not tone.

 

Even I sound pretty good on a Steinway piano. Now go listen to dozens of saxophonists, all playing Selmer Mark VI horns. They all sound different...and the beginners sound terrible.

 

Why would you want to play "any conceivable musical sound" anyway? How about mastering one instrument? There's a whole world inside every instrument already.

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Try as I may, I can't palm mute a keyboard. The bass, yes. The MARIMBA, yes. Not the keyboard. Or the electronic drum kit.

 

I imagine you could put together a 5-piece keyboard, organ, bass, percussion and two guitars. Hell, why stop there and get a sixth that does voice synth! Put together an album of clean, disinfected, articulated, sanitized music. It would sound good to some people. Probably those same people that like the animatronic lion singing those insipid child's song covers at Chunky Cheeze's (sic).

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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I can palm mute on my master keyboard. Polyphonic aftertouch is a great feature for that.

 

The twelve tone keyboard is probably the worst interface for expressing a musical idea. It wasn't so obvious in the past 400 years, but lately it really shows. Now that you can put a keyboard in front of a sound that could marginally pass for another instrument, it's really evident that keys cannot do the job.

 

My V-Synth has 61 keys, a touch and rotation sensitive XY pad, a mod trigger, a pitchbend lever, an optical proximity sensor (Roland calls it a D Beam), and 4 sliders. If the keyboard was the perfect tool of expression, I think these clumsy adjuncts would not exist.

 

Some other issues:

 

- Fingerings are not portable among keys.

- Only one note timbre per instrument (as opposed to the difference in timbre between an open A string and an E string fretted at 5.

- Physically impossible combinations of chord voicings.

 

I think the closest thing we have to a perfect interface for musical expression is some variation of the fretboard. The tunings on the Chapman Stick or Warr Guitar that are mirror images are probably the most logical in terms of the criteria that I mentioned.

 

I'm probably the best example of someone who augmented keyboard with something else. I've been playing keys since I was 9, and while I'm no virtuoso in terms of theory or technique, I am certainly comfortable with keyboards. But I started seriously attempting to learn bass two years ago because I wanted more connection with the instrument. And even at my skill level, it's easier for me to project power out of a single note on a bass than through even an analog synthesizer. It's not that i can't do the same thing...it's just easier on a fretboard (and presumably on a wind instrument)to feel directly connected.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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Originally posted by Social Critic:

Damn! They got me on the polyphonic aftertouch again!!! Curse you, 09!!

:D

 

Believe me, you're not the first one to be burned by polyphonic aftertouch. And you won't be the last

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Great discussion so far, as always, from the Lowdown! :thu:

 

Steve from Motown: With your changing avatar images I'm pretty sure you're a multi-instrumentalist, too. Care to elaborate on why you chose to learn many instruments, and conjecture on how things may have been different if you grew up with the synths and sound libraries of today?

 

Jeremy: Great insights. Some of us musicians get to a point where we want to put the clarinet (or trombone) down and try something new. Is it strictly for fun and adventure, or to pursue a new sound? (Or maybe just economic opportunity?) Wouldn't it be easier to have one interface -- albeit imperfect -- to easily switch between parts/roles in a band as necessary? If the drummer is a no-show, maybe an extra "trumpet" can fill in, because everybody plays a keyboard? You only have one instrument to keep your chops up on, etc.

 

Social Critic: As one who is not a good singer, I'm interested in voice synth. I got to hear a demo a couple weeks ago in my class. I think they are ready for BGVs, but they are a little weak yet for leads. I wouldn't mind having a Mariah Carey sound library, since as an unknown songwriter there's just about no chance in hell that I'd get one of my songs in front of her. Will technology ever get to that point, or is it too hard to capture the soul of the human voice?

 

09: I enjoyed reading your first-hand experiences. I still find it somewhat ironic that one of the hardest instruments to build a sound library for keys is acoustic piano. (I heard they're working really hard at putting the lack of sympathetic vibrations to rest.) As a brass player, I can tell you it is quite dis-heartening to see how easy it is to alternately play the lowest and highest pitches on an 88-key instrument. First of all, I don't know anyone with a 7-octave range, and secondly, it's murder to take on such large intervals. But yes, I like the fact that I can sustain a note and give it a dynamic life; even on electric bass guitar there has to be some adjunct tweaking to get a sustained note to crescendo. I know at least one of the Chapman/Warr models is MIDI enabled. Do you see this as a more worthwhile interface to spend time on if someone wanted a front-end to a sound library? Or is it just a pipe dream that one interface can suffice, and the only real solution is to learn multiple instruments (and their interfaces)?

 

This general topic of choice of instrumentation has been something that's been on my mind, I think moreso after joining the forums here. Dave Sisk reignited my internal debate with his banjo post. I know I've talked with Bill Parks and greenboy about it a bit.

 

There's a fairly heavy time commitment to learning and then maintaining chops on any given instrument. While the ideal is to find a group of like-minded musicians and have everyone specialize in only one instrument, I think we're all too familiar with the trials of trying to do this in practice. The other road is to try to learn all the instruments yourself and multi-track everything. At least in theory this can be alleviated if you only have to learn one instrument interface.

 

Switching between a family of instruments isn't too hard, in general. All of the electric bass guitar folk here, for instance, should at least have the basic mechanics of fretted/plucked string instruments down to the point where they wouldn't be learning guitar as an absolute beginner. For the URB folk, chances are they started off on violin anyway; they should have a basic mastery over violin family instruments above the absolute beginner.

 

How did John Paul Jones recreate the recorder introduction to "Stairway to Heaven" when playing live? Did Led Zeppelin tour with four recorder players? No, JPJ used a Mellotron . OTOH, at a Jimmy Page concert, Nigel Eaton came out and played some inspiring hurdy gurdy.

 

Should esoteric instruments be overlooked if no players are available in the area? Should they be synthed? And if so, should they be controlled by a keyboard?

 

As a bass player, if we are given the task of covering for a missing instrument -- say the french horn that John Entwistle played for The Who (when he wasn't playing bass) -- should we learn french horn? Should we learn keyboard? Should we pick up a MIDI bass?

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Ric,

 

Each instrument is entirely different.

 

I am a bassist at heart but for many reasons keys really satisfy an inner urge (I am a geek).

 

Personally, I think every bassist should learn piano because it really helps tie music theory together, and, IMO, helps the bassist better understand how the bass line really can complement the melody, and vice versa.

 

Re: sounds--Well, I started playing bass in the late 1960's and the only synths available were Ultra-Expensive so...

 

At that point in my life I was more interested in the beat/groove than differing sounds.

 

Today, I (we) have the ability to have very powerful and affordable sound re-creating/recording capabilities so it is easy to experiment. Also, I am at an age of my life (50) where I can enjoy dabbling with these cool things (and have the time and also a very understanding wife to be able to do so...) without the pressures of trying to make money at it.

 

Hopefully, this all makes some sense..

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

--------

My Professional Websites

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You raise some extremely interesting and thoughtful questions! I'd like to respond with my 2 cents...

 

As a bass player, if we are given the task of covering for a missing instrument -- say the french horn that John Entwistle played for The Who (when he wasn't playing bass) -- should we learn french horn? Should we learn keyboard? Should we pick up a MIDI bass?
This is fascinating to me...and I've always been curious as to people's philosophy in this. My number one priority has always been to serve the song. My number two priority is to not get in the way of the song, either technically or sonically. In a live situation, I think sometimes using the original instrument does NOT serve the song because of the inability to reproduce the sound that was recorded or the tribulations that one must go through to recreate the sound. One would think that a horn player would be a logical choice to play the horn part in a song. But does having a real horn player make sense if 1)He or she is only doing stabs for 2 measures in 3 songs, 2)There is piss poor monitoring on stage, 3)the song called for a section, and 4)there's no room on stage? Sometimes, the answer is yes, but often, a keyboard player can take over that role.

 

The other part of the question is also amusing to me. I think the reason why the Ox picked up a french horn or Flea picks up a trumpet now and then is because they can. Would John Entwistle have used a synth brass sound controlled by a MIDI pickup if something happened to his mouth? I doubt it. I find it hilarious that most Rush tribute bands insist on the bass player also singing and playing keyboards. What are the chances that this best serves the song?

 

Should esoteric instruments be overlooked if no players are available in the area? Should they be synthed? And if so, should they be controlled by a keyboard?
If it serves the song, it should be synthesized or sampled. If it serves the song, it should be completely replaced by another sound. If it serves the song, one should fly in a player or scrap the song altogether. And I think the sound in question should be controlled by whatever interface will extract the best performance. I know I can play drums much better on keys than big pads or even little MPC pads. I imagine that a dobro sample would sound more authentic if strummed through a MIDI guitar, but not necessarily. Of course, we're talking best case scenarios here. If all you have is a Casio mini keyboard with MIDI, by all means, give it a go.

 

But let's apply my personal rule of sound choice conduct for a minute to that Final Countdown video. Does anyone not agree that, given the sounds that they had at their disposal, the best arrangement would have been the keyboard playing the chords and the guitar playing the anthemic hook? That's a great example of the band getting too hooked on the ingredients and ruining the end product.

 

The other road is to try to learn all the instruments yourself and multi-track everything. At least in theory this can be alleviated if you only have to learn one instrument interface.
This is somewhat true. Again, I am no keyboard wizard, but I've recorded literally hundreds of arrangements where I've played everything on keyboard, and I'm not talking techno. And most people can't tell or don't care. And in theory, it IS easier to learn one instrument interface. But in practice, you are not learning one insrument interface. When I play drums on a keyboard, my whole playing position, from posture to fingering to wrist position, changes. You are then looking at a keyboard as a set of triggers, so the harmonic relationship of the keys in their horizontal order is irrelevant, and sometimes detrimental, to a spontaneous performance. When I emulate acoustic guitar I have to keep in mind that chord voicings need to be wide open, and I can only play 6 notes at a time. When I emulate electric guitar, my hand almost automatically locks into a fifth, and I need to really be aware of pitch bending and the now dreaded aftertouch. On orchestral instruments, the big nightmare is range. Recent software orchestral plug ins don't even PLAY outside of an instrument range.

 

So, while the physical keyboard is the same, for each imitative instrument sound, one has to approach the 'board with a new technique to play it convincingly.

 

I know at least one of the Chapman/Warr models is MIDI enabled. Do you see this as a more worthwhile interface to spend time on if someone wanted a front-end to a sound library? Or is it just a pipe dream that one interface can suffice, and the only real solution is to learn multiple instruments (and their interfaces)?
As i said, I think some variation of the fretboard is probably the best all-around solution for expressing the largest range of musical concepts with dynamics and expression. But MIDI'ed stringed instruments are in their infancy, and I find them to be clumsy.

 

Part of the problem is that 100% of synths and samplers out there are designed to be played by a keyboard. Even the GR series Roland guitar synths are just repackaged versions of their existing synth engines. There's little (if any) performance tweaking focused on stringed instruments. So, for all practical purposes, you're taking a string pluck, translating into a depressed key, and then sending it to the sound engine that is then trying to imitate another instrument. this leads to latency and a general "disconnectedness". Maybe in 10 years...

 

This is not to say that I don't like MIDI'ed guitar or bass...just not to emulate other instruments.

 

I still find it somewhat ironic that one of the hardest instruments to build a sound library for keys is acoustic piano. (I heard they're working really hard at putting the lack of sympathetic vibrations to rest.)
Yeah, there's a few Yamaha Clavinovas that have sympathetic vibrations and many software plug in pianos also have them. And, while they add to realism when hitting a single note and holding it, I find that it gets muddy in a playing situation. Most guys on the Keyboard Corner turn the sympathetic resonance way down if they can. Again, I think they are about 10 years away...

 

Thanks for a great topic, and sorry for the length of my replies. I hope Steve (forceman) chimes in here...

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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Personally, I think every bassist should learn piano because it really helps tie music theory together, and, IMO, helps the bassist better understand how the bass line really can complement the melody, and vice versa.
This really is the crux of the whole multi-instrumentalist thing. A lot of bass players complain that the guitar player or keyboard player setps all over their range. Have them switch with you for a song or two.

 

Playing more than one instrument is truly putting yourself into another's shoes.

 

And of course, I missed the real advantage of keyboards. As Forceman pointed out, It's much more effective for things like learning chords because it forces you to address the notes themselves. You can get by on transposing the same barre up and down, for example.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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I do play a variety of instruments and they each have various advantages.

 

It's amazing how you perceive music differently when playing a different instrument.

 

Keyboards are pretty important for understanding theory.....music theory was pretty much invented on keyboards.

 

Of all the instruments that I play, the bass is the one that I love the most.

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

Of all the instruments that I play, the bass is the one that I love the most.

ditto

 

I started learning keys when I was 5 by taking organ lessons. Then started learning/playing drums and perc in school orchestra. My parents bought me an acoustic guitar when I was 12 or 13 and I started learning that. When I was 18 or 19 I started taking classical piano lessons and started teaching myself clarinet. When I was 24 my girlfriend (who is now my wife) bought me my first bass guitar. I very rarely touch any other instrument now, but I can say that after 13 years of playing bass I still rely heavily on the theory that I learned through playing drums and keys.

 

I think a basic understanding of keys is a big help when learning and playing other instruments. If nothing else it gives you a good logical layout of chords and scales and helps you visualize theory.

 

No matter how sofisticated synthesizers and samplers get though, people just connect better with a particular instrument. For some its keys, for others its guitar, bass or whatever. Someone can be a mediocre guitar player but then switch to keys and become a great musician or vice versa with any other instruments. I can play bass parts on a keyboard, but I feel it more and express myself better on a bass guitar. I don't believe there is any way to synthesize that.

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Are we dinosaurs for caring though? Does the average punter downloading the latest "in" tune for their iPod have the slightest concern as to whether the music was produced by musicians or geeks? And why should they?

 

If we take the bass, every note could be sampled as a harmonic, a half-harmonic, a normal fretted note, ditto fretless, an open string, a palm-muted note, a slapped note etc etc. Let's say there are 20 ways to play a single note. Then we just do that for 3 octaves, that's 720 samples. If these are midi samples then with a keyboard literally anything and any combination could be played including combinations that would be impossible on the bass (eg fretted and fretless). And that's just the electric bass. You can do this with every instrument.

 

Indeed why ever play with another musician again, when you can do it all on your PC?

 

In fact, why bother to learn an instrument at all since all you really have to do is learn Pro Tools or Logic. Surf the internet, download midi samples and off you go. All you might need is a vocalist, but in a few years you probably won't even need that.

 

Deep breaths ...

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Stellar posts, guys! :thu:

 

Davo, when you start analyzing things that way and add in a little history of how musicians have been screwed in the past, it certainly does paint a bleak future. That's why you may have noticed that I try to take cues from visual artists and how they have evolved in the face of competing technology (photography vs. portraiture, photocopy vs. hand made, etc.). In a way, they've already blazed the trail we now find ourselves upon.

 

But like you guys pointed out, actually playing an instrument really connects you physically to the music being played.

 

Lately I've been on an acoustic instrument journey. No two alike, each with a personal sound. No real need for technology, either. Just you interacting with the strings, reeds, mouthpiece, whatever, to create the sounds. Very organic. The antithesis of embracing a music technology where essentially pressing a button triggers a sound.

 

And so I am torn at the crossroads.

 

The reality is that it is unlikely that I could learn to play all those wonderful acoustic instruments to a high level with the time I have left. But using technology would at least give me access to the sounds by mastering one more interface (more-or-less; 09's comments noted).

 

Also, the practicality of it all. I can't afford a $4,000 hurdy gurdy, and I don't know anyone in my area that has one. It might be hard to find, but a hurdy gurdy sample library would seem to be both a bargain and a time-saver.

 

The example in my class was the ability to hear your score for full orchestra without actually hiring an orchestra to play it. This can at least allow you to tweak things before actually starting an expensive task. (I wouldn't want to interrupt a session recording an orchestra to spend time fixing the score.) It seems to be a reasonable way to demo orchestral music for film, too.

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Keyboard never really sounds like any other instrument. If you listened to Malher 6 with an actual orchastra. And then an all keyboard version thru the worlds best sound system, the orchastra would still win. Keybord uses Electrical vibrations and signals rather than reall vibrations. If you unplug a keyboard it makes no pitched noise. It is less expressive than real instruments you can't slur or shmear or hammeron in real time on a keyboard. It is FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR from being close to the perfect expression of music. It is the least perfect and most uncreative form. No organ harpsichord and piano are real instruments but keyboard is a tool ,like a bass effect that can either be used really well or really badly. *end of rant*

I knew a girl that was into biamping,I sure do miss

her.-ButcherNburn

 

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thanny XIII--wise beyond his years.

 

The orchestra as we know it today has multiples of many instruments. This came about in order for the softer instruments to remain in balance with the louder instruments.

 

Now that we can mike all the instruments and send them to a mixing board, why don't we just have one of each and just mix the levels as necessary?

 

Because it doesn't sound the same.

 

We have a hurdy-gurdy at home. My wife built it. It took her six months. Anyway who tries to get a sampler near this beautiful instrument will be shot on sight.

 

In the old days, a band had to perform with only the members of the band on stage. A big reason why the Beatles stopped touring is because they couldn't reproduce their records onstage.

 

Nowadays, audiences don't seem to mind that there are extra people on stage. Go ahead, hire that hurdy-gurdy player. He (or she) will probably work for pretty cheap. (There aren't a lot gigs for hurdy-gurdy players)

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I'd agree with Thanny except that it is unlikely that you would AB an orchestra like that. It's my understanding that many TV shows use a mix between live musicians and keys/samplers, only because of budget restraints and that there are luckily still some instruments that sound better that way.

 

If you were shown a film of an orchestra playing with a good backing soundtrack from a keyboard. Your brain would be easily fooled. Listening to a CD of the same soundtrack you'd probably hear it a mile off.

 

Compare this with sound effect thunder. Without the on screen rain and flashes of light, it just sounds like a bit of cardboard being wobbled.

 

As I assume that the people who create these sound tracks are formerly trained musicians. Are they selling out? Anymore than the Graphic Artist who uses a Computer to design his picture instead of painting it using real brushes?

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

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Originally posted by jeremy c: I could record the bass part in one take on my bass. That would be a little quicker.

 

It would take a long time as a geek, but at least one wouldn't have to spend thousands of hours getting one's bass chops up to speed. Isn't that the point.

 

I don't want to paint a bleak picture. But someone's got to mention it. I love playing bass and drums. But take the post about how different fingers give different timbres. Who, other than a few hardcore bassists cares?

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Originally posted by jeremy c:

I do play a variety of instruments and they each have various advantages.

 

It's amazing how you perceive music differently when playing a different instrument.

 

Keyboards are pretty important for understanding theory.....music theory was pretty much invented on keyboards.

 

Of all the instruments that I play, the bass is the one that I love the most.

+1 :freak:

 

That said, there's certainly benefits to having all those sounds available, and benefits from a compositional standpoint of being able to hear a particular orchestration (maybe present it to a client?) before hiring a orchestra and recording it with real instruments.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Well, Davo, I think you do care.

 

You care enough to figure out how many samples you think you need.

 

But there's something else you need....a stylistic knowledge of every instrument from which you use samples.

 

Sure, you can sample some dead notes. But you have to know a lot about bass playing to know where and when to use them.

 

It's the same for any instrument. You can get a reasonably convincing cello patch, for instance. But you better use that patch to play something that resembles something a cellist would play. Do you have upbows and downbows? Do you know where they might go? How would a melody sound if it were played on one string as opposed to playing it across the strings?

 

I've played live with a few different drummers using electronic sets. They all used "analog" cymbals and knew which part of the cymbal to hit and how hard to hit it at any particular time.

 

What is usually missing in a big way are all the ghost notes on the snare drum....you don't really hear them on the record, from the audience, or even standing right next to the drummer, but you certainly feel the difference when they aren't there.

 

I've never heard a keyboardist tocome up with anything even remotely resembling what a funk rhythm guitarist does without even thinking about it.

 

Of course these days you hear samples in movies, tv shows, and now Broadway musicals. But even an unsophisticated audience will feel the difference, even if they can't identify what it is.

 

There seems to be a reasonable backlash against synth-based music....there is a growing audience for acoustic music (although you'd never know it from the media coverage it doesn't get).

 

I think I've ranted enough for one night.

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A lot of the arguments tend to focus on whether or not the technology can reproduce the nuance & complexity of a "real" instrument. Let's take it as read, though, that with enough time & investment the technological challenges can all be met.

 

Question: why did we invest all that to meet those challenges?

 

I've seen two major reasons suggested.

 

1. With the technology, a person can get the same performance results with a lower investment of time & practice.

 

Really? Imagine a keyboard so complex that it has apparatus & interfaces so that all variables can be effected. My guess is that such an instrument would be so complex, that mastering it would not save anything over learning the simulated instrument; or at least, it wouldn't save enough to make it worth all the investment in it.

 

2. The technology does not need to capture ALL the subtlety of the original; only enough that the average i-pod junkie will notice.

 

The idea here is that the technology has to rise to a much lower threshold of subtlety than proponents of "traditional" instruments are interested in. Above that threshold, not enough people care to make the differences worth the additional bother.

 

A lot of the zot-heads that I see around town probably wouldn't notice, or if they did, probably wouldn't care. Of course, the same goes with wine; for some people, the only draw of wine is that it tastes so much better than Aqua Velva. And yet, there are people who really, really care about wine, enough that to them (& their suppliers) it's worth a whole lot of extra bother to find something really fine & exciting. Ditto for music.

 

There's another problem with these sorts of arguments. Continuing the analogy, suppose we could synthesize wine with technology that could capture all the possible subtleties & variety of real wines. Now we've not wineries, or wine countries, or wine-makers...there's a whole area of human interaction with the earth & one another that has been lost. And it's a real loss. I think the same would be true for music. There's something about the feel of a certain piece of wood that attracts someone to a certain instrument, I suspect, as much as anything else. There's craftsmanship, traditions, tangibility, intangibles...again, it's a whole area of human interaction that goes beyond an interest in the end-result sound.

 

So, there are some reasons to bother, I think.

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I don't think there needs to be backlash against any kind of music, but I do agree that if you are going to imitate an instrument on keyboard, you sure better know what the instrument should sound and feel like. Two examples, both based on Jeremy's esteemed post:

 

1) The best electric bass emulations I've heard have not had a lot of samples. In fact, they usually only have two layers and their probably samples every fifth. What made them realistic is that someone who really understood bass played them. Phrasing, dynamics, note choices...these are all more important than the raw sample when imitating another instrument.

 

2) Back when the cheapest sampler cost $30,000.00+, I had the privelege to use the Denny Jaeger Violin Library for the Synclavier. It was a library of just solo violin, every note sampled in every type of playing style. Over 10,000 samples just for solo violin. You'd go through a piece of written music and tag all the different samples...up bow here, down bow here with the bow really bearing down, etc. And then you'd replace each note of the MIDI performance with the appropriate sample. Sort of like claymation. For me, it was untenable, and I'm the kind of guy that will edit a 2 measure drum loop for 5 hours. Fast forward to the present. I recently bought this:

 

http://www.soundsonline.com/appimg/full/EW-155PROB1.gif

 

Listen to some demos of it

 

Suspense trailer

Lot of Legato

 

Not perfect, but a lot closer. And for doing demos and scoring, I think it's much better than a piano skeleton arrangement to convey the idea. But the really cool thing is that the software is trying to make some assumptions...legato, up and down bowing, etc. It's far from exact, but just like the early days of OCR, you can get the general idea in and tweak it later. I think this is the shape of things to come.

 

By the way, has anyone heard the Vocaloid or Miriam products? It's really the state of the art in terms of vocal synthesis. It's still obviously fake, but give it ten years.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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Yes, of course I care. I wouldn't be here corresponding, rather than doing my monthly report, if I didn't. It's a fascinating post. Yes you do need some knowledge or love of the instrument to be able to emulate it. I guess we see dumbing down of so many things around us, I feel protective about music.

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Originally posted by dcr:

..

1. With the technology, a person can get the same performance results with a lower investment of time & practice.

 

Really? Imagine a keyboard so complex that it has apparatus & interfaces so that all variables can be effected. My guess is that such an instrument would be so complex, that mastering it would not save anything over learning the simulated instrument; or at least, it wouldn't save enough to make it worth all the investment in it.

 

Yeah.

 

Modern keyboards do provide such functionality, and therefore the learning curve to master them is quite steep. To accurately capture natural tonality of a specific instrument not only takes intimate knowledge of the instrument's physics and tone, but also which parameters to tweak to emulate these values.

 

People who can make accurate simulated music using electronics are, IMO, great musicians--not simply "technicians."

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

--------

My Professional Websites

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Originally posted by thanny XIII:

Keyboard never really sounds like any other instrument. If you listened to Malher 6 with an actual orchastra. And then an all keyboard version thru the worlds best sound system, the orchastra would still win. Keybord uses Electrical vibrations and signals rather than reall vibrations. If you unplug a keyboard it makes no pitched noise. It is less expressive than real instruments you can't slur or shmear or hammeron in real time on a keyboard. It is FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR from being close to the perfect expression of music. It is the least perfect and most uncreative form. No organ harpsichord and piano are real instruments but keyboard is a tool ,like a bass effect that can either be used really well or really badly. *end of rant*

[i agree with Jeremy; this is probably one of Master Thirteen's best posts to date.]

 

Yes, I prefer listening to a live symphony orchestra in an orchestra hall (or better yet, playing in one), whether the composer is Gustav Mahler or anyone else. Or an outdoor bandshell on a summer's eve. Even listening to the best recording -- -- does not come close to the real experience.

 

If the problem is "electrical vibrations" over "real vibrations", then we have to stop a minute and think about our beloved electric bass guitar. The "real" (yet mostly silent) vibrations of our strings are converted into an electric signal via the pickup(s), which is in turn dependent on electric amplification in order to be heard. In this discussion, the keyboard replays a recorded electric signal (sample) through electric amplification. (Yes, I left out digitization; sue me. :P )

 

The point is, with that definition any sound that is electrically amplified is no longer a "real" vibration.

 

Granted, there's some truth to that. I've never experienced it myself, but I've read that biaural recordings are probably the most accurate. (Two microphones are mounted in a head-shaped form where the ears are located.) Of course, for proper playback you need to listen through biaural headphones. It makes sense; record things as your ears would hear them, and play them back in kind. Trying to record through a mixing board or a stereo pair and then play back through a stereo system (or 5.1 or whatever) is only ever going to be an approximation.

 

In other words, sound reproduction is never 100% accurate. (Nor sound recording, for that matter.)

 

But people used to listen to recordings (45s?) broadcast over mono AM radio on cheap car radios ... and liked it! Even today's mp3's are not as accurate as other forms of recordings, yet people are willing to buy them for 99 cents a piece!

 

Yes, it is difficult to reproduce musical nuances with a keyboard interface. The same could be said about a fretted EBG compared to URB; the URB is full of far more sublte expressivity, especially when you play with a bow. Even the electric models designed to be bowed are lacking. (So I hear.)

 

But there are things we can do on EBG that would be difficult on URB, no? Similarly, there are things that can be done on a sampled system that can't be done on the instruments that were sampled. How about 128th notes at 300 bpm? Ok, that's silly of course, but you get the idea.

 

And I hearily agree. Any musical instrument/device can be "used really well or really badly".

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Originally posted by TimR:

If you were shown a film of an orchestra playing with a good backing soundtrack from a keyboard. Your brain would be easily fooled. Listening to a CD of the same soundtrack you'd probably hear it a mile off.

There's an example of this on the Garritan Libraries site . Look for the links on the left side of the page. It was fairly convincing when we watched it in class.
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