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Should your music be more organic?

A post by David Mellor
Thursday January 14, 2010
The food you eat is mostly factory farmed - grown in chemicals manufactured in a chemical works. But is your music 'factory farmed' too, and does it sound like it?
Should your music be more organic?

As the owner of a production music library, supplying music to the broadcast industry, I receive many demo CD's.

Very few are even remotely up to the standard I need to be able to publish the music. The most likely problem is lack of professionalism - the music just isn't up to the standard that is required for TV.

But the other problem that I hear all the time is that what comes from the CD sounds a little bit like music, but doesn't have the flavor and 'nutritional content' of the real thing.

This was brought to mind recently when I was watching a interview on TV with one of the producers of the first film from the new James Bond series, Casino Royale.

One of the points the producer was very keen to make was that the stunts, which of course are expected in a James Bond movie, were 'organic' compared to most current films. 'Organic' was exactly the word he used, and he meant that the stunts were done for real rather than being achieved by digital fakery, and that the only manipulation done was to remove the wires that support and protect the stunt artists.

In film, it is certainly true that since the impossible can now be achieved quite easily, that even the most spectacular scenes lose their value because the audience knows that they have been created by digital artists rather than having been performed for real.

And the same applies to music too. Music is a form of emotional communication, and when an instrument is played by a skilled performer, it can conduct that emotion from composer, through performer to listener.

But when machines are allowed to have too much influence, then that emotional connection is broken. Yes, the notes, rhythms and timbres remain, but the subtleties that make music truly involving are lost.

Non-organic food is grown using chemicals made in factories (and farmed animals eat food grown from chemicals). Organic food is grown in, er, shit (odd that the promoters of organic farming usually fail to make that clear).

Non-organic music does often start with good DNA (to continue the analogy), but then it goes through the machine process and is liberally treated with pesticides (quantization) before being packaged and sold to the public.

Organic music may have a few rough edges (like spotty organic apples), but the flavor and nutritional value is retained, and is simply more satisfying to consume.

And in organic farming, there is no rule that says machines can't be used, so machines can be used in music too. Just as long as they long as they add goodness to the music, not take it away.

A post by David Mellor
Thursday January 14, 2010 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)
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