Music, Technology and Lifestyle

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We have arrived to an era where if one states that they’re “computer illiterate” means they’re just “illiterate” and that they’re having great difficulty with coping with the world around them. There have been a few isolated voices crying that the internet is ruining people’s lives, preventing them from communicating properly with the real world. With the advent of the smartphone, the tablet and the mobile internet, people have come to enjoy their real social life and their virtual one at the same time.  And it doesn’t stop there.

An event that I witnessed a couple of days ago made me think of this BBC documentary: Synth Britannia . About 35-40 years ago there came a new type of music and it took time for the critics to accept it as a “valid type of music”. Then, as now, it started with mixing the new technology, the synth, with the oldest and most valued type of music, the classical music, as heard in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

The concert I attended was a replica of the same experiment, only with tablets instead of synths. The concert started with a DJ performing at his table. He had the typical gear a DJ would have on his desk, with the addition of two tablets where he had sounds looped in, which he would manipulate whichever way he pleased during his DJ set.

The most impressive part was however the classical music performance, which made me think of the influence classical music still has on modern music and how fast music as an art is evolving, now with the help of technology. The act consisted of a male baritone voice, an oboe, a violin and a cello. As each of the performers played their instrument, the DJ, while still on the stage, began mixing and modifying live the sounds emitted by the instruments and the singer’s voice respectively. The only tools that he was using were the two tablets he had played with before, in his DJ set. We, the audience, know this because a camera was tactfully placed behind the desk, the images captured being projected on a big screen at the back of the stage.

This was a cutting edge experiment with an impressive result. It is all the more interesting if we think that the end result sounded like a classical music concert which had been recorded, then submitted to hours of processing in a specialized sound recording laboratory. It all sounded like an instantly remixed version of a classical piece, which of course was the DJ’s intention. Technical innovation is making its presence felt in the music industry, making lives easier to musicians worldwide and giving them more tools to create original music.