radicals

There’s this thing in music software called a plug-in. It simulates physical objects like instruments or amplifiers and all the various physical studio effects reverb, delay, distortion. When you select a plug-in that imitates a Fender amplifier it sounds like you are playing through a Fender amplifier and yet you didn’t lift one up a flight of stairs. Maybe it’s fair to say this is another example of Augmented Reality. People who previously used the actual physical objects (like the amplifiers or guitars) now use plug-ins with a reference in their minds to the previous technology they are digitally representing. I wonder if people born into this contemporary setting without the frame of reference for using the plug-ins in their original state, have more freedom to experiment since they didn’t live with memories of the original object that is being imitated? Lot of new thought stems from breaking away from adhering to how it was.

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  1. It’s more challenging to be creative when you’re presented with infinite possibilities, as opposed to a set of limits. I.e. the old amp provided certain limit to what you could do, and that limit is precisely what inspired the creative thinking…when the possibilities are limitless (i.e. plug-ins, Digital Audio Workstations) there are literally an infinite set of options…this is not to say that it’s not impossible to be creative, but it’s definitely a more challenging undertaking. Often, the results are more uniform and cliche than we could expect. Free improvisation often follows the same trajectory: the performer can play anything they want, yet most freely improvised concerts sounds the same, i.e. atonal playing of clusters, unmetered, large rests, little to no attention paid to functional harmony, (i.e. unresolved dissonances) The real genius comes with playing within the rules, and stepping out for just a few instances. To do so, you need a frame of reference…

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