The troubles and life of technology


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The composing, filming, writing, recording, mixing and publishing (on YouTube at http://youtu.be/NHjAsG-_W58) of Travels II (sunset over Yorkshire) took approximately 19 hours due to the availability of hardware and software (on phone and computer). Not that remarkable in these times of software and hardware compatibility (as long as you have well-matched products).

The breakdown of the time spent on each aspect of the work is itemised below. Editing, scoring and articulating exactly what was required took the majority of the time. It is not the devil in the detail but the standard I aspire to for the final product that is so time consuming and so detailed.

Inspiration, observation, collection and analysis

Recording film                                 3 minutes (sat on train)

Recording idea                                1 minute (walking from station)

Recording trains                             2 minutes

Editing recordings                          2 hours 30 minutes

Development and refinement

Scoring for string quintet                4 hours

(string quartet and bass)

Articulations on the score              5 hours (dynamics, phrases, accents, tempos)

Transcribe to percussion quintet 40 minutes

Product development and production

Collecting all elements                             10minutes

Placing film and music in software        25 minutes

Editing in software                                    1 hour 20 minutes

Final mixing                                               20 minutes

Burning to sharing format                       15 minutes

Alternative software version                   50 minutes

Publishing (sharing) and evaluation

Uploading film                                 7 minutes

Blog about it                                     2 hours 40 minutes (evaluation and promotion)

These hours were spread over a ten-day period so there was time for reflection and refinement away from the technology and the music. Time spent just thinking, imagining and visualising the final work. When I started composing and arranging (about 45 years ago) I would never even dreamed of completing such a project, a score on paper was as ambitious as I could be. I also managed to persuade the brass band I performed with, Besses o’th Barn, to play them through as well so I could hear the results.

Media equipment was so heavy and difficult to access and the recording studio was very expensive and only for the professionals in those far off days. Now all the features to create a film or recording are readily available on the mobile phone.

In his article What has happened to young people? on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-has-happened-young-people-martin-jones Martin Jones describes the consequences of making everything accessible but explaining very little to the students of today.

Any difficulties these students encounter with software are mainly due to not comprehending the concepts that make it function. In my experience of undergraduate popular music students the performers can communicate to their audience very effectively (they are ‘natural’) but what caused them to study on the degree course was a need to understand the theory behind the music.

The ‘natural’ approach is limited by physical and mental restrictions and at some point there has to be work and application to make the ‘raw natural’ into a natural professional. Research how many gigs Ed Sheeran had performed to perfect his style before he was given a chance.

My music is now going with film, something I dreamed about and now is a reality. In the intervening years I have looked at films and artworks with a critical eye, I have composed hours of music with a critical ear and now I can put them together with confidence. They could still be better so I am still learning and perfecting the art and that is the trouble with technology, there is new software to bend and mould to do my bidding.

© Peter R. Birkby 2015

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About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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