Robair Report: Let Them Make Music

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Gino Robair


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Gino Robair

During the MIDI 30-year Anniversary panel discussion at NAMM 2013, featuring Dave Smith, Tom Oberheim, Alan Parsons, Jordan Rudess, George Duke and Craig Anderton, the question was raised whether MIDI democratized the music-making business “so that anybody can make bad music.” While it may seem like there’s already too much crap being generated, and that the noise level of new releases has far exceeded our audience’s bandwidth, Anderton reminded the panel’s attendees that it is important for people to have the ability to express themselves musically. “When you make music, you learn about yourself,” he noted. I absolutely agree.

Indeed, MIDI has helped make it possible—and easier than ever—for anyone with musical ideas to realize them, no matter how “bad” they may be. And if you consider the current slump in recording sales, what better way is there to get non-musicians interested in supporting music again than to have them experience creativity first hand. Despite the millions of products that automatically generate beats and accompaniment for anyone who can afford an app, there will come a point where the novice realizes that making great music isn’t as easy as they had originally thought. It takes talent, skill, imagination and time, and it might be worthy of financial investment.

When you give non-musicians and amateurs access to creative tools, they develop an insatiable appetite for more music, beyond what they can get through traditional distribution methods. It doesn’t master if they’re a wannabe guitarist, drummer or DJ, once they get an insight into the techniques of performing and recording, they will dig deeper to increase their own skills.

Consider all of the interactive music tools available and how we use them. Only a few years ago it seemed crazy that a band at the level of Nine Inch Nails or 311 would allow free, online distribution of the multitrack files for one of their songs. Since then, numerous bands have used the concept to encourage fans to remix their favorite tunes. With the ubiquity of multimedia editing tools on every platform, today’s audience expects nothing less than full access to session material—both audio and visual.

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