To Program or Not to Program

date: 04/04/2013 category: features
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To Program or Not to Program
A couple of days back, I invested in the "Sound City" documentary. Needless to say, it made me question some things. Programming, being the main question. Now, let me clear this out before I go any further, I am, what you call, a "bedroom producer." I have been shifting continents, from Australia to India and now in Singapore, I haven't exactly had a stable band ever. So, for me, the only way to make music is to sit with my laptop and MIDI controller and "click" in notes to where I want them to be. I like it. At least it gets my ideas and mood across, right? In this article, I will be referring to one particular genre of music and metal, not because I dislike it, some of the bands that fall into that genre, inspire me a lot, but mainly because I know more musicians into that scene, so I kind of know how they work usually. Now this genre I talk about is lovingly referred to as "Djent." To a musician, its "Progressive metal." Either way, you know what I'm talking about (hopefully). Now this is a genre that is slick, polished and it can get really technical. The staple sound of this genre is the kick drum syncopated with the guitar chugs. To achieve that, you need a REALLY good drummer. Or wait, a really good DRUM MACHINE! So, musicians playing this genre of music, found it easier to program the drums according to their sound. It might sound simple but there's a LOT that goes into it. Its a bloody talent, I think, to be able to do that perfectly and make it sound good. So, now you have this musician, sitting in front of his/laptop programming drums to the tracks. And after a couple of hours, this musician puts up the track on websites like Soundcloud and fans of this genre, dig it. Everything is perfect. True fans of this genre appreciate the tight quality and slick production of this genre. And here's where my questioning started. Where did the human aspect go? Does music really have to be perfect today to be appreciated? With the advent of technology and the ever growing range of electronic instruments that we can use for our music, slowly and steadily, the human aspect of dynamic and emotion, I feel, is wearing out. I also know that some or most of these musicians that play this genre of music (Djent/Prog) eventually find other talented musicians to fill the void and that of course, nullifies the point of this article. Right? Maybe not. Even though, I appreciate music in all its forms, I really miss the days when musicians would actively be looking for musicians. When you'd go to a bar/club that plays your kind of music and you go there with the sole intent of possibly connecting with your future bandmate. I miss seeing a bunch of musicians in a room, that as obviously small to accommodate everyone and their gear, sweating it out, making mistakes and keeping it raw. Maybe I'm wrong and things have changed for the better but for me, personally, I'm a point in my musical journey, where I want the sound of a real drummer, a real guitarist, a real bassist etc coming out of my speakers. What's your take? P.S. I'm not bashing any musician/music. This article is just a thought :)
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