Digital Technology in the Making of Music
Guest Blogger: David Flitner, the editor of Less Noise, More Soul: The Search for Balance in the Art, Technology, and Commerce of Music, shares some insights about the modern music industry.
Less Noise, More Soul began as a commentary piece I wrote for Billboard. At the time, few questions were being raised about the role of digital technology in the making of music. Most people were, understandably enough, excited by the sheer sense of possibility the new tools represented. And there was always the chance that one did not wish to be seen as insufficiently cool regarding all things of a cutting edge nature. Yet, within a year of the article’s appearance, every serious recording publication was making reference to the issue. And here’s why: better tools did not seem to be correlating with an equal output of better music.
I felt it might be useful to invite serious and thoughtful exploration of this paradox by industry insiders. One of the writers, who is also among the most vigorous critics of the current situation, nonetheless counseled me to avoid letting the discussion become a “one note samba” of bashing. I needn’t have worried. As the essays began to roll in it became quite clear that each person was sharing a very individual point of view based on his or her experience and passion.
For example, few people on the planet combine gifts of technical expertise and creative sensibility more wonderfully than mastering engineer Bob Ludwig. Yet he is greatly concerned about music becoming less durably listenable due, in large part, to excessive reliance on processing.
Kenny Aronoff, arguably the top drummer in contemporary music, feels that loneliness (yes, despite the seeming connectivity of social media) is reflected in a lack of human feeling in music, work that is increasingly computer-derived and shaped.
Early reviews have been enthusiastic: “essential reading,” “an awesome manifesto,” “provocative, much more prickly than any guidebook to music tech has ever been,” “amusing and eye-opening and sometimes shocking.” The book has already found a home in libraries at MIT, Yale, UCLA, McGill and many additional distinguished institutions.
Music is perhaps the most profoundly personal, yet public, form of art. And popular music, especially, has the potential to shape culture on a global basis. That’s why it’s so important to get it right (as elusive as the definition may be) at all levels.
Digital tools can be part of an organic process that enhances the creative experience. Each of the writers in Less Noise, More Soul brings a unique voice to the larger conversation of how music is evolving with these tools. No one suggests theirs is the one and only answer, only that we ask better questions.
Less Noise, More Soul: The Search for Balance in the Art, Technology, and Commerce of Music brings together original essays by a select group of industry professionals, many of them award winners, who share a wealth of experience, passion, and insight into where popular music has been, where it currently finds itself, and where it’s going. The book is designed to be a portable vehicle for generating discussion: not too long, and replete with the poignant, thought-provoking commentary of many “brand-name” players in the industry. Perfect for the office or the college classroom, Less Noise, More Soul will enhance the understanding of music as a medium and a business for students, artists, producers, and other industry professionals. Contributors include Bob Ludwig, Adam Ayan, Kenny Aronoff, Lydia Hutchinson, and more.