The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
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Now THIS is what I'm talking about when I try to explain the difference between using a tool and creating something.
Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singerís voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PCís microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.
Create really, really, crappy background music for you.
You may have a song in your head, something beautiful and wonderful to share, and this monstrosity will make it sound like show tunes on the Love Boat. Rather than creating something new, this thing destroys your creativity and replaces it with soulless pap.
This is the same problem with desktop publishing, the camcorder, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. The tools give you the appearance of having a talent, but it doesn't actually give you that talent.
Socrates said about writing (because he apparently didn't write), "To your students you give an appearance of wisdom, not the reality of it." Now, I'm not saying that the written word is bad, but we've had literally (pun intended) thousands of years to learn how to use the tool.
It's creative when you're the first one to use a tool a new way. Some of the early Internet phenomena were total crap, like the dancing hamster site. People went to these things in droves because no one had done it before, but the talent it took to create a few animated gifs and speed up a wave file was simple. Then the thousands of knock-offs made the Internet a terrible place.
I feel that it's our destiny in life to raise the bar, to constantly find new things, and deeper understanding of old things. Finding a simpler way to do something like adding chord progressions to a vocal track is great, but when you put it into a package like Songsmith, you create a superficial distraction.
Nothing new will come from Songsmith users, and they will be so self impressed, and so distracted by their little creations that they will never evolve, they will never learn new things about themselves or learn how to create real music. And, most likely, they will never learn what real music is.
Turn off the chord generator, and just sing.
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Edward Hart: Re: The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
There isn't any substitute for real chords played by real musicians on real musical instruments simply because no two performances will be the same. Listen to Django Reinhardt playing jazz guitar or Art Tatum on piano and you'll see what I mean. There on another planet. If you listen to Teddy Wilson on piano, you're on another planet still.
However, to pretend you can't create things using short-cuts of one kind or another such as amplifiers, chord generators, drum machines or Dreamweaver, isn't true.
Real music and Songsmith both allow scope for improvisation and nuance. It depends who is doing it. I know which I prefer but I wouldn't say, ispo facto, that the other method has no value. I can't, it depends what you do with it.
Two people with a paintbrush will produce two very different paintings, whether they have merit or not doesn't come down to the brush they use. The rssult isn't just a question of technique either, real art is novel - in the true sense of the word - a different way of seeing.
The same applies to Dreamweaver. You can be a largely talentless user or someone who'll explore every avenue that the product allows. To say that an idea - and by extension a design -doesn't have any merit because of the software used - is nonsense. It is the user that is important because without the user nothing happens anyway.
However, using software imposes limitations from the outset but a talented user of Songsmith won't just see the cords he or she will hear them. The same applies to any instrument, practical or otherwise. In the end it comes down how well the performer or operator can use it.
The people who use Songsmith are unlikely to come up with anything new not because it's Songsmith but because they want to take a shortcut on a road that must inevitably be long. Long, unless your Mozart or Bach... In which case you can see what you want to do in your mind's eye and just get on with it. There are plenty of people out there who enjoy making music without recourse to gadgets. Unfortunately, many people haven't the time, talent or inclination to do this - that's why they take shortcuts.
There will always be people who will eschew these things and go it alone. Why? Because they can. They don't need them. In this instancce, beauty is in the user.
Michael Bissell: Re: The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
Don't get me wrong: tools are great. But a tool that limits you, like Songsmith (or Dreamweaver), limits more than the creative product, it limits your growth.
Guitar Hero doesn't teach you to play guitar, but at least it doesn't pretend to teach. Tools that pretend to be more than the are... that's the crux of the problem.
DavidN: Re: The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
What an excellent description of it at the end - I just found out about this, er, music software through being linked to the unintentionally hilarious advert video for it, and after being slightly infuriated at the whole idea for a while, just began to find it more and more comical.
It's never going to instantly churn out things that anyone thinks are hits, but it's inevitably going to perform the near-miraculous feat of making Youtube a bit more annoying.
Be sure to see my blog over at Cloudenity. This week's topic:
Identity Isn't Just for Users Anymore