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How do you think computers and technology are changing the way we write songs?


Davin Overland
A computer science student at Augustana University College, writes:
Computers give us amazing abilities to realize the fullest potential of our music. With the single stroke of a key, you can mix sounds from instruments that you have no idea how to play, but gives you the sound that you are looking for. So I suppose what I am saying is that computers and technology have the potential to add to the complexity of the music. They can let the songwriter more accurately describe their emotions, and possibly gear their music to more than one kind of genre, simply by mixing sounds. I do have a second opinion though... Computers will make the job of writing songs more frusterating than ever. With all this great technology, we want our songs to sound great so the sell, but we can't figure out how to use it. ARGHHHHH!!!!!!
Roger Burton West
Yet _another_ bearded UT fan *chuckle* - Thanks, Roger. --Jodi, writes:
They've made it possible for more people to write! I've had some musical training, but not a great deal; thanks to MIDI and score editors, I can now put together multi-part harmonies and print the results in a form other people can use. I can store my songs and be sure the renditions are accurate, even though I sometimes make errors in musical notation. I can print off copies of lyrics and tunes and give them to other people.

Apart from that, I use a palmtop much as I'd have used a notebook - it stays with me all the time and gets lyrics written into it as they arise. (It's a _little_ easier to find lyrics in 40K of random filk fragments than in a huge notebook, but not much. :)

I could, in theory, sing into the sampler on the palmtop to store a tune, but memory's too limited to make that convenient. I'm working on a score notation package.

One computer-specific advantage is in the writing of parodies. If you can pull up the original lyrics and overtype, it's much easier to make sure the song flows well.


Rob Kraneveldt
A songwriter from Port Alberni, B.C Canada. Also a comicbook publisher/writer and childrens' book author, writes:
I don't think that computers or technology are changing the way we are writing songs at all. I still continue to fall back on such 'archaic' tools as an acoustic guitar, inspiration and feeling, despite the latest 'gizmos'.

I do, however, think computers and technology are having a wonderfully profound effect on the way we are able to record our songs.


Anastasia Saylor
A songwriter from Texas, writes:
I can save my songs on the computer and not lose them in my room.
Dan Tamura
A Pop legend in his own mind from SF, California, writes:
I think technology gives writers great flexibility as far as arranging goes. Sequencers allow us to easily move sections and change notes without having to communicate revisions to the bass player, the horn section, the drummer, etc. It's all at our fingertips. Sythesizers also allow us to experiment with an endless number of sounds without having to hire different musicians or track down hard-to-find instruments.Of course, there are also down-sides to this technology. It gives us the ability to be totally autocratic in our writing. If Paul McCartney had a Korg M1, a PowerMac, and hundreds of sound modules, he may have never wanted to be in a band where he had to deal with inadequate drummers, whiny rhythm guitarists, and that pesky John Lennon guy who always wanted to mess with his songs. I think technology is great for efficiently demoing songs, but the "human-ness" of the process shouldn't be totally lost. I'll take Jagger-Richards over Jagger-Macintosh every time.
Rachel Crombie
A song writer from Australia,writes:
Computers and technology are not changing the way I write songs. I guess, if I had the stuff (technology) I'd use it to help me write songs and stuff like that.
Phillip Wages
Songwriter/singer for indie band VHRINN in West Plains, Missouri, writes:
Well, for me, it allows me to type down my lyrics much faster than paper allows. So, I can produce many more songs than before I had a computer. It also lets people become more open to the public which would allow those that would previously not be able to break into the industry to do so.
Ken Axe
A singer/songwriter from CA, writes:
As far as songwriting goes I don't think that Computers have changed much at all. It is still a matter of putting an idea to words and those words to music. It still has to come from the heart, soul and mind of the writer. Where Computers have made a difference is in the way that we handle the songs once they are writen. We can post lyrics in newsgroups and websites to have them critiqued by others (who have no ax to grind). There are online Thesaurus and rhyming dictinaries, to help us get just the right word. There are notaion programs that help to put the music onto paper. And most inportant, (to me), we have word processers. Finally, I can read my lyrics.
Mark Osier
Some bozo from NY....., writes:
Technology has had a profound impact on the way many people write songs. Rock and Roll music, as we hear it today anyway, would not have been possible without the development of microphones and amps and all the associated concert-type gear that goes with them. Some of the "harder" musical styles of today (heavy metal, grunge, etc) as well as the "disco-esque" stuff and rap, rely almost entirely on an electronic modification/creation of the musical sound. Entire musical techniques have been developed around new music technology (eg - Jimi Hendrix and the tremolo bar), giving new sounds and dimensions to music in general.

The biggest inherent danger in all this "techno-crap", as I see it anyway, is that as you increase your reliance on technology for your sound/feel, you begin to lose the "soul" of your music, to the point that many styles/bands (again, in my opinion) have ceased to really be music, instead existing as a rhythmic series of surrealistic pseudo-drums and melodies. They won't make ya laugh or cry, but you can dance to 'em!

Since everyone's gonna talk about MIDI, I'll throw in just one quick mention. MIDI is great, if used as a TOOL. MIDI is *NOT* an "end-all" in and of itself. Music programmed by computer (even when I do it myself) tends to lose the feel of being performed live - it's too precise. That aside, MIDI stuff is often a really fantastic way to liven up a piece quickly and with relative ease. Got my own MIDI program on da computer ... now if I just had a keyboard to play it on.......


T.C. Stuwe
A weary traveller, writes:
It's saving an awful lot of trees.
Mike Frandson
A Performing Songwriter from Hermann, MO, writes:
Computers have forced me into being organized. I work on as many as 10 songs at a time and I drift from one song to the next, adding the ideas or lines that I have picked up for each one. I don't have to worry about "hitting the wall" because I can jump to the next song, not worrying about having to "finish" a thought The computer forces me to save my work before closing. I time and date stamp all of my work automatically for legal reasons and keep hard copies of each version, copies of which I can read versus my handwriting which I can't read at times!
Brian R. Parks
A Guitarist from GA w/ a 6-yr daughter and a 10-yr old 4 Track, writes:
I'm not convinced (naively, perhaps) that it affects the process. The recording and performance aspects are most definitely affected, both positively and negatively, but the craft, in my opinion, is not. You may now store your lyrics on your hard drive, but somewhere there's a coffee-stained piece of paper where the lyrics began.

The technology can enhance the publication of your work, especially for notationally-challenged guitarists like myself. I have recently used a shareware program that computes and prints out guitar chords based on the fingering, which is fantastic (Wow! I played a F#maj9?). But I would hate to think that there'll be a time where you click on the 'WRITE' button and have the Pentium do the rest.


Gregg McAlister
A ongwriter,musician from South Carolina, writes:
I think it gives aspiring songwriter access to alot of helpful information. It also gives them an opportunity to get to know fellow songwriters they otherwise never would have crossed pathes with.
Justin Vincent
A songwriter from Dublin, writes:
I started writing songs with Cubase and a small midi suit about 8 years ago. For me it didn't work. I was never able to get the feeling that I was looking for.I'm sure that other people can though. So, I decided to start learning guitar when I was 19. The best choice I ever made. Now after 11 years writing songs, I am finally coming out with good material, because I understand the dynamics of my instrument. For me good songs are dynamic. Something that takes hours to achieve when your programming into a grid editor. Um, about the question! I think they are ultimately good (computers, midi, etc.) for sketching concepts from your mind to tape :-) But it's hard to beat organic creativity...
Danielle N. Tyler
A New York aspiring songwriter, writes:
I think it helps a lot but at the same time, it hinders. Personally speaking, with all of the new technology with keyboards, MIDI systems and computer sounds, you can make music without even knowing how to play an instrument - anyone who knows a musical scale can be a songwriter. It hinders because it destroys the good old-fashioned sound of real instruments. It makes songwriting too easy and everything start to sound the same.
Chris Libby
A beginning songwriter from Maine, writes:
I don't know much on how computers are actually affecting songwriting, but I know that they are helping me a lot. At school, there is a program I use called "Musictime". It has helped me put out a lot of songs for transposing, and when I return, it will be putting out the music for my first musical.
Peter Norman
A folk songwriter, writes:
The only way it helps me is storage. Instead of having a cluttered desk, I have a cluttered hard drive. The thing I miss is finding those first drafts and laughing at how the song used to sound. Now I just make changes in the word processor. Being an acoustic instrumentalist, I'm not much interested in digital music.
Mattias Inghe
A pop clown from Sweden, writes:
It isnīt really changing anything, except for me (who doesnīt even know how to PICK UP a guitar). It increases my ability to compose whatever i want to. Iīm able to explore the ability of musical setups I canīt play by myself.
Nigel Grover
A young musician from Colorado, primarily a drummer, writes:
Personally, the new technology is having little effect on my songwriting. There is nothing that rivals sitting down with the acoustic and playing those familiar chords one more time. The counterpoint to that viewpoint is that while we may prefer the "old style" instruments to the samplers and midi equiptment, the technology (specifically, the web) does allow for the dissemination of knowledge, which can halp each of us to, if not become better songwriters, at least see the perspectives of others like us.
Sherman Dorn
YABFOUT (yet another bearded fan of Urban Tapestry), writes:
I think what's more important right now than the specifics of computers and technology is their pervasiveness. We're surrounded by computers and recording equipment, and it's becoming much easier to use all of this (or for others to use it). The end result: lots more stuff is being preserved, in various forms. Maybe this makes revision much easier technologically. Maybe it makes revision and the folk process more difficult psychologically.

What computers and technology don't do is change the songwriting/ audience relationship, if one exists. Songs have to grab someone, and computers are a tool to help, not a replacement for, creativity and hard work.


Irene Jackson
A singer/songwriter from Victoria, BC, writes:
When I heard that Paul Simon first programs drum tracks and writes songs to them, it made me aware of how differently we all might approach writing or find inspiration. I'm sure there are alot of writers out there who would look for interesting ways to get their juices flowing, midi and related technology included. I have never approached writing in this way, but the technology has given me the opportunity to hear what a song might sound like with a full arrangement around it, which can certainly affect how I approach the production of it.

However, any good song, in my opinion, should be able to stand on its own two feet with the barest of arrangement around it. I think that for awhile the trend was around the production so much that "songs" got lost in the process. Some of what was created still remains in certain genres, in particular dance mix and hip-hop.

I think experimenting with new ways of writing is great, but it's the pendulum-swinging effect of progress that eventually teaches us the value of simplicity.


Rusty Ford
A Songwriter/wordsmith from Cape Town, writes:
Being a crappy guitar player, ten years ago I walked around with 25 songs permanently stored in my head.I'd save my money and get into a studio twice a year with session musicisns (paid at scale). Now I'm still a crappy guitarist, but my songs are down, on tape, on hard drive, in midi sequences. Technology!!...you've gotta love it!
Jaison Koss
A guitarist/songwriter from MSU, writes:
It is my personal opinion that computers and technology are the next big step in music. Beginning in the fifties and sixties, the guitar took on a bigger and bigger role in songwriting and music. Now the guitar is pretty much the instrument of choice among all musicians. But the increasing number of industrial bands that are making music driven by computer and techno-noize is astounding. Don't get me wrong, I love industrial music, and I am not trying to disrespect it in any manner. I am just saying that I believe the guitar, in the next decade will either be outdated by the computer or forever melded with it (I would prefer the latter).
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