Jigging about in cyber-space

After at least a decade of frantic music-business-related computerising, it may be helpful to try to stand back and attempt to assess the net effect of the arrival of the machine into our musicianly lives. I’m 61. That’s important because it places one immediately into a context – I was about 50 when the computer came crashing into my analogue world. I and people my age had to learn from the ground up, probably starting with learning how to type. The digital native / digital immigrant distinction is useful. Broadly anyone under thirty-ish has grown up with the computer and may be called a digital native. Anyone who had to learn about it in maturity is a digital immigrant. We immigrants may learn the language more or less efficiently, but we don’t speak it like the natives.

The personal net effect of all this, viewed in the round, is that the years of computing have driven me away from music-making, rather than towards it. Perhaps the web has made it simultaneously harder for those of us who were already musicians to continue being musicians, and easier for those of us who weren’t musicians to become one. Those of us who had a slice of the pie (the pie being audience attention) have been forced to hand over some pie to the beginners. My problem is that the so-called democratisation of music-making has produced such an unholy racket that I can no longer conceive of contributing to the din, let alone trying to persuade anyone to listen to my particular din, let even more alone asking them to pay for my new din. Like a bloke with too much food on his plate, all I can feel is queasy.

The web too often introduces a false sense of intimacy. You feel you know me, and I feel I know you. After all, we’re just the other side of this bit of glass, right? We blog, we’re pals. Well, not really. The relationships I now trust are those with friends family and people standing in the same room as me. They’re identifiable and authentic. Same with my music-making – identifiable, authentic, and in the same room at the same time, please. Hence my move towards jazz, which most definitely fits that description. Everything else is just jigging about in cyber-space.

So, for me, the net effect of a decade of jigging about at the keyboard has had the unintended consequence of heightening my belief in – and desire for – the real, tangible, immediate, and authentic. I thirst for almost anything the computer cannot provide, and funnily enough that’s quite a bit. Now that the glitzy gloss of sampling, fakery, pro-tooling and anyone-can-do-it wizardry has begun to tarnish, I’m sort of left where I started, only more so. How do you feel?

2017-11-22T12:30:05+00:00 August 3rd, 2010|