MAN VS MACHINE
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There are many misleading euphemisms and buzzwords used in the music industry and showbiz in general: live on TV rarely means that the singer will actually be singing live – heaven forbid!, it merely means that the TV programme is live while the voice is not. Overall, the music industry is a great place for lovers of newspeak and euphemisms though not necessarily for lovers of honesty. Somewhat naively, I’ve often maintained that the greatest honesty in a song can be found in the voice of the singer, though this opinion has been strongly challenged over the years.
Cher’s song “Believe” may have been a huge hit internationally, but inside me beats a troglodyte’s heart – a simple heart that knows for sure that Cher did not make her voice magically change pitch by 4 octaves and then instantly head back down again – a machine did it for her. This machine called “auto-tune” automatically tunes the vocal so that the tuneless and tone deaf alike can magically sing in tune, wonderful news for those attending karaoke nights and being subjected to a ten-minute massacre of Don McLean’s American Pie followed by a belched version of Bohemian Rhapsody, but the caveman that lurks within me prefers a person’s natural voice. Unfortunately though my inner-Caveman will have to accept that the future in music is where man will make way for machine as technology will take us further than merely tuning a person’s vocal.
A case in point is that of Hitoshi Ueki who died in 2007, new technology is currently being developed to bring his voice back to life, who knows, probably back into song! There is also new technology being developed where individuals will be able to type in keywords to instruct the computer to make original music according to their particular demands. The ‘consumer’ merely has to 1) input a musical style e.g. ballad, then 2) reference a musical genre e.g. rock, then 3) reference a performer – e.g. Queen and then finally, type in the tempo of the song you demand – fast, slow or medium tempo. Wait a millisecond and the computer will provide you with a new piece of work that sounds uncannily like a rock ballad by Queen but will be an entirely original composition. So, not only will we be faced with living singers potentially being made redundant by the John Lennons and Elvis Presleys of the otherworld, but the composers among us could also be faced with having Michael Jackson or Freddie Mercury once again knocking us off our perch with an as yet unwritten ‘classic’.
I sincerely hope that man still has a place in music, (well I would say that wouldn’t I?), but when machines will be capable of bringing back from the dead some of the greatest composers and voices ever heard, maybe we should just accept that the future of music really is to be found in the past!