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Is a computer an instrument?

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Omegeist
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Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 21:41:08 Reply

Well?
I got into a big argument about it once. Personally I don't think a computer is a musical instrument at all.

MetalRenard
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 21:57:40 Reply

For this to work you need to explain why you think that way first to give the argument context.
Is your goal to say that music made solely with a computer isn't music at all? If so I'd have to throw you out the window of a moving truck in the middle of the night wrapped in plastic bags.
If it's to say that a computer itself is not specifically an instrument then, sure. But why does it matter?


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Chemiqals
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 22:39:55 Reply

Music is music, no matter how it's created. You could argue that instruments like the guitar and the piano have certain intricacies that you have to learn, somehow making them a more credible way of creating music. But using a computer to craft music comes with it's own set of intricacies and skill requirements. You need only look at a big majority of the amazing songs on this site. Some of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard and they were created with a computer. Does it really matter if that computer is classified as an instrument or not? Call it something else if you want. It won't make the music less credible or amazing.

KatMaestro
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 22:50:01 Reply

By your logic, chiptune, dubstep, DnB, industrial and electronic in general are not music.

It's pretty ironic, because you only made electronic music.

Back-From-Purgatory
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 22:57:35 Reply

In the hands of a musician, anything can be an instrument, regardless of what it does or what it was meant for.


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JoshuaHughes
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 23:10:47 Reply

At 8/22/14 10:57 PM, Back-From-Purgatory wrote: In the hands of a musician, anything can be an instrument, regardless of what it does or what it was meant for.

Your hands can be an instrument!


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Omegeist
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 23:28:18 Reply

At 8/22/14 09:57 PM, MetalRenard wrote: For this to work you need to explain why you think that way first to give the argument context.
Is your goal to say that music made solely with a computer isn't music at all? If so I'd have to throw you out the window of a moving truck in the middle of the night wrapped in plastic bags.
If it's to say that a computer itself is not specifically an instrument then, sure. But why does it matter?

The plugins themselves and the other software on the computer are the musical instrument, not the computer itself.

Chemiqals
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-22 23:38:38 Reply

At 8/22/14 11:28 PM, Omegeist wrote:
At 8/22/14 09:57 PM, MetalRenard wrote: For this to work you need to explain why you think that way first to give the argument context.
Is your goal to say that music made solely with a computer isn't music at all? If so I'd have to throw you out the window of a moving truck in the middle of the night wrapped in plastic bags.
If it's to say that a computer itself is not specifically an instrument then, sure. But why does it matter?
The plugins themselves and the other software on the computer are the musical instrument, not the computer itself.

This is just getting into semantics. It's not really a beneficial or productive argument. Is there really a point to defining what is and isn't an instrument down to the smallest detail? If it was used to create a song then it's an instrument. Do we really have to argue stuff like...

"Well the mouse isn't really an instrument, it just lets you click on the buttons that makes the instrument work"

...

"Well that's no different then using your fingers to make an instrument work! But a monitor... now THAT isn't an instrument. It just lets you see where you need to click!"

Because this is about as pointless and trivial as this whole argument is when you really get down to it.

TheDukeofJuke
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 00:08:33 Reply

You are an instrument. Everything you touch (whether you use your lips or hands) to create sound that becomes appealing or interesting to a certain person can be considered music. It could be said that your mouth isn't an instrument because you don't use your hands to play it. But that would be extremely close-minded. So, yes. I believe a computer can be used as a tool to create music and could be considered an instrument. Using a computer has turned me into a better musician and I'm able to play way more interesting melodies on piano now than I ever could before.

larrynachos
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 00:09:52 Reply

If you're referring to DAWs, then yeah, it's a kind of instrument.

Just because a DAW user can't play music in realtime on an instrument, it doesn't make them NOT musicians.


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JacobCadmus
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 00:43:59 Reply

At 8/23/14 12:09 AM, larrynachos wrote: If you're referring to DAWs, then yeah, it's a kind of instrument.

Just because a DAW user can't play music in realtime on an instrument, it doesn't make them NOT musicians.

Actually you can play insruments in realtime in a DAW.

Anyway, in rebuttal to the OP: the computer is as much an instrument as any synth keyboard. There's just a whole lot more hardware and software involved to get the same result (albeit with MUCH more control parameters than your all-in-one synth).

SoundChris
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 05:49:59 Reply

The true instrument always will stay your brain and your feel. Everything else are just tools to realize your thoughts. So i dont see any difference.

LexaHergon
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 05:58:37 Reply

You can make a nice percussion set using the physical parts (hardware) of any computer.
Just get a couple of drumsticks and you are ready.


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PeterSatera
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 06:08:28 Reply

No...Wait! Yes. But...you don't...eh No..hmmm butyoucan...yes...FFFFFF!!
*explodes.


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larrynachos
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 08:12:16 Reply

At 8/23/14 12:43 AM, JacobCadmus wrote: Actually you can play insruments in realtime in a DAW.

That's not what I meant. I use a DAW because I can't play the piano or guitar.


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Sequenced
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 08:17:54 Reply

is mayonnaise an instrument?


lel

Lich
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 08:43:20 Reply

If you are hooking a MIDI device up to a COmputer which ultimately lets you play your loaded & linked sound source like an Instrument (MIDI Keyboard, MIDI Guitar, Drum/Pad Controller) then ultimately you could class it as an instrument in that regard.


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KatMaestro
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 10:56:48 Reply

At 8/23/14 08:17 AM, Sequenced wrote: is mayonnaise an instrument?

It can make noises. *Flap* *flap*. Then yes, it's also an instrument.

I'm gonna make an epic hybrid mayonnaise piece next time.

midimachine
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 13:23:56 Reply

you can write music on pen and paper, but nobody calls pen and paper an instrument because that would be daft and pretentious.


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LunyAlex
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 14:12:50 Reply

At 8/23/14 01:23 PM, midimachine wrote: you can write music on pen and paper, but nobody calls pen and paper an instrument because that would be daft and pretentious.

Finally!

This isn't a difficult matter, people.

A Computer is not a musical instrument.

A Computer is "digital sheet paper" and a production workstation.

If you connect a MIDI Controller to a Computer, the MIDI Controller is an instrument.
If you connect a turntable, the turntable is the instrument.
If you play a tune on your QUERTY Keyboard, your keyboard is an instrument.

A computer cannot be "played".
A computer is not an instrument.

If you write and produce music on a computer, with nothing more than your mouse and your brain, then you are doing nothing that even remotely involves instruments.

Does this make you any less of a music producer/writer/composer?
Fuck no.

A computer is a Music Making Tool. A computer is not an instrument.
All instruments are Music Making Tools but not all Music Making Tools are instruments.

Does this make you less of a musician?
A musician is a person skilled in music. This includes both Music Writers and Music Performers.
Answer is No.

Does this make you less of a musical performer?
If you don't play an instrument, obviously. You can't make music on a computer and consider yourself a musical player.

But you're still a musician.

/debate over
Drive safe everyone

LunyAlex
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 14:36:38 Reply

Edit: Kinda feel I should mention that my condescending harsh tone in my above post is meant in a joking manner...

Dammit... now its ruined...

lasse
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 14:59:50 Reply

anything that can make a noise is a musical instrument


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Phonometrologist
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 15:16:01 Reply

At 8/23/14 02:59 PM, lasse wrote: anything that can make a noise is a musical instrument

Hence my ass could be a wonderful musical instrument

KatMaestro
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 15:19:00 Reply

At 8/23/14 03:16 PM, Phonometrologist wrote:
At 8/23/14 02:59 PM, lasse wrote: anything that can make a noise is a musical instrument
Hence my ass could be a wonderful musical instrument

I remember a while back somebody made a song that has fart sound...

here is it.

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xIIInon
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 15:30:49 Reply

You see, the musical instrument is something you can play. A standard computer is a blank. Make of it anything you want but in its standard configuration it is not an instrument, just like a pickup is not an instrument without a guitar. You can install certain soft that'll allow you to play the qwerty keyboard but that makes your computer a really poor musical instrument with keys not crafted for musicians, with long delays after pressing and stuff. However you can buy a MIDI keyboard, probably an interface, a couple of nice speakers and it becomes something of an advanced musical keyboard.
There's a computer inside a musical keyboard with DSP and stuff. Mine even has a floppy drive in it to store data. You take it out - the keyboard no longer can serve you as an instrument.
But just like you don't normally call smartphones 'computers', you probably won't call a digital audio workstation 'instrument'.
That's my vision.

Chemiqals
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 17:24:42 Reply

I'd like to add...

An musical instrument is nothing more than a tool used to create music. It's just a silly debate to point at something and go "That's not an instrument!". You could do that with anything. You could do it with a bucket. You could do it with a fork. You could do it with an empty water bottle. But once you start hitting that bucket and that water bottle with that fork to some kind of rhythm... they become instruments.

You can point at anything and say it's not an instrument. But anything can become an instrument once you use it to create music.

teddyteddy1234
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 17:34:30 Reply

if it's something in which you can actively manipulate its sound, then yes i'd say it's an instrument

Is a computer an instrument?

midimachine
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 18:01:06 Reply

oh i'm doing a performance major for my music degree, my principal instrument is the computer
said no one ever.


p.s. i am gay

Sundans
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 19:04:24 Reply

At 8/23/14 02:12 PM, LunyAlex wrote:
At 8/23/14 01:23 PM, midimachine wrote: you can write music on pen and paper, but nobody calls pen and paper an instrument because that would be daft and pretentious.
/debate over
Drive safe everyone

You are absolutely right that this argument isn't difficult. The fact is that, in the case of digital synthesis, the computer generates the sound of the notes set on your piano roll. Arguably the DAW is the pen and paper and the computer itself -- the machine that generates the sound -- is the instrument.

So you are absolutely right. This debate is over, primarily because the most pretentious thing about this thread is the devovled argument over the semantics of what the instrument actually is.


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LunyAlex
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 19:41:14 Reply

At 8/23/14 07:04 PM, Sundans wrote:
At 8/23/14 02:12 PM, LunyAlex wrote:
At 8/23/14 01:23 PM, midimachine wrote: you can write music on pen and paper, but nobody calls pen and paper an instrument because that would be daft and pretentious.
/debate over
Drive safe everyone
You are absolutely right that this argument isn't difficult. The fact is that, in the case of digital synthesis, the computer generates the sound of the notes set on your piano roll. Arguably the DAW is the pen and paper and the computer itself -- the machine that generates the sound -- is the instrument.

So you are absolutely right. This debate is over, primarily because the most pretentious thing about this thread is the devovled argument over the semantics of what the instrument actually is.

For all intents and purposes, our colloquial use of the phrase "musical Instrument" defines something that generates sound as a result of being played.

You will not find the "played" part in any dictionary, but one would have to be reaching pretty badly, to not understand what I'm saying here.

Do you support the notion of an instrument that can't be played?

Why does something that has a crucial aspect missing from what all other instruments have (ability to be played) supposedly bare the same title?

Have you ever seriously considered someone that writes music on a computer as "Able to play an instrument?".

There is no practical bearing to calling a computer an instrument other than being able to reinforce one's validity as a musician.

In my experience that's what this debate has always been about. Ego.
People that make music on a computer have their validity as a musician attacked by dumbasses that think it takes no skill to produce music in this manner.

This is obviously a ridiculous premise shared by those ignorant to this art.

Is it necessary to include an odd element into a category just for convenience in such situations?

Because by doing this we're bypassing the purpose of language itself. Language is there to identify and communicate information in a pragmatic manner.

Calling a computer an instrument is very far away form pragmatic.

"Do you play an instrument?"
"Yes, I play the computer"
*Awkward silence*

...

*Still awkward silence*

And did I offend you with my first comment, because your tone seems to somewhat indicate that. I'd hate to be offending anyone; I did specifically state above that I was trying to be playful through my tone, not abrasive.