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Is a computer an instrument?

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KatMaestro
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 20:01:50 Reply

At 8/23/14 06:01 PM, midimachine wrote: oh i'm doing a performance major for my music degree, my principal instrument is the computer
said no one ever.

I don't think there is any music grad playing a jawharp either.

Why do we argue about this silly topic? *Computer is an instrument* *Uh no* *Shut up, it can make sounds* *So is fart* ...

We're like children...

Sundans
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 20:20:02 Reply

At 8/23/14 07:41 PM, LunyAlex wrote: 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.

A piano cannot be played without the cloth-covered mallets commanded by the keys, just as a computer cannot be easily operated without a keyboard or mouse. The two utensils used to command a computer are much like the strings to a guitar. The strings themselves are not instruments, and neither is the midi controller, or the keyboard, or the mouse, or the key to a piano. It is all the pieces in their entirety that -- excuse the pun -- compose the instrument. That is not a difficult concept to grasp. A computer, piano, or guitar are all assembled by numerous parts, and none of those individual parts are not the instruments themselves. The keyboard and mouse happen to be integral parts in operating the computer -- just as the bow to a cello or violin is necessary to play a staccato or sustained note, the mouse is not necessarily required to make sounds on a DAW.

I am not offended but, rather, driven to be cold and detached by your rather apparent condescension.


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[✔] Sound design for games. | [✔] Produce an OST for film. | [✔] Get creepy fans. | [✔] Get awesome fans.
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Back-From-Purgatory
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 20:20:35 Reply

I play my computer all the time.

You cannot use such a controller without a computer. You could say a Launchpad, or any other such midi controller, is the strings to a guitar.

And anyone that says playing a midi instrument takes no talent is full of shit and has obviously never tried. Not only do you have to arrange everything in a playable manner, it requires a ridiculous amount of coordination and dexterity to use such a device as a performance tool.

Regardless of all of this... why the hell are you people arguing about this? Who cares if it technically is, or isn't classified as an instrument? You can make music on it, why does if it's actually an instrument or not even matter?

I agree this is all about ego as someone said before. Musician isn't a term solely meant for those that play guitar, piano, or any other traditional instrument anymore. Get over it.


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TheAudioGuy
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 20:27:36 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.

i like this

LunyAlex
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 20:36:31 Reply

@Sundans
Yea but as I said, that condescension was lighthearted, not serious.

-----

When you're connecting a MIDI Controller to a computer you're creating an Instrument-like System.

That's the closest I'll come to seeing a computer as an instrument; as a potential component of an instrument-like system.
I.E. The Computer is a Component of the instrument that is comprised of a MIDI Keyboard and the machine (computer) it's plugged in.

Regardless, I'll agree to disagree.
To each his own; it makes no difference ultimately, other than perspective.
-------

And the reason we're arguing is because debate is the spice of life.

Nothing says "human" better than people yelling"YOU'RE WRONG AND I'M RIGHT ARRRGGH" to each other.

(Not sarcastic)

Sundans
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 22:04:13 Reply

At 8/23/14 08:36 PM, LunyAlex wrote: When you're connecting a MIDI Controller to a computer you're creating an Instrument-like System.

That's the closest I'll come to seeing a computer as an instrument; as a potential component of an instrument-like system.
I.E. The Computer is a Component of the instrument that is comprised of a MIDI Keyboard and the machine (computer) it's plugged in.

Regardless, I'll agree to disagree.
To each his own; it makes no difference ultimately, other than perspective.
-------

And the reason we're arguing is because debate is the spice of life.

Nothing says "human" better than people yelling"YOU'RE WRONG AND I'M RIGHT ARRRGGH" to each other.

(Not sarcastic)

Well, there's nothing I can do about your own perspective, so I too will agree to disagree. I hope your cinematic music production goes well -- I actually checked out a few more Kontakt libraries because of you. X)


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LunyAlex
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 22:36:54 Reply

Likewise to your music!

midimachine
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-23 23:09:36 Reply

so who won the argument? i need to know if my boner is justified or not.


p.s. i am gay

johnnyq1233
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 00:06:24 Reply

I think that the ideology of an instrument is a little out dated hear.
The creator has an idea, it is conveyed to a recorder (through an instrument) or computer program (through interaction with a mouse, keyboard or midi device).
Both of these serve the same function to take an idea and transform it to sound.
Aesthetically, I would rather see a musician running around with a guitar cutting some crazy solo than someone standing behind a computer looking like a nerd!
My 2 cents worth of crap...JQ


Sorry for the other post.. internet is as slow as some people.lol

ElJuanko
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 01:32:58 Reply

well, i think, yes, the music has no limits (sorry for my english), you can do music with any stuff

for example, i compose this song with only my computer

Listen and give me your rate http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/listen/585694

KatMaestro
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 11:42:40 Reply

At 8/23/14 08:36 PM, LunyAlex wrote: @Sundans
Yea but as I said, that condescension was lighthearted, not serious.

-----

When you're connecting a MIDI Controller to a computer you're creating an Instrument-like System.

I hate to break it. BUT! The sound you heard are programmed and processed on the computer.

That's the closest I'll come to seeing a computer as an instrument; as a potential component of an instrument-like system.
I.E. The Computer is a Component of the instrument that is comprised of a MIDI Keyboard and the machine (computer) it's plugged in.

I can play on the keyboard of a desktop or laptop to create sounds. I used to do that (old school tracker). All on computer, we got not controller back then.

Deshiel
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 11:44:19 Reply

At 8/22/14 10:50 PM, KatMaestro wrote: By your logic, chiptune, dubstep, DnB, industrial and electronic in general are not music.

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

kat burn. :D

Deshiel
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 11:46:57 Reply

Every sound can be instrumentalised. Be it a droplet of water or the snoring of your future wife.

So um everything can be an instrument in music.

thread solved.

+1 Deshiel our savior.

Lich
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 11:55:38 Reply

At 8/24/14 11:46 AM, Deshiel wrote: Every sound can be instrumentalised. Be it a droplet of water or the snoring of your future wife.

So um everything can be an instrument in music.

thread solved.

+1 Deshiel our savior.

Desh is love
Desh is life


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midimachine
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 12:26:05 Reply

At 8/24/14 11:46 AM, Deshiel wrote: Every sound can be instrumentalised. Be it a droplet of water or the snoring of your future wife.

So um everything can be an instrument in music.

brb writing a snoring wife concerto

said no one ever


p.s. i am gay

Troisnyx
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 12:32:04 Reply

At 8/22/14 09:41 PM, Omegeist wrote: Well?
I got into a big argument about it once. Personally I don't think a computer is a musical instrument at all.

Uh..... that depends. Interesting question. If the computer ITSELF is used in a percussive manner (think Berlioz and his anvils and chains and sirens!), perhaps. I can't say yes or no.....

On that note, folks, will you consider the Floppy drive an instrument? It's produced enough music to warrant the classification.


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Troisnyx
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 12:55:37 Reply

At 8/24/14 12:26 PM, midimachine wrote:
At 8/24/14 11:46 AM, Deshiel wrote: Every sound can be instrumentalised. Be it a droplet of water or the snoring of your future wife.

So um everything can be an instrument in music.
brb writing a snoring wife concerto

said no one ever

Erm, John Cage's 4'33" anyone? Or Berlioz's Symphonies Fantastiques ? (Did I get the spelling right?)

This is ultimately what the debate will veer to, if no one's careful.


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sorohanro
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 15:02:21 Reply

Is guitar a music instrument?
Because by itself doesn't make sound. The sound is made by the strings, and their vibration is amplified by the body. So, the strings are the instrument, the guitar is merely a tool for amplifying the sound of the strings.

Omegeist
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 21:24:07 Reply

At 8/22/14 09:57 PM, MetalRenard wrote: But why does it matter?
At 8/22/14 10:39 PM, Chemiqals wrote: Does it really matter if that computer is classified as an instrument or not?
At 8/22/14 11:38 PM, Chemiqals wrote: Because this is about as pointless and trivial as this whole argument is when you really get down to it.
At 8/23/14 01:23 PM, midimachine wrote: that would be daft and pretentious.
At 8/23/14 07:04 PM, Sundans wrote: 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.
At 8/23/14 07:41 PM, LunyAlex wrote: 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.
At 8/23/14 08:20 PM, Sundans wrote: I am not offended but, rather, driven to be cold and detached by your rather apparent condescension.
At 8/23/14 08:20 PM, Back-From-Purgatory wrote: Get over it.
At 8/23/14 11:09 PM, midimachine wrote: i need to know if my boner is justified or not.

I didn't know this was such an off limits discussion topic. I feel there are two types of people in the NG audio community, those who think anything can be a musical instrument (toenails to sandwiches) and those who define a musical instrument by legacy it has already earned itself and/or the intention for which it was built.
When I started the thread I didn't make myself clear in the situation of which I wanted to discuss computer being a musical instrument. I was talking in a manner that would be relevant to almost all of us. So let me clarify:

Is a computer a musical instrument when using DAWs, or is the instrument the midi controllers and/or the software itself?

I wanted to discuss this question because I find it unsettling when people come up to me who share the same music production hobby and tell me they play the computer. Is my discomfort justified or should I just let these people consider themselves musicians for working with DAWs?

Is a computer an instrument?

LunyAlex
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 21:42:12 Reply

But that's the thing.

They Are musicians for working with DAWs, even if they're not musical performers/players.
A Composer and a Violinist are both equally "Musicians".
A musician is someone skilled in music, regardless of how that skill pans out.

They're just not instrument players.
(Unless they connect an input device that can be played, and play it)

Chemiqals
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 22:01:25 Reply

So they're not musicians if they don't work with what you classify to be an instrument? What do they make then, if not music?

To be clear, I'm not trying to say that a computer and all of it's components are musical instruments from the get go. I'm saying that what you use to create music becomes an instrument. I'm not going to argue about whether that encompasses just the DAWs... VTS... keyboards... etc. Because that's just nitpicking and pointless.

Basically, you don't like someone telling you that they "play the computer" because that's a very unrefined and unspecified thing to say. But I don't think that everyone really needs to specific what programs they use or what type of keyboard they use. It's not a black and white topic. If you want to be traditional about everything, sure you could say that you don't "play" a computer like you "play" a guitar. But you do make music with a computer and it's just as valid as any music made with a guitar.

Instrument -
"a tool or device used for a particular purpose".

I'd say using a computer to create music fits that definition to a tee.

samulis
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 22:08:06 Reply

Well, at this point, I feel like we should take some steps to understand what is going on inside a computer when we are composing.

The first step is to input MIDI data. A number of possible methods can be used to do so. The foremost in popularity is the MIDI keyboard. Also common are entering in the DAW via mouse control, wind instrument controllers, pads, and people's brainmatter being smeared on keyboards, except not the last one.

Your computer's sound card is naturally equipped with MIDI control from 15 years ago and sounds that were recorded before you were born. Yay! MIDI data is sent in to your sound card which determines what the fuk is going on and then passes on the data as needed either to the sampler component of your sound card or to the program you are working in so it can do whatever it does with it.

We all know there are two main ways to generate sound within a virtual environment.

The first is called Sampling. With sampling, we use recordings of "instruments" and play them back, possibly with effects or repitching or other things being done to them. A lone sample is not actually an instrument. It is a thumbprint of an instrument that has been constructed using live elements of its physical counterpart, but it itself is not capable of being an instrument; i.e. it is just a little recorded snippet of an instrument. However, when combined with dozens (or thousands) of other samples, and, the stinger, a set of instructions on how to manipulate that sound and have it respond to control, it becomes a sort of frankenstein semi-instrument. It's not actually a violin, but it can trick you into thinking it is one.

The second is called Synthesis. With synthesis, we use oscillators (or their simulated counterparts) to generate sounds, again, with effects or other aspects being applied. Synthesis of sound is really the same thing that a violin player or a timpani player might do with their physical counterpart... A synthesizer with its corresponding controls is completely a full instrument.

Both of these are generally built as plug-in objects, such as a VSTi, or as patch elements, such as .sf2. These plugins and their supporting elements hold instructions and materials for the creation of sound. Your hard drive(s) holds all that information, i.e. the body of the instrument.

In a sampler, when we press a note, the sound is pulled from memory, has any effects applied, then goes through the sound card, through a Digital to Analog Converter, through the Amp, and then finally to your Speakers.

In a synthesis situation, the sound is created either in the physical hardware oscillators in the box, or it is created by the processor using code. Either way, it then goes through our friend the DAC, then the amp, then speakers.

In a way, the input is the mouthpiece, MIDI is the joints that hold it together, the physical machine is the body, and the speakers are the bell.

I'll leave drawing conclusions to you, but I think it's mostly a fundamental misunderstanding of how MIDI works. Your computer is an instrument as much as a concert hall is an instrument. It's really the individual components in their particular alignment that allow the temporary functionality of an instrument behavior.

As for samplers, I do not classify them as full-fledged instruments because they do not feature full response to all playing behaviors. This is changing, but they are for the most part the same idea as splicing recorded bits of tape together to create a performance. Note that my hobby is making samplers and recording samples. I don't just make this judgement blindly. :P


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midimachine
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-24 22:46:25 Reply

off topic, but samulis just made me think to look up when roland sound canvas (i.e. the sounds that microsoft wavetable synthesizer users) was made.

so, hands up if those sounds WEREN'T recorded before you were born?

*hand up*

TL;DR i'm old :(

p.s. i am gay

Jimmypig
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-25 08:00:33 Reply

I'd say so.

You can use it to make songs, although the technical definition is something which produces sound, so the instrument would in fact be the speakers.


I did a song.

morcov
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-25 14:38:41 Reply

At 8/24/14 12:26 PM, midimachine wrote:
At 8/24/14 11:46 AM, Deshiel wrote: Every sound can be instrumentalised. Be it a droplet of water or the snoring of your future wife.

So um everything can be an instrument in music.
brb writing a snoring wife concerto

said no one ever

that is a good idea tho

loansindi
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-25 16:02:18 Reply

holy shit who gives a fuck

PrognoiseBIG
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-31 05:17:06 Reply

Well @ samulis.

Damn what a knowledge power i read the article.. Learned something new. Awesome that you know "how". Appreciate that !.

At 8/24/14 10:08 PM, samulis wrote: Well, at this point, I feel like we should take some steps to understand what is going on inside a computer when we are composing.

The first step is to input MIDI data. A number of possible methods can be used to do so. The foremost in popularity is the MIDI keyboard. Also common are entering in the DAW via mouse control, wind instrument controllers, pads, and people's.... Etc.

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xenxies
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-31 11:10:28 Reply

Anything can be an 'instrument.' Start tapping on your computer with toothpicks and you got yourself a nice percussion instrument.


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samulis
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-08-31 11:13:02 Reply

At 8/31/14 05:17 AM, PrognoiseBIG wrote: Well @ samulis.

Damn what a knowledge power i read the article.. Learned something new. Awesome that you know "how". Appreciate that !.

Pfft... that's about all I know on the subject, haha. There are people (some around here) who could walk you through every transistor of the audio interface and tell you how it all works in very many hours. I just thought it might be helpful to toss my two cents in the pit.


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Punk-O-Mate
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Response to Is a computer an instrument? 2014-09-05 14:59:36 Reply

No, Patrick, Computer is not an instrument. Horse radishes are not an instrument either. (just joking)