The power of computers is literally awesome, and so is the speed at which things are evolving. Even in my mere 2.3 decades, I’ve witnessed huge technological changes. Entire books have been written about these topics though; today I just want to talk briefly about CGI (computer-generated imagery), and relate it to music production.
What impressed me just a few years ago is literally nothing compared to what we have now. Avatar 3D for example looks fantastic – that alone made the movie special to me. I’m really excited about being alive to see such wonderful things. There’s one recurring thing that strikes me about these modern great-looking movies though: They’re flawless visually and technically, but I’ve usually forgotten all about them the next week.
Music is advancing; technically at least
I notice a similar pattern in much modern electronic music. Literally anyone with an affordable computer can make music, and have access to industry standard tools and sounds. Tracks sound better than ever sound design- and mixing-wise (if you disregard the loudness war). An example of this is newer dubstep, where the goal is to push sound design boundaries and create the largest, filthiest and imaginative sounds possible.
Dubstep’s immense popularity indicates that people are fascinated and captivated by these new uses and possibilities from modern and accessible music technology. Just like CGI, sound design can definitely be an art of its own, whether it’s from Noisia’s basslines, The Future Sound of London’s amazing atmospheres or Autechre’s abstract futuristic high-tech adventures. I have no problems regarding any of them as artists.
I have one question though: What do you remember from films like Transformers, or from Skrillex’s tunes? My short answer would be “lots of cool stuff happened”. We all like rollercoaster rides, but there’s more to music and movies than that.
Don’t use sound design as a crutch
I’m as excited about new sounds, worlds and possibilities as anyone else. However I’m worried that electronic music is increasingly becoming disposable mass-produced experiences, rather than memorable stories with longevity spanning decades and centuries.
I think there are too many people doing meaningless sound design. With great sounding presets, you can run, but you can’t hide. Just like CGI, sound design is unquestionably an art of its own, both of which I greatly enjoy. They’re both also too often used as compensation for lacking storytelling abilities in my opinion.
Sound design is an art, music is an art. CGI is an art, film is an art. Sometimes they even become each other.