Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fighting for our musical freedom

I listen to a lot of radio shows as podcasts on my phone. One thing that I notice is that most of the talks shows that include occasional music when broadcast live have the music cut out when posted as a podcast. I assume that the reason for this is because the radio station is worried that they don't have the rights to post the music on line.

One of the shows that I like to listen to is the Miriam Meets series on RTE. It is ironic that even when she is interviewing the performer and composer of a song on the program they still cut out the music because they don't have the rights to their own music - presumably the reason they agreed to the interview is t promote their music, so cutting the music form the show doesn't serve anyone well. On the other hand, I was particularly pleased to hear a recent episode when she interviewed singer/songwriters Paddy Casey and Declan O Rourke. They were proud of the fact that they are not signed up with a record label because of the freedom it offers them. They were even wiling to perform some of their compositions live on the radio. I think more musicians should value their freedom in this way.

I was recently experimenting with some music technology and since I am not a big Apple fan I was looking for a Linux alternative to GarageBand. A friend pointed me at the Linux Multimedia Studio. Not only is this excellent software that is easy to use, but there is also an excellent collection of sample projects available. Viewing these sample projects I am reminded of when I first encountered open source software. In much the same way that having access to the source code allows you to study how a program works and even tweak it to better meet your needs, having access to the LMMS project file allows you to study the individual  instruments used in a recording and tweak the recording so that it is more suited to your personal taste.

Imagine how cool it would be to have the "source file" for some of your favourite songs. Not only could you sing Karaoke, but you could even hear exactly how you would sound like if you played some of the drum solos along with your favourite celebrity hard rock band!

My friend Speedie, recently posted about the need to encourage coding skills among young people  ensure that they don't lose their creative skills in the digital age. While I agree with him, I also think that we have the same issue with music. Many young people think that the only way to create music is to download a track that someone else created and they never even think of creating their own musical compositions.

Modern music creation tools have become so easy to use  that there is no excuse not to express your musical creativity. Perhaps we ought to launch a MusicDojo series of events to complement the CoderDojos. I don't have much musical skills, but if any musical types want to start such a series I am more than happy to help with the technology part.

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