Saturday, December 31, 2005


Why do we need a human in a musical performance? Wait, let me say it another way - why do we need to see a human in order to validate a musical performance?

The TransPose is a device that is intended to address this "problem" in electronic music. I couldn't help but notice that the interface, which projects a silhouette of the "performer" onto a screen, where one presses "noteboxes" that contain precomposed loops and melodies, is rather simple and incredibly limiting, creatively.

In the end, this device is really nothing more than a sort of video keyboard. By far the most interesting thing about it is the technology that interprets human movements. But musically, this utilization is a total disaster, and it does nothing to answer the fundamental question - why do we need to see a human in a musical performance??????


Anonymous Steve Wanna said...

I like how the site claims that it is a "collective of digital artists using new technologies to create playful interactive spectacles", operative words being "playful" and "spectacles". I feel that the comment describing this thing as a device "conceived to address the absence of physical human expression found in most electronic music based performances" is too serious and very much a stretch for a site dealing with playful ninkimpooperies. Depending on their definition of electronic music (most likely a very narrow one), they may have bitten off more than they could chew with this. It's like a (very) limited Theremin with an added drum machine and a recording option. This, to me, seems a waste of "new technologies". It says nothing about the "problem" of not having human performers in electronic music. If anything, it's an argument FOR what I consider to be the ADVANTAGE of not having a stage performer (I say stage performer since, arguably, a studio composer could be said to be a performer of sorts).

1/02/2006 11:50 AM  
Anonymous stephen f. lilly said...

“The absence of physical human expression” is a myth. No one is bothered by any art that lacks a recognizable human form. It is the lack of visual stimulation that unnerves audiences. I would argue that people do not encounter this “problem” when they watch a DVD or experience an art gallery installation, where the musical gestures are paired with visuals ones – no matter how abstract or non-human these visuals may be.

Additionally, this desire for visual stimuli is dependent on the audience. Many people, myself included, have no problem attending a “tape-music” concert to find that most, if not all, of the pieces will just be broadcasts of prerecorded works with no additional “performance.” The problem arises when the audience expects visuals. For instance, I have often been annoyed by “noise” artists who insist on playing pop music venues, where some degree of visual entertainment is expected, and demand that their audience be sufficiently entertained by some dude clicking away at his Powerbook. In fact, maybe we should be asking ourselves “should all music be entertainment.” It seems that “solutions” such as TransPose are more worried about entertainment value than artistic credibility.

1/03/2006 4:59 PM  

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