The making of music and how it is experienced
A retrospective on making music using Ableton Live, synthesisers and the ableton launchpad.
For years I perceived the making of music to be a linear process, where the artist would compose a song based on how it progresses. Each note complimenting the next, bringing about a comprehensive composition that unfolds like a story. However, only after hanging out with my musician friends did I start to learn about the intricacies and complexity of music making.
There are many ways of making music, but what interests me most is how specific DJs prepare their midi compositions only to shuffle and play them live later as a comprehensive track. Yes, DJs are musicians too, a long argument many people like to have, and there are many DJs who make their own music. Yes, DJs make sounds with a computer so stop comparing them to Beethoven. If you think DJs are weird, try sound artists like John Cage. Playing live DJ sets are very interesting because the DJ mixes together snippets of midi sounds like a chef puts together a dish with different ingredients that have been prepared. Let me explain this by comparing a live DJ set to a live violin player. A violin player plays a composition from a book that follows a linear format. This format has been composed in a way that it unfolds like a story, it has a timeline. A live DJ set on the other hand is a mix of individual midi tracks played live as one composition. The elements are separate on Ableton Live, and then they are played together with synthesisers and ableton live launchpads. This allows for flexibility while playing the track. The listening experience is linear but the creation of the music is non-linear.
Let´s compare this to watching a movie. Most movies have a chronological order that they follow with time, "Once upon a time" and "happily ever after". However, a movie like Memento challenged this order, thus creating a whole new viewing experience. The audience was taken through a non-linear storytelling format where they had to piece together the story at the end.
As an experience designer, this is quite interesting as it unfolds different ways of storytelling, composition and ways of experiencing media. It puts emphasis on editing rather than chronology. It removes the mundane and creates poetry from random patterns. The non-linearity of ableton live vs. the linearity of garage band. That´s the music making I´m taking about. When the timeline is broken into parts, there is flexibility at play.