Saturday, June 19, 2010

Creative destruction

Okay, this is for fun. Periodically one discusses with anti-capitalists the problems of progress and the way that change puts people out of a job. For the most part people like me are not sympathetic to such complaints per se. The invention of the car put plenty of wheel-makers and blacksmiths out of jobs, and by itself that was not a reason not to invent the car. The light bulb put candle makers out of jobs, but the candle makers were themselves better off for the better light and could likely find other jobs. Anyway, this is a perennial irritation between Marxists and anti-capitalists of many stripes on the one side and advocates of the free market on the other.

In the following funny set of videos we see Dudley Moore (of all people) cast in the role of advocating an inferior product as "progress" (and of course, when the product is inferior, that's highly relevant) and as a movement of the "human spirit" and Animal and Floyd defending the old ways and the old jobs. Very funny.

Apropos of the band's comment, "It's a musical garbage can. Playin' musical garbage," I thought of this video, which the Ironic Catholic rightly calls "simultaneously impressive and abhorrent." Color me skeptical that this is going to put many real drummers out of jobs. It certainly shouldn't. I think I prefer Animal.

HT for "Mama Don't 'Low" to Romish Graffiti


Todd McKimmey said...

The iPhone has about 10x the amount of computing and audio processing power than the synthesizers, sequencers and digital recorders I used professionally in the early-to-mid 90's. The only drawback, really, is their interface. The musicians pushing the button are still just as creative. :)

Lydia McGrew said...

I believe every word about computing power. But it still ain't playing the drums or the guitar.

Anonymous said...

One thing that the technology is doing is empowering the person who is a bad performance musician but a good composer: whether it is the ability to rattle off many takes in the time it used to require to do one, drag-on-the-screen comping of multiple takes, drum sequencers with the ability to manually create nuanced timing, note-by-note MIDI recording, flex-time to speed up or slow down parts and splice things together with a mouse click, etc. IOW, as has always been the trend the tech makes a more radical specialization possible.

Of course when it comes to live performance, as opposed to studio recording, there is still no substitute for great musicianship. (Not that I would know what that is like).

On the subject (or a subtopic) of "creative destruction" I think it is important to distinguish between, for example, the displacement of old skills by new and better products, on the one hand, and the displacement of native workers by cheaper foreign labor to make the same products, on the other. In a nutshell think the capitalists/globalists win the argument on the former and lose it on the latter, FWIW.

Lydia McGrew said...

I think you have a good point, Zippy, about performance and composing. The thing is, this "Rend Collective" bunch is putting up a video of themselves "performing" on their iphones, so they aren't just using the technology for composition. They even apparently have some kind of thing about "learning to lead worship with your iphone." Mind you, I'm no fan of contemporary "worship leaders"--we tend to laugh at them around this house. But doing it while staring at your thumbs and playing an iphone takes things to a whole new level of weirdness and absurdity. The whole point of being a "worship leader" is supposed to be your connection with the people you are leading.

I think you make a good point about outsourcing vs. skills & products. My impression has been that the term "creative destruction" is used for the replacement of skills, but I suppose it could be used for either.