My plan to ‘blog’ my 3 year RAM research project hasn’t really worked out with the regularity I was planning – ‘events dear boy, events’ – but the research is ploughing on as ever, and I think I’m getting somewhere (and I damn well hope so, as I’m days away from deadlines that really matter!).
What’s happened is that my aim – to ‘understand the relationship between musicians, music and technology’ – has, in a roundabout way, pushed me to several reassessments of what technology actually is.
My best current definition is leading me down a path that is increasingly analogue in nature. I’m not as obsessed as I was about things that beep, about digital shiny things, and about the all-consuming need to reject paper and pencil and use only digital tools to collect information (oh how my all-knowing professors must be laughing!).
Don’t get me wrong, I still see things that beep as pinnacles of technological execution, and I wouldn’t be seen dead giving a violin lesson without a tablet computer or smartphone in the room.
But what really fascinates me now is systems. Where I have previously marvelled at the effect a website or handheld computer has had on my interpretation of a great violin concerto, now I am transfixed by the complexity of the system that powers the website or handheld computer that has had the effect on my interpretation of etc etc blah blah blah.
It’s a bit like going further back towards the source. Up a meta-level.
What does that mean for a musician? Simply that if we understand what’s we are doing at face value, it is useful, but not as useful as understanding it at a meta-level up.
And understanding it a meta-level up is not as useful as understanding it a meta-level up from that, which is not as useful as… (repeat ad nauseam).
[Perhaps you could argue that technology allows us to behave as if we understand the meta-level even when we don't. which gives those who do - and those who program the technology - tremendous power and responsibility.]
Now I just have to work out:
a) what these systems tell me about who I am, as a musician
b) why this is useful to me
c) how it is interesting (or even useful) to you, the reader
Watch this space.