Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Rite of Spring 100 Years Later: The Ultimate Sacrifice

In some ways I wish I didn't enjoy this animation of the Rite of Spring by Stephen Malinowski so much. The music is all synthetically generated using sounds from the Vienna Symphonic Library. All the rhythms, dynamics, and pitches are almost perfect (in the comments an astute trombone player noted a mistake). There is even a believable violin glissando. There are only a few places where the lack of human imperfection sabotages the excitement (particularly eight minutes into the second part, where all of a sudden everything sounds robotic). The animation, however, is remarkable. Watching the video is a fine lesson in orchestration.

Here's Part 1

and here's Part 2

Stephen Malinowski can't do his animations without getting permission for the recordings he uses. Permission costs money. Technological tools (which are expensive) cost less money than licenses. Making excellent electronic scores takes a large amount of skill, but it is a different kind of skill set from the skill set that most real-time (as in 20 or 30 years of experience) musicians have. What used to be considered a helpful tool for composers has become a viable option for replacing professional musicians in all sorts of ways. I can't really see any greater good coming from all this.

Sometimes I fear that the way things are going, we might be looking at a plausible future of large-scale orchestral music. I find this sad. Terribly, terribly sad.


Anonymous said...

Malinowski's machinations aside, the future of symphonies is in the hands of those who support it, not the clever kids at VSL. Among other things, Malinowski's not very clever in his own compositions in my estimation; listen to the latest piano piece he shows on his personal site. Fey. You top him without trying. Advice" Stop worrying and think and compose and play and compose some more. We'll get by without VSL, which really services film folks and the pop world with "classic" background stuff. All best.

Elaine Fine said...

Unfortunately outside of the world of musicians who actually "do," there are not a lot of people who know the difference. I do keep plugging away at my projects (mostly anachronistic small ensemble pieces these days, but that's the stuff that happens to be blooming, and the stuff that keeps me going), but I haven't written anything for full orchestra in years.

A lot of fantastic musicians (at least in America) used to make respectable livings by playing for television shows, commercials, and films. Now that kind of work, which is, at best, outsourced to places where musicians will play for very little money and get nothing in the way of royalties, can be done even more cheaply by paying a single person working a computer.

Sure. There will always be people like me who write and play because it is what we love to do (and we can't be happy if we don't do it). Monetary compensation is not the object. But our world has become a giant marketplace for stuff, with little regard for anything that is not stuff. Everybody is equipped with a megaphone and instructed to hawk their stuff and get money from strangers so that they can produce the stuff they hawk. It's easy for those of us who don't "buy" that way of interacting to feel left out and ultimately unnecessary.

I know in my heart of hearts that I'm not alone, but with all the bright lights and loud noises, it often feels that way.

Quodlibet said...

Hmmm. To my ear, that recording lacks burnish, luster, and any sense of being alive. It just goes forward; there's no sense of direction. I don't sense players beginning and ending notes, or playing off each other. When I listen to music, I want to be aware of the living, breathing people who are playing and singing and moving the music forward by the force of their being in the music. This music doesn't breathe. I can't breathe it in.

I am not in-spired.

Quodlibet said...

By the way, that's a very clever title on your post. :-)