Sometimes lost in conversations about technology or specific musical genre or minutia of social media is the fundamental question of what sound is and what we can discover. From Berlin’s tech/culture conference re:publica, we got to tackle some of those questions.

I got to ask three fascinating individuals about their connection to sound and where future sounds might be discovered. On the panel last week:

Kathy Tafel, now at Native Instruments, has one of the broader backgrounds in the entire music technology realm, spanning the birth of the DAW (Deck II!) to key roles at Apple to her ground-breaking multimedia band D’Cückoo. And now she’s charting the course of projects like Sounds.com and TRAKTOR and – I have to say, I’m optimistic about the direction she’s taking them. (Kathy probably merits a separate story on this site if I can compel NI to agree to it.)

I don’t know whether Kathy wants this trip down memory lane, but let’s go there – a MIDI ball:

Valentin von Lindenau has diverse work across audio and music, and with his firm kling klang klong has established himself as a rare leader in audio interaction experience and design, in a way that leads this medium internationally.

Lucrecia Dalt has come from Colombia to making a name for herself in the packed artistic landscape of Berlin, with unique poetic-musical hybrids. Maybe better to let her speak for herself:

We tread lots of ground here – I can’t take credit for either the topic/theme or the selection of panelists, but I’m grateful to have participated in the program.

And actually – I’m glad to even flounder on this sort of topic, but ask ourselves those kinds of deeper questions. I have my own opinions, naturally, but I was keen to get these fresh perspectives.

The full topic:

Can music and sounds be developed infinitely, or is everything at some point composed and tried out? If we follow John Cage and reserve the word “music” for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century instrument, the contemporary “organizer of sound” will not only be faced with the entire field of sound but also with the entire field of time. Matthew Herbert on the other hand stands with his manifesto for a kind of artistic self-limitation, demanding for instance that the sampling of other people’s music is strictly forbidden and that the use of sounds that exist already is not allowed (No drum machines. No synthesizers. No presets). For our reality check, we want to discuss what sound engineers, designers and artists are working on right now. Which sounds actually sound new and why? And also – which new applications for such sounds are in the works or theoretically conceivable?

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Sources / inspirations:

John Cage
«The Future of Music – Credo»
http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/source-text/41/

Matthew Herbert
P.C.C.O.M.
https://matthewherbert.com/about-contact/manifesto/

And I’m interested to hear your reflections, too – do let us know your answers, whether the sound that first inspired you as a kid or the way you get in the flow for new sounds now.

I’m still pondering some of the ideas all three of our panelists raised about flow and inspiration. Keep listening.

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