Surviving the Modular Hype #4 ~ Autothenticity

DIY stands for Do It Yourself. In electronic music, this can be making your own instruments, making your own bleeps and noises or crafting your own unique overall sound. Just like modular synthesis, DIY smells of authenticity, which is something we all like. Unfortunately, in the near future, electronic music will not be about authenticity or DIY anymore. Right now, fully automated AI-music is on the rise.

Pragmatic vs. authentic
Nowadays, electronic music producers often use big chunks of pre-recorded sound to create a tune. Drumloops, sample packs, fx packs etc. This makes the creative process a bit lazy and less authentic. In fact, it can result in painting by numbers or IKEA-style interior design. Perhaps the ongoing modular hype is ~ at least in part ~ a reaction against this phenomenon. If only because modular synthesis is often associated with sculpting sounds from scratch.

In many genres of electronic music, it's almost impossible for the audience to discern what is 'craft' and what is pre-programmed. That doesn't necessarilly have to be a problem. As a DJ for example, you often have to be pragmatic and keep reusing what has proven itself, even if it's a James Brown loop or whatever. But for the small group of people who are interested in the creative evolution of electronic music, the mindless repetition of canned cliches can become boring.

Here comes the flood
And the situation is about to get worse for musical purists. Looking at the future of electronic music production, it's not unreasonable to expect that in a few more years, the whole process will start to become 'autonomous'. This feat will be pulled off by advanced music-making AI-networks that build on pioneering research by Google, and learn from audio data retrieved from Spotify playlists and hit-archives. We even dare to predict that robot music will be dirt cheap and ubiquitous long before AI-gurus become immortals.

As soon as this feedback loop is in place, say in 15 years, we'll never need actual human musicians again to create more of that 'same old music'. The only thing left for human musicians will be to make totally new, authentic, creative stuff. Basically anything that can't be done faster, cheaper and better using an AI-network. That's terrible! The market for 'real authentic' smelly hand-made music will be small, since Big Media will have the biggest, baddest, best trained networks, creating the greatest hits with the most autothenticity.

Modular machines are future-proof
But let's return to the theme of this blog: surviving the modular hype. One good thing about modular synthesis is that it's relatively easy to make unique sounds. Although uniqueness isn't always a good thing, it's often better than the same old sound you get from using the same old retail sample packs AI-networks. So while the financial side can be devastating, you can at least be certain of one thing: modular synths are future-proof and even AI-proof. If you can survive the modular hype, you will also be ready to survive the AI hype!