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Old 03-23-2010, 07:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is a Computer an Instrument?

in·stru·ment
   /ˈɪnstrəmənt/ Show Spelled[in-struh-muhnt] Show IPA
–noun
A contrivance or apparatus for producing musical sounds: a stringed instrument.

A friend of mine and myself got into an interesting conversation today, wondering if the computer could be considered an instrument. In the end, the debate came down to semantics, a squabble over words in deciding if it was the computer that played the music or if it was the software. When it boils down, however, and you look at the heart of the matter, we both agreed, to an extent, that the computer can be considered a musical instrument.

Now, I don't play any "real" instruments. However, I do have software that allows me to create my own, original music and make it sound like a lot of different instruments. If I were to ever publish any music, I would never claim myself a musician, nor would I bother pretending that I had any actual skill in the field.

It sounds funny to answer somebody who asks what instrument you play with: "My computer." But, the question lies with everyone. Would you consider the computer, an instrument?
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Nope.

A computer is as much a musical instrument as a ream of paper is a novel. I'd say it's a great tool for writing & recording music but I think what identifies something like a guitar as an instrument is its intentional purpose of producing musical sounds.

But interesting argument.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Nope.

A computer is as much a musical instrument as a ream of paper is a novel. I'd say it's a great tool for writing & recording music but I think what identifies something like a guitar as an instrument is its intentional purpose of producing musical sounds.

But interesting argument.
For the sake of argument, I would say that I'm being very intentional in my use of the computer, to create music. Just because it's not its only use doesn't diminish its capabilities to create sound.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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neat topic. hard question to tackle.

i make music that is solely created inside my computer. the point that most defines my computer as an instrument to me is that the music i create with it could not be made any other way.

it's the parameters that essentially define the outcome right? with a guitar, you get guitar music. but with a computer, you get computer music.

and as far as its intended use, A) you can buy custom computers that serve only to create and record music and B) I CHOOSE what to do with with my computer, just as much as someone could potentially use their guitar as a weapon.

i honestly can't tell if that was a totally ridiculous thing to say...
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Go!Love View Post
Would you consider the computer, an instrument?
I would say it's more the software that's the instrument.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would say it's more the software that's the instrument.
but then wouldn't it just be the strings on a guitar that are the instrument? which is to say that software is not much to work with if you don't have the computer.
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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but then wouldn't it just be the strings on a guitar that are the instrument? which is to say that software is not much to work with if you don't have the computer.
I don't think you can establish an exact parallel between the two, but I would say the computer is more equivalent to an amplifier while the software is more of the equivalent of the instrument itself.
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i really don't know what to say about all this. it's really baffling my brain in a weird way. is it convoluted? paradoxical?

what the hell...
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There's probably a line most people would draw between what defines an instrument in its strictest of terms, and what could be used to facilitate an instrument. If we didn't, then we could call air an instrument because it facilitates the transmission of vibrations, on which the function of musical instruments rely.

I would go with Janszoon's statement about the software being the instrument. It seems more accurate than calling the computer itself an instrument. Or the power cable. Or the room it's sitting in...
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Old 03-24-2010, 12:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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i'd say it CAN be as much of an instrument as a synthesizer, but like Janszoon said, that's all due to software.

then again, different software patches = different sound options in a synth.
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