And the older tuning fork (that always was perfectly accurate):
But all this is dwarfed by the technology available to pop musicians these days, as discussed in this article from Scientific American (thanks to commentator Will for sending it):
I don't think this is a problem for any trained musician: it is actually pretty easy to hear the difference between real musicians and synthesized drum tracks or autotuned voice tracks. If everyone is out there lip-syncing, then all a good performer has to do is go out and sing for real to win that competition. At least that would be my hope! But I do have a beef about one phrase: "even if the program semiautomates the composition process, it still gives people a taste of the real thing." Composition is not really a "process" in that sense, at least not the creative part. Real creation remains a mystery because none of us, least of all the creators themselves, know where it comes from. The "process" part is more the craft aspects of composition: getting the ideas down on paper in a legible form, working out voicing or some of the rote aspects of orchestration, for example. Virtually all of the real acts of composition are inherently creative and therefore, absolutely impervious to being automated or replaced by technology. This is a little less obvious in pop music, a lot of which seems to be industrialized commercialism.Apple's GarageBand program for Mac computers lets you create fully orchestrated “compositions” just by dragging tiles into a grid. Everything sounds great, whether or not you know anything about rhythm, pitch or harmony. At the time of GarageBand's introduction, its product manager told me that even if the program semiautomates the composition process, it still gives people a taste of the real thing. It could inspire a novice to learn music, maybe take up an instrument.Agreed. But how can we gauge artists' talent without knowing how much of the work was theirs? Should it affect how much we pay for their output? And what about when commercial musicians use GarageBand to produce their tracks—as Oasis and many indie bands have done?
Let me give a personal example. Decades ago Yamaha came out with their first "acoustic/electric" piano. This was an electronic keyboard enclosed in a wooden case so it looked a lot like a baby grand piano. The keys were weighted to give the sensation of the normal piano mechanism instead of that of an electronic keyboard. They promoted it by staging demonstrations in department stores. One of my students, an adult, came to a lesson one day having just heard the demonstration and breathlessly claimed: "you couldn't tell the difference from a real grand piano!" I gave him A Look and said, "how much do you want to bet? $50?" This was so long ago that $50 was actually a lot of money. He suddenly got very cautious. I told him that I had friends, some of them just down the hall (we were in a conservatory) that could tell the difference between a Steinway built in New York and one built in Hamburg--do you really think we can't tell the difference between a concert grand and an electronic piano, no matter how gussied up? He didn't take the bet!
Mind you, now electronic and synthesized instruments, in the pop world at least, don't make any effort to sound like their acoustic forebears. But I still think that if you have much musical sophistication at all you can tell genuine creativity and musicianship from computerized fakery without too much trouble. Essentially all that technology is there, not to aid creativity, but to distract us from the lack of creativity. Right?
There are pop musicians who make rather a thing out of doing covers of songs and showing how good musicianship can replace all the technology. I give you Overdriver, from Brazil: