After my last post on music, a reader emailed me and asked me about computers and music. They drew an analogy of midi files as scripted tests, and live well-interpreted music as a much better alternative.

This is an analogy that doesn’t work too well. I have heard “human musicians” play with no interpretation at all – it’s one of my hugest peeves in fact. My skin is crawling just thinking about it – uggh!. It’s also quite possible, believe it or not, to create midi files that sound fantastic – I did some big band stuff once with fully sequenced brass and rhythm parts, and me playing all 5 saxophone parts (inspired by this CD, some of my stuff may have been even better due to better quality instruments - I can say that because I don’t have a recording anywhere. Lost recordings always sound fantastic).

Of course, there’s controversy in the recording world between people who do it the old way with tape and razor blades, and those who use computers (just like we have controversy in test). But in the recording world, I doubt there are many engineers (hey – they use that name too!) who like fixing timing issues with a razor blade and pitch issues with a carefully placed thumb. The issues are usually about the sound – both the differences between digital and analog, and the poor choices that the typical digital recording users make (the speed and ease of use of computer recording drives people with no business recording into the recording “business”).

Perhaps a better point to make about computers and music is that for better or worse, computers help musicians make music quicker and more efficiently. I think that’s kind of how testers use automation too. These days, just about everything you hear on the radio is done with protools or even some of the lower end similar software. Some parts of the recording process that used to take days, can now be done in minutes on a computer. Of course, what this has done is allowed bad musicians to make bad music faster (I’ve seen bad testers do this same sort of thing).

Again – the analogies are there – in this case they probably are a bit of a stretch. As far as midi files and automation as an analogy…you should probably move on to something else.