Does music need “professional” musicians?

Paul Williams, the songwriter and current president of ASCAP, recently wrote this article.  It’s pretty short, but one thing is missing from it: a point.  The only point I can see is that “piracy is bad.”  Well, duh.

Anyway, I’m going to go off on a little tangent here.  I think at some point in the future (perhaps still hundreds of years away) people will no longer be able to make a living off of writing music.  One reason is quite simple: computers will write music.  People won’t need to.  People will continue to write music, though, because it’s fun.  People being able to make a living off of writing music is, from what I can tell, a pretty recent phenomenon in the history of human existence.  (As are the sorts of economies we have now, for that matter.)  The creation of beautiful music doesn’t depend on people making a living off of it.  The reason people defend and fight for being able to make a living off of it is because it’s a dream come true! Being able to make a living off of doing something you love is just fantastic.  (At least, I imagine; it still hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m working on it!)

So, I’ll whole-heartedly agree that piracy is bad, and I’ll defend protocols and systems that try to counter it (as long as they don’t get in the way of what us legitimate non-pirates want to do, which they do too often), but I won’t do this in defense of the music.  The music will always exist.  Piracy is bad for moral reasons, not monetary reasons.  Well, it is bad for monetary reasons, but I’m not against it just because I want more $$$$, like perhaps a number of other composers and publishers (and PROs?).

My automatic music generator

Recently, I’ve been continuing work on my computer program that will, if my daydreams come true, write music.  OK, it’s still such a difficult task that I probably won’t live to see (or hear) it work, but it’s still a puzzling challenge that obsesses me sometimes.  Anyway, I spent the day thinking about new algorithms to try out.  To help me do this, I began writing a semi-fictional dialogue.  In it, I appear as a character and I meet with William Wobbler, a character from my recently finished screenplay The Melody Box.  The two of us then contemplate how to create a computer program that can write music.  It’s a lot of fun to write, and if I ever succeed at my goal of creating this program and if it makes me insanely rich (a dream that motivates me), then I will someday release it to the public so that everyone can learn how it was done, and how my thought process worked while creating it.  Or if I die having failed (which is more likely), I can leave it for generations after me to perhaps have something to work with (though the possibility remains that it is and will forever be useless garbage, but, I don’t know, somebody out there might read it).

I guess that’s it.  I have to go back to work tomorrow.  Snow got me an entire week off, but the vacation’s over now!  (The week off did give me a torturous glimpse of what life might be like if I could ever make enough money writing or composing to work from home.  I risk becoming a hermit then, but it’s still something I cannot stop myself from desiring.)


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