“The Click” film explores how the digital metronome has changed music
The simple ‘click’ of the digital metronome has changed music more than we think.
Through technology, producers have become reliant on a computer rather than live instrumentalists.
Add that to the devices we use to listen to music which cut out dynamics captured in the studio and the result is the certain blandness of uniformity.
Session drummer Greg Ellis, whose work can be heard in blockbusters such as Argo, Godzilla and the Matrix series, explores this phenomenon in the documentary, The Click.
Though the ‘click’ was curated as a tool for precision and cohesion, it led to a too perfect uniformity, creating a ‘machine-like’ sound.
Technology like voice auto-tune and editing of live music through computers meant that the organic flow of a ‘session’ has become robotic and to a degree monotonous.
There is some scientific evidence that inventive music “excites neural circuits in the prefrontal cortex,” says neuroscientist and author of This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin. We get a thrill from hearing something we didn’t expect.
The question is: Does technology spur on or stifle creativity in music?
Music producer Petros feels that automating drum machines is cheaper, easier and more precise, and can allow for more creativity in some ways.
Where a live drummer is limited in sounds, a program has a plethora of different sounds to choose from and can play around until they find what they are listening for.
Technology has deemed formal music training redundant to a certain extent and although it always helps, it is not a necessity. Anyone can make music!
Tools like the synthesizer have revolutionized music for innovators like Bon Iver and St. Vincent: “The folk instrument of our time,” says Robert Margouleff, recording engineer extraordinaire.
As for consumers of music, the devices we use to listen to music squashes sound, literally, because of compression, cutting out a certain sonic vibrancy.
“When compression occurs in an exaggerated way, it makes everything louder, which ends up stealing the dynamics away from the music itself,” Bruno Romani writes on Motherboard.
Neurologically speaking, we don’t know if live instrumentation is better for us or not, all we know is that a steady rhythm causes neurons to fire in synchronicity with the beat.
This is interesting, considering the trance-like characteristic of electronic music.
The Click sees Ellis travel all over the world in search of answers to these questions by communicating with master drummers and ‘drum communities.’
Check out the trailer for The Click.
Ellis aims to illuminate what has been lost by the digital metronome in music that he says is too perfect.