What does Moore’s Law have to do with the Violin?

Everything.

I just listened to Peter Diamandis have a conversation with Tim Ferris on the podcast, The Tim Ferris Show.

They talked about Moore’s law.

If you don’t know Moore’s law, “The number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention.”

And it’s still doubling.

Basically, computer processing technology is improving at an exponential rate.

Now, violins…

They’re pretty much the same every year.

Music?

Different every year.

Why?

It’s driven by culture and technology.

Why are violins staying the same? Well, they’re boxes of wood with wires strung on them. Also, people spend a decade or so just getting familiar with where they can put their fingers on the violin strings. Change, when it comes to the actual instrument, isn’t necessarily a good thing.

But the audio gear?!?!?

The bridge pickups, the preamps, the digital audio conversion, the software. All of this stuff is getting better right alongside computer technology. And this is exciting.

There has been a disconnect between typical classical performance technique, and technology, since technology became a driving force in the world. One of the main reasons this happened is simply because violins sounded better than computers. The pickups for violins were simply not good. Violins sounded better in a natural, reverberating room, recorded by a microphone. And what do you expect? Violins have been developed over the past five hundred years. Computers have been developed over less than a hundred years. Naturally, the computer needed a little catch up time.

But this won’t always be the case. And we’ve already developed to the point where you can make some incredible sounds on the violin through a computer.

Someday, there will be a way to record a violin through a pickup, and it will sound better than what actually happened in the room.

It will be different, most likely, but not necessarily. And some people may still prefer the original sound. But it’s an obvious fact that, someday, it will happen.

Why?

Because the sound of a violin stays the same, but what a computer can do with sound changes every year. It’s simple logic that someday, the computer will be able to do a better job.

Yes, a computer will even be able to play it better.

Some of you will probably think this is crazy. Others will think it is either worrisome, fascinating, or awesome!

To those of you who think it is crazy. I can help you, but I don’t want to. Go read a wiki page about Moore’s law, read a couple of tech blog articles, and look up who is making the most money, and the most changes in the world. Then come back and read this article and it will make sense.

To those of you who find it worrisome. Don’t worry. This will not make you irrelevant, or unimportant. And there is a quick way to understand this. Answer this question. Why did you start to play music in the first place? I guarantee you that it wasn’t because you wanted to play music better than someone else. And if it was, you, my friend, are an anomaly.

No, we play music because we simply love to play it! And what’s more, we play music because we love to create it, and innovate it. And that process will never go away, even if we crack artificial intelligence, and our computers turn into super intelligent, angsty, discovery laden, pubescent digital beings, who can improvise one thousand, three hundred and twenty four voice fugues while indulgently main lining hypnotic doses of mathematics.

Because here’s the cool thing. There’s always someone better, so you never have to worry if someone being better makes you less than you are. You simply are, and you’d better get okay with that, or you won’t be a very happy person. The people who define their importance by being better than others are few and far between, and mostly misguided, and usually unhappy. Go for unique, go for loving and loved, go for passionate, you will become plenty important and relevant if you do that.

To those who think it’s fascinating. Read on.

To those of you who think it’s awesome. Let me help you out.

You’re going to need a violin, a pickup, a DI, a digital audio interface, a computer, and some recording software, preferable with some sort of loop functionality.

Also, yes, it’s freaking fascinating and awesome. Because, what is art? It’s the expression, and preferably communication, of what it feels like to be alive. That’s it, don’t over complicate it. It’s the language optimized for communicating emotion. That’s all. We want to speak, and we want to be heard. We want to understand and be understood. And we use paintbrushes, stringed instruments, kazoos, bouncing titties, spray paint cans, and storybooks all in an attempt to get our understanding to be understood.

So, what if you doubled your vocabulary?

What if you spoke English, and one day, you spoke English and Japanese?

You life would be richer, you would be a more capable human, you would have more ability to reason. The list goes on.

So what if you bought a computer, and your ability to express yourself through art was doubled?

Yeah, technology is pretty cool.

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