How is technology changing the face of music? Can the piano be replaced by the computer? Jonar Nader and Charlie Chan discuss the question of multicultural music in front of a studio audience. The third track features special music by Sirocco.
Below are transcripts of the audio files
Host: Can a piano of violin be replaced by a computer? We thought we would toss that around tonight, firstly, with our Sunday night regular, the General Manager of Technology for the Australian Technology Society, Mr. Jonar Nader, how are you?
Jonar Nader: G’day Kevin, late breaking news, you know there is not only diversity in music, but there is also diversity in corporations, and I’m happy to announce that Xerox and Whirlitzer have decided to merge and they will be specializing in reproductive organs.
Host: And to add to our understanding of music and technology tonight, Charlie Chan is the Australian born with Malaysian, Chinese and Scottish heritage Charlie is renowned as a musician at the forefront of music’s use of technology, and a master of six instruments.
Jonar Nader: You know, unfortunately, this is where people in art people said “we will never replace the airbrush artist” or “we will never replace the typographer or the wordsmith”, but unfortunately if you look at the demographics and the numbers of them, they certainly have diminished quite a bit, but the good thing about this kind of music and what is it doing to the pub crawl all over again, is that people and pub owners are able to employ a two piece or three piece with technology and it is able to give a full sound, not that I’m a pub guy, but I am told that there is a whole new resurgence in that.
Charlie Chan: I used to do that once you know, I used to sit there and do that. Because you can do so much with one piece of technology and they often only wanted to employ one person, which is really sad for musicians.
Jonar Nader: Well the professional musicians, Charlie you come from a classical background, is that right? You were actually trained rather professionally as a musician.
Charlie Chan: Yes, in a kind of messed up kind of way, look I started up on guitar which I don’t play at all anymore. I went to a school where you learned piano and I learnt piano and ironically the double base which I don’t play at all either anymore, but it gave me a sort of firm grounding.
Host: Now the question is, does it come in a range of colours and is it safe for the children?
Charlie Chan: It doesn’t make coffee I am sorry Kevin, but I wish it did.
Host: What about cost for people interested in this kind of music? Jonar, any idea about the cost to establish yourself, just for the basics?
Jonar Nader: Yes, of course, you must start with talent, and nothing can replace that but if you are able to afford $5 000 or even up to $12 000 you are able to set yourself up with some pretty good gig happening. And you find yourself with Tommy Emanual, and I mean really he is a one man show, and he can really put everything together, all he needs is a bit of lighting and a bit of marketing behind him, but there are now great debates about what point is a piano a piano, there is a lot of cries of blasphemy, you know people saying “you will never be able to replace a piano.”
Jonar Nader: But there are now great debates about what point is a piano a piano, there is a lot of cries of blasphemy, you know people saying “you will never be able to replace a piano.” There are some pianos now that are electronic that are over $100 000 and each key, in fact, how you hit it and how you turn your hand and even the slightest touch and how you move your hand and how you swivel your hand gives you totally different sounds and they are trying very hard. But I quizzed Charlie before and I asked “will they ever be able to replace the piano?” and she said “no” and now we are having this fight, and the conservatorium of music do love the electronic piano, guess why, because they can give each student a head set and he can play his own thing and that’s the great thing about electronic pianos.
Charlie Chan: That is a great idea. I mean it is very hard for most people to listen to music, if you put a CD on and you listen to it, you don’t know, how will you know what is one it, and although it might say, in the case of a CD of mine, you know how will you know if I am playing real piano or keyboard piano, and a whole range of other instruments and you have no real perception of where those sounds come from, the important thing for you as a listener is well am I effected by it, do I like it, and if I like it then all the other things become irrelevant in a funny kind of way.
Jonar Nader: Yes, as we have always touched on, the area of law has always impacted on technology and now we are finding that the copyright experts are bouncing on people who touch keyboards and merge in sounds, and you can morph a sound, I mean you can start off with a lovely Tommy Emanual beat and morph it into something you can’t recognize, and at what point have you plagiarized? And these are the problems we are going to have to overcome. And finally from me Kevin, with respect to the panel, I would say that with technology is that if you actually have to speak about it then it hasn’t happened, and if you actually have to sit here with three people, our dignitaries, and argue about whether we have multicultural music or not then we actually don’t have it. Similarly, with television, you never say colour television anymore, because we have overcome the colour hurdle. And you don’t say stereo sound; it is now just natural that you get stereo with even the tiniest teapot that you get. And now we are finding in the cinema that you get this two minute intro about stereo sound and now it is digital sound, and soon we are going to go into 3D sound. It is wonderful stuff that in technology that if you have to talk about it then it hasn’t happened. And I might say that it hasn’t happened with multicultural music.
Charlie Chan: Excellent, excellent.
Host: Ladies and Gentlemen please thank our two guests tonight, Miss Charlie Chan and Mr. Jonar Nader