Hyped up about hype. David Ellis challenges hi-tech advertising.
One of the sometimes less than ingratiating sides to putting together Computer Musician every month is the fact that I'm obliged to wade through piles of advertising hyperbole. You know, the 'this is the most amazing bit of software ever seen' syndrome, and the 'you'll be sorry if you don't buy it' blackmail ploy. And as many will no doubt appreciate from personal experience of the consumer vs. manufacturer battleground, it often takes an immense amount of imagination to sort wheat from the chaff in promo leaflets.
So, in all honesty, wading through this or that company's paean to their technological brilliance doesn't cut an awful lot of ice with this reader. After all, what would you say to the following excerpt from one American company's brochure: 'MIDI. A simple word for a revolutionary musical idea: the most exciting thing to come along in synthesizers since the invention of synthesizers themselves. Unprecedented power and convenience, new worlds of timbre and time, symphonies and songs bound only by the limits of a creative mind...'
Oh, yes. Absolutely. Nothing like a bit of alliteration to get the old taste buds tingling. But pull the other one, mate. We heard all that from Electromusic Research in their MIDI step-time software manual - and a lot of MIDI software has passed under the bridge since then. Too much, some might say. And to what effect? Well, it's certainly meant a polarisation of pricing attitudes.
There are those that see the MIDI as an ideal means of milking musicians for all they're worth, on both the hardware and software fronts. Other, more circumspect companies like Island Logic, with their new MIDI Music System software for the Commodore 64, see this as a chance of breaking into a whole new area of the entertainment business. And as Casio have shown with the CZ101, that's also translating into cut-price (and multi-timbral!) MIDI keyboards. Not quite the 'sub-£100' MIDI keyboard I suggested in a CM Editorial a while back, but we're getting there slowly but surely. The more pricing realism the market receives, the healthier it will be.
In truth, though, I love getting all the bumpf. But it's even better if we actually get to see the product behind the glossy brochure. So, dear companies big and small, if you've got a product in the computer music field that you'd like castigated, congratulated, or castrated (perm any two from those three) in these pages, please send us the real McCoy, rather than just an advertising copy version. And if you're of Bulgarian origin, don't feel that E&MM won't be interested. We're always delighted to hear from anyone, no matter what part of the globe they originate from. Who knows? Maybe the Zlatna Panegas of yesterday were the Series III Fairlights of today...
Editorial by David Ellis
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