The Case for Live Instruments

The Case for Live Instruments

The Tunedly Team

If you've been taking notice lately, you would have probably observed that a number of popular acts have been including live instruments in their hit songs. Calvin Harris, for example, incorporated a bass guitar in the song “Feels,” which also features Pharrell, Katy Perry, and Big Sean.

Future also went acoustic for his recent hit, “Mask Off,” which has a flute accompaniment that has since influenced the spreading of a viral social media challenge.

While this is nothing new, it represents a resurgence in the use of acoustic instruments in music production, which was believed would have been a thing of the past by now. You see, not too long ago, the centuries-old love affair with acoustic instruments such as guitars, pianos, mandolins, etc. took a steep nosedive. What with the discovery of digital instruments and all the endless possibilities they presented.

Add to that the fact that music creators no longer needed to spend thousands of dollars hiring musicians to record tracks for songs and compositions. Computer-generated tracks now meant that almost anyone could create music from anywhere and anytime, all via access to the requisite software and hardware. With a lowering of the barriers, many music studios shuttered their doors and there was an increase in the rise of independent musicians.

Yep, the age of MIDI tracks had arrived and computer-generated music was all the rage. However, while the availability of digital instruments definitely brought a number of benefits to the party (no pun intended) and are still highly relevant, many agree that it resulted in many musicians putting out music of inferior quality.

This has been attributed to a number of factors, one being the fact that some DIY musicians simply don't have the requisite skills to get the best out of DAWs and software. But even with the best skills, digital instruments have not been able to fully substitute acoustic instruments.

Let's face it, unlike the way PCs have made typewriters obsolete, digitally-recorded instruments and music-making software have not been able to wipe out the use of live instruments for good. EDM artists, in particular, have been including more live instrumentation in their recordings and live performances.

Why is this?

There are a few reasons that have been identified and agreed upon by both music creators and listeners, making the case for the resurgence of live instruments. These include a lack of emotional connection when using digital instruments, the infinite variations available for each digital “instrument” which can cause it to sound fake, and the fact that using real instruments encourages creativity.

In his article comparing real vs digital instruments, musician Lewis Knudsen gives several examples supporting these beliefs. He pointed out the purely mechanical action of creating a guitar sound using MIDI by clicking a mouse or hitting a key, comparing it to playing an actual guitar, which encouraged getting acquainted with the instrument’s capabilities and how to produce different sounds with different techniques.

He also explained how using real instruments inspired creativity. Many songwriters can attest to this as a lot of hooks are first crafted on a guitar or piano before the rest of the song comes together.

The move to include more acoustic instruments by musicians has not gone unnoticed by the media. The Huffington Post, for one, made mention of this fact in an article noting the rebirth of live instruments in music production.

According to the article’s author, the amount of acoustically-produced music released on the airwaves in the last few years has increased over the previous decade. The article points to pop artists such as Justin Bieber, whose song “Love Yourself” is based on live instrumentation, as well as Ed Sheeran, who is also well-known for using acoustic instruments in his hits.

While noting the role digital instruments have played in lowering the cost of producing music, the article also states that they have not necessarily improved the quality of recordings. With regards to this, the piece goes on to highlight solutions for musicians who want to make high-quality music with the accompaniment of live instrumentation but can’t afford to go back to the days when doing so was expensive.

It singles out Tunedly as one of the companies giving music creators the option of hooking up with live instrument players from all over the world to get an authentic sound for their recordings. We are grateful for the shout out and relish the opportunity to help more songwriters create professional-sounding music.

If you're looking to join the growing number of musicians around the world, who are re-discovering the magic of using live instruments, Tunedly gives you the best chance to do so. In addition to giving you the power to create music the way you want, you also get to collaborate live with some of the world's best session musicians, singers, and engineers. Think about music professionals who have worked on hits with top acts such as Garth Brooks, Justin Bieber, and Nicki Minaj.

Ready to begin? The live instrument revolution is here and it's now easier than ever to be part of it while making professional-sounding music.