View Poll Results: Do you consider the laptop to be a musical instrument?

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    77 41.18%
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Thread: Do you consider the laptop to be a musical instrument?

  1. #16
    Andante
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    Well you know what my answer will be, but just to make sure I have tried blowing it, bowing it, plucking it, I have tried playing the keys and hitting it with Drum sticks, in desperation I even tried sucking it, So NO IMHO it is not a musical instrument that is not to say that it can’t be used to make notes into a melody etc and I have heard a few examples i.e. Douglas Lilburn, it is a tool, just that.

  2. #17
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    Well you know what my answer will be, but just to make sure I have tried blowing it, bowing it, plucking it, I have tried playing the keys and hitting it with Drum sticks, in desperation I even tried sucking it, So NO IMHO it is not a musical instrument that is not to say that it can’t be used to make notes into a melody etc and I have heard a few examples i.e. Douglas Lilburn, it is a tool, just that.
    As much as I agree, I don't see your reasoning. I don't see how not blowing it makes it not an instrument. And for the record, all instruments are just tools for producing and expressing music, including the voice.

  3. #18
    Andante
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    Yagan you are being pedantic so if you agree with me but not my reasoning pray give your reasoning. btw if it went over your head I was trying to be humorous.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yagan Kiely View Post
    The only electronic device that is an instrument (be it limited).
    I take it you have never heard an ondes Martenot?

    Ah, I see you have. Ok - it ruins the Turangalila Symphony and, presumably the many other Messiaen and Honegger works which incorporate it. I wonder why those composers insisted on using it then? Perhaps they lacked your own superior musical aestheic.

  5. #20
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    So NO IMHO it is not a musical instrument that is not to say that it can’t be used to make notes into a melody etc and I have heard a few examples i.e. Douglas Lilburn, it is a tool, just that.
    I thought this section was where you were being serious, and the other you were too, but using humours aspects. But okay.

    Yagan you are being pedantic so if you agree with me but not my reasoning pray give your reasoning.
    Never said I had any. Maybe later in life, when I devote some time and effort into it I'll give an opinion.

    Perhaps they lacked your own superior musical aestheic.
    Maybe indeed. Nazis probably injected Messiaen with a drug to make him aesthetically retarded in assessing whether an obscure instrument is exceptional or not.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    I think the problem is that different people are working with different definitions of the term 'musical instrument'. Until we all agree about what that definition is, we can't get any resolution of the issue of whether a laptop is one. However, on the most basic level: since the laptop can be programmed to play different notes when different keys are pressed, it seems to me to have all the potential for being called an instrument (no less than a synthesiser, say).

    (Is a triangle a musical instrument, by the way?)

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  8. #22
    Andante
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    We all know what is meant by “A musical instrument” I would say a musical instrument is that which is meant to make music, A computer is a tool that can do many things but was not primary intended to be played as a musical instrument, that it can be used to produce notes, chords etc is not contested.
    I must admit I am somewhat biased as I prefer acoustic instruments and not those that rely on electricity to produce sound, Electric Guitars, synthesisers and the such leave me unmoved.
    So we now debate the definition of musical instrument, I have seen it attempted on other sites and nothing ever seems to get resolved, but I will join in, it is a bit of fun.

  9. #23
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andante View Post
    We all know what is meant by “A musical instrument” I would say a musical instrument is that which is meant to make music, A computer is a tool that can do many things but was not primary intended to be played as a musical instrument, that it can be used to produce notes, chords etc is not contested.
    I must admit I am somewhat biased as I prefer acoustic instruments and not those that rely on electricity to produce sound, Electric Guitars, synthesisers and the such leave me unmoved.
    So we now debate the definition of musical instrument, I have seen it attempted on other sites and nothing ever seems to get resolved, but I will join in, it is a bit of fun.
    Well, now we have a start, with two apparently clear choices:
    1. A musical instrument is a device intended to be used to play music.
    2. A musical instrument is a device which can be used to play music.

    If we accept (1) as the definition (I guess most of us would favour this), then it looks like a laptop isn't one. If we accept (2) as the definition, than a laptop is one. But I don't think it's so clear as that. A 'laptop with suitable music-playing software' could be described as a composite device intended to be used to play music. So then, it is one. And round in circles we go.

    My aim is really just to observe that this appears to be a discussion about laptops, but actually it's a debate about what the term 'musical instrument' is generally accepted to mean.

  10. #24
    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yagan Kiely View Post
    The only electronic device that is an instrument (be it limited).
    Your nervous sytem is electronic, to paraphrase Wayne Shorter.

    Electronic devices are not musical instruments in themselves until they have a controler plugged in, like a midi keyboard or any other controller such as a guitar or other acoustic instrument. But in the latter case they become more of an effect processor. A mouse, keypad, or joystick are controllers too, but less efficient ones. Start combining all of the above and you begin to develope a more versatile expressive instrument.

    But then I think a garage door and a rubber band are musical instruments.

  11. #25
    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post

    But then I think a garage door and a rubber band are musical instruments.
    Yes, and a lot of modern composers think the same

  12. #26
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    (Is a triangle a musical instrument, by the way?)
    Not on it's own, I see percussive instruments as a set of tools that when put together make an instrument. Timpani *may* have argument on it's own.

  13. #27
    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elgarian View Post
    Well, now we have a start, with two apparently clear choices:
    1. A musical instrument is a device intended to be used to play music.
    2. A musical instrument is a device which can be used to play music.


    My aim is really just to observe that this appears to be a discussion about laptops, but actually it's a debate about what the term 'musical instrument' is generally accepted to mean.
    If I may:
    So you pick up a piece of drift wood and tap it on a boulder it produces a sound, it is still a piece of drift wood, You think about this and gather more drift wood you find that the length of each piece produces a different note but each one is still only drift wood, so eventually you construct a board with enough pieces arranged shortest to longest to form an apparatus that can produce 3 octaves now you have a musical instrument.

  14. #28
    Senior Member confuoco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yagan Kiely View Post
    Completely ruins Turangalîla-Symphonie - absolutely amazing piece, but it just sounds like a childish bird type whistle whenever that horrible contraption plays. Haven't heard it other pieces. Plus, it lacks the expresivity and subtlety of wind similar sounding/played actual instruments. The theremin is limited in it's expression, but at least it does have some.
    Turangalila-Symphonie is absolutely unimaginable without Ondes Martenot. It has colour, structural, melodic function in this work, what acoustic instrument could replace it in its glissando efects in this symphony? One can like or dislike this work, but to like it with reservation like this, it is funny. Without Ondes it would lost its identity.

  15. #29
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    Turangalila-Symphonie is absolutely unimaginable without Ondes Martenot. It has colour, structural, melodic function in this work, what acoustic instrument could replace it in its glissando efects in this symphony? One can like or dislike this work, but to like it with reservation like this, it is funny. Without Ondes it would lost its identity.
    Strange, I always liked the piano part. Obviously every other part of the symphony is completely opbsolete. My bad!

    When it isn't doing it foul glisses, it is virtually inaudable (or at least dispensable), and when it does do the glisses, it sounds horrible. Glisses (I mean glisses, not the varients) on violins sounds sickling (I mean that literally), and the same result can be achived with other methods. There is not musical reasoning to compose for that instrument only possible extra musical reasoning. It is a very unsubtle instrument. The only possible reasoning is that he wanted to do something different. A reasoning that almost all 20th century composers have been plagued with.
    Last edited by Yagan Kiely; Feb-13-2009 at 04:06.

  16. #30
    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    Yes, laptop is a musical instrument. Close your laptop monitor and use a drum stick to jam on top of it, I suspect it will be a fun percussion instrument in the coming age.

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