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10 artists who used tech to make better music

1. Les Paul

From some of the great musical pioneers, to modern day innovators, here are 10 musicians who have tapped technology to make better music.

Where would we be without Les Paul? The man not only invented the solid body electric guitar, but the first eight-track multitrack recorder, both items that changed music forever in an un-hyperbolic way.

Image: William P. Gottlieb

About

Erin Carson is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the impact of social media in business and the ways technology is transforming the future of work.

29 comments
paradigm001
paradigm001

Imogen Heap is SKRILLEX es biggest influence, Once I discovered her, my heart opened and my mouth dropped;


She is what music should be today.  And calling her a genius is not enough.

She not only sings, but produces, plays and masters all her music


She is a force of GOD

tvmuzik
tvmuzik

What is "better" muzak these days? Socially-acceptable "angst" and "rebellion" with absolutely NO substance what-so-ev-verrrrrrr. FAILED.

Technology and Music have coexisted ever since the very first drum beat, the first horn blast, the first string strummed, and the first smoke signal performed by a human!

Gisabun
Gisabun

Unsure how [maybe because half the population still doesn't know they are around] Mark Kelly of Marillion was left out. While keyboardists use to drag around multiple keyboards just to get a decent sound, Mark has managed to condense everything he needs to reproduce what was done in the studio. Add the fact that he spearheaded the band to have an Internet presence way before most other bands had anything [before 1997].

Another mention is Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. Always with the latest keyboard technology and he also created [I'm sure with help] tablet based applications to people can create their own music.

alan williams
alan williams

How about Paul Hindemith and the Trautonian or Messian and the Ondes Martinot

kraken_
kraken_

Hmmm... A few missing there: ditto to mjacquet for raising out Teremen, and to Cabo Wabo Addict about Moog, but a great musical innovator missing from the top-10 and the comments is Jean-Michel Jarre, who was using the first generation of electronic musical instruments; sequencers, single-channel analog synths and the likes, and who was among the first and most influencial artists in the "techno" genre.  Just search Youtube for "Legendary Instruments - Jean Michel Jarre" to convince yourself that he did experiment a lot and mastered all these, combining the instruments in innovative ways.

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

I'm trying to figure out what the point was of this article.  Les Paul makes sense since he was an inventor.

dojo25
dojo25

Rush / Pink Floyd

helloTekWorld
helloTekWorld

It should be clarified that Les Paul designed the first solid-body electric guitar in 1940. But he couldn't have done so if George Beauchamp, manager of National Guitar, had not designed the first electrically amplified guitar in 1931.


Giants usually look taller because they stand on the shoulders of others who preceded them.


I think the list should be expanded to include Isao Tomita, one of the pioneers of electronic music.

rckelley
rckelley

Del Shannon, duh! First major use of a synthesizer

kquinnIDC
kquinnIDC

It's a finite list, obviously, and entirely subjective, but I would have included Kraftwerk long before Amanda Palmer.  Kraftwerk took the technology of avant garde experimental music -- which is an entire genre of western art music that couldn't exist with technology -- mainstream.  Without them, we wouldn't have a tradition from which several of the listed artists benefit entirely to create their works..

pgit
pgit

Another you missed, and most definitely tops at least 1/2 your list in terms of influence, is Todd Rundgren.


Back in the heyday of arena-sized 'rock-n-roll' concerts I hit up every big name there was, from Charlie Daniels to Gentle Giant. I saw Yes, EL&P, CSN(&Y a couple times) The Dead, Zappa, and a host of others, most of them numerous times. I saw tons of amazing, mind blowing and even historic performances

But when asked "what's the best concert you ever saw?" without hesitation I reply "Todd Rundgren. "Oops, wrong planet." The band played the soundtrack of a movie Rundgren made behind the screen, as the film was being shown. We didn't see the band for about 20 minutes until the film finished and they raised the screen.


The soundtrack was so perfectly appropriate to the film that you almost didn't hear it... it was so integral to the film you were absorbed trying to make sense of the film and discern whatever message Rundgren was trying to impart.


I remember it like it was yesterday. I'm still awed by this early "multimedia" event. It was novel then, nowadays you expect sensory overload. People today would walk out on any of the Jethro Tull or Gentle Giant concerts I attended.


Honorable mention: Jefferson Airplane, Peter Gabriel and Eddy Offord.

BobRouseAtl
BobRouseAtl

How could you leave out Thomas Dolby?

trmartin
trmartin

One who comes to my mind, and who I think can not be forgotten, is Hugo Montenegro.  His use of the Moog synthesizer was innovative for the time.  He laid the groundwork for future generations of electronic musicians. 

dingbat01
dingbat01

For gods sake. All musicians use tech to make "better" music. But what is "better"?

Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells, 16 track recording, Pink Floyd, Ummagama, the electric harp as used by Jean Michel Jarre...

Personal choice (the authors) does not make everything better...

mjacquet
mjacquet

If you really want to speak about pionneers, people not using but creating technology, do not forget  Lev  (Leon)Sergueïevitch Termen  who invented what was probably the first musical instrument based on "electronics", the Teremin, in... 1919. And what about Maurice Martenot who created his "Ondes Martenot" (no horror fim without these!) in 1928.

Klotz61
Klotz61

Although I admit that it's always difficult to limit oneself to a certain number of entries for such a "Best of" list, I would surely want to include Johann Sebastian Bach for his use and propagation of well-tempered tuning, and on a similar note one could add Wendy Carlos for her ground-breaking use of analogue synthesizers in music. Then - what about Kraftwerk, the grandfathers of Techno and House music?

Such a list could probably grow and grow beyond limits, especially when one also included other parts of the globe with which we are not so familiar.

keith_eves
keith_eves

Can anybody answer a question that I've been asking for a while...


Why do people think that playing music loud makes it good music?


I've been in relatively small rooms with groups playing and everything, including saxophones, trumpets etc are amplified.

zyzygy
zyzygy

Sign in and the navigation through these pictures does not work on Windows Vista + Chrome.  Layout is different to IE as well.

I'm only using IE(9) this once to inform you.  I won't use it for everyday web surfing.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

The only one of these I might seriously argue against is the Mi.Mu glove.  While innovative, it simply hasn't been used by enough people to prove the merits of the design.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

Musicians have used "technology" since they started making sounds with anything other than their voices. What you have listed here is simply recent innovation. And it certainly doesn't make "better music" possible.

Cabo Wabo Addict
Cabo Wabo Addict

... or Keith Emerson, or Michael Oldfield, or Dr. Robert Moog, or Wendy Carlos, or Dick Hymen, or etc., etc.


Erin, half of the folks on your list I would rate lower that these.

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

@BobRouseAtl  Well met sir. We have Headspace to thank for ring tones on cell phones.


Not to mention being Music Direct for TED ain't too shabby.

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

@mjacquet   The first electronic instrument was the Telharmonium.  Google it. You will find an interesting documentary. 

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

@keith_eves As a former part-time musician and full-time sound man, I have to admit my dismay when i was first asked to mike the drums in a very small club. I guess it makes the band feel more "professional".



NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

While I think I grok your meaning, try reading the headline as "10 artists who used tech to improve their own music".  Or is your meaning that there is no "good" music produced with the aid of these devices?

Yes, in the case of music, both 'better' and 'improve' are highly dependent on the preferences of the listener.  But I listen to, and enjoy listening to, everything from Albinoni to Zappa, with stops in Bluesville, Rock City, Muskogee, and Funkytown along the way.  I don't look at one or the other style of music as "better" than another, just different.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

@NickNielsen Technology can certainly expand the imagination of some composers, and adds much flexibility that wasn't available before. My point is only that the term "tech" can be applied so broadly (I guess this is just me).
And I wholeheartedly agree that "better" is a completely subjective term, best judged my the musicians or the listeners.
Keep those horizons broad, my friend!