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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.
2. Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her Mi.Mu gloves. They’re data gloves developed to control everything from pitch to production effects through gestures mapped by the user.
3. Jonny Greenwood
Jonny Greenwood is many things, including Radiohead‘s guitarist, a classical composer, and a multi instrumentalist. His guitar rig borders on legendary. Greenwood can also program software. For example, Radiohead’s 2011 album King of Limbs used sound looping software that he built.
The quirky Icelandic artist’s 2011 album Biophilia blurred lines of format. Biophilia is a suite of apps that includes essays, games, images, and educational materials and graphics on subjects like plate tectonics and biorhythms. The Guardian called it a “multimedia event.”
5. Neil Young
Aside from being a prolific musician and a model train enthusiast, Young is also an inventor. His latest project is the Pono music player, a device built to help listeners appreciate better audio — and not MP3s. The impetus behind PonoMusic is reviving high-quality audio. Young’s Kickstarter has more than 16,000 backers who have pledged more than $5 million.
6. Grandmaster Flash
Many of the innovations, like sampling, that came about at the birth of rap are difficult to attribute to one person, but rapper and DJ Grandmaster Flash is a solid figure to point to when having the discussion. For example, he approached the Rane Corporation, a maker of professional audio gear, and they designed the Empath Mixer, in part based on what technical challenges he needed to beat.
7. Brian Eno
Eno has developed a reputation as a visionary producer, particularly adept at creating soundscapes with innovative recording techniques. Microsoft even approached him to create the Windows 95 startup sound.
8. Tom Scholz
This founding member of rock band Boston holds both a bachelors and a master degree from MIT. In the 1980s, he founded Scholz Research and Development to produce his Rockman line of music equipment.
9. Amanda Palmer
Although a polarizing figure, Amanda Palmer was one of the first major music successes on Kickstarter, raising $1.2 million to fund her album. She also crowdsources via Twitter whatever she needs on tour, whether it’s place to crash, or a horn player.
10. Girl Talk
Electronic musician Gregg Gillis’ whole schtick is experimental mashups (and arguing them as fair use). He’s one of the most prominent examples of artists from a genre that stands on technology for its existence.