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Sunday, January 23, 2011

UJam - Innovation Or The End Of Serious Music?

Don't have any musical skills but want to write songs? Now you can with a cloud-based online platform called Ujam, which, as there site says, "empowers everybody to easily create new music or enhance their existing music talent and share it with friends."

The platform does what it says, according to the demo. You can sing a melody into it and it will come up with a pretty good sounding backing track with a wide range of styles to choose from. You can even tweak the chord changes and melody, change your voice into an instrument, change the sound and pitch of the vocal, and just about anything else you can do with a DAW or Garageband.

That being said, UJam doesn't seem to be Mac friendly as it wouldn't run for me on Safari, Camino, or Firefox, probably because I have Flash selectively disabled (it's a resource hog). Perhaps some of you will have better luck at trying it out than I did.

As a musician, I'm not sure how to feel about UJam. On one hand I admire the technology and the ability to create a song so easily, even if it's generic. It could be a good tool under the right circumstances. On the other hand I'm appalled at yet another instance of skirting the hard work of learning your craft to turn mediocre or no talent wannabe's into "songwriters" and "singers." I think many will agree with me that the whole idea of making music so easy that you don't have to pay your dues has undermined the quality of much of the new music that we hear today, and is at least partially the reason for the current music industry woes.

Check out the video below or look at the UJam site and tell me how you feel about this.

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Simon said...

If stuff like UJam gets people into making music and hooks them hard enough to want to learn more, all the better. And more detritus just makes the talent stand out even stronger.

Gregg Fine said...

Even more disturbing than watching this video, was watching the video of Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams promoting UJam.

Don D said...

AutoTune on steroids. Cool and horrible all in one. Anybody want to venture a guess as to how long before a UJam recording makes it to the charts? And if (when) this happens, who owns the rights to the composition, the human input device or the UJam software team?

Of course, the bigger question may be: what exactly are "the charts"?

Alex Moore said...

I think we are going to see a DELUGE of this kind of software to "enhance" music writing and will for sure begin to turn up in DAW recording applications. In some sense the loops that come with GarageBand were a first step in this direction of easing the song writing process. We are all so production driven these days that the danger is to just accept what the program came up with simply because “it’s done” and we can stop thinking. No self editing or writing needed. We all know what bad music sounds like so UJAM hopefully wont be creating any NEW type of bad music – just more of it (sadly).

I think real song writers (meaning those with talent and or who put in the hard years of work to develop what they have) won’t use this kind of software and those who do use it will just take a ride down the chute to the heap of mediocrity. Unless they aggressively edit what UJAM gives them.

The real insult to listeners is they will be forced to sift through more and more software generated garbage to find music worth listening to.

Anonymous said...

It's like the templates that come with Final Cut Pro or Adobe After Effects for video editing.

People that use them in "professional" work are looked down upon unless they're heavily modified.


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