The Hegemony of the DAW

Isn’t any creation made in the relation between a person and its tool to “write” it to ?

Modern DAWs can be as linear or non linear as you want them to be, you can have as much control over any parameter over time as you’d want to, as long as the sound making tool allows it, it is anything between a blank tape to a complex score allowing you to also write timber and every aspect of sound precisely in time. So what is missing ? I honestly think it allows for all approaches of composing, from live tweaking, editing improvisations, writing everything offline, etc, what am I missing ?
I honestly am very interested in this topic because I don’t get what it is that you feel that is not working, not free enough ? I don’t know, I honestly want to understand.


(sometimes i feel this ‘hegemony’ is easier to deal with, if i redefine the word “DAW” to mean “Digital Audio WORKFLOW” instead of “Digital Audio Workstation”… workflow helps me envision the longer-term future, whereas ‘station’ causes one’s imagination to go… well… 'station’ary :wink: )
i’ve come to the conclusion at this point in my life: words are always completely subjective, and there’s never any absolute definition to any word in existence.
for example:

very true. but then again, a ‘novel’ will not always be the ‘optimal’ way to tell a ‘story’(<-see this sentence carefully, everyone will have a different meaning of ‘novel’, ‘optimal’, and ‘story’).

on norns, we have this app, ‘shicksalslied’ by @WilliamHazard …it feels like both a word processor and a digital audio workstation. if in one moment, i get creative in a way that feels like a novel, then it’s a ‘novel’. and if in another moment, i get creative in a way that feels like i produced some music(in this digital environment of a norns), then it’s digitally produced music and this was my digital audio workstation.
you might define a ‘novel’ as something in a particular way, but history is full of authors who have been ‘misunderstood’(i still try to read ‘Maldoror’ to this day, still have trouble with it… and the ‘writing’ is quite skilled in its descriptiveness, very entrancing in its emotive draw, but do i get it fully? no… yet who am i to say that’s not a novel?) so if i say something i made on ‘shicksalslied’ is a ‘novel’ and other people say, “we don’t hear the ‘words’? how is this a ‘novel’?”… it’s a similar problem: they failed to understand how i processed these words. that’s all it is.
and thousands of years from now, ‘digital audio’ might become a retro trend “ooooo! damn! i miss the warmth of that digital aliasing, all these ‘quantum audio workstations’ got such a thin sound to them, as if there’s light-years of distance between each layer of the mix :nauseated_face::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :joy:

i guess i’m writing this to make the overall point: nothing is better or worse off, ever!

Music is in an even worse situation

it’s always evolving, so if a seemingly worse point in history just ends up leading to a better one anyways, who’s to say it was actually worse in the first place?
(also music and audio was harder to evolve than text because it’s more abstract; i think this is because it was left more creative whereas text was turned more quickly into more practical uses very early on in human history: we needed language to be very logical so that ‘fair trade’ could be negotiated most easily to ensure survival… the more general idea of ‘audio’ and ‘music’ never was chained to such a finite and specific utility so the tools will naturally remain a bit more nebulous)

newer contexts will redefine the tools, and then the contexts in turn will keep being redefined. it’s just evolution.


Wow, thank you for putting this into words. It me! :smile:


I think part of it is that which cost is prohibitive has flipped too.

To have a garage band you need a garage. I personally don’t know anyone with a living space that could facilitate band practice. And there aren’t any practice spaces for rent near me either. It’s too lucrative for that real estate to be a restaurant or more apartments. Coming off WWII there was more homeowners and their kids could use those homes to start bands in the following decades. Rent was cheaper too. I can’t find a detached house to rent in our price range and I’m a software engineer.

It used to be that practice space was available and studio time and recording equipment was prohibitively expensive. Not anymore. Now almost anyone can afford a laptop and a DAW and if you can’t you can pirate the software. Now it is the space that is unattainable. I’m not convinced that bedroom musicians prefer making music solo as much as that’s the easier option.


This. Coupled with the lack of small venues for performance.


I really hate what real estate speculation does to the arts.


Not just the arts but also the general population…. In my area it’s the few remaining wild spaces that bear the brunt of the developers’ insatiable greed…


It’s hard to know where gentrification stops, and speculation begins. One thing I’m convinced of is that when artists find a cheap area and make it cool, gentrification will not be far behind.


The last time I posted in a “seeking musicians” FB group for my region, mentioning interests and seeking similar persons to collab with i got mostly laugh emojis from guitar bros and one offer to be in a 80s cover band :slight_smile:

it’s all speculation at this rapid pace, there’s not even time for the “queer and arty people” to move into the neighborhood before whatever hedge funds or capital flight buys up properties


AVID up for sale?

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dunno, i think that finding a cheap place and making it cool IS the gentrification.

as for the hegemony, i’d argue strongly for the fact that no software is dictating your use of it. just as no instrument, gear or noise can dictate how you use it or what you make from it. sure, avid, waves and native instruments have taken great goofy steps to remain industry standards. but for every ricky martin PT session there are 4,000,000 weird and indescribable abstract ones. for every eurorackist spending hours patching, theres a kid ripping amazing serato studio beats from old recordings in 12 minutes. i honestly think claiming “hegemony” in anything audio related, is akin to saying you’ve figured out whats art and whats not.

no doubt music has become a dismal profession… but i’d argue making music itself hasn’t changed at all. people using whatever they can to make a vast universe of things.


It’s the seed of gentrification for sure, but it takes people with money coming in and trying to buy cool to create gentrification, IMO.


Civic decisions to neglect/“underdevelop” always come prior though. Slums (or in the modern context, “pre-gentrified areas”) are a choice, not an accident, and the fact that they attract people seeking cheaper rents isn’t the fault of those people.