Gwilym Gold’s Tender Metal Feautres Morphing Melodies
By Tom Wyrick. September 10, 2012, 1:08 PM CDT
Former front man of musical group Golden Silvers, Gwilym Gold, has something new in store for listeners on his debut solo album. Tender Metal features seven moody electronic pop music tracks that slowly evolve, each time one is played. Obviously, this is only made possible by distributing the music digitally for playback with special software, so Gold won’t release a version of the album on a standard audio CD. His software application, called Bronze, is currently available only for Applie iOS. Bronze can combine sounds prerecorded in the studio with new sounds generated by the program itself, as it takes into account the current key, structure,and tempo of the track currently playing.
Gold told the BBC that he feels the experiment, “makes the music more engaging, similar to a live performance”, and hopes other artists will adopt his format (and presumably pay for the rights to use his Bronze application in the process).
As someone who played guitar in a band myself, I have some reservations about the wisdom of this idea. I can appreciate the desire to come up with something novel. Simply by being among the first to do this, Gold stands a good chance of getting far more promotion and name recognition than he’d have gotten by releasing a standard music CD. At the end of the day, this project blurs the lines between musician and software developer. What if he winds up spending more time reselling, refining, and providing support for his Bronze software than creating his own music? Even if that never becomes an issue, I think he’s created a scenario where his customers are buying his software’s ability to make pleasing music, rather than paying for his own musical compositions. It’s conceivable a listener could start out enjoying a track, only to find that with repeated listens, it drifts further and further away from what he or she liked about it in the first place.
Lastly, I foresee a few odd copyright issues. What if a listener repeatedly plays a track back until it morphs into a variation they particularly like and then he or she makes a static recording of the track? Can the listener use this variation as the background music for a video project without getting Gold’s permission first? After all, the track is supposedly unique, with at least some of the instrument sounds in it created on the listener’s own iOS device. It would appear to me that Gold’s copyright protection would relate to the redistribution of the Bronze software itself versus static audio captures of unique variations of its included tracks.
Most modern music synthesizers essentially work this way, allowing musicians to play back stored sound samples originally recorded in a studio, which allows the instrument to sound like a grand piano, a set of drums, a trumpet, or anything else imaginable. Perhaps buyers of Tender Metal are really buying a software-based musical instrument in the guise of an album?
About Tom Wyrick
Tom Wyrick is network manager for a steel fabrication company by day, and owner of Wyrick Consulting, an on-site PC and Mac service business. He's recently been told he "has more computer power than some 3rd. world countries" at home.