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BLOG: In tune with music and technology

Az Samad | June 15, 2012
How music and technology work very much together, hand-in-hand.

AZ Samad

In 1998, I almost pursued a career in Information Technology but as fate would have it, I ended up becoming deeply involved in the music industry as a performer, composer and educator instead. However, with technology moving at such great speed, things seemed to have come a full circle. More than a decade after stepping into music college, I've come to realise that technology and music work very much together, hand-in-hand.

The first time I harnessed the power of technology for my music was way back in the year 2000 with the usage of Finale, a computer notation and sequencing software which enabled me to program and arrange music. It took some time to learn but the results were amazing.

How musicians leverage technology

Fast forward to today, it's crazy how the technology has progressed.

In Singapore, I performed for the first time with my iPad using Alchemy, a software synthesizer and a loop based app. It was a way for me to bring together my earlier experiences with music technology into my acoustic guitar playing. Thanks to my iPad, the energy level on "Metro Manila Jam" was lifted up to a whole new plain.

Social media played a big role in my last album project "Our Voice".

My fans were given the opportunity to be a part of the creative process. They provided me with song titles that would inspire the instrumental music I wrote. Through Facebook, Twitter and my blog, my fans submitted song titles according to a daily theme and then later during the day, voted for the favourite song title online. Through this effort, they were given a chance to give a message to the world and contribute to my music-making process.

Skype is also another wonderful enabler. When I was in California, I used to perform regularly at Bazaar Café in San Francisco. Upon returning to Malaysia, I was still keen on participating at their 10th Anniversary Guitar Showcase and this was made possible with Skype. I was beamed into the Bazaar Café through Skype and managed to perform for the audience in San Francisco even though I was separated by more than 13,000 km.

Technology as an educational tool

As an educator, I tap on technology as a teaching tool. In classes, my students and I watch YouTube videos and together we critique, comment and learn. I guide them so that they get to watch videos of master players. I also give them things to look out for so that it's not just a video watching experience, but it's also a learning experience directly related to what they're studying. From beginner students to music college students and even professional musicians, the technology has enabled a new joy of learning.


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