Which Comes First: The Musician or the Machine?

korg ms2000

The relationship between artists and their gear is as unique and developmental as it is complex.

The intricacy of this relationship is the latest topic of focus for Thump in their fresh new article, Which Comes First in Contemporary Music Technology: the Musician or the Machine?

In the article, Thump explores the ever-evolving relationships between musicians and their machines to get to the bottom of the question at hand: are musicians evolving in response to technology, or is technology evolving in response to musicians?

With major production tech brands releasing new hardware, machines, and accessories every year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of your options, and by the struggle to determine which pieces will really bring your craft to life.


For some, today’s speedy onward-and-upward market means a slew of new opportunities for creative expression and expansion. For others, it can feel more like it’s dictating the ways that artists are able to express themselves.

Thump caught up with 8 of the scene’s top DJs and producers, including Shawn Rudiman, Gunnar Haslam, Erika, and Mmmmaven’s own John Barera, and asked them to weigh in on the divisive topic.

So, what do the artists think? What comes first: the musician or the machine?

Most seem to be in agreement on a couple of aspects. Namely, that there is no simple answer to this question because the balance is in constant fluctuation. Ideas influence machines and machines influence artists, but this just as often works in the opposite direction as well.

Another common sentiment is that the music always comes first. Whether it’s artists adapting to new technology, or new technology being adapted for artists, the love of music and creation is always the driving force in the process.

john barera

According #MakeItNew’s resident DJ and Boston-based musician John Barera, machines are definitely evolving with respect to better meeting musicians’ needs. He also believes that there is a lot of room for misunderstanding when it comes to the relationship between man and machine, especially when artists are just starting out.

I think there is a misconception that you need certain technology in order to make certain music; what you really need is musical ideas and skills, coupled with a motivation to get things done.

Barera also points out the more positive impacts of this high-speed growth and evolution, noting for example that lots of new synths coming to the market now have a greater emphasis on portability and functionality for live sets – which is great news for artists who don’t want to travel with a big heavy synth for their sets.

He also credits this rapid tech growth (and the Moog Minitaur) for the refinement of his awesome techno synth sounds in his sets and production.

For the full story, check out Thump’s full article here.

Want to tackle the machine? We fully admit it takes guts! That is where instructors like Wigz can help!

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