Rahman’s Oscar: Why Technology isn’t Everything

I was delighted when I found out that my music role-model, A R Rahman, won an Academy Award® for his work on the best song (Jai Ho!), and musical score for the Oscar-sweeping Slumdog Millionaire.

Rahman, the prolific Indian Cinema composer whom Time magazine named the “Mozart from Madras”, is widely known for his use of high-end technology to aid him in producing his masterpieces. In fact, it has been noted that his studio in Chennai is full of Apple computers sporting powerful music production software.

But what strikes me as interesting, is that Rahman rose to fame without using all this high tech gadgetry: his work on Roja was critically acclaimed as breathing new life into “filmi” music.

Therefore, Rahman uses his technology just as a tool; a means to ease his workflow.

This is an important concept that I feel is often misunderstood by many aspiring artists, and not just in the musical field. Take graphic design as another example: you can have the best graphics software package (i.e. Adobe Creative Suite 4), and yet, without a design sense, skills, and a thorough understanding of the software, your work could look terrible – even though it was created using thousands of dollars worth of tools.

I find myself shaking my head in disappointment when I see some of these aspiring artists “splurge” out on expensive tools, because I know that they’re wasting their money; they’re misguided.

Whilst nobody can ever master any form of art, traditional skill is essential to fully succeed in a particular field. Technology is just one tool that can help you to quickly get the work done.

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