Musicians are Modders

It’s wild that music four hundred years ago is still being played.

It’s like being able to keep playing a computer game for more than a year. A stretch? Sure.

What keeps us playing? The games, not the music.

Well, multiplayer shooters have been a staple in this extended play. Unreal Tournament 2004 instantly comes to mind. What made people still want to play it past 2004? The community. Not so much in the fraternizing sense but in the way of a mastermind group. Legions of gamers create extensions of the original game: maps to game modes unforeseen to the original developers. In a sense, UT 2004 was never complete when it was released. There was room for someone to mod the game to her hearts content. And when you have thousands upon thousands doing that? You have yourself a dedicated community.

This open model has served computer games for decades.

It’s served music for centuries too. Liberties are taken with the music, improvisation is commonplace even with written down music, and musicians are expected to adapt and create opportunities for themselves.

Yet sometimes this modder mentality is forgotten and thrown aside. Closed systems take over and are taken as the status quo: the music means this, the music is supposed to be performed like that, the music is supposed to be played here.

But playing team death match for the umpteenth time gets monotonous. Instead of complaining about it, gamers make a new game out of the one they have: creating a freeze tag game mode for instance. If there is no open system a game stalls in value and it’s time to go get a new one. Lets not have music be thrown aside like that.

Modders were around before electricity. They were called musicians. Lest we forget our modding roots…


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