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Is the DAW biased?

Sugar Free

New Member
Given that those saws are still made differently today, instead of a universal design that “fits all”, yes you could say there is a bias and cultural influence in their design and application. Ask a person why they’d buy one or the other, even though they both cut, and you’d likely have defenders of both who believe one is inherently better than the other because of its cultural relevance to them.

DAWs were designed to accommodate the needs of modern western pop music, and the rest of us found a way to use the same tools for everything else, even if it doesn’t specifically target other genres as well. I think we agree on that. The shortcomings you mention are an example of bias in the design. Where more emphasis was inherently put on certain needs more than others. It’s why we can have cubase and dorico at the same time. They overlap in many features but they’re designed to accommodate different needs.

I’m still not sure why this is offending people so much. Bias is not an inherently malicious thing. It's just acknowledging the focus or lack of focus on certain things that matter to others. Knowing daws have a bias toward pop, and less toward classical, isn't that relevant to acknowledge so we could expand the feature to better accommodate classical? Couldn't the same be said for making changes that benefit other languages and world genres?
We agree on most of what you said, except the meaning of "bias".
There are two basic definitions:
1. prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
2. a concentration on or interest in one particular area or subject.

The first definition, suggests that the status quo is unfair and should be changed.
The second definition is an objective statement of fact.

The way the original question was phrased reads like the definition 1, which is emotionally loaded, especially today, and that's why it's getting some push-back.
Tools can be generic or specialized, multi or single-functional, well-made or poor etc.
If you simply want a better or a more universal tool, and know how it should work, then just go ahead and make it. The market will reward you.
 
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chocobitz825

Senior Member
We agree on most of what you said, except the meaning of "bias".
There are two basic definitions:
1. prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
2. a concentration on or interest in one particular area or subject.

The first definition, suggests that the status quo is unfair and should be changed.
The second definition is an objective statement of fact.

The way the original question was phrased reads like the definition 1, which is emotionally loaded, especially today, and that's why it's getting some push-back.
Tools can be generic or specialized, multi or single-functional, well-made or poor etc.
If you simply want a better or a more universal tool, and know how it should work, then just go ahead and make it. The market will reward you.
I think at the core, both definitions fit, but are made harder to understand without clarification. I believe that honestly, DAWs are generally designed under the second definition. Only occasionally I'm sure some DAW makers are like "ugh, I will never cater to hiphop beat making", but in general, its a tool with certain genres in mind, and very little interest in excluding or belittling others.

That being said, I've studied in both Japan and the US, and the first definition bias is THICK in western music education. terms like "standard" and "universal" get thrown around for music concepts, even when very clear Asian and African contradictions exist. As someone else pointed out Adam Neely's video on the subject, its a valid thing. Every time it gets brought up though, the range of responses go from "music theory is universal, period" "western music is just more popular" "if it's so bad why does everyone in the world listen to it?" etc. etc. I've seen asian students graded poorly for having longer phrases in their pop writing courses because "in pop music, short and repetitious is the standard" despite that not being the case for music in their own languages.

The problem with the bias is that when you assume your method is standard, you can easily view everything outside of that as wrong. You can also interpret other music incorrectly when trying to dissect the music through the only filter you know. I'm not saying every DAW needs to go out and make features for every rhythmic and harmonic/tonal ideology from around the world, but we should at least be honest that there is a broad range of music that gets left out because some people look at their DAWs/Western education with its harmonic and rhythmic standards and proudly proclaim "all music everywhere, fits into this box".
 
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Trensharo

Active Member
I'm definitely not white - very black in fact.

But the only people I see making everything about racism are...

definitely not "white supremisists."

Just saying. No Tea, No Shade.

One has to wonder how much can one make their world view revolve around race before they can safely be labeled racist, themselves. Or, does the scapegoat never lose its potency?

I never read the OP as going in that direction, but that is not the way I think and it's certainly not the way I view the world. I thought he was talking about bias to certain market segments.

This racial discussion really isn't something that belongs in this forum. These discussions are never egalitarian because people of a certain group will never feel like they can freely express themselves openly without exposing themselves as racist to someone who has broadened the definition of these things to kingdom come. Many here are successfully working in the industry and use their real names here. We all see the world we live in.

I am not above a good debate, but this is not a discussion we should be having here.
 
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chocobitz825

Senior Member
Did your teachers really tell you that there is there is only one true theory of music? I'd genuinely like to know?
not all instructors but quite a few, especially music theory instructors were quite vocal about the idea that music theory is the indisputable standard for all music that has ever been, and ever will be. Some of the following quotes from this very thread are also extremely common:


“If the west is so horribly biased and bad, then why are you writing your opinion in English? Surely that’s a bad influence.” (Kind of the equivalent, “if you don’t like it go back to where you came from”)

“It isn't colonialism, it's financial realism.” (The idea that the free market indiscriminately determines quality and relevance)

“The people criticizing Western culture want to wipe it out. They have zero interest in cooperation.”
(The false narrative that any attempt to reflect on the topic is an attack on all things western, and by extension, white)

“If you simply want a better or a more universal tool, and know how it should work, then just go ahead and make it. The market will reward you.” (As the one before, the idea that the mass use validates quality)

I'm definitely not white - very black in fact.

But the only people I see making everything about racism are...

definitely not "white supremisists."

Just saying. No Tea, No Shade.

One has to wonder how much can one make their world view revolve around race before they can safely be labeled racist, themselves. Or, does the scapegoat never lose its potency?

I never read the OP as going in that direction, but that is not the way I think and it's certainly not the way I view the world. I thought he was talking about bias to certain market segments.

This racial discussion really isn't something that belongs in this forum. These discussions are never egalitarian because people of a certain group will never feel like they can freely express themselves openly without exposing themselves as racist to someone who has broadened the definition of these things to kingdom come. Many here are successfully working in the industry and use their real names here. We all see the world we live in.

I am not above a good debate, but this is not a discussion we should be having here.
so this is the thing. I don’t know how this became specifically a racial discussion. Yes part of the conversation does involve white supremacy at its deepest point of discussion, but the original topic was western music, which has participants of various races. African American musicians are not the same as african musicians, nor are british asians the same as artists born and raised in Asia. Theres an immediate triggered reaction that tries to shut down the entire conversation when it gets a bit uncomfortable.

I thought more about it on my way to work, and I think the issue is pride. There is nothing wrong with pride in the accomplishments and quality of western music, and I don’t think many people mean to destroy the legacy of those works. It’s not racist to appreciate western music and culture. There is just a false connection people tend to make that easily strings us from music appreciation, into the realm of western supremacy in the malicious sense. This really shouldn’t be so complicated.

For example, saying “the classic works of western music are incredible examples of musical craftsmanship and innovation.” Fair enough, true and nothing inflammatory there.

saying “western music is the standard by which all music, worldwide, of the modern age should be judged by. No music has every exceeded its cultural relevance.“ is a pretty strange thing to say given that most people arent aware of the works they’re excluding with that statement, nor is it accurate. Its not honest about its competition, and its not even honest about how many non-western elements influence western music.

It not a hard concept to grasp, we all relate to this. It’s like saying mcdonalds is the greatest expression of the culinary arts and American exceptionalism because its 70+ year history has resulted in its market dominance and brand recognition around the world. Yeah i mean, we can say its a huge presence in the world of food, but that doesnt mean its best, nor does it even mean that its the most relevant in all the markets it operates in. to bring an example of music, its like saying Justin Bieber or BTS are the greatest musicians because their world dominance equates to the superiority of their music. We know these statements are not true, and we know that their dominance is not just about quality, but also about marketing, and aggressive practices to insure market dominance over other quality works. We all know of works that sell less, but are of better (subjective) quality to us. So its strange to look at the entirity of western music, and claim its universal importance, dominance and superiority worldwide, without honestly considering that the playing field is not level, and that we’re not considering all the works of the world when we make this claim.

I hope that’s fair.

(P.S. for where I am, if you asked people who was greater, or who had more relevant works, in Japan people would far easier say Joe Hisaishi over John Williams. I doubt you could even get many people in Japan today who would reference modern composers as being some of the greats. To Japan, most of the most iconic western names ended with the greats of classical music, which is likely to do with the influence of Pre-and-Post war efforts to impose the idea western greatness on Japan.)
 

Trensharo

Active Member
I am not interested in having that dialog, but whatever floats your boat with that...

----

The proliferation of Western Music theory has more to do with cultural openness than anything else.

Japan was a relatively closed society up until the 20th century. People in Europe had far less of a clue how they composed music there in the 1600s, when there were already multiple treatise in circulation in Europe. Countries were all exporting their musical ideas, stylistic preferences, etc. across Europe. In addition to that, the fact that practically all of the monarchs in Europe were related (due to arranged marriages, etc.) means that there was a fairly large degree of cultural exchange beyond geographical proximity - as high society's preferences and FADs had a huge effect on the rest of those cultures.

Italian, German, French, Russian, et al. proponents of music were pushing this artform across Europe from the 14th or 15th century. Music is not the only art form where this happened. Look at Ballet. It happened there, as well - spreading from Italy to France to Russia and beyond.

It also happened in sports. Figure Skating, Football, Basketball, etc.

Conversely, cultures like Japan, China, and Korea were fairly closed for - literally - centuries longer. They were rarely exporting and pushing their ideas the way Europeans were. Colonialism also saw this pushed far and wide (same thing happened in the Ottoman and Chinese Empires).

Japan has a long history of isolationalism, and they're a fairly small nation state. Japan is actually a terrible example to use.

DAW developers are businesses. They develop for the market's demands.

Music Theory is like a language. The lingua franca is generally going to win out in these cases. Lingua Francas can change, but until they do... most people are more apt to acclimate it than try to rail against it - as that generally accomplishes nothing.

English is generally the Lingua Franca in the business world. Italian is generally the Lingua Franca in the music world. French is generally Lingua Franca in the Ballet world.

"Western Music Theory" basically serves the same purpose in the musical world.

You are free to speak another language, but the tools and much of the documentation is going to bias to the lingua franca, because who wants to spend hundreds of hours writing a book for a small niche audience - purposely? And who wants to spend millions developing a DAW custom tailored for a small population (music producers/composers) of a niche user base (1 country out of... how many) - for example. The goal is always to cast the highest net. Businesses need money to survive. Not kudos.
 
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Sugar Free

New Member
not all instructors but quite a few, especially music theory instructors were quite vocal about the idea that music theory is the indisputable standard for all music that has ever been, and ever will be.
I see your point and I'm sorry to hear that you had this bad experience.
Peace.
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
DAW developers are businesses. They develop for the market's demands.

Music Theory is like a language. The lingua franca is generally going to win out in these cases. Lingua Francas can change, but until they do... most people are more apt to acclimate it than try to rail against it - as that generally accomplishes nothing.

English is generally the Lingua Franca in the business world. Italian is generally the Lingua Franca in the music world. French is generally Lingua Franca in the Ballet world.

"Western Music Theory" basically serves the same purpose in the musical world.

You are free to speak another language, but the tools and much of the documentation is going to bias to the lingua franca, because who wants to spend hundreds of hours writing a book for a small niche audience - purposely? And who wants to spend millions developing a DAW custom tailored for a small population (music producers/composers) of a niche user base (1 country out of... how many) - for example. The goal is always to cast the highest net. Businesses need money to survive. Not kudos.

You spent a bit there explaining how culture exchanged in the west, while sidestepping how it was often injected into the east and other regions. Often by colonialism. Japan has its own vernacular for musical concepts that it still uses to this day for more traditional Japanese music. For Some pop it’s a combination of Japanese traditional terms mixed with some European terminology and fixed-do solfege. Adopting western education was a post-war agenda. It's not a critique, blaming anyone, or trying to shame the west. It's just history. So again, where it feels like you're using the broad exposure of western music theory to validate it as "naturally" most relevant, you're sidestepping the part where social and political elements have forced those ideas in certain regions.

None of this has, for me at least, been about forcing daws to reform to accommodate other cultures, but it's simple enough to acknowledge that they are excluded and wonder if there would be universal benefit from expanding the format to include them. Not an imperative, but an option. Would adding more options make the daws better? If they add it, cool, if not, fine. Daws don't have to do everything for everyone.

The other false assumption I'm getting from you is that the fact they don't exist in the daws now is a validation of the idea that they're not wanted or not marketable, profitable features to add for the majority. This idea that the market determines what is optimal and only does things without waste. I don't think adding them would be catering to a niche market or waste of time and money since composers could benefit worldwide. Potentially it would be adding features that benefit all users if it did go that way. It's like the daws that tried to avoid adding features to accommodate rap and electronic music until their hands were forced by the changing of markets, and now those features are key selling points.

The idea that western ideology and market values are international, universal, and inherently "right" is a legit circumstance thats narrow-minded and unnecessary. Western music theory is a language, not THE language. Western daws aim at a certain spectrum of the market but it is not the entirety of the market. That's the only point I think the thread needs to make. There is a bias, but that's fine.
 

Trensharo

Active Member
For someone on a moral crusade, there is quite a bit of intentional misinterpretation and intellectual dishonesty in those replies.

And I told you I am not interested in that kind of discussion.

My post was constructed to avoid the Twitteresqe stuff, but it does address the stuff that you mention regardless. I already told you discussions had from that perspective are inherently discriminating.

Again, the west exported that stuff while the east isolated.

If you develop a daw in house for that system, don’t localize it, and only sell it in Japan you can’t complain that it’s the only DAW that caters to that system and call the world biased because they standardized on solutions that are more universal - leaving you with 1% market share and very few choices.

I don’t call that bias. I call that inferior marketing and bad project management.
 

youngpokie

Senior Member
The way the original question was phrased reads like the definition 1, which is emotionally loaded, especially today, and that's why it's getting some push-back.
Indeed. I would only add that it's highly likely that making it "emotionally loaded" was the entire point of the post.

It's a very old but highly effective technique: in order to make people truly internalize something, they must be made to continuously engage with it. And making it emotionally charged and provocative is the best way to achieve that. This way people can be easily triggered into a defensive mindset without even realizing what's happening and the kind of subtle re-framing and word games that are taking place.

And that's how a sentence such as this....

UI is not Japans strongpoint
... can be easily revealed as insulting, biased and colonialist, using the same exact framing trick as used in the original post and its links.

All we have to do is take the perfectly normal concept of having a particular point of reference and start calling it a problem, using charged vocabulary that would put this person into defensive frame of mind.
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
Indeed. I would only add that it's highly likely that making it "emotionally loaded" was the entire point of the post.

It's a very old but highly effective technique: in order to make people truly internalize something, they must be made to continuously engage with it. And making it emotionally charged and provocative is the best way to achieve that. This way people can be easily triggered into a defensive mindset without even realizing what's happening and the kind of subtle re-framing and word games that are taking place.

And that's how a sentence such as this....


... can be easily revealed as insulting, biased and colonialist, using the same exact framing trick as used in the original post and its links.

All we have to do is take the perfectly normal concept of having a particular point of reference and start calling it a problem, using charged vocabulary that would put this person into defensive frame of mind.
Partway through this we already established that there are two ways in which bias could be perceived and I believe we agreed that in general the discussion as it was progressing was not meant to invoke the defensive response it's received.

Context is everything, and yes, you could try and flip my statement to mean something else, and I'd be happy to review any valid possibility of problematic consequences from my statements. At the same time though, twisting a statement like the one you quoted only works if you aren't familiar enough with the topic of Japanese UI/software to understand the validity of the statement.
 
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estevancarlos

estevancarlos

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Is a set of metric wrenches biased?
Under careful analysis one can discover whether or not this is the case. However all design can contain bias. Yes.

Your question is insincere and you mean to say that you don't believe any designed thing can contain bias in its designed function. Which is silly.
 
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estevancarlos

estevancarlos

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You are free to speak another language, but the tools and much of the documentation is going to bias to the lingua franca, because who wants to spend hundreds of hours writing a book for a small niche audience - purposely?... Businesses need money to survive.
- How did it become "lingua franca"
- Should it remain so? If so, how come?

Those are rhetorical questions.
 
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