Life is music for Jean-Philippe Rykiel, a Parisian-born musician famous as a keyboardist, he is also composer, producer, and tech wizard. Rykiel molds his notes and immediately add a rich and layered dimension to any style of musics. He played with Leonard Cohen, Salif Keta, Steve Hillage, Youssou N’Dour, Lama Gyurme, and so many more…at ease with Avant-Garde, Jazz, African music, Tibetan or simply himself, being blind was never an obstacle to his musician life. He uses technology as an extension of himself since a very longtime an shared with us some interesting insights.
Which technology are you using for this interview?
I’m using Dragon NaturallySpeaking which is not yet perfect.
Which computer system are you using? I’m interested by the Mac universe but I still prefer my PC. Apple computers are more fancy, even for the blind. They feel nicer to the touch, and it’s great that Apple made the effort of providing a free screen reader built into their system. However, I find windows more logic in its architecture.
And for your music? Great efforts are made in the development of ProTools and Logic’s accessibility, (the most popular Digital audio workstations on the Mac), and folks who didn’t use Sonar before feel very comfortable with pro tools, which has become the must have in Music industry, a bit like Microsoft Word for writing.
But, even though most musicians are using the Mac now, I get better results on my PC, using an old version of Sonar (8.5), with the jaws screen reader and the Cake-Talking scripts which has been designed for this version.
What about mobile devices? I use an iPhone. I’m incredibly happy with it, and I haven’t tried other solutions, but thanks again to Apple for taken the challenge of giving the blind accessibility to a touchscreen that has no touch feedback at all.
I know that regarding music you are waiting for a more helpful technology, don’t you? I think the biggest problem we have right now is that developers don’t care about us, we are not that many, and it’s not profitable for them to spend time energy and money on developing something accessible.
So, it’s all in the hands of screen readers developers, or third-party developers, and it can be a tough job.
Sighted people must understand that screen readers can only read text written in what is called ASCII code. the text included in an image for example, cannot be read by a screen reader, unless it includes some kind of OCR, which started to be the case with JAWS 14, but is rather disappointing for the moment.
Blinds have two problems. One is Clicking on things, which can be easily solved by keyboard shortcuts, but the other one is reading the screen which is the hardest one.
What is your greater challenge in this area? Keyboardists create pieces of music called patches to be stored in a data base library for further used, they are keys to any musical creation. Right now we don’t have a system that can help us found, and then retrieve the music we need, when we need it. In the context of a live performance, a text-to-speech can’t be used because it interferes with the music.
Below are links to: a Video clip, music on Sound Cloud on Sound Cloud