To me, as I've stated on here before, it's about the interface.
Quick story: Y'all may or may not know that I make my living as primarily a Hammond organist. Jazz, blues, rock, whatever. I love the instrument. And it's exciting to me that the digital equivalents have gotten so good that I no longer need to haul around my 400lbs 1958 B3 anymore. My back is especially grateful.
What is strange is that there's a whole new breed of musicians coming up that have never touched the real thing but who use those sounds via plug-ins or digital hardware synths. Case in point; a friend of mine had a band in his studio last week. His studio has a beautiful '57 Hammond C3 with a 21H Leslie. The keyboardist didn't want to use the real Hammond, he wanted to use the cheesy Hammond emulations in his Yamaha synth. When asked why, he said it was because he had no idea how to work the drawbars and other controls of the Hammond.
Now, this can lead to both new and interesting musical directions. But it can also lead to the opposite. Is it better, in general, that everyone has access to a good acoustic piano sound without having ever sat at a real piano? As a someone who also tunes pianos, it's not better for me!
But is it better for human creativity? Does it help or hinder creativity?
Chasing the analog dragon the last few years has educated me on the basis of synthesis. I now know the history, the tradition, the "rules", and now I know how to break them. I think that's important and I worry that it's getting lost. Or maybe it doesn't matter. As the technology gets better and cheaper, maybe a new set of rules emerge to be broken and the old ones don't apply anymore.
Is analog synthesis really just nostalgia at this point, much like my beloved Hammond?
One last personal note: I've been working on a song and hemming and hawing about putting a solo on it. I finally composed one that I liked using a custom patch on my Voyager. I left the Voyager at my friend's studio the other day after a late session. I wanted to tweak my solo a bit but didn't have my Voyager, so I re-created the patch with the new Retrologue plug-in from Steinberg. And much to my shock, it sounded better. It fit the mix better, it fix the music better... it was just better. Better than a $2500 synth (what I paid for it). A $50 piece of software. Amazing.
The bottom line for me: Use what you have. Have we really encroached upon even 50% of what a 20 year old synth like the SY77 can do (I still have mine and it still surprises me)? With a few hundred dollars today you can purchase plug-ins that rival what would've cost old timers like myself thousands upon thousands of dollars back in the 1980s, 90s, even the early 2000s. It's an incredible time to be a musician. I just hope the tradition doesn't get lost, that the technology doesn't overshadow the music itself.