Finding inspiration by changing the setup

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Scories
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Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Scories » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:10 am

I don't know if somebody could answer to this long post... well :

In 2001 and 2003, I released 2 electronic music records - in some extent reminescent to Cluster and Boards of Canada - by using a Korg Z1, a Microwave XT, a Minikorg 700s and some analog synths I got rid off and that I sometimes miss (SH-101 Juno6, Arp Solus..). At a certain point, I thought that I was always playing the same types of melodies with my synths, I got sick of it and I completely changed my musical direction by diving into into experimental music with odd acoustic instruments and lo-fi processing.

Now I'd like to go back to electronic music. But I am not really inspired anymore by my current setup; my Z1 is hard to program and the XT doesn't has the sound I'm looking for. Though, I still enjoy the Minikorg 700s (my first analog synth), for it's thin mysterious analog sound.

At first, I thought about composing on a portable micro-synth like a Ion (it would be nice to compose during lunch breaks at the workplace!). And then I would deteriorate the sound by using wobbly analog tapes, FX and some computer processing.

Then I've been tempted to go back to an all-analog-setup with monosynths triggered by cv/gate with some models like these: SH-101, MC-202, MS-20, TR-606 (+ a space echo).. to compose very analog melodic/rythmic stuff. But, I'm not so sure; the SH-101 and the MS-20 are great synths, but they are expensive. And to compose something complex and unique, I thought I would have to sequence it all on a computer again.

But for sure, I miss the sound of the 101 and I'd like to get one back someday (just been outbidded). The MC-202 is also tempting for its internal sequencer that could create unorthodox melodies.. and I don't know why but I like the 606. Anyway...

Then I thought that I would definitely be inspired by a the super vintage, strange and lush analog sound of an Elka Synthex; one of the very few synths that can remindand the psychedelic evolving pads of Oxygene - my first contact with electronic music. Even a simple arpegio can sound as epic as an orchestra with these synths (like the CS-80). But these synths are out of price (and unavailable). Though I also heard great renditions of some of these sounds with an OB-12. But I'm not so sure about this one neither.

I've been very impressed by the complex tones and rythmic melodies one can get from modulars such as a Buchla or a VCS3. That's definitely something I'm into, but again, I would have to sell my house to get one, if I had a house.

I've also been impressed by some Mono Evolver clips heard on YouTube:

Unfortunately, it's not as portable as an Evolver, but I fear that an Evolver would be too much oriented for short regular musical phrases and 4/4 patterns (and I really don't want to compose techno).

I also have to mention that even though I never had one, I like the gritty sound of the Nord Lead - featured on Autechre's Tri-Repetae era (esp Anvil Vapre & Garbage ep's). A Nord modular would be a nice choice, but the need of a computer is a major turn-off for me.

The Alesis Andromeda could be an other option. However, I know this thing can sound big, but can it really sound thin, strange, lo-fi and psychedelic.. like an Axxe maybe?

Overall, I enjoy the sound of huge evolving pads, thin psychedelic leads, hyper complex analog bleeps. I like odd sequencers (for odd melodic patterns). I'm also looking for something very alive, very atmospheric, very musical and very intuitive. I fear that I would have to buy a real synth armada to fulfill all my need (and I don't want to go with virtual synths). I guess I'll either go with portability or a huge machine.

Oh well, sorry for the long post, but if anyone has some suggestions, I'd be more than happy top read it. And sorry if I made some mistakes, English is my 2nd language.

Thank you very much.

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Shreddie » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:23 am

Scories wrote:The Alesis Andromeda could be an other option. However, I know this thing can sound big, but can it really sound thin, strange, lo-fi and psychedelic.. like an Axxe maybe?
I always describe the Andromeda as a chameleon, able to change it's colours as you wish. It may not be able to go quite as far as some synths (not as fat as some, not as thin as others) but it can get 90-95% of the way there. Fat basses and leads, thin wheezy strings, massive unison pads, it can do them all rather admirably. I'll admit to not having much experience with analogues but the Andromeda is incredibly versatile. It excells at pads and strange/psychedelic stuff though... That's where it's real strength lies in my opinion.

Be warned though, it is a very complex beast and not for the feint heated.
And sorry if I made some mistakes, English is my 2nd language.
Really?! I wouldn't have guessed!

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by aredj » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:34 pm

I think you may want to look at some elektron machines.
Maybe not as your only synth - but the monomachine can be very inspiring and can go crazy directions...
Autechre are using elektrons nowadays

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Scories » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:51 pm

Thanks, I'll have a look at these synths. Andromeda is still tempting, but I'm also curious about the Nord Wave, which seems to include interesting possibilities for .wav files modelling.

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by masstronaut » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:36 pm

Scories wrote:I've also been impressed by some Mono Evolver clips heard on YouTube:

Unfortunately, it's not as portable as an Evolver, but I fear that an Evolver would be too much oriented for short regular musical phrases and 4/4 patterns (and I really don't want to compose techno).

...

Overall, I enjoy the sound of huge evolving pads, thin psychedelic leads, hyper complex analog bleeps. I like odd sequencers (for odd melodic patterns). I'm also looking for something very alive, very atmospheric, very musical and very intuitive. I fear that I would have to buy a real synth armada to fulfill all my need (and I don't want to go with virtual synths). I guess I'll either go with portability or a huge machine.
Evolver is tops. If you like the sound of it you should definitely consider one. no reason at all why you'd be limited to 4/4 - for one thing the step sequencer has four "tracks" each of which can be different lengths and routed to most modulation destinations.

Or have a look at a DSI Tetra. Four voices, very portable. You could maybe leave a small keyboard and/or controller box at your work location.

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Electrocorporation » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:52 am

I'm having a blast with my Evolver, Mopho and the Blofeld... you can't go wrong here.

Best regards
Electro: Elektron MD, Evolver, Mopho, Blofeld, MS 2000B, MicroKorg, TR61, Wavestation, Fantom XA, OB 12, Kawai K5000S, Micron, Novation BSR, Kurzweil K2000R, Casio CZ5000, Yamaha CS10 and CS15, Raven Max, Roland D-50.

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by RetroSynthAds » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:34 am

If you are going to buy a new synth, I agree with the two previous posts... the Evolver will definitely start getting the creative juices flowing for electronic music. Especially if you like programming.

Or, if you really want to be adventurous with programming, try buying an older Yamaha FM synth (either a DX7- or SY77-like synth). Definitely don't have to sell your house for one of those, but won't give you a Roland TR/SH feel to your music either...

Although, I find that when I hit a creative brick wall, or want to change up my sound, my initial thought is to buy new gear. But then (as the room fills up with new gear) it is sometimes just the placement of the gear within the set-up that can make all the difference in the world.

Sure - go out and buy a new piece of gear if it will help you kick-start new melodies. And maybe more importantly, it will also help you get the 'I need new synths' feeling out of your system.

But take the rest of your gear and just move it around - mentally and physically. If you find you are always reaching for the Z1 for a melody, move it out of your instant reach. Use the XT for mostly bass sounds? Then promise yourself you will only use it for percussive sounds for the next two months.

Your milage may vary - but I found this really helped me delve back into older gear.

Also - reading these forums is good inspiration. Someone will mention a synth I also happen to own, and it makes me go back and start playing with it - and soon its at the center of my set-up again.
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Scories
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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Scories » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:49 pm

That's a very good advice; very true. Yesterday, I considered my Microwave XT as a monophonic analog synth and it responded very well. It really can sound like an Arp Odyssey; as gritty, but a little bassier. And I forgot that accurate on/off feature that can give it some cool analog instability. Maybe I should spray paint my Korg Z1 in red..

Btw, I tried the Evolver at a music store, and I think it sounds ...too good for my music. Very impressive I have to say, but I think my good old XT suits my needs better than most synths; more lo-fi than an Evolver, less lo-fi than a Casio.

Maybe I should look out for an external midi sequencer to trigger my synths to make them sounds like a SH-101 triggered by a TR-606.

I realise that you are from Canada too. Send me a message if you have gear to sell, analog synth or anything related to tape echo/recordings, because I still have to find some more retro gear.

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Shreddie » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:36 pm

RetroSynthAds wrote:But take the rest of your gear and just move it around
I'm always shifting my gear about! Though I've had things set up as they are for a little while now.

Ideally, I wish I had a large enough room to have everything laid out in a large circle, with me in the middle of it just swivelling around on my chair whenever I want to change to another synth.

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by tekkentool » Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:43 am

Shreddie wrote:
RetroSynthAds wrote:But take the rest of your gear and just move it around
I'm always shifting my gear about! Though I've had things set up as they are for a little while now.

Ideally, I wish I had a large enough room to have everything laid out in a large circle, with me in the middle of it just swivelling around on my chair whenever I want to change to another synth.
Or you could do it the neil peart way and have it all revolve around you!

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by aredj » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:16 pm

+1 to moving gear around - I do it alot... feels good.
Most of my studio is at a friends loft space right now- (hes got alot of gear too - and space...)
Its great - new space (no noise restrictions) Im getting a bunch done....

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by Shreddie » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:30 pm

tekkentool wrote:Or you could do it the neil peart way and have it all revolve around you!
:D :D

I think my way is simpler!

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Re: Finding inspiration by changing the setup

Post by nathanscribe » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:53 pm

Personally, I think that if inspiration's lacking, new gear isn't necessarily what you need, not at first. I'd go back to just the Minikorg, and spend a little bit of money on some interesting effect pedals. Get things like phaser, delay, chorus, ring mod - a few different ones, preferably. Chain them in ways you would normally frown upon, and do nothing but run your Minikorg through them. Gradually add gear as you imagine other sounds - and you can always layer simple parts to make something more complex.

I have found that accumulating lots of gear that does slightly different things is not the way to get music made. It's a good way to fill space and spend money. I find that switching on something simple and immediate, and only switching something else on when I want a very specific kind of sound to go with it, has helped me to find a 'voice' if you can call it that, something to develop. I used to make bad 90s dance back in the 90s, and since getting back into electronic music about 4 years ago after a period exploring the cello, I have struggled to find a kind of music to make. Result: a couple of dozen synths, and no idea what to do. Lately I've tried to simplify my approach, and that has helped. I still don't have time to finish anything, but that's a different issue.

Perhaps what worked for me will work for you too. Perhaps not. Try putting almost everything in a cupboard, under the bed... and limiting yourself. It will give you a sense of mental space in which to expand, and the clarity with which to see how to go about that expansion.

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