Tips for making original and creative music with synths

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Stab Frenzy
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:51 am

If you're interested in notation for synths read up on the graphic notation that was (and still is) used by a lot of avant garde composers to score pieces for electronics.

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Ashe37 » Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:14 am

TauVoyager wrote:
Traditional orchestral instruments and piano still implement it because music for those instruments is music that people want to recreate and perform for themselves. Electronic musicians are usually composers who want to make their own music, produce it, and record it, and therefore lack the need to recreate it.
I really hope it is not true for every electronic musician. It intrigues me why you think someone would want to recreate a piano piece but not synth music. Is it not worth recreating? I love listening to people's takes on different electronic pieces by Vangelis or Kraftwerk, even if (or perhaps just because) they sound different.
Yes, but those recreations are done by trail and error and discovering approximations. There's no notation for arpeggiator settings, especially not when they are custom arp settings, nor is there notation for things like gating.

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by tom Cadillac » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:54 am

[quote="meatballfulton"]The greatest obstacle to true originality is the incredible amount of music we have already been exposed to.

I agree. A quality in the music I like best is that it seems to come from a non-existant culture. To be sealed off from what was arround it at the time. How to get this freedom from the total surround music culture we live in? You shop you listen, you watch the news, you listen... Maybe live an original life, as has been suggested? Its scary though. Be a Sun Ra. Create your own worlds and myths.... ?
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Synthazaiser » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:20 am

On notation, sometimes you just need to have a paragraph or five with the score explaining your custom arpeggio settings or what have you.
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by 0000 » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:49 am

for quite sometime

i just made music on an xpander trying to create original evolving sounds that are musically interesting

which i did achieve to some degree.

when other muso friends came around i would play them my latest song

mostly blank stares,

listening to patches on a synth was/is not music to them,

little own someone from outside the muso culture/scene.

i dont think its hard to be original but to have it accepted as "music" is another matter.

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by tom Cadillac » Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:55 am

Dear 0000,
I wouldn't worry too much. Musos are a pre-occupied and self absorbed audience - probably synth textures and evolving sounds are quite a sophisticated taste. You need to have developed hearing to appreciate. But what counts really is the musically sophisticated audience - the guys on The Wire magazine review desk or the buying public, who's had a lot of exposure to electronic music and want to spend their money on something fresh. I really think there is a market anxiously waiting for their next shot of geniunely fresh sounds. Humans are pretty exciting really and crave excitement. The next thing in our evolving culture.
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by de raaf » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:36 pm

do your thing, listen to others their music and whats out there old to new, find your own working method, instead of copying that one of your favorite artists. understanding is different than being a copy machine
living in isolation and doing music is more utopia in this day and ago.

make music you like first and not what the shitty wire magazine want to hear etc

if only a few people like it, doesn't mean its bad!!!

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by CapnMarvel » Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:26 pm

1. Learn music theory and apply it.
2. Take piano lessons. Not keyboard lessons. Piano lessons.
3. Work with musicians that play things other than electronic music. Probably only successful after mastering 1 and 2.
4. Listen to things completely different than what you wish to play. There's a million types of music out there, each with something to say. Don't just limit yourself to hearing the same belchcore record every afternoon. Listen to music 200 years old. 1000 years old. 1 minute old.
5. Listen for music in 'nonmusical' contexts - car traffic, grocery stores, large crowds.
6. Play basslines using leads and leads using basses. Drone using treble. Play rhythm with chords, melody with drums.
7. If you use soft synths, delete every other note in your sequencer and correct the tempo.
8. Don't listen to me.
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:06 pm

TauVoyager wrote:
Traditional orchestral instruments and piano still implement it because music for those instruments is music that people want to recreate and perform for themselves. Electronic musicians are usually composers who want to make their own music, produce it, and record it, and therefore lack the need to recreate it.
I really hope it is not true for every electronic musician. It intrigues me why you think someone would want to recreate a piano piece but not synth music. Is it not worth recreating? I love listening to people's takes on different electronic pieces by Vangelis or Kraftwerk, even if (or perhaps just because) they sound different.
There is a culture of notation for piano which has continued since recording became possible. Also, piano pieces are usually written to be performed by one person with two hands, and as such, are compositions which are meant to be performed live, and limited to the functionality of the hands. While it's easy to figure out what is happening in a multitracked song, it is very difficult to figure out how to play, in real time, an extremely complex piano composition.
It is more popular in electronic music to cover a famous electronic song than it is to very accurately reproduce it.

Stab:
While 20th Century notation has continued since it started in the 20th century, the application and usage of that sort of notation, as well as the learning of it and performance of it, is relatively rare compared to modern recording or traditional notation.
It is beautiful and complex, though... and you have to admire people who work that hard to compose something, and then work that hard to invent a language to define how it is to be performed.

Capn: I think your advice was fantastic, and people should listen to you. :)
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Syn303 » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:49 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote: Stab:
While 20th Century notation has continued since it started in the 20th century, the application and usage of that sort of notation, as well as the learning of it and performance of it, is relatively rare compared to modern recording or traditional notation.
It is beautiful and complex, though... and you have to admire people who work that hard to compose something, and then work that hard to invent a language to define how it is to be performed.
As an Example - The back cover of Klaus Schulze's Timewind album from 1975

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by balma » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:51 pm



I just had to throw this video here.

first time I watched it, I had to play it at least 3 more times.

Aphex Twin is one of my biggest inspirations when talking about originality.


In my opinion:

--- mad insane practice, is one of the most important ingredients to reach originality.

---Keep a good balance between foreign ideas and your own ideas. Have your "isolated world" of your own, and also, interact with other musicians as well.

---Never quit doing music. Discipline.

---From time to time, remake your workflow. Review what you are doing, try to asume another point of view. there must be several paths to reach certain result inside a synth. try them all.

---Don't be afraid to do something polemic (in your own concept of polemic) or weird. Life is short to live in fear to do something that could not be approved by others.

---Read a good book from time to time


Most important: get a comfortable position when playing and have fun... :).
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Yoozer » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:40 pm

th0mas wrote:In regards to synthesizer programming, the day I stopped just tweaking presets was the day I found (or built on some synths) an "init patch" to build from.
Then you should also have found out that presets are very useful as points to jump off from, because they were made by people who followed a different process in coming up with them. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you're being original because you start from scratch - you might subconsciously end up at the same spot every time :).
tom Cadillac wrote:But there seems a major drawback to using synths for making original music. They do too much.
You yourself as a musician are always in control - completely. A synthesizer is always a remote; you never actually touch the parts that make the sound. It depends completely on your good graces for output as it has (in almost all cases) none of its own. To relinquish that control is your choice - never the machine's.
Any other tips?
It's not hard to be original. It's hard to wean yourself off habits. It's hard to provide context; after all, if music is communication, you're telling a story. Despite changes in everything else, human nature and human emotions, virtues and vices are still largely the same. Think of what you want to convey to a listener; tell a story, even if it is a description of an abstract scene.

Realize that telling a story nobody has heard of yet ever is hard because your listeners (in a lot of cases) need that context. You can see this as a limitation, but that doesn't have to be a problem - without the limits of bumpers and flippers, pinball is actually not a fun game to play; the same works for music.

Consider the idea of a synthesizer. Nobody ever said the sound all should come from that single machine. Nobody ever said all the sounds had to go through one effect. Nobody ever said all those effects should be lined up in a row. Nobody ever said that you shouldn't touch the knobs of those effects. Nobody ever said that when you recorded the result, you weren't allowed to do anything with it anymore, ever.

Why listen to nobody?
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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by nvbrkr » Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:12 pm

Well, I think my own stuff improved greatly when I discovered that I don't like it when all the parts follow the same tempo and rhythmic meter. I'd actually agree that making original music just with synths is hard, which is why I'd recommend just using them for a few parts here and there. The piano-type keyboard is a great interface, but often it does indeed limit your approach. A DAW sequencer can be a good insrument too if you like toying with samples and field recordings.

Not sure if "originality" really is much of a virtue though, at least if you understand it in the more naive sense. People who have listened to more freeform / avant-gardist / experimental stuff for years aren't usually that interested in novelty ideas or material that cannot be fitted into anything really. The part of the fun in those genres is taking a bit of an influence from here and there and let people connect the dots and form their own associations based on that. When there's someone trying to blatantly fight against all conventions, it's very easy to notice. Unfortunately, it doesn't usually produce terribly interesting music either.

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:57 am

nvbrkr wrote:I don't like it when all the parts follow the same tempo and rhythmic meter.
Ouch :truce:
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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Re: Tips for making original and creative music with synths

Post by Zamise » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:17 am

I bought a thunder tube for under $10.00 just before my last gig and let everyone try it out, they all loved it and I didn't care what they did with it as long as they didn't let the spring flap against any of my other gear. Some people thought it was a noisy p***s pump.

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As far as tips for original and creative synth music hmmm... I've been experimenting more lately with manually modulating note gate lengths/time on sequenced mono patches. Amazing how much better short little blips or gliding one note into the other can be rather than having the notes at a consistent 90 or 100% all the time. Also, been getting a little into sweeping the decay part of a filter envelope instead of always using the cut & res knobs.
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