synths: more with less OR less with more?

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Dividedbyzero
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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by Dividedbyzero » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:23 pm

I've been struggling with this question for a while.

When I had just 2 synths I spent ages tweaking them and recording demos. I knew a DX100 inside out at one point in time. I loved creating my own patches and throwing them into the mix. A limited budget made me improvise in order to create.

Now I have an attic full of gear which I have hardly touched and produce no music at all. I dunno, maybe ROMplers and computers have swallowed up my creativity.

I am realising that less is more.

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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by aredj » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:53 pm

I've been sitting on my Spectralis+virusti combo for a couple years now. I process some beats n samples for use in the speckie in my DAW, and thats it. No walls in sight. I just keep going deeper and deeper.

(airbase99 and a couple kaoss pads too I suppose are worth a mention..)

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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by Swayze » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:53 am

I think its safe to say that one should have as many synths as they want or can afford, sonic variety is a good thing. I also agree that it's essential to learn how to program the synths you own and use in order to reach their full potential, and to reach one's full potential as a musician and sound designer for that matter. This will make for more interesting music that others can enjoy. But hey, there's no shame in finding pleasure messing around with a bunch of synths in your spare time. Having fun and learning new things is what life is all about IMHO.

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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by commodorejohn » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:20 pm

Horses for courses, as they say. It's good to push the limits of your limited gear, and to learn restraint on your big monsters; it helps you learn the ins and outs of each synth, and can lead to pleasant surprises. (I would never have discovered that my JX-10 does lovely kicks and snares if I hadn't done a single-synth track with it.) But in general you're going to get the best results playing to the strengths of each piece of gear. It's completely possible (and a fun exercise) for me to write a song entirely on one synth; my JX-10, say, is perfectly capable of no-frills monosynth-type leads and basses, but with the layered voices, mega-polyphony, and chorus, it's clearly more suited for lush keys and pads, and using it for simple sounds is kind of pointless when I've got my MS-20 to do that better than the JX-10 can.
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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by Nistegmos » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:00 pm

some of my best work was done very fast only using the cheapest, lowest, gear I could find. I got lucky with a Casio CZ-5000, a Zoom 1202, and an HR-16 Drum machine mixed thru cheap radioshack mixers onto a Sony minidisc for song editing. After I discovered computers and VST(I)'s, I slowed down a lot and learned how to make better sounds, but the songs weren't as fluid. My main thing has been to buy and sell gear constantly to rotate my sounds.

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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by shaft9000 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:12 pm

it is only a matter of self-discipline

it's like asking an artist to limit their palette to just primaries - so no possibility of reaching that special Ultramarine or Prussian blue using just one blue...you're just working with mixtures that can approximate them based off (most likely) cyan blue instead. and in painting, relying on mixtures instead of a selection of many discrete pigments loses intensity and greys down the mixture, lessening the potential range of hues on the palette.

so while the 'more with less' idea simplifies the process, it also stunts it's possibilities and overall range of expression. your gamut or bandwidth is simply limited to begin with.

just know your gear, practice practice practice, and approach each production with some good preparation to maximize your resources; whatever they may be. there's no substitute/shortcut to great results without experience. trial and error is a real time-killer.
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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by Re-Member » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:24 pm

I could definitely say that I used to be far more productive back when all I had was a cheap Roland Groovebox and single VA synth. I didn't even use a computer for sequencing or recording either. I programmed everything by hand and tracked it all on a digital 4-track. Now that I've spent the past year or two building up a collection of analog gear and learning how to use a DAW, it's just too overwhelming. Choice overload!

As someone else just said a post before mine, it's all about self-discipline. You need to establish a set of rules to minimize the burden of choice overload. At the moment, my approach is only allowing myself to record one track per instrument I have, thus eliminating the urge to overuse any specific instrument. This also helps cut down the amount of overall tracks contained within a song. Another trick is to avoid using any kind of external effects till after you've recorded everything and are ready to mix. If a song isn't holding your interest as you're recording it dry, it's not worth finishing. Stopping yourself to add effects while recording has the potential to slow down the workflow and becomes a new distraction in itself.

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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by ryryoftokyo » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:09 pm

I use a fairly large setup at the moment and don't find myself hindered at all. I work in four bands (electro, krautrock, noise, and drone metal) that have all done releases this year. For me, I like to look at my synths for their strengths and play to those. For example, my Juno 60 gets used for string/pad sounds and basses, my Alpha Juno 2 is primarily for chord stabs and bass leads, my MS20 is used for leads, and so on. Of course there is overlap, but when it comes time to compose and I think to myself "I want a string sound.", I know which of my synths to immediately go to and won't waste my time looking over my 12 other synths that don't excel in the same areas. I suppose I'm from the school of "more with more" and "don't buy another piece of gear until you know the one you just bought inside and out".
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Re: synths: more with less OR less with more?

Post by tomorrowstops » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:58 pm

This is always a fascinating discussion to me. I've spent the past 4-5 years discovering how to work with all of the magical devices we have to chose from. I've had a lot of stuff at once, and minimal stuff at once. I'm definitely more productive with less. I'm also less stressed about finances ;)

I'm currently making moves to get down to just the Rhodes and one deep mono synth. But really, I'm trying to focus on just composing/exploring music using just the Rhodes, pencil and paper and a handheld recorder (iPhone). I've got great speakers and a treated room to listen in, a comfy chair surrounded by books and vinyl records. I'm sharing a laptop with my wife, so no computer in the room for the most part. I feel like I'm about to enter the most productive (read: SATISFYING) writing period I've ever had. Life is going to be great.

Really, its awesome to see/realize so many different approaches to creating music. I think people should be doing it the way that makes them happy. If its walls and walls of synths - awesome! If its just one special synth - awesome! Never done any of it before? Experiment!

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