Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

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Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by KBD_TRACKER » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:57 am

Everyone has musical tastes or inclinations inciting one to listen more to certain styles of music than others: one may listen more to "industrial" music or to 90s techno music or to 80s synth-pop or what not.

My question is: when you play your synths do you try to emulate what you like or do you find yourself playing a different more personal style of music, because you are just better at it ?

To illustrate: I personally like "old school" house music. It's been a favorite of mine since mid 80s. And for a long time in my playing synths I spontaneously tried to emulate or orient myself along what I heard in those tracks.

BUT with some frustration (and truth be said sadness) I found out I was not very good at it. Lack of talent or practice or proper gear ? I don't know, but after a long while of trying I finally realized I was much better at a more personal style of "abstract" or ambient or even complex droning sounds. So much so that I can almost assume those have become my "style" of playing or making music.

But still, everytime I listen to a good synth house track, I've got a sort of a pang ... like: "why can't I come up with this ??"

Did you encounter this situation where what you are "good" at in playing or composing is different from what you like to listen to ?? If so, did you deal with it "easily" ?

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:55 am

I listen to heaps of different things, but what I play pretty much comes out just like how I play rather than sounding like the stuff I listen to. I guess it's just a combination of how I feel when I play, the sounds I like making, the fact that I like making music that's really slow and the note progressions I tend to play. I don't worry about it, just like how if I was a singer I wouldn't worry if my voice didn't sound like the voice of artists whose music I admired.

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:45 pm

What I play is an amalgam of what I like, filtered by my own personality (and playing skills, of course).

There is no point in playing anything you don't enjoy playing -- unless you are a professional player who is hired to do a specific job you are paid to do, that is.

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by tomorrowstops » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:52 pm

oooo... interesting topic...

I listen to all kinds of stuff. One of the big ones is orchestral music. Especially old movie scores i.e. Star Wars. One of my biggest fantasies is to write pieces of music in a similar fashion to be played by an orchestra.

BUT: As much as I've been training myself to compose pieces like this from the piano or using VST's, I just can't get inspired the right way. My best work has always been composing using the source sounds. Hence my love for synthesizers.

When I do sit down with synths, I rarely write orchestrally. Lately its more experimental/avant garde/ambient. Which is also fine by me, as thats another passion of mine.

Someday I'll put out something that sounds like a Tomita record, but all original material.

Its definitely weird to have such a split personality this way, my loves for conservative serial music, and the extreme opposite thats conceptual experiments with sound.

I do find, as hard as it is, that the less I listen to music, the more focused and fluid I can get with the composing task. But but but - I LOVE listening to music! :mrgreen:

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by phesago » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:18 pm

I guess it depends.

Sometimes i patch something and see if it can be used and in what way.

Other times ill just try and figure out how to replicate a sound- sometimes this is interesting, but often times requires more than just a synth.

I try not to emulate so much but sometimes that just happens. Sometimes a track can really get you going, even if they dont sound too similar.

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by joeboy » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:19 pm

If I've made a patch that sounds suited for a particular genre I'll go off on a tangent with that and maybe even record something, but I mostly like making the kinds of synth music I enjoy listening to the most: synth punk/minimal wave/industrial kinda stuff.

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by Hybrid88 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:44 pm

I go with the flow, but yes sometimes I'll find myself playing a genre I really don't enjoy but hey it's all good fun - whatever's in your head at the time right? :D

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by Psy_Free » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:38 pm

I generally only play/record stuff that I like & want to listen to. Often this can lead to some pretty self indulgent stuff being laid down that I think most people wouldn't really dig (e.g. 1.5 hour drones in an Eliane Radigue vein). Most of this kind of thing I usually leave in my archive for my own listening pleasure :)

Although I am influenced by stuff like TD, Klaus Schulze, Conrad Schnitzler, Kraftwerk amongst many many other electronic musicians throughout the years, I don't consciously try to emulate them, I just find that often the stuff I do comes out sounding that way and that seems to be the type of electronic music that a lot of people like to listen to as well.

The kind of stuff I enjoy playing/recording the most is experimental, droney, ambient, as well as minimalistic type things, but I do tend to edit the amount of this stuff I make available for public consumption ( as mentioned above).
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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by ninja6485 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:40 pm

KBD_TRACKER wrote:Everyone has musical tastes or inclinations inciting one to listen more to certain styles of music than others: one may listen more to "industrial" music or to 90s techno music or to 80s synth-pop or what not.

My question is: when you play your synths do you try to emulate what you like or do you find yourself playing a different more personal style of music, because you are just better at it ?

To illustrate: I personally like "old school" house music. It's been a favorite of mine since mid 80s. And for a long time in my playing synths I spontaneously tried to emulate or orient myself along what I heard in those tracks.

BUT with some frustration (and truth be said sadness) I found out I was not very good at it. Lack of talent or practice or proper gear ? I don't know, but after a long while of trying I finally realized I was much better at a more personal style of "abstract" or ambient or even complex droning sounds. So much so that I can almost assume those have become my "style" of playing or making music.

But still, everytime I listen to a good synth house track, I've got a sort of a pang ... like: "why can't I come up with this ??"

Did you encounter this situation where what you are "good" at in playing or composing is different from what you like to listen to ?? If so, did you deal with it "easily" ?
Yes, I've definitely encountered this situation! I think you can, and should keep trying to get closer to the old school house sound. Don't just listen to it: analyse it - analyse the structures, the instruments, everything. If you have to start by only nailing a drums, then only nailing the bass, or maybe only being able to get those two elements to have "the sound," start there and keep trying. Today, we're so used to everything being easy, and if something doesn't come naturally then it isn't our "thing," but in reality, there's a lot to be gained from putting in the work to develop you're abilities in a style that doesn't come naturally, especially if you love it. The world has enough musicians who are satisfied with only doing what they thing their "thing" is. And when you make a song, and look at the song, and realize it doesn't sound like old school house, instead of getting discouraged; analyse it - In what ways specifically is it different? Don't be afraid to make slow progress, and don't be afraid to look at some of the tracks on the way as stepping stones. Each track that you are unsatisfied with is a key for figuring out how to be satisfied with the next track! Some may accuse you of unoriginality: of just copying the past, or being nostalgic, but all of that is a load of c**p. There's nothing special about the time or artists that made oldschool house. genres of music aren't single use, disposable fads: that's just the pattern of attention that follows them. In actuality, you will never make a perfect copy of a specific genre, and therein lies your originality. You deserve to filter the style through your own unique creative sensibilities, and produce original tracks that people who love the genre and want more can enjoy.

Aside from being familiar with that, I'm also familiar with the other side of the coin: sometimes I really can't find anything to listen to that I want to hear, or that I'm not bored with! So, that's when it's time to power the stuff on and make something that I can actually get into.

Aw' sh*cks VSE: Is it really necessary to filter the word "c-r-a-p?" :lol:
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by commodorejohn » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:27 pm

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:What I play is an amalgam of what I like, filtered by my own personality (and playing skills, of course).
This. I enjoy a pretty wide variety of music (blame my parents, who raised me listening to everything from medieval dances to late-'70s/early-'80s Christian contemporary to the Captain & Tennille to the Monkees,) so when I'm writing a song, even if I'm deliberately working in a specific style I tend to get other influences creeping in here and there. Luckily, since it's all stuff I like (and since one of my very favorite genres, progressive rock, is all about mixing-'n-matching and blurring boundaries,) this isn't a problem for me.
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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:13 pm

If I understand the question, what I play is a only a very small subset of the music I listen to.
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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by adamstan » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:20 pm

Some may accuse you of unoriginality: of just copying the past, or being nostalgic, but all of that is a load of c**p. There's nothing special about the time or artists that made oldschool house. genres of music aren't single use, disposable fads: that's just the pattern of attention that follows them. In actuality, you will never make a perfect copy of a specific genre, and therein lies your originality. You deserve to filter the style through your own unique creative sensibilities, and produce original tracks that people who love the genre and want more can enjoy.
Thank you for posting this. The attitude you've described (that one must write only in "current" or "modern" styles) really annoys me. Let me give you an example. There is magazine here (something similar - or at least tries to - to SoS), that runs "send in your demo" column, where you can get your tracks put on the cover-cd and website, and reviewed. Last month, there was one guy who sent in something in vein of late 80's TD. One of the reviewers (who also makes synth music) bashed that track completely, as unforgivable abomination. However, he didn't say it was bad, shitty or sth. He said "Wow - somebody still makes this? I hoped it died years ago. It is really wrong and pointless to explore what has already been explored".

/rant ;-)

I feel exactly like what you described in your last sentence - I try to make more music in genres I like. And since I like old genres - well, that's it :-)
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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by ColorForm2113 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:31 pm

Like everyone else here, I have a wide variety of taste in music. Any time I set out to make a track in the style of a particular genre I usually flop. so I just let what ever flow. But yes I primarily end up making music that I'm looking for and want to hear
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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:57 pm

adamstan wrote:[...] He said "Wow - somebody still makes this? I hoped it died years ago. It is really wrong and pointless to explore what has already been explored". [...]
People generally become reviewers (or self-proclaimed critiques) because they have found themselves to be completely inept at what they are slagging off.

In communication theory, this type of People is called "gate keepers", and that's exactly where they are commonly to be found.

Bad luck for them they are rarely allowed to come in because no-one wants them to be around.

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Re: Playing synths: do you play what you like to hear ?

Post by Re-Member » Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:47 pm

adamstan wrote:However, he didn't say it was bad, shitty or sth. He said "Wow - somebody still makes this? I hoped it died years ago. It is really wrong and pointless to explore what has already been explored".
Whenever I encounter people like this, I like to turn the question around and ask them what new music they like listening to. Any answer people give me, I can always point out an earlier example of "it being done before" by at least a good decade. Doesn't make the music good or bad from my point of view, but I personally loath anyone trying to convince the world that they are always on the cusp of something truly "new" or "original." My housemate is always trying to tell me how "dated" synthesizer music is, yet listens to classic rock and plays acoustic guitar... how's that for irony?

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