Creative strategies in electronic music

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Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by KBD_TRACKER » Tue May 05, 2015 9:35 am

Maybe this could have been put in "sound production" instead, but not really as these suggestions are not "technical" per se. It is about managing one's creativity, "getting things done", and dealing with roadblocks in electronic music-making.

I think there are in this article some very interesting and helpful points for many of us.

http://www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2447

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Zamise » Wed May 06, 2015 12:09 am

Ableton is a creativity killer. That is the problem and probably why the article even exists. 4 hours on it and all I've done was get the tracks set up and maybe a bleep sound or two. When does the fun start? Looking at a blank new project on it is like having your swim trunks on and looking across the ocean. I can have a whole song done from scratch on my RS in less than 4 hours. Maybe even two songs or 3 songs if I push it. Step one of my strategy to getting your creativity back and inspiration going is to shut off the computer. It might come back on later, but not usually a whole lot with Ableton.
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Wed May 06, 2015 12:34 am

Oblique Strategies by Eno is quite useful.

You don't have to read an entire book either.

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by tom Cadillac » Wed May 06, 2015 12:52 am

I don't use acomputer and have only just started sequencing with a drum machine - last night because the toms were tuned i found it difficult to add a bassline as per norm - it sounded out of tune with the toms - I ended up with a brass patch on a low octave and lots of pitch wheel use - this is what sounded right to my ears. So what I'm trying to say is - use your ears not your head - its just kind of what sounds good together - and what has movement -either dance-wise or emotionally and then your ears will lead you. Exploring sounds is another good strategy - using synths and effects that have a lot of scope for shaping new sounds. Hope that makes sense.
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by mpa1104 » Wed May 06, 2015 2:39 am

tom Cadillac wrote:use your ears not your head - its just kind of what sounds good together - and what has movement -either dance-wise or emotionally and then your ears will lead you. Exploring sounds is another good strategy
A hearty "hear hear" and several thumbs up to that!

Definitely agree on the Eno Obliques too.

One thing I'm always telling students when they're doing audio mixing and/or sequencing: "Stop staring at the damn screen like a zombie and close your eyes!"

We listen to music, we don't look at it (only in the sense of reading it of course). I still hold that a notable killer of creativity in electronic music was presets. Yes of course I know that for those of us who spent time carefully programming and crafting a sound, it's brilliant to be able to store and recall. But for those who don't, they come along, press a button and say "yeah, that'll do"

If you have synths that allow you to create a "default" patch, there is some redemption there - there is your tabula rasa on which to paint.

Exploring sounds need not mean just electronic either. I still love listening to the birds waking up in the mornings, the unintentional polyphony and polyrhythms that arise from hearing two or three different calls combined, then finding a way to mimic that on a synth. Even random conversations in a staff room can produce rhythms.

If you're able to listen critically and a little analytically, then in theory, there's never going to be a shortage of creative strategies. :)
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu May 07, 2015 2:54 am

Zamise wrote:Not knowing how to use any piece of gear is a creativity killer.
Fixed that for you. ;)

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Zamise » Thu May 07, 2015 7:38 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
Zamise wrote:Not knowing how to use any piece of gear is a creativity killer.
Fixed that for you. ;)
Generally I'd probably agree, I need to use Ableton more and maybe that dread of getting started with something new on it would slowly go away. For me it mostly seems to just be Ableton tho that I get that feeling, and maybe some workstation keyboards in the past. I guess the question then is do I really want to really get to know it really? Answer is yes, I'd love to know Ableton and be an expert on it, but it is stifling my creativity, and productivity, so I find myself rather going and doing something else and not even bother really learning it. I can go work on something I don't know how to use yet, have fun, and can still get my creative juices flowing while learning it. Can I always make a whole complete song and have it wash my skivies too in the attempt like can be done with Ableton? Probably not, but I'm making music, having fun, and being creative, i'd hope, and doing it on some of my other equipment and gear. I paid $100 bucks for Ableton, some people more to have that feeling, I do really want to use it and be awesome with it, but it is so hard, I know what they mean by sitting there staring at a blank screen and it happens to me every time I get on Ableton.
Last edited by Zamise on Thu May 07, 2015 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Jabberwalky » Thu May 07, 2015 7:53 pm

My Ableton Live setup is heavily focused on live jamming, standing, and playing things in on the fly. I have all of my synths running into the PC, which provides master clock to everything else.

I have an old Electribe Es1, running midi In/Out, so I can write my drum patterns with the 808 style (my personal favorite). The Es1 is then controlling a Drum Rack for all the sounds.

I have an Apc40 which is deeply mapped, and logically routed so the macro knobs control all the things I want quickly. Things like drum sample pitch, filter, decay, etc. Every synth is running audio in and monitoring live. Each insturment channel has a basic FX block, which are mapped to the APC knobs. Simple things like Reverb AMT, Rev Decay, DelayAMT, Compression.

I really don't need to sit down and screw with the computer in this phase. I can trigger/record clips with the buttons, and do pretty much everything I want.

For me, it really has no effect on the creative process, which was the ultimate goal.

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Zamise » Thu May 07, 2015 7:59 pm

Look at all that you did with Jabby, do I have to do all that too on it before I'm comfy. Sounds like it is better to start off with all that stuff ready to go, not really a blank slate, sounds like the idea is kind of to have a template for getting started on it saved instead of re-starting from scratch every time may be the way to go, maybe? This is where noobs need a buddy to help get them started perhaps, all that is overwhelming, and I want to do all that too, but many times I just want to do a simple recording and master or add a fade or effect here and there and it takes me too dang long on it.
Last edited by Zamise on Thu May 07, 2015 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Jabberwalky » Thu May 07, 2015 8:04 pm

Yeah, it really helped me once I began making my own personal template for my setup. It definitely took about a year of messing around to finally get it right. It's something good to do when the music writing is driving you crazy.

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Zamise » Thu May 07, 2015 8:41 pm

You've inspired me to do just that then next time I'm working on a tune. I must get on Ableton and make a personal starting template. Maybe two, one for live jamming, and a more basic one for simple recordings. That's a plan... cue montage music.
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Thu May 07, 2015 8:56 pm

It's interesting... I mean, I think Ableton is great...
But the concept of having to create an environment within which to be creative is a stumbling block to creativity.

One of the reasons I've been resistant to DAWs was that in my early experience with them, I found that having to go through a procedure to create an environment within which to be creative or record my creativity essentially diminished my inspiration to be creative.

These days anything that doesn't have immediacy doesn't survive long in my setup. The goal is the music, not... all of the stuff you have to do to make music.

So, anything that isn't "turn on and go" is gone.

This is one of the reasons I'm excited about the future of things like the iPad. It has a wonderful sense of immediacy, and hand-interaction helps.
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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by pflosi » Fri May 08, 2015 2:24 pm

You guys are aware that DAWs usually feature templates that you can create yourself? Do it once and it's done.

Besides that, how hard can it be? I only have eight tracks, mapped to all available audio interface inputs, plus a limiter on the master in my template. That would take maybe 20 seconds to create new...

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by madtheory » Fri May 08, 2015 3:58 pm

I understand what AG is saying. It's not easy. But that's not unusual. Certainly not exclusive to DAWs.

It's just a learning curve. If you want to learn how to use a synth, you climb the curve. Same with a DAW. Maybe it was easier when DAWs were not as advanced as they are now.

To be fair I do think that if you're starting from scratch now, Ableton makes no sense at all it's completely imaginary. It's good to learn on analogue desks and patch bays with hardware synths and effects. But without that basis in reality computers are strange.

I was lucky to learn in college and doing live and studio sound for a living. Not much of a living, but a great way to learn. So Pro Tools makes total sense after working with desk and patchbay and outboard and tape, and I've never been more productive.

So go learn your tools. Which is I think basically what pflosi is saying.

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Re: Creative strategies in electronic music

Post by GuyaGuy » Fri May 08, 2015 11:55 pm

Slicing tape together for hours is probably a creativity killer for many but Pierre Schaeffer didn't seem to mind.

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