Synths and burnout

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briandc
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Synths and burnout

Post by briandc » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:28 pm

Hi everyone,
a topic of interest to me lately, related in particular to computers but also to synths and softsynths:
- have you ever gotten burned out after too much tweaking? If so, what did you do to deal with and overcome it?

Thanks!

brian
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meatballfulton
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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by meatballfulton » Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:25 pm

Well, describe "burnout".

I have definitely tweaked my way into sounds that were nothing like what I was trying to achieve, far more often than I'd care to admit ;)

Long ago I realized that using more than 2 or 3 instruments was an exercise in futility. Better to really understand how to dial in sounds on a few synths than have no idea what you're doing on dozens. I still reverse engineer presets all the time to figure out how they work.
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: Synths and burnout

Post by ItsMeOnly » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:59 pm

Well, my studio has been staying mostly dormant for nearly 4 years. How's that for "burnout".

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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by briandc » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:30 pm

There may be various definitions for burnout. I think of it as "mental/physical collapse or exhaustion" caused by "overworking" or "stress." I've read that there is added stress and risk of burnout when working in a situation where there is "high risk of failure," and also where there is perhaps little payoff (monetary or emotional)

Working with synths means working (often) with our ears, and unless we are using an oscilloscope, there isn't always much to see. (which may be important for some people)


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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by madtheory » Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:14 pm

briandc wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:30 pm
"high risk of failure,"
I think this is the key to understanding it. Think about it. Who's deciding if your synth work is a failure? No one but you.

Since I realised this a few years ago, I've become much more productive. I judge my work less, and I am less attached to it. I enjoy working on it much more than before, and I end up with more. If I start to feel the burnout (which is actually the inner judge) I just walk away from it. Go for a run, cut the grass, chat with my wife, meet a friend, cook a meal- anything you enjoy basically! Then come back later with fresh ears.

You can sometimes start thinking that something you've enjoyed working on for a while is shite, but that's (usually) not true. You've just burnt out on it.

I hesitate to use that term in this context, because actual burnout is a much more serious psychological condition. What we're really talking about here I think, is writer's block. Google that you'll see it's common for all creative folk, even people who make a living from it.

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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by Jabberwalky » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:00 pm

I burned out on electronic music in 2015. I was running along with a slew of other synthwave artists that were just sort starting out. Was involved with a label and went for lots of comps. I had been writing 80s inspired music for years prior so I always felt, well, I guess I'm synthwave.

Anyways, the genre and many of my early contemporaries passed me by 10 fold and my music sat pretty unknown. Then Stranger Things came out, and "THAT SOUND" was the most happening thing. I was sort of disgusted and over it by then! It was awakening and disheartening. I realized that quality music is really just a small part of it. Taking risks wasn't something that was ever awarded by listens.

In 2016 I concentrated on a completely new approach, and brought all of my music live and improvisational. I recorded very little of the work, but it was relieving and fun to let loose with whatever whim took me. However, that approach also became less fun as the years passed. Chasing "x" hardware box that would fit precisely into the live rig was not why I was doing any of this. And as we all know...no box is ever perfect! I played a dozen or so local shows in Pittsburgh, but have since slowed down dramatically for lack of turn out, and personally it felt like work.

Since then I've worked on chiptune music for Sega and NES for a few game companies. This new approach to writing within extreme limitations proved that I still love the art of tone and composition and audio storytelling. I'm just now feeling like I might work on new personal music, but it will certainly not be anything that will fit into a neat box....and anyways, what's the point these days? You just release the stuff online, genres don't matter.

I guess ultimately the moral is, don't sacrifice your vision for anyone.

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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:06 pm

Followup to the last two posts:

I have never "burned out" because my "music" has always been at home for personal fun. I've never been under any pressure to do anything with it. The only money I have ever made through my "home studio" was writing articles about MIDI technology back in the early 90s and rollling that money back into more gear that I could write articles about. Too bad I was ahead of the YouTube "expert" phenomenon by two decades. I never made a penny from any music I recorded.

I've had live performance outlets for decades that are not related to EM in any way. I sometimes get tired of that, but it goes with the territory. Travel, late nights, low pay, substance abuse, strain on personal/family relationships, etc. It only is worthwhile as long as the performances themselves are fulfilling. As soon as they feel like work, it's time to stop.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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