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!

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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.
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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.
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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by briandc » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:21 pm

I wonder if there's a difference when working with a hardware synth vs. a softsynth.? With hardware, you are able to touch and feel the instrument-- something which may seem obvious and irrelevant to some... but personally.. as I use mostly software synths.. there's definitely something missing from my days using hardware. Maybe that's a point of frustration too.. not being able to really "connect" with a software synth. (and I don't think touchscreens quite cut it either..)

Anyone else feel the same way? Is working with softsynths inherently more "frustrating" than working with a hardware machine?


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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:25 pm

briandc wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:21 pm
Is working with softsynths inherently more "frustrating" than working with a hardware machine?
It's less fun, but I personally don't find it frustrating. When it comes to really complex synths, I'd rather have software anyway...better interface.

But for something like a basic analog monosynth, sure, the real thing is way more fun to use than an Arturia plugin.
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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by madtheory » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:23 pm

I find software mostly better. In the hardware days I would have to multi-track each part on the mono-synth. That got frustrating, because if I decided to change the structure or the sound, I'd have to track everything all over again. If you had a good mix you'd have to leave it on the desk for a few days, while you worked on it.

With software I get the same sounds and feel but I can tweak as much as I need, and do that with several tracks at once. All eq, effects and synths are saved each time. I control the Arturia stuff with a Novation KS Rack, so I can record live tweaking. Nice and hands on, not much thinking needed. I think that's the main attraction for hardware. But that only ever scratches the surface of a synth I think. Compared to the old days there's so much more control this way, and changing one little thing doesn't require a whole manual recall from notes and photos on the damn analogue desk.

I'd still do a bit of on the fly tweaking, mostly with a pair of KAOSS pads. Do a bunch of takes, without even knowing what the effects preset is. But I would still edit that on the track. Even that is way more fun and flexible than the old hardware days. Because we didn't have unlimited tracks back then!

I guess the ultimate thing would be to have a big collection of synths and it would bring some more random/ happy accidents. But that's really expensive to buy, maintain and supply electrictiy for! And requires more space than I have. I don't yearn for that though. I'm way more productive in the box than I ever was with a bunch of hardware.

So no, no burnout here. Just fun. I do need to tidy up and wire the patchbay though LOL.

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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by balma » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:31 am

Yeap, burnout can and can't happen. kind of combination of several variables like age, build quality, and above all it depends of what kind of owner the synth has.
Some people will keep their synths in mint condition, but they will never sell it, and they will never use it. They buy rare synths just to presume they have one so they apparent to be more knowledgeable... others give the synth a rough treatment.
Very, very few owners give them daily use and never need reparation, don't know how they do.
By experience, touring with them, gigs, taking them to different locations, exposing them to different weather conditions, you have some non-controllable variables that could make them die soon or later. I have "burnout" more than 75% of my gear, but they die for overuse and extensive hand manipulation treatment. :twisted:
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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by Hyde » Mon Sep 30, 2019 4:47 pm

Jabberwalky wrote:
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.
Totally with you on this. I totally burned out, a long time ago. The last few years have had me writing & setting my studio up, again(More like a music nook in the corner 8-) ) But, these days I'm writing for me. It doesn't fit neatly into any box. I don't care about that anymore. I totally don't expect anyone to even listen to it, once it's release. But, I'm enjoying the h**l out of doing it. Just wish I had enough time to get burned out on it, these days...
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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by briandc » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:29 am

@Hyde: I'd be happy to hear your stuff! There's so much attention given to certain artists these days, that I actually enjoy listening to stuff made by just normal people.. like me. :)


@Meatballfulton: Perhaps it's just me. I think softsynths can sometimes be stressful to work with, especially when there are so many to work with, and particularly those that have hidden functions and modulation routing options. I like to *see* what I'm working with, and for some odd reason, I get most enjoyment out of a simple synth with a limited amount of options. Something like that, and I'll tweak it for months. But the mammoth synths (mostly what gets the limelight these days) have so much going on that I often pass them up for something more "basic." (And, when the synth is super-light on CPU resources, all the better.)


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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by Hyde » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:36 am

briandc wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:29 am
@Hyde: I'd be happy to hear your stuff! There's so much attention given to certain artists these days, that I actually enjoy listening to stuff made by just normal people.. like me. :)


@Meatballfulton: Perhaps it's just me. I think softsynths can sometimes be stressful to work with, especially when there are so many to work with, and particularly those that have hidden functions and modulation routing options. I like to *see* what I'm working with, and for some odd reason, I get most enjoyment out of a simple synth with a limited amount of options. Something like that, and I'll tweak it for months. But the mammoth synths (mostly what gets the limelight these days) have so much going on that I often pass them up for something more "basic." (And, when the synth is super-light on CPU resources, all the better.)


Brian
I put a link in my "How To Classify my music" thread, on the main page. I have a few links to excerpts of songs on that instagram page. About to release a number of full songs, ironing out the details...
I don't have anything against soft synths, or doing everything in the box. I just work well with the Ensoniq family of Sampler Workstations. I haven't put my hands on the Korg Kronos but, I'd love to have some time to learn on one. I assume it would likely be way too much. I feel like I can do just about anything I want, in the ASR10 & not get bogged down. If I had the cash for a 16 input interface & a decent computer to record on, I'd likely covert to that way of recording. For now, adats are working fine. I just have to finish one song at a time, then move on. Long frustrating process but, working through it slowly :arrow: :arrow: :arrow:
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Re: Synths and burnout

Post by iowagold » Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:42 pm

yea burn out for me happens when you have to produce results in a given time!!
pressure!!
the best music content happens when you least expect it!!
I always have a recorder handy for fast recording when ever I fire up the gear!!
the best riffs come when just noodling or doing runs to limber up!!
must be the muse thing!!
for me burn out happens a lot!!
so I turn to music for a "time out" just to clear my busy head!!

yes you can get too close to trying to " find the sound "
pull back and relax!!
take a trip, meditate, a cup of tea, or what ever works to ease your mind!!

I have been in the biz for way over 40 years... yea time off... you bet!!
life is a good distraction!!
the music is best when it is done for fun!!
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