Synthesisers: technology vs composition

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Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by VtrPsckWrs » Tue Mar 09, 2021 1:41 pm

Could also be entitled: "what's wrong with current electronic music".

Vintagesynth must be the ideal place to find musicians passionate about sound and creativity. Much of the personal music posted sounds impressive. Yet despite my ad on a few boards, especially this one (http://forum.vintagesynth.com/viewtopic ... 8&t=114339), I get few answers, and it seems those that do contact me run away as soon as they realise some serious effort is expected.

I'd like to suggest this: electronic technology makes it easy to be satisfied with minimal effort, but what does it take to draw the listener in again and again? That's what we claim we can bring.

So my questions are:

- who shares our vision at least to an extent?

- who shares our ideal of hard work?

- who else feels limited by what's being commonly done and the endless repetition of formulas?

Aymeric

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Mar 09, 2021 3:59 pm

Probably 90% of the folks here and on other boards like Gearslutz are hobbyists. That's all.

Why do people repeat formulas? Because that's what they are familiar with and like. I often see posts about how modern music sucks and the music of (enter decade here) was so much better. I can tell you the age of the poster...their late teens and early 20s were in that decade. So they go out and buy a DAW or they buy some synth hardware and try to recreate the same sort of music.

BTW, this website is only slowly coming back from a disastrous period of being overwhelmed by spammers in 2016 when many people left. The number of people who would have read your initial post is a lot smaller than it would have been five years ago.
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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by desmond » Tue Mar 09, 2021 5:59 pm

I think most genuinely creative people are unsatisfied by repeating themselves.

My creative instinct, if I'm writing something and it's very similar to things I've done before, I try to move away from that and find something new, something that interests me, something that takes me further, pushes in a different direction, finds a new way to say something. I can bash out the same old same old constantly, but I don't find that particularly creatively rewarding.

People that are happy to just repeat a formula are usually doing it less for creative satisfaction, but because it's an easier/faster way to a goal or an end result (eg, getting paid). Or it's the only way they know how to do it.

Even in music genres which are very fashion and formula-dependent, the really good, creative people in those fields are still able to come up with new things that then become part of a new standard, and then everybody without quite that level of creativity copies them, and thus music moves forward.

The only people who are afraid of hard work generally don't really value their work enough to actually finish it. Nothing good is easy.

But ultimately - I don't understand what your post is about, really. You have a vision, and want a bunch of people to come on board to help you make your vision? Why that way around - why aren't you offering your skills to help someone else with *their* vision? The way your communicate is vital - if you're not getting the reponse you think you should, perhaps you're not communicating what you do, who you are, and what you hope to achieve effectively, nor the benefits that people might get from coming on board. In short - from your ad, I have no idea who you are, what you do, or why I should even consider it - and that, I suspect, is why you've had few responses.

Nothing to do with people not wanting to work hard on good projects. (imo, of course.)

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by VtrPsckWrs » Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:01 pm

Thank you for your detailed responses.

Yes, knowing next to nothing about who we are must be one of the reasons. The other could be people being afraid of being ripped off, or so I was told. I guess an online presence is expected. Yet to Miguel and me, this is what kills music.

Hobbyists? That's all right to us. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that music can take even two idiots in its confidence if they show the right attitude.

Indeed we believe it's our vision that has value. We have very little technique, but we're capable composers and excellent listeners.

In my original post I mentioned melody. Show me one modern electronic instrumental with melodies that go beyond three or four notes. I dream of a kind of laboratory of ideas, through which a melodic progression worthy of the name could be tested out and constantly improved, to result in a mixture of minimalism and elaboration.

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by madtheory » Wed Mar 10, 2021 11:44 am

I dunno, I love that much EM is more about rhythm and timbre than it is about melody as such. Boards of Canada for example. Would you say that Different Trains, or Electric Counterpoint by Steve Reich have strong melody? Or are you talking about something you could sing? I mention Reich because both in pop and art music, melody is not where it's at. Reich's It's Gonna Rain is an excellent example. It has a lot of features of modern pop! Also check out Anna Meredith, I think she's pretty great and bridges EM and art music really well.

I agree with desmond 100%. Your other post is not exactly inviting. It comes across as an exclusive thing. It seems impersonal as well- we don't know anything at all about you (as you've already pointed out yourself) so how is anyone gonna relate? That, and as meatball pointed out, the low numbers on the site right now, is why you've not got what you wanted. I'm not trying to be negative here- it is incredibly difficult to connect with like-minded creators in this genre. Kudos for trying!

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by VtrPsckWrs » Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:14 pm

I only mentioned melody because that's one aspect we want for this particular track. We listen to, and we've created ourselves, lots of abstract pieces.

Still, I stick to the point that there's a strong (to say the least) tendency to go for the obvious, facile solution in most modern electronic music.

About us: we started music for fun, and it went beyond our expectations.

Our first album was organised noise: non-music, with a few passages of near-music.

Four our second album we became more coherent: near-music, with a few passages of pure music.

Characteristics of both: inventivity, great variety, innovation, evocative power. We sound like no-one else, and most of the time our tracks escape the definition of any specific genre, though generally we call it experimental pop. We're also, repeatedly, completely ridiculous (something we don't intend to be part of our new music).

In brief: we sound like two madmen left alone with cheap keyboards, an acoustic guitar, a few random instruments, and a 4-track tape recorder.

If we want to keep progressing, we need collaboration with better musicians than we are: benefit from their skill, and let them benefit from our unique concepts.

Next I can tell you about the methods we want to use to reach our goals.

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Mar 10, 2021 3:20 pm

VtrPsckWrs wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:14 pm
I stick to the point that there's a strong (to say the least) tendency to go for the obvious, facile solution in most modern electronic music.
Well, most of it is just pop music.
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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by desmond » Wed Mar 10, 2021 3:41 pm

It's a bit weird imo to come in to this forum with the angle "looks like people afraid of hard work" as a result of "we need other people's skills to get better, but no one is volunteering to help us"

My advice would be - put stuff out there, visibly. Use social media, YouTube etc etc. Show people who you are, what you are doing. Get people excited to want to collaborate, and invite those people in. Things come from putting your stuff out there, if it's any good, if it communicates with people, you will generate opportunities.

In the meantime, working with other people is not the only way to improve. Invest in your own skills and material as well. Don't be afraid of the hard work!

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by madtheory » Wed Mar 10, 2021 8:57 pm

Again, desmond is spot on. Get out there. Get audience feedback, be it online or live when that returns.
VtrPsckWrs wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:14 pm
Next I can tell you about the methods we want to use to reach our goals.
Given the way you tend to use categories and characterise your work (rather dogmatically and grandiosely) I don't see how you can do that in any way that's useful for you or anyone else. Apart from maybe writing press releases? Instead of telling us stuff, just do it, as desmond said above.

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by VtrPsckWrs » Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:00 am

Well, here it is anyway, because you don't see the point but others could. We may be all talk, we may be useless, still we're proposing a way of doing things, and it cannot be judged until the process has been tried.

- during composition we avoid any reference to genres or artists because it encourages imitation; we limit ourselves to a description of what we have in mind, or we just play it

- we have devised a system by which any musical element that has been discovered during the collaboration can be used freely elsewhere; that way if any contributor is unhappy with the way our track is going they may create their own version, or use the element in a totally different context

- a laboratory of ideas: we bring a musical passage, someone else changes it; we change it in return; we all propose different continuations (=all kinds of variations) and choose the most powerful one

- yes, melody is a lost art; elaboration in melody is unfashionable; we know modern exceptions, but they are extremely rare; from the start, for this track, we insist on its importance, and we take all the necessary steps to make the perfect musical arrangement exist

- composing can take time; we don't hesitate to let the track be for some time, then get back to it with a fresh mind, take it apart, try different combinations, or use exercises that will facilitate the appearance of the missing elements

- we generally bring a high degree of care to every aspect, including sound and texture

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by commodorejohn » Thu Mar 11, 2021 5:28 pm

VtrPsckWrs wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:01 pm
In my original post I mentioned melody. Show me one modern electronic instrumental with melodies that go beyond three or four notes.
I'll show you four, and I'll also state that there are people just on this board, let alone the broader electronic-music community, who are far better at it than myself. If you're not finding such things, it's because you're not looking.
I dream of a kind of laboratory of ideas, through which a melodic progression worthy of the name could be tested out and constantly improved, to result in a mixture of minimalism and elaboration.
That's a lot of words to say "work on a thing until it's good."
VtrPsckWrs wrote:
Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:00 am
- during composition we avoid any reference to genres or artists because it encourages imitation; we limit ourselves to a description of what we have in mind, or we just play it
This is an incredibly blinkered mindset. All musicians reference other music, except for possibly a few incredibly "outsider" artists. Deliberately trying to cut oneself off from sources of inspiration in pursuit of imagined purity is like hacking off your legs to reduce your weight so you can run faster.
- we have devised a system by which any musical element that has been discovered during the collaboration can be used freely elsewhere; that way if any contributor is unhappy with the way our track is going they may create their own version, or use the element in a totally different context

- a laboratory of ideas: we bring a musical passage, someone else changes it; we change it in return; we all propose different continuations (=all kinds of variations) and choose the most powerful one
These, I think, are probably part of the issue. The sentiments behind these ideas are good ones, but it seems like the kind of thing that would be incredibly awkward in practice; all the democratic annoyance of working in a band, without a real group identity or any other incentive to hang together, and the possibility that anybody else who gets annoyed with the process could just take their ball and go home.

Plus, most of the people in this community are independent hobbyists, and may just not want to go to the trouble, especially online. I enjoy playing with other people in a live setting, but for my personal projects, I'm trying to make me happy, first and foremost. I think a lot of other folks feel the same way.
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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by madtheory » Fri Mar 12, 2021 6:57 pm

Great post commodorejohn!
VtrPsckWrs wrote:
Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:00 am
- yes, melody is a lost art; elaboration in melody is unfashionable; we know modern exceptions, but they are extremely rare;
You've completely missed the point of my question about Steve Reich. You did not even answer it.

Let's hear your stuff, the music can speak for itself.

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by VtrPsckWrs » Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:43 am

I can sense some hostility in your answers, probably due to the following misunderstandings:

- our point is not "we're great and you're lazy", but "we had originally very little ability, but we went far beyond what we thought we could do thanks to our approach"

- the comments on lack of melody were not aimed at the board's members' music, but modern released music in general; indeed I find much to admire in what I heard in this section, and I contacted quite a few; the practical reality is that most of the PMs I sent remain unread because people don't check their board's mailbox, and that's all right

- if you read my answers carefully, you will see that I agreed that melody is not everything, and music can be so many other things, fortunately; I repeat, we're interested in melody for this particular piece

The reason I wrote originally is precisely because there seems to be so much potential among members here. We've now actually found someone, so we have much to do in the following weeks, but anyone is welcome to contact me, despite the deep suspicion held against us. I'll check my messages from time to time.

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by Jabberwalky » Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:17 pm

People that lose touch with new music think it's all going to s**t. Well, just browse through Bandcamp (where most new electronic music is self-released) or download Spotify, pay the monthly fee and explore new artists. There is a boom in music of every degree of complexity. One of the biggest genre booms for electronic music recently was the synthwave thing which was over the top melodic, almost to a fault, like eating too much cake.

You seem a bit out of touch with how musicians represent themselves online now. It pays to be real human beings. There are very few Daft Punk style groups who reveal themselves from some obscure corner to the great regalia of all listeners! There is so much out there now, unique and talented artists are not being heard, can't make money from the work, and have very little support from labels. It almost seems that a person with a popular Spotify playlist holds more power than any tiny label did in the past.

OP has good points though about the angle in which lots of EM approach creating. It does seem more and more lazy. The obsessive need for pitch perfect sequencers with randomizers, euclidean generation, probability, etc. might point to this. We may be in an era where new gear is created in an echo chamber with user feedback driving the ship rather than a singular designers vision. Or perhaps it's the fluidity of firmware, where a piece of gear on release can morph into something entirely different years on.

I don't know.. this pandemic is making every endeavor seems pointless /ramble
Last edited by Jabberwalky on Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Synthesisers: technology vs composition

Post by madtheory » Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:19 pm

VtrPsckWrs wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:43 am
I can sense some hostility in your answers, probably due to the following misunderstandings:
Yes this is true, it is due to misunderstandings. As you already pointed out, it's mainly because people don't know who you are. Simply sharing examples of your work would help greatly to understand where you are coming from. Because the music speaks clearly, words don't (in this case). It's the oft quoted "dancing about architecture" problem :)
Jabberwalky wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:17 pm
It pays to be real human beings.
This.

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