December 8th, 2013

Analogue Ways.

First off apologies for the lateness of this upload, what can I say, today has been a packed day. Something I did notice today while working on some mastering, was again the importance of time invested in something, and the affect this has on our musical output and generally feeling towards what we create.

Something that always bothered me about computers, or I should be more specific in that it’s not computers but actually technology and its use. The bother was that just because something is easier using a certain technology, this doesn’t make it always the best choice.

I noticed this more and more that often the reasons for somebody using say a piece of software, was often due to either cost or time. Now cost I can understand to some degree. The person choosing to use a kind of ‘do it all in one box’ approach, saving lots of money and space. One piece of software that does everything, and why not. The consideration being things can be done much quicker in software and therefore allowing ‘more’ time to create. Or at least that is the idea.

For me, I think there is a massive potential problem with both of these approaches.

The problem lies wherein the analogue world, things did cost money, and things did take a lot longer. This was just how it was. There was hardly a choice in certain equipment, cost would largely dictate that, and so people would have to create things with what they could afford. Obscure sounds, directions and even whole genres and scenes were created. The sounds were listened to over and over until people got into them. Creating something unique, inspired largely in failing to emulate their peers who had much more expensive equipment or more knowledge perhaps.

The importance here I feel was they would spend a age, getting into their sound, creating their world and then presenting something incredibly fresh and exciting to the world. Today, we get given whole genres past as presets and sound libraries. Everything seems marketed to a genre, a scene as apposed to creativity in general. Although in some ways this is ok, it is something that I always think needs to be considered when buying into it.

The other area is time. Today things are done so quickly, that quite often we don’t even need to listen to what we create. Take today for example. I wanted to record some music I created and although I could have dragged it from my computer folder into Pro Tools, I decided to record it in again, running some Eq on it, and so having to listen through the whole tracks while I did so. During that time I remember decided certain things, gaining confidence about my sound, building a sort of bank of information in my head to use in the future. This ‘time’ I invested into the music gave me the chance to find something new, to learn, to test myself and to begin to wonder how things could deb presented. I argue that I would have never come to these decisions had I simply dragged…and dropped.

I was reminded earlier about the period shortly after my buying my first PC for music back in 2000. I was generally late to this technology, as for me, PC computers were not my idea of creating music. To me, music was about hardware, about Atari STE’s and certain equipment that I attributed to that world. PC’s at that point didn’t fit that world.

Soon after I was heavily into computer processing, and initially I created some very interesting tracks, using the computer more as a sound source, running into the mixing desk where I would experiment with structure… just as I had done before. Although in a short period of time I found that tracks became loops. Things just never got finished. This didn’t go on for months, but years. The very idea of finishing a track would scare me. I would just listen back to my old stuff, over and over and over again. The fear just rose and rose until I questioned if I was ever able to write a track again. Silly now I think back. My way out was through live jamming, performances and collaboration. I had to find systems of responsibility that ensured I created again.

Right up until today, I have carried these systems, and added to them. Looking out for anything that would challenge time, alter engagement with machines, and always value conversation about such stuff.

The Nord G1 is another challenge. A time consuming, sometimes unpredictable machine, that often with all it’s possibilities suggests that it can no longer produce something unique. It challenges creativity, patient, and a constant demanding of listen and tuning of micro details in all sounds.

This post is long, so I will leave it with this thought. Next time you think about doing something while creating your music, think about how things have moved forward, become quicker, easier and stop yourself and ask, maybe difficult is good, maybe longer is good, maybe troubles and hassles is good, maybe, just maybe having to wait for things to load is a good thing. After all, is music as good these days for you?

Tonights upload is scary… although it could be my sleepy tea kicking in. Once patch, no dials turned, and things just done what they did. Enjoy.