Doing more with less

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Fog Door » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:12 am

I think we can appreciate the decathlon analogy in the spirit it was intended but it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny due to the extremely subjective nature of "music". Proficiency is certainly not a trait that holds any intrinsic value with regard to "music" unless you choose to apply some kind of objective external measure, like commercial success.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Rob Kam » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:09 am

Fog Door wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:12 am
I think we can appreciate the decathlon analogy in the spirit it was intended but it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny due to the extremely subjective nature of "music". Proficiency is certainly not a trait that holds any intrinsic value with regard to "music" unless you choose to apply some kind of objective external measure, like commercial success.
In this thread proficiently done "music" is something that makes your body move.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Fog Door » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:26 am

something that makes your body move
This can be achieved with as little as repetition of a single percussive sound, no proficiency required.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Rob Kam » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:36 am

KSS wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:00 pm
beatcleaver wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:30 pm
how to see proficiency differently. The decathlon analogy is prefect cheers :guinness:
Upon reflection it seems prudent to add that nearly every successful decathlete Performs at least one event at a *very* high level of proficiency.
The musicians I'm acquainted with, even though they mostly concentrate on one particular kind of instrument, I'm amazed by how versatile they can be getting a tune out of whatever is to hand.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by vidret » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:50 am

all valid points here, and i do think there are several factors at play that have been mentioned that affect us all differently.

I think one aspect that's important here is if you spend enough time learning one thing thoroughly that mastery can be partially transfered to other things (and thus we have musicians that can use any kind of instrument and coax something worthwhile out of it).

My latest example was noodling my ass off on my new guitar last summer and realizing some minor things like how a note is played makes a an absolutely huge difference. This wasn't news to me before, but I guess I hadn't realized it to such an extent before really diving into it - for example how playing a note and then sliding to the same note on the string above/below gave an entirely different feel to just playing the same note twice, among other things.

And so sitting down with the synth these small thoughts and techniques can be applied here as well, but I probably wouldn't have gotten the insight had I not locked myself in and explored one thing for so long.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Fog Door » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:36 am

Broadly speaking, in my opinion, having limited options is never a good thing. Having options but choosing to limit yourself to certain gear to achieve a consistent style or sound is a different thing entirely. That in itself can be a good thing or a bad thing and its down to personal taste. Saying that, I look at some of the awesome "wall of modular" setups on this forum and I'm not sure I could handle that many options, so its all relative. If you have very specific aims its very hard to achieve them if you don't know your gear but equally pleasing results can be obtained by somebody with no aims, who hasn't got a ******* clue what they are doing :lol:

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by naturligfunktion » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:45 am

Dragonaut wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:18 pm
Focus
Concentrate
Keep it simple
Don’t get ahead of yourself
Stay humble
Respect your elders
A penny saved is a penny earned
Hard work pays off
That some truth right there.

I think it is a great exercise to impose limitations. For me it makes me focus on the "important" things which is to practice and try to make as much music as possible.

That being said, I have a big studio. But I have built it for ten years now, so I know everything inside out. Constantly thinking of expanding. Constantly thinking "but don't I have enough?". In the meantime I record and in that process I usually figure out what I "need" to improve the workflow.

It works.
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by moremagic » Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:37 pm

Fog Door wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:26 am
something that makes your body move
This can be achieved with as little as repetition of a single percussive sound, no proficiency required.
restraint takes practice

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Pelsea » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm

I think a lot depends on what the limitations are. There are some things that limit everything you do, like poor speakers or lack of permanent working space.These issues lead to frustration rather than creativity, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Sometimes the limitation is a choice ("I won't use any filters and work west coast style"), and that can be good in the specific case that you feel there is not enough variety in your work.

But if you obsess over limitations, you will never get anything done. We all know people who are planning to get to work "just as soon as this module arrives".

If you are intimidated by too many resources available, you haven't finished learning the craft. Deliberate limitation is one approach to this, but there are better ones. Methodical substitution is my preferred method--make a basic patch, then replace one module (say the VCO) with another and note the differences. Do this until you have tried every possible module of that type. Then go back to the original patch and replace another type of module. Eventually you will cover every practical combination and understand how your modules work together.
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Fog Door » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:21 pm

restraint takes practice
I totally agree, its a master-tier skill and having a shit ton of gear definitely does not always help. Of course, one person might say a piece of music shows a genius level of restraint and another might well say it lacks movement and is too repetitive, its all so hopelessly subjective :)

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by naturligfunktion » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:59 pm

Pelsea wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm
I think a lot depends on what the limitations are. There are some things that limit everything you do, like poor speakers or lack of permanent working space.These issues lead to frustration rather than creativity, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Sometimes the limitation is a choice ("I won't use any filters and work west coast style"), and that can be good in the specific case that you feel there is not enough variety in your work.

But if you obsess over limitations, you will never get anything done. We all know people who are planning to get to work "just as soon as this module arrives".

If you are intimidated by too many resources available, you haven't finished learning the craft. Deliberate limitation is one approach to this, but there are better ones. Methodical substitution is my preferred method--make a basic patch, then replace one module (say the VCO) with another and note the differences. Do this until you have tried every possible module of that type. Then go back to the original patch and replace another type of module. Eventually you will cover every practical combination and understand how your modules work together.
Very true, especially the first point on speakers. I've had mine for so long I almost forgot how liberating it was when I bought them. My best spent money ever.

It is difficult to balance gear vs creativity now when I think about it. Sometimes a new thing really can help a bunch. I got a super cheap boost pedal for the guitar. Made a world of difference, in particular, it made the signal so strong that I could line it straight into my interface. This made it possible to jam after work without disturbing the neighbours. Amazing stuff. Made me wanna buy another pedal :hihi:
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by snakejaw » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:34 am

Pelsea, you make some important points. If you obsess over things that don't enhance creation, whatever they are, you're probably not on the right track if creation is your goal. But that's not limited to thinking about limitations.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Rob Kam » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:37 am

Not exactly a module but the Mutable Instruments Anushri probably meets the spec of being a small but complete system.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by StillNotWorking » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:41 am

Fog Door wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:12 am
I think we can appreciate the decathlon analogy in the spirit it was intended but it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny due to the extremely subjective nature of "music". Proficiency is certainly not a trait that holds any intrinsic value with regard to "music" unless you choose to apply some kind of objective external measure, like commercial success.
Well said.

Also what inspirer the creation, note intervals or timbers? A saw a interview with Vince Clarke where he mentioned most of his songs are composed with a guitar and voice. Which leaves the creation of timbers off as a seperate journey to fit note intervals. While I think it's fear to say modualar syntehsis most often start with timbers where notes are applied after, if at all.
Pelsea wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm
I think a lot depends on what the limitations are. There are some things that limit everything you do, like poor ...
My first synth back in the 80's where CZ-5000. Some time later I joining a band with a hefty studio containing Matrix 12 and Emulator III. My CZ then felt very inhibitory as it would not give me timbers I now could imaginate. So maybe expectations also play a subconscious role to creation? Or maybe I just couln't imagen intervals without timber?

I also think age are a limiting factor to creation due to being more strict as to what qualify as a valid composition. In that regard you certainly can do more with less. Sadly that one not so easy to sort out of the studio I tell you.
Last edited by StillNotWorking on Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Pelsea » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:11 pm

StillNotWorking wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:41 am
I also think age are a limiting factor to creation due to being more strict as to what qualify as a valid composition. In that regard you certainly can do more with less. Sadly that one not so easy to sort out of the studio I tell you.
Age is not a limitation in making music (although hearing and health issues can be). 60 years of active music making has given me a lot of experience in various types of music, as well as a clear sense of what works and what doesn't.

As for being strict about what qualifies as a valid composition, I submit this:

Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
Patch responsibly.
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by KSS » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:02 pm

Fog Door wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:12 am
I think we can appreciate the decathlon analogy in the spirit it was intended but it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny due to the extremely subjective nature of "music". Proficiency is certainly not a trait that holds any intrinsic value with regard to "music" unless you choose to apply some kind of objective external measure, like commercial success.
Re-visiting your comment since still not working's reply brought it up again.

Proficiency need not in any way be related to "objective external measure." And it does indeed hold intrinsic value in creation of music. Regardless of what type or form that music takes. Music does not need to be shared with anyone to have value to the person making it. Who is able to discern for themselves their level of ability to do so. Their proficiency is not dependent upon others assessment.

One would have to include scoring and the decathlon point tables to break my point. And I did not make that point.

Choosing to relate proficiency to note selection, timbre or any other external measure misses the point. Proficiency means only that one is good at the thing they're doing. That may be an entirely internal and subjective assessment.

The decathlon point -which I believe does still stand up to close scrutiny- is that one need not be proficient in all or any one area of one's own interpretation and practice of music, regardless of the definition or outside evaluation of that music. The later added point was that usually one *is* proficient in at least one area of whatever they're doing to create their art.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by Fog Door » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:05 am

Proficiency need not in any way be related to "objective external measure."
If we are taking the meaning of the word proficiency to be as open as that, then I agree with you. I think in more general use, proficiency does have a connotation of an external objective measure, if I am mistaken in that, then I apologise.
The decathlon point -which I believe does still stand up to close scrutiny-
It was not my intention to attack Beat Cleaver's decathlon analogy, broadly speaking, it is a valid and interesting one. Perhaps my language was too aggressive? But the decathlon is by definition a contest, which therefore must include scoring of some description - does that not break the point?

Nevertheless, I respectfully withdraw my statement that the decathlon analogy doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. There is no mileage in my attempting to win you over on a point of semantics when from my perspective, we are fundamentally agreed on the important issues :)

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by ersatzplanet » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:43 pm

I, like many, have decided to reduce my rig to a smaller one. I have embraced another sort of limitation. I have reduced my rig to mainly a file playing rig (sample players and granular players) and have dumped all but two VCOs. This has changed my playing style a lot. I look at the process differently now. I make complex sounds on the computer and play them on the modular. The focus is now on modifiers and performance modules. Although making the raw sounds takes a bit more time, the play of and mixing of them is more immediate feeling for some reason. Live shows feel more relaxed in some ways. I guess I may feel the way a DJ feels doing a set only the sounds are not tracks but tonal spaces instead.

Things may change in the future of course, but for now the system seems to be working great for me.
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by KSS » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:58 pm

Fog Door wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:05 am
we are fundamentally agreed on the important issues :)
Appreciate your measured reply to what is more likely my own overly passionate -sometimes seen as agressive- writing.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by twistedneck » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:39 am

hippo1 wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:17 am
...I think the simple answer is: Go over to your wall of Eurorack, select seven or eight modules... and just use them. Period.

(...snip for space saving..)

When I was starting my journey, I was using the Realistic MG-1 (horrible for staying in tune, and occasionally wonky in hot weather) and my brand-new Poly-800 (which my friends and I thought was super-cool!); looking back through rose-tinted glasses, they were very kitsch, and worked well to inform me about synthesis... But I wouldn't want either nowadays, with the plethora of very cool analog AND digital synths of today. I guess I fall in with the vast majority of consumerist people, GAS still not in check despite being aware of it.

In any case: Fun to reminisce. And have fun with your experiment.
You wouldn't want it now?? why not? That sounds amazing people are LFO'ing themselves intentionally out of tune in Serum like its just a normal thing.

The more with less idea is really the pinnacle of any field isn't it? The great writer only takes 1 paragraph to write the same as a normal person would take a couple pages. The best art is minimalist look at Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, it grows on you.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by snakejaw » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:50 pm

ersatzplanet wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:43 pm
I, like many, have decided to reduce my rig to a smaller one. I have embraced another sort of limitation. I have reduced my rig to mainly a file playing rig (sample players and granular players) and have dumped all but two VCOs. This has changed my playing style a lot. I look at the process differently now. I make complex sounds on the computer and play them on the modular. The focus is now on modifiers and performance modules. Although making the raw sounds takes a bit more time, the play of and mixing of them is more immediate feeling for some reason. Live shows feel more relaxed in some ways. I guess I may feel the way a DJ feels doing a set only the sounds are not tracks but tonal spaces instead.

Things may change in the future of course, but for now the system seems to be working great for me.
Very interesting perspective. Could you stay more and maybe send a pic of your setup? Part of my current practice is sending sound out of the computer to analog processors, both Eurorack and other types (Sherman Filterbank, Analog Heat, etc) and combining things using analog mixers and matrix mixers, mostly in Eurorack format.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by GuyaGuy » Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:57 am

twistedneck wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:39 am
The more with less idea is really the pinnacle of any field isn't it? The great writer only takes 1 paragraph to write the same as a normal person would take a couple pages. The best art is minimalist look at Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, it grows on you.
I've been thinking about this topic since I saw the thread and still don't have my thoughts 100% solidified but in essence I think it boils down to:

It depends.

I'll just take the Rothko and Newman example. They're awesome an visually simple but Rothko's technique was also pretty involved with lots of layers and unique material combinations to make very simple floaty rectangles. And while you and I might agree that there's something sublime about the simplicity of Rothko, there's also something rather riveting about the complex work of David Reed, Van Eyck, or Anselm Kiefer.

But I suppose the topic here is really about limiting the tools--not the results. And what may be important here is the awareness that limitations don't necessarily limit the creative act--as opposed to limitations being necessary for the creative act. Remember that Eno, whose quote kicked this off, spent a good amount of time tinkering around, doing the "studio as an instrument" thing...and getting stuck, which is where his Oblique Strategies came from. If he were Brian Wilson who just kept adding instruments and layers to get the sound in his head he wouldn't need those limits. Which is why I say it depends--mostly on the psychological makeup and habits of the person making stuff.

But also in that part of the interview he was comparing synthesists constantly going after new sounds and tricks compared to other musicians who know their instrument. It's not just about the limited palette but also the familiarity. And that's something I see here constantly--advice to n00bs to get a module and learn it for a month and yet the Classifieds are one of the most active sub forums...

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by ersatzplanet » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:46 pm

snakejaw wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:50 pm
Very interesting perspective. Could you stay more and maybe send a pic of your setup? Part of my current practice is sending sound out of the computer to analog processors, both Eurorack and other types (Sherman Filterbank, Analog Heat, etc) and combining things using analog mixers and matrix mixers, mostly in Eurorack format.
My current layout (these change a little depending on the show) are these two cabinets. The first is the main one. I use as it can do a ton of stuff, and can is more than adequate for gigs with other people (when I don't have to do everything). The STS does mainly background ambience and drone fields and is some cases, whole sequences. I load it up with the colored banks in similar keys and with complimentary sounds. That way the different sides can play against each other or work together if the banks match or don't. This works great with complementary sequences that intertwine with each other The Nebulae is "played" more since the sound outputted can be quite a bit different than the original file. The filters and the Nebulae are all controlled by a skiff full of our FSR, PGM-4X4, and slide pot controllers. The PGM programmers in the skiff can choose different loops in a bank on the STS (wish you could choose banks too by CV, but you can't) and different base parts, speed, and pitch of the Nebulae. Filter parameters and VCA gain and panning are all controlled by the skiff (mainly slide pot modules which are very visual).
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The second case is a backup and an add-on to the first. It is really more of a live instrument. The Nebulae are not as good foe background stuff for me. Since the files are played off internal memory, the file lengths are not as long as the card reading devices like the Nutella and the STS. That is why there are two of them (also upgrading left me with an extra!).
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My other wav playing cabinet is the Nutella, a bunch of filters and mixers and a custom control panel. That unit is the "Ableton in a box" unit that is really only for a certain type of gig. It is like having a bunch of sequencers already programed for the gig. I don't have a modular grid pic of it because of the custom panel. I layout my stuff typically in Illustrator so here is the plan I did there:
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Sorry for the large pictures! If someone can show me a way to resize them in the new Muffs interface, that would be really cool.
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Re: Doing more with less

Post by KSS » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:47 pm

GuyaGuy wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:57 am
And what may be important here is the awareness that limitations don't necessarily limit the creative act--as opposed to limitations being necessary for the creative act.
Excellent point. Great post otherwise too.

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Re: Doing more with less

Post by twistedneck » Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:56 am

GuyaGuy wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:57 am

I've been thinking about this topic since I saw the thread and still don't have my thoughts 100% solidified but in essence I think it boils down to:

It depends.

I'll just take the Rothko and Newman example. They're awesome an visually simple but Rothko's technique was also pretty involved with lots of layers and unique material combinations to make very simple floaty rectangles. And while you and I might agree that there's something sublime about the simplicity of Rothko, there's also something rather riveting about the complex work of David Reed, Van Eyck, or Anselm Kiefer.
I agree fully first about the ultra complex origins methods and constructions of these minimalist artists, second about how minimalism is not the end actually its a step along the way and there is no end. its the path and you need to explore that path hard and find yourself lost and alone and then by smashing through u can get to that minimalist form, or the super complex no prisoners forms wow

Simon Grab had a comment about this on Synth Anatomy here got to 12:37 for the meat of it. its not exactly related but does shine a little light about the journey
Last edited by twistedneck on Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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