Less gear - better focus?

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GauthierM
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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by GauthierM » Thu Dec 17, 2020 5:35 am

Dividing your workflow in multiple, sequential steps helps a lot to stay disciplined.

A lack of productivity often happens when too many steps interfere (mixing although you should be only writing, starting too many drafts, etc).
Precise goals and limited tasks help to move forward, but it is not necessarily linked to how many machines you have on the desk.

Hence you should know exactly what is the purpose of the new machine you intend to buy (like written on a bullet point list).
If it is not clearly defined, then you dont need this machine.

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by Rost + Licht » Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:18 pm

JeshuaW wrote:
Sun Dec 13, 2020 5:21 am
I like to only purchase new gear when I have a project that demands a new approach or I feel creatively in a rut with my current setup. I don't get rid of my old stuff usually, but I do think less can be more in some circumstances. If we are talking about pure artistic output, I am much more impressed by the early albums of Burial that were produced in a sample editor (not a DAW) vs a major artist that has everything at their disposal.

With that said, if you do sound design or music composition for a living, you need to be able to dial in a certain sound on a whims notice. I keep mics or synths around for months without turning them on but if I need to do "x" then it's there waiting for me. :)
Couldn't agree more on what you said about the Burial records. Same kind of goes for me with "Ten Days of Blue" by John Beltrán, where one can hear he's taking the most colours out of a limited palette and this is giving the whole album this very focused feeling.

My problem is, I think I have a problem with cluttered workspaces. I really notice this recently when I'm studying Japanese, that when there is something in the background, I have a hard time ignoring it. I changed my studio and gear slot of times but am VERY happy with what I got now. But when I lay it out all together in the usual "space ship" studio style, it just is too much for me. Visually it's too cluttered.

So I'm planning to have my space setup that I just have one or two things per session on my clean desk and be able to switch things out. Having shelves behind me with unused gear, that I can switch out with the machines I have currently on my desk. Anyone else having a similar studio? Would be very interesting to see how you go on about it

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by naturligfunktion » Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:47 pm

Rost + Licht wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:18 pm
My problem is, I think I have a problem with cluttered workspaces. I really notice this recently when I'm studying Japanese, that when there is something in the background, I have a hard time ignoring it. I changed my studio and gear slot of times but am VERY happy with what I got now. But when I lay it out all together in the usual "space ship" studio style, it just is too much for me. Visually it's too cluttered.

So I'm planning to have my space setup that I just have one or two things per session on my clean desk and be able to switch things out. Having shelves behind me with unused gear, that I can switch out with the machines I have currently on my desk. Anyone else having a similar studio? Would be very interesting to see how you go on about it
Well, I’ve had it both ways and kind of been going back and forth between a cockpit of stuff surrounding me, cables everywhere, always on, ready to rock n roll- kind of thing to a much more sparse setup, visually clean and minimalist. I like both, but at the moment I am striving towards a more stripped down studio, almost like a zen corner (I am exaggregating a bit but this is how I visualize it internally right now).

I want my computer, monitors, a little midi keyboard, my very nice soundcard and a nice statue on the desk. Then space for whatever I am about to use. Around me is two synths, guitars and amplifiers and a lovely bass guitar. These are within reach, easy to hook up, easy to play, but I dont want everything to be connected right now. I did that a lot previously, so now I have gravitated towards a more open ended, clean approach.

I think this is because I have more things now. Even if it is possible to hook everything up at the same time (which I do every now and then) I dont like it to be like that all the time. I end up doing the same thing every time then.

This turned out to be a long post. Sorry about that hehe :)
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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by unexpectedbowtie » Thu Dec 24, 2020 9:49 pm

naturligfunktion wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:04 am
Do you think that excessive gear can clutter your focus, hamper your creativity and create a general feeling of dread and despair? Is it possible to seduce your musical muse by cutting off what you do not need, and only focus on what gives you joy?
It definitely can, and often does. But then, it depends on what the goal is. If you want to really focus on doing one specific thing and either release it or become a master, then having lots of extra gear is often a problem. If part of/all of your enjoyment comes from the exploration and the process itself, then it doesn't really matter - so long as you are actively using things. So I guess the answer for me is that it always clutters my focus, and makes me wonder if I'm spending too much cash on things I don't 'need' or use enough... but it doesn't hamper my creativity.

I also wonder whether or not creative expression naturally requires different things at different times. I go through very clear cyclical stages where I focus intently on one thing - usually music or photography. Sometimes with photography it's shooting film, sometimes it's digital but with weird lenses. Similarly with music, sometimes I go through long periods where I solely make music on a Game Boy. Other times I want to do sample-based hip-hop stuff. Sometimes I am content just noodling about for hours and uploading jam videos, and other times I feel a very specific drive to put out a single release. I'd love to understand all that a bit more, and maybe control it better. Creativity for me is like a compulsion.
Paranormal Patroler wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:43 am
An issue that comes up with gear is that we may think of it as such, but in reality they embody much more: possibilities, hopes, aspirations, future plans. As such a multi-faceted thing, they can be in equal parts inspiring, yearning, disappointing, unforgiving.

The more of it you have, the more possibilities for any of their facets to come forth and reflect what you throw at it. So there is no end-all catch phrase to encompass whether owning lots of it is good or bad. Yes and no.
This is a brilliant explanation of something that I haven't been able to articulate very well. I all too often get caught up in the possibilities that gear might bring - without thinking about what I might actually do with it in practice. Now, before I buy something, I try consider if it's just something I want to play about with, or if it is something that I will make use of over the long-term to justify the space it'll take up.

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by johny_gtr » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:10 pm

1) Less unwanted gear - better focus. If I don't need this module/pedal - I sell it. It helps me not to have more than two cases of euro and MU.
2) Less gear that I don't know how to use - better focus + need less modules. great example Stages. I have it from the start of selling and don't use it more that routine LFO's. About 3 months ago I re-discovered this modules. Which so much time passed after the module arrived? Have a lot other modules like classic ADSR's, Zadar and have no focus for it. Stages has a second try and don't go in the p.1
3) Less multipurpose gear - better focus. I try to remove all gear with screens. Only 3 in my racks. Zadar (because of crazy forms of envelopers/lfos), ER301, because it's a computer (and sketch recorder-sampler-looper-granular) - dont' use it a lot, maybe it will go to special travel or jam-performance case. and Vector Sequencer (it's just so powerful). I also have Yarns but don't use it's screen after I configured proper settings. It was a pain for me to try use it's sequencer. With Yarns I remembered my university coding classes on assembler. It was the same feeling when you don't clearly understand what to do next.
4) Less computer - better focus. (and Less mobile phones). It's so easy to go surfing for some new threads on MW, lines or even reddit, lusting new gear. It's so easy to open near daw a browser screen. I try to reduce amount of computer screen time until I need something to record.
5) Less cheap/cheesy/low quality devices - better focus on music. all the things that are not-reliable, noisy, buggy, have clumsy controls (hello toy hands pots in MI clones), freaky sound interfaces - I have a rule of getting rid of all these things. It's quite hard to spend more on some things but less stress, more focus.
6) Less buying unwanted gear. I thought before that sometimes commenters provide so good comments and if I even don't like how it sounds, it will be good for me. But not.

What don't work for me:
1) Less simple function gear for multi-purpose. I remember a day when I sold all my pedals for an Axe-FX II. Axe is the best to play at night time but it's interface (and computer interface was so uninteresting for me that I configured simple setting and forget) with pedals it was so many good episodes and discoveries.
2) Any things that should be used during producing but I can't work with it like some of rack gear that are hidden under the table
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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by Personator » Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:15 pm

:yay: yes I think less is more when trying to concentrate which I have a big problem doing

And I usually start with a clean slate like take all the patch cables out and start fresh.

And I’ve made a plan to compose a piece and written it down.

That helps sometimes but mostly take as much as an hr to come up w a good patch.
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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by 100000bps » Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:10 pm

Well, there is one point i think was not tackled here to any extent.

Piano, guitar, drums - they all have their own UX/UI; that has been there for 'some time' already. The problem i find/found is not about how much gear one have, but what kind of interactions you want to learn to produce music effectively.

And lets be honest, most of the things have horrible UX/UI nowadays - feature creeps, engineers making instruments while not being players (well, put midi aside, for all these pees that produce ITB its all the same, the UX/UI of mouse click).

What i'm trying to say is gear is also a possibility to express. Expression of a player is what makes or breaks performances. To practice expression you need kind of "same" instrument. Practicing piano for 5 years, well if anybody practiced complicated modular patch for 5 years they'd get really good at performing it.

I'd say find a combo gear you can perform on/play and master it slowly.

For me it was getting rid of almost all modules with a screen, and tiny modules, micro versions or just the ones that were painful to use while playing. Big knobs with lotta space and no menus to stop you from doing what you're doing. A lot of different control measures and surfaces that are interactive. YMMV ~

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by Funky40 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:08 am

100000bps wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:10 pm
Well, there is one point i think was not tackled here to any extent.

Piano, guitar, drums - they all have their own UX/UI; that has been there for 'some time' already. The problem i find/found is not about how much gear one have, but what kind of interactions you want to learn to produce music effectively.

And lets be honest, most of the things have horrible UX/UI nowadays - feature creeps, engineers making instruments while not being players (well, put midi aside, for all these pees that produce ITB its all the same, the UX/UI of mouse click).

What i'm trying to say is gear is also a possibility to express. Expression of a player is what makes or breaks performances. To practice expression you need kind of "same" instrument. Practicing piano for 5 years, well if anybody practiced complicated modular patch for 5 years they'd get really good at performing it.

I'd say find a combo gear you can perform on/play and master it slowly.
totally.


lets be clear on one thing, since the "reduction thing" has turned into a new mantra it seems:
assoon as somebody says DAW, or VST, have you left the world of: less---better focus, haha


but would anybody really want to "produce" **today** "competitive music" without using a DAW ?
its not doable in my opinion.
the "reduction" mantra is a fake............mind-fck, yes.
Dilemma !

as has been sayed: its ones own capability to *focus* ! and its probably more important than ever bevore.
But that means a reduction *in the Moment*...........its a "per moment" thing.
( And thats in fact what the Pros are doing, imho )


OT:
and on another note:
to me has the term "making music" turned into the meaning: "producing" / "creating a finished product",
and thats just not true and also not right !
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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by KSS » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:12 am

:agree:
With both prior posts

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by revtor » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:04 pm

To attack the actual subject line of the thread. Yes, obviously. Take it to the extreme-if all you had was one knob, you’d obviously be hyper focused on just that one thing. One synth, you’d become a great performer/user on that one synth.

But both those scenarios are kinda unrealistic.

It’s up to YOU to decide where to focus at the moment. It is all to easy to keep stacking the mults full, dropping in more and more plugins, etcetc. And that’s “productive” and makes some people satisfied, it’s all good.
But I think we all know that to improve (whatever that means to whoever; diff for everyone), we need to practice, focus, learn etc. practicing and learning take focused effort so if a smaller system overall (or only plugging in one thing at a time) is what it takes to get to that practice/learning level of focus, then... if you want to “improve” you should hone the sessions setup down to the particular pieces you want to improve on.

Hopefully you get practiced and “good enough” on each of your core pieces of tech, so that you can turn them all on and fluidly produce/perform in a satisfying way.

This topic is directly related to GAS, and that brings us back to the fact that everyone’s clutter tolerance, budget, ocd, add, etc.. is different. It’s so easy today to find a new cheapo gadget and have it shipped directly to your house and paid for with one click that it’s almost avoidable. It takes self-restraint. You might end up with 15 little synth/fx/usb/midi doodad boxes and 400 cables and a rats nest of power strips and of course, not spending enough time with each of them to learn let alone find the best setup. To me that is a nightmare.
OTOH..
A guy I know has a beautifully curated studio space where everything matches visually and he has designed the room with a very specific intent on how he works with sound. It is an awesome place to spend time with him. And being “productive” is almost easy.
On my hand, I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old so half of my stuff is currently in a box the other half is halfway set up and I maybe get 10 minutes at a clip before one of them barges in and starts yanking on cables or screaming at me about hot wheels. Ugh.
So for me, the idea of worrying about focus is laughable. Instead it’s a 10 minute race to turn a few things on and find some kind of groove in the madness. Before it all gets turned off and forgotten about.

This post took my 30 minute window. Playdough time is winding down I can hear it....

Didn’t Junkie XL recently sell off all the stuff in the name of focus?
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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by SonarBk » Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:13 pm

My latest experiment with this question:

Making ergonomics the first priority and that includes visual clutter and set up time.

I am thinking of my flow in 3 different tasks - composing, tracking and mixing/performing. For me these have overlaps, like sometimes composing starts by tracking etc...

So I am working out 3 different set-ups depending on the task focus. There is overlapping gear in each, but basically my hope is to par down the needed gear for each of these tasks and reconfigure easily when I switch, all in a relatively serene and haptically nice manner. This means at least 1/3 of my gear is tucked away at all times. That's the plan anyhow...

but also Im not trying to produce the slick so....

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by naturligfunktion » Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:16 am

Lovely to see how this thread thrive and I apologise for not answering as much.

Anyways, I've slowly started to move back into the studio. The plan was to do it this weekend, but an unexpected snow fall (which was very nice) made moving impossible, so everything is postponed to this weekend. Nevertheless, I have made frequent visits to my studio, meaning that the "guitar only" experiment is now coming to a close.

I can confidently say that a change of "scenery" is beneficial for your creativity and your productivity. Removing everything excessive force you to think differently and new perspectives is always good.

It is recommended. I am planning to re-organize the studio as I move back in. I don't know why, to be honest, but it feels right. I think it is a ripple effect of my unexpected experiment. Obviously this center about making the guitar, and recording it, more accessible - (a little bit what SonarBk talk about making ergonomics prio 1) - and funny enough this entail me acquiring more things to make this happen :lol:

Another thing that has been discussed at length is how everything is about you, yourself and your personal discipline. I get that, it is all about your mindset towards the gear. But sometimes, it is nice to put your mind at ease, removing everything but the essential and prove that the music is inside you.

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by SonarBk » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:24 pm

naturligfunktion wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:16 am
and funny enough this entail me acquiring more things to make this happen :lol:
same here in fact...but also allowed me to let a bunch of things go as well :)

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Re: Less gear - better focus?

Post by 3hands » Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:47 pm

I have what I would call a moderately sized system. 12 old synths, a 15u eurorack system, vintage sampling, sequencing etc.

I think of each piece of that puzzle as an ever changing set of ideas. I like to chunk my system out, and use only 3 or 4 things within a track. My last ep for instance was the 909, Jupiter 6, MS20 and Modular. My full length is the same but having more tracks to build ( 10 so far) it allows me to go through and utilize each piece of gear in a way that is relevant to the direction of production regarding each track. It’s still only 3 or 4 machines per track, it’s just that I have the ability to choose a different 4 every time. For me, it allows me to get the ideas from my brain, into something other people can listen to.
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