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Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules Goto page 1, 2, 3 ... 10, 11, 12  Next [all]
Author Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?
6667
Is much of eurorack culture just a form of extreme consumerism? This isn't a troll thread, I'd like some honest discussion/introspection from people who are actually in the scene.

It's been a few years since I've followed eurorack, and much of the output from the eurorack community that I've seen is still amounting to short instagram clips of some patch recorded with an iphone, threads or social media posts humble bragging with images of (seemingly premeditated) systems of complex modules and wires (where more often than not it was the end result of untamed GAS), and fanboys dropping their panties (and wallets) for a BRAND NEW EPIC MODULE that just has a bunch of overlapping functionality with some other existing module but it has a newer, cooler faceplate.

Take the default forum response for someone debating about buying module A vs B, where there might be a bit of functional overlap and some slight differences. It's always "WHY NOT BOTH?? JUST BUY EM ALL BRO". Almost any new module announcement is met with the futurama TAKE MY MONEY meme, any thread with a beginner seeking advice met with a wave of srsly never (some of it tongue in cheek but I suspect there are people who truly believe you literally need entire 9us of quad vcas)

There are of course, exceptions to this rule-- artists like Richard Devine, Lightbath, Caterina Barbieri etc. have more than proven that they can take this mess of wires and use it as an instrument, or their primary all encompassing tool for composing, recording, experimenting, and executing on their musical ideas. They do things with their systems that absolutely blows my mind and it's obvious that you can't make some of what they're doing with a daw or some traditional instruments and a mixing desk (I just listened through Devine's Sort/Lave and had an aural aneurysm/orgasm for the entire duration). But for every Richard Devine, there's 50 dudes with these massive systems that cost more than the average American could afford with their entire annual salary, yet they just end up make shockingly average sounding instagram clips.

I find some of this a bit interesting in contrast to the EDM producer community (I'll use EDM as an umbrella term for poppy festival trance/house or producers of trend genres that have cropped up in the past few years like "future" house/bass or trap). Although EDM as a style of music is inherently disposable, the producers themselves by and large seem to have a frugal mindset when it comes to gear. Their default mode of operation usually comically leans in the opposite direction. You'll often see producers tell beginners or other struggling producers to stop blaming their shortcomings for their lack of gear and to learn more music theory, learn more about song structure, spend more time grinding in Ableton, learn how to play piano, etc. etc. For what it's worth, many of the people in the EDM producer community actually end up finishing songs start to finish, at a literal fraction of the cost of some of the eurorack systems I see in the stickied "Post your euro setup" thread.

I myself use my eurorack synth as a supplemental/inspirational tool to record sounds, sequences, drum patterns, motifs/phrases to be used or explored further in a more controllable environment, like a DAW or tracker. But I'm interested to hear-- how do you use your eurorack synth? Is it a means to end (ie. a source of inspiration for completing songs)? Is it your primary instrument? Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money? Do you believe that having your eurorack system has gotten you closer to your artistic goals? etc.

Curious to hear how you view your system in the greater context of consumerism and artistic development. Hope that this is a worthwhile discussion to have smile
xenosapien
Eurorack is a framework for musical INSTRUMENTS.

That has absolutely zero to do with EDM production or with the shitty hypocritical advice EDM "producers" (ie. loop-samplepack-clickers) give out on their YouTube channels.

What I´m trying to say in this inflammatory way (I really have a profound distaste for the "EDM" scene, if you can´t tell) is that anybody can buy a Stradivari if they go into enough debt, but not everybody can play the violin like Paganini.



( Also:
any dumbass can buy 20$ worth of pre-produced, pre-processed loops and (most importantly) "RISERZ AND IMPACT HITZ, YO" and put together an "EDM" track as you would see them being played on the radio. the so-called "song structure" is a joke.
)
(seen it done, did it myself.)
lisa
We did a survey a while back and a huge majority of those that took part said that they use their racks at least once a week, a majority even said several times a week. A hobby that’s being practiced several times a week is surely legitimate, right?

I’ve found tons of great music made with Eurorack systems since I started out 20 months ago.

I can see enabling of addiction in this community and that’s a bad thing but I also see loads of creativity and good music.
6667
xenosapien wrote:
Eurorack is a framework for musical INSTRUMENTS.

That has absolutely zero to do with EDM production or with the shitty hypocritical advice EDM "producers" (ie. loop-samplepack-clickers) give out on their YouTube channels.

What I´m trying to say in this inflammatory way (I really have a profound distaste for the "EDM" scene, if you can´t tell) is that anybody can buy a Stradivari if they go into enough debt, but not everybody can play the violin like Paganini.



( Also:
any dumbass can buy 20$ worth of pre-produced, pre-processed loops and (most importantly) "RISERZ AND IMPACT HITZ, YO" and put together an "EDM" track as you would see them being played on the radio. the so-called "song structure" is a joke.
)
(seen it done, did it myself.)


I think it's a bit unfair to be this vehemently against EDM producers. I'm sure many of them would probably think eurorack format modules are cool if you showed them actually. But it's just an example of a different way of approaching music-- if you want I could have used a-cappella enthusiasts as another example but I just don't know that much about a-cappella tbh.

Sure, Eurorack is just a format for instruments/effects/utilities, but there's no doubt that a community formed around it, and there's also no doubt that the community has slowly but surely developed its own collective "cultural" mannerisms, ideas, etc. no?

Likewise, I can say:

Any dumbass can buy $5000 worth of pre-assembled, pre-designed modules ad (most importantly) "BUCHLA STYLE COMPLEX OSCILLATORZ AND LOW PASS GATEZ, YO" and put together a "patch" as you would see them being played on instagram. the so-called "sonic exploration" is a joke

But that's not really a meaningful contribution to the discussion.
germinal
I came to Eurorack after doing EDM-ish stuff in software for a decade, and Max/MSP for a while after that. In retrospect, I'm really suspicious of the emphasis on producing "finished" tracks, and then posting them on the internet for no one to listen to. In contrast, in the healthy Eurorack communities we seem to be a lot better at actually engaging with one another's work, giving positive feedback, etc.

I think part of what I like is the informality of Euro? There's something a bit more casual about a short Instagram clip, and there's an honesty to raw footage presented without heavy editing and mastering. For me, it's closer to making some chill music for your friends at your apartment, rather than a fantasy of being a deadmaus-level super-dj or something, I guess.
ggillon
For some people it is, for some it's not.

Isn't it the same for all hobby? When do you cross the line between buying a nice watch, or car, or knife and wanting to own 20?


I wouldn't judge modular synths ownership in general based on what you read online because it's pretty clear that those who are the most vocal about their large collection of modules have crossed that line long ago

Doesn't mean there isn't plenty of people who are into modular for music or for fun more than for the quest of having THE best collection of modules. Just probably they are posting less
6667
germinal wrote:

I think part of what I like is the informality of Euro? There's something a bit more casual about a short Instagram clip, and there's an honesty to raw footage presented without heavy editing and mastering. For me, it's closer to making some chill music for your friends at your apartment, rather than a fantasy of being a deadmaus-level super-dj or something, I guess.


Hm, I like this. I also love creating a euro patch just for the hell of it and showing a couple friends for laughs, but I don't think the purpose (or value) of finishing a song start to finish is to try and become deadmaw either. Perhaps I'm dense, but I cannot ever understand an aversion to putting together a finished piece as it seems like the logical conclusion one would come to ultimately from playing around with patches

create patch -> create another patch -> create yet another patch -> arrange them together -> extend the arrangement and create variations and repetitions
srogers
A big reason why I got into eurorack is because I like working with hardware and I like the workflow. I know I could make a lot of the same stuff just using software but I really enjoy the tactile part of modular and find it really satisfying.

I went from being a jazz guitar snob to a burnt out music school student, turned my attention to guitar pedals for a while and got into a lot more ambient/experimental music/sound design, then modular seemed like the next logical step.

I’m definitely guilty of the consumerism & Instagram posts too but it’s not a driving force in why I do it. If all forms of social media disappeared I wouldn’t sell all my gear and stop playing music. But it’s a cool way to interact with other people a pretty small niche community. Sometimes it’s also nice to be able to listen to a 60 second clip of someone’s music before I decide whether I want to commit to a 9 minute drone track. I’ve discovered a lot of great musicians through Instagram.

You’ll find the same thing with any hobby really. Music gear, food, beer, cars, photography, everything.
SmartBits
6667 wrote:
Is much of eurorack culture just a form of extreme consumerism?

I don't think it's any different from other subcultures. There are just as much (or probably more) guitarists having GAS over pedals. Or car-tuning enthousiasts buying car-tuning thingies. When people have the opportunity to buy things they like, they probably will.

6667 wrote:
and fanboys dropping their panties (and wallets) for a BRAND NEW EPIC MODULE that just has a bunch of overlapping functionality with some other existing module but it has a newer, cooler faceplate.

I think your exaggerating. I don't see people getting excited over a new faceplate. Mostly because that (almost) never happens.

6667 wrote:
how do you use your eurorack synth? Is it a means to end (ie. a source of inspiration for completing songs)? Is it your primary instrument? Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money? Do you believe that having your eurorack system has gotten you closer to your artistic goals? etc.

I like experimenting with sound and in my modular I find infinte possibilities for that. I find it harder to create songs on just the modular (I don't do EDM or anything remotely similar) than using my DAW or MPC. It's definitly a source of inspiration as I come up with sounds and melodies that I couldn't have created or thought with a regular synth. Of course there is the cheaper software route, but that doesn't spark any creativity for me.
Since I use my modular quite often and enjoy playing with it I don't think it's a waste of money. Most hobbies cost money and this is no exception. Maybe it's a bit more expensive, but that's relative to what your income is. I have come to the point where I don't need new modules and am actually selling some that don't get too much usage.
batch
There is so much judgment in your words:

Quote:
Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money?


You are assuming that if purchasing Eurorack has not helped me write/ record songs then it’s a waste of my money. But that assumes that writing songs is my goal. It is not.

I have lots of Euro and have recorded almost nothing with it. I did in the early days but then realized that I am just not that interested in making tracks. I find it extremely boring. I am not trying to make a living from Euro. I have a day job, this is my escape from that.

What I enjoy is exploring the sounds, solving problems, figuring things out. I can get lostin a patch for days. I like building, I I like the fact it gives me something STEM to talk to my daughters about. I also like this community, talking to others, gossiping about new modules. I think about my synth a lot. It gets turned on almost everyday, often for 2-3 hours a day. My investment has cost me less than $5/ hr of enjoyment.

That’s cheaper than beer, golf, cars, whatever else I could be wasting money on.
nimmen
While I agree with most of the points you said, but I don't think most of them relate to eurorack in a specific way. Maybe you can get this impression by exponential growth in user amount, also variety and amount of modules produced.
I do consider true eurorack scene as users who can DIY, have enough/certain level of knowledge of sound synthesis and various aspects of it.
Obviously as price gets lower, amount of users is increasing, meaning that you will get more and more people saying "rate my rack" or making other newbie decisions/requests/posts, which is natural for any "scene".

As I'm old enough "modular" user, started from software NI reaktor 1, jeskola buzz, etc(in late 90s)... Some time later I moved to sonic core modular, which is hardware DSP but software front end.
Not long ago as my finances allowed, I've moved to eurorack, first impressions are the workflow improvements, I never want to touch any software again, it feels so much more natural, interesting and creative for me. Now I've eliminated basically any software parts for making music, use it just for recording.
After a while my musical preferences shifted quite a bit, I can hardly find music these days which I find worth listening to, maybe its generic problem, not related to eurorack, hard to say.
I don't spent too much time on my system, maybe 2-3 hours and max few evenings a week. So that is EXPENSIVE music making, if you only try to calculate "things made/price" equation, but it's so worth it, if none of existing devices really allow you to express your creative ideas/approaches to usually "strange enough" music.
Quote:
"Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. "

Well if you take that definition, with my 48U racks I don't feel ready yet(mostly in terms of modules I need) to produce track which I would be proud of. But now I'm going mostly DIY route, assembling modules instead of buying factory made. So I guess I'm a textbook consumerist?

I seriously don't get people who get into modular for "techno"/EDM smile But that's my problem...
mdoudoroff
Big umbrella here, and not all participants are equally visible. We’ve got everybody from accomplished professional musicians at one end to people who are merely fascinated by the equipment at the other (the equivalent of Leica collectors). You can always find ways to criticize any of them if you want to. Many pros don’t have time to hang out here or on social media: they’re busy doing their thing. Many of us are hobbyists—myself included—and our synths are more an outlet for recreation and/or therapy; satisfying our curiosity is enough.

I don’t begrudge the “EDM” thing, even though it’s not my cup of tea: I’m all for the democratization of music and placing the means of music-making into as many hands as possible. There’s much to be learned and enjoyed in the process at any level, and it‘s not as if I am forced to listen to it.

I do tend to worry a bit when I see folks spending all their time buying/selling modules instead of actually using them (let alone, merely learning to use them). On the other hand, if they can afford it and it’s what they enjoy…
insoul8
I use mine much like you do- as a single instrument that is combined with more traditional synths, drum machines, DAW, etc. I find it to be a great tool for getting inspired and often use it to experiment or begin a project. I might get a few cool phrases or sequences out of it that I will then build into a song outside of the modular environment using 'more traditional' approaches. Sometimes the modular is the core or focus, sometimes it is just adding sprinkles.

I have no doubt there are people that see modular as something mysterious and cool and they jump right in head first. Some put in the time and really learn it, others do not and find out all too quickly there are no shortcuts and become frustrated. Their modules likely add to the already flourishing second hand market. Then there are others that have every intention of making music with their equipment but can all too easily get sucked in to the collector aspect of modular. I don't see it being any different than the regular synth or guitar market though. A collector is a collector. And I have a feeling we all have at least a little bit of that in us. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that are simply fascinated by modular and have a world of fun just experimenting with different sounds and are perfectly happy not composing songs. Why is that a problem? It's a great hobby to have.
starthief
If you look at Eurorack through a social media lens in an attempt to figure out if it looks like consumerism... then it looks like consumerism.

Plenty of people, not just the famous ones, are making actual music with Eurorack. I'm currently working on my fifth album release of 2018.

And yeah, I could do it without Eurorack hardware (and instead read posts about how VST plugins are all about consumerism lol). I just happen to prefer the hardware, and its combination of limitations and possibilities has led me to a good place musically.


Like the saying goes, "critics talk about Art; artists talk about brushes." Synths are tools... and they are really fascinating tools and they're kind of fun to think about and experiment with and, yes, collect and show off. But that's not mutually exclusive with making music.

I mean, you mentioned Richard Devine, who loves to show off gear. On the other hand, Alessandro Cortini made some prickly comments about how Eurorack people are just collectors, and everything they do sounds the same -- which tells me he's not actually listening to anything. That was the same interview where he was bragging about flying around the world to collect some Buchla system with a 5-digit pricetag.
cygnys
Some pretentious, hypocritical, narcissistic BS right here.
bemerritt
Some people buy jeeps, outfit them with " overland gear" and only drive around strip malls.

Everyone has different goals. Mine is to take my mind off things at the end of a long work day.
MarcelP
batch wrote:
There is so much judgment in your words:

Quote:
Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money?


You are assuming that if purchasing Eurorack has not helped me write/ record songs then it’s a waste of my money. But that assumes that writing songs is my goal. It is not.

I have lots of Euro and have recorded almost nothing with it. I did in the early days but then realized that I am just not that interested in making tracks. I find it extremely boring. I am not trying to make a living from Euro. I have a day job, this is my escape from that.

What I enjoy is exploring the sounds, solving problems, figuring things out. I can get lostin a patch for days. I like building, I I like the fact it gives me something STEM to talk to my daughters about. I also like this community, talking to others, gossiping about new modules. I think about my synth a lot. It gets turned on almost everyday, often for 2-3 hours a day. My investment has cost me less than $5/ hr of enjoyment.

That’s cheaper than beer, golf, cars, whatever else I could be wasting money on.


So good it's worth repeating. thumbs up
indifference point
With all these negative-ish threads at the top lately, have political operatives now infiltrated muff to turn the euro hivemind to facism? hihi

I worked solely with software to make music over the past 10ish years and early on had some semi-successful dance vinyl releases on various labels. This incited a continual chase/pressure to make music that would be released, which quickly turned my passion into a creative-sucking trudge.

I stopped making music altogether for awhile until my friend got me into eurorack which is solely responsible for revitalizing my passion, except this time as an end to itself rather than a conduit for any renown or money.


______________________
starthief
batch wrote:
You are assuming that if purchasing Eurorack has not helped me write/ record songs then it’s a waste of my money. But that assumes that writing songs is my goal. It is not.


I meant to mention that too, especially since I used the words "actual music" which sounds a lot more charged and judgemental than I meant it to. oops

I do have recording as a goal (for my own satisfaction, not popularity or sales), but I spend more time with the modular just jamming or trying out ideas.


nimmen wrote:
I do consider true eurorack scene as users who can DIY, have enough/certain level of knowledge of sound synthesis and various aspects of it.


I'm curious why you feel people who don't DIY are not a part of the "true scene" (or indeed that there is a "true scene") hmmm.....
6667
batch wrote:
There is so much judgment in your words:

Quote:
Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money?


You are assuming that if purchasing Eurorack has not helped me write/ record songs then it’s a waste of my money. But that assumes that writing songs is my goal. It is not.


I want to make it clear that my questions were phrased in an unfortunate sequence as I wrote the thread in a rush during commute-- I do not believe that unless you are writing complete songs with the eurorack that you're wasting money. For me PERSONALLY, if my eurorack did not get me closer to my ends of creating completed songs, then it is a waste of money. It is merely one tool I use to get me closer to my own goal.

My music is heavily sample-based and put my percussive sequences together using Ableton. Prior to diving into eurorack, I used a lot of one shots from commercial sample packs (Which I still don't see anything wrong with). However, I've amassed a huge library of unique oneshots recorded from my 204hp system in just a few months-- that alone to me made my modular synth worth it, and every day I'm getting new percussive fills/patterns and melodic phrases out of my ER-101.

It's just that I see a lot of needlessly consumeristic modes of thinking in the community, and wonder how much of it is tongue-in-cheek and how much of it is real, mindless dopamine driven consumerism. I think it's great that a lot of the people posting in this thread have valid reasons for using their synths.
ggillon
As with many other people I believe, my goal is to have fun making patches after a long day work. I do also sometimes participate in a jam session with friends but it's bonus
insoul8
6667 wrote:
batch wrote:
There is so much judgment in your words:

Quote:
Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money?


You are assuming that if purchasing Eurorack has not helped me write/ record songs then it’s a waste of my money. But that assumes that writing songs is my goal. It is not.


I want to make it clear that my questions were phrased in an unfortunate sequence as I wrote the thread in a rush during commute-- I do not believe that unless you are writing complete songs with the eurorack that you're wasting money. For me PERSONALLY, if my eurorack did not get me closer to my ends of creating completed songs, then it is a waste of money. It is merely one tool I use to get me closer to my own goal.


Not everyone has the same goals though.
BaloErets
I beg to ask the question; why does anyone need to create a songs/"music" in order for their personalized Eurorack instrument to be deemed valuable/significant/worthwhile? Who gets the last word in judging the output of individual "x" who sits in front of their system for "y" amount of time?

The answer is unarguably individual "x".

It's great to have an opinion, but be wary of the intolerance that come in consequence of judgments based on an opinion.

I specifically got into modular because I had spent the last 30 years making songs and music, and wanted a new venture into exploring sound and frequencies. For me personally, that is the magic of these systems. You don't need songs, you don't need to call it music. You don't need to judge it's value. It brings happiness, creativity and meditation into my life.

I invite you to perhaps open your mind and find a place in your life where you care that much less about what other people are doing with theirs.

The only person that needs to judge the time/value/finance/output of what I put into anything in my life is me.
6667
insoul8 wrote:
6667 wrote:
batch wrote:
There is so much judgment in your words:

Quote:
Do you believe it has helped you write more music? Or are you just wasting money?


You are assuming that if purchasing Eurorack has not helped me write/ record songs then it’s a waste of my money. But that assumes that writing songs is my goal. It is not.


I want to make it clear that my questions were phrased in an unfortunate sequence as I wrote the thread in a rush during commute-- I do not believe that unless you are writing complete songs with the eurorack that you're wasting money. For me PERSONALLY, if my eurorack did not get me closer to my ends of creating completed songs, then it is a waste of money. It is merely one tool I use to get me closer to my own goal.


Not everyone has the same goals though.


Right, so I'm looking for some of other peoples' goals and ideas, and maybe I can even be inspired by hearing about some of those other goals!
6667
BaloErets wrote:
I beg to ask the question; why does anyone need to create a songs/"music" in order for their personalized Eurorack instrument to be deemed valuable/significant/worthwhile?

...

I invite you to perhaps open your mind and find a place in your life where you care that much less about what other people are doing with theirs.


Wouldn't being less curious about what other people are doing with their eurorack synths be closing my mind to other possibilities rather than opening it?
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