Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

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Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby griffin avid » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:48 pm

This (almost locked) thread post by Commodorejohn got me thinking and then asking....

Yeah, the MC-303 and company are good examples - you can usually tell these because the advertising is focused on "dance music! In a box!" or "hip-hop! In a box!" handy-dandy-touch-a-button-does-it-all-wonderbox hype. The 808 I wouldn't classify in that way because A. it's not some kind of all-in-one prefab-sound-in-a-box box, and B. as much as it's strongly associated with certain styles now, that only happened some time after its release, when pioneers of those styles decided they liked it for what it was - it wasn't created as a one-touch rap/hip-hop/etc. machine.

A coupla thoughts:
1) At some point ALL OF US were interested in the music of others BEFORE we were able to make our own Fabulous, unheard of, original, ahead-of-its-time, first!, high-concept art. I think the fact that so many are curious/researching the synths used in XYZ record or 'how was this sound created' leads to the FACT that the first step of an artist is built on following the path set by others. Even if it's unintentional or unrealized. From there you/we (hopefully) grow into something very singular and personally-expressive. Yay. That leads me to believe it's fine for some products to be GENRE IN A BOX because someone who is just starting out could use some pointers and help getting started.

2) I believe the process of creating music/art should not be limited to any standard of 'talented' or 'creative' persons. And thus, someone who does need help learning WHAT MAKES WHAT should have access to a product that spells it out. Something like a groovebox with prefab patterns of an exact genre as presets or a synthesizer with several sounds that are recreations of popular records. [Yes, I mean the Jump patch all the way to the Blade Runner lines]. I want that person to sit down with his new product and in 10 minutes make something they like.

3) I think advanced or long-time creators instinctively know what products are right for them and how to use them in a way that lines up with their personal ideologies on creating in their artistic slant. I know it doesn't happen often, but I wish there was enough tolerance and seeing of the big picture to realize everyone has their own sensibilities and view and opinion about genres, music and the purpose of art and the purpose for creating art. That maybe, no way is best and...eh you get the idea....


-------------------------------------

Now I don't mean this to be a counter-argument against just commodorejohn per se, but I think this idea touches across many different aspects of our interests on this forum. The idea that a product is loaded with current/trendy sounds, to me, is a sensible selling point. I don't know anyone who bought a musical instrument and didn't have an idea of what genre(s) they intended to make with it. That means you obviously thought it was good for making that kind of music which means it's capable of creating the SOUNDS in that genre, which again, usually means it has ALREADY DONE SO in a satisfactory manner. Me picking up a drum machine and hearing some sounds I like and thinking "I could use that" and then seeing another drum machine with the same sounds housed in a kit named for a specific genre is suddenly a problem. OMG, It has 5 [insert genre] kits and 64 [inspired] Samples! I can't use this!

I know there a huge segment of buyers who won't look at a product unless the demo contains a song that sounds great in their favorite style. I remember when product demos were done by 'squares' and cats from the accounting department. It took a while to realize that people need more convincing than a run through of features and promises of how good it'll sound in your hands. You want to see it ALREADY SOUND GOOD and THEN you're convinced it'll work for you. That's why KORG and many others have full songs that kick on if you bump their keyboards in the store.

Which is all why I say you can't have it both ways. You can't want to HEAR a product demoed 'by someone like you' and then say you're advanced and it's all about the (missing) features. If YOU are advanced, you can make just about anything work and find your sound through extended usage. That's why I sometimes ask how much help do you need? If I'm into a (newly-emerging) genre, I shouldn't have to retrace the steps of the pioneers or reinvent the wheel. The newest crop of tools and instruments should place me next to them and dare me to push the boundaries further. Where they've stopped, is where I start. As a beginner, I should be happy just getting some noodling going ...that sounds close to something. Besides, by the time the genre gets put in the box, it's usually no longer worth unwrapping as a gift. What you tend to do is create what's already been created and that's the perfect first step for a beginner.

====================================

So the questions are asked:
1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?
2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?
3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?
4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?
4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?
5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?
6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?

One favor, since it's a bunch of questions, maybe quote some part of them so we know which one you're answering.
If this has a few responses we won't know what number is what question without scrolling back up, before the replies. Long post, I know.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby zoomtheline » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:41 pm

griffin avid wrote:
1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?
Initially targeted but I assume that developers have an idea of who else can get use from the product.
2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?
I should say no but this and hype can ruin first impressions which can be annoying.
3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?
No, I try and look past the facade and see what parameters could be useful to me but the above can colour judgement.
4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?
Very, Most of the time you can see past the music/genre it is being represented with and can give clues to how well the interface will work for you.
4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?
I am not concerned with these too much as they give nothing but subjective sounds.
5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?
I delete most if not all of the presets straight away so I can learn the machine from the ground. I would prefer small preset numbers and more init patches because then there is more room for individual sounds and ones that could be close in sound to a preset would still be usable by people who are strict against using presets.
6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?
No, a synth can be used in any genre (pretty much) individual units being pigeonholed can ruin (whichever way you look at it) second hand sales.

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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby meatballfulton » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:52 pm

Wow, let me put on my tweed jacket, sit down in a comfy armchair, light up my pipe and get all philosophical. :agree:

1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?

Nope...certain synths are only reserved for those who have $$$$ in their pockets. Price is the single biggest barrier to users. How many posts have you seen on teh webz about "is there a cheaper alternative to <name some expensive gear here>?" Do you think people that could afford 303s and 808s went out and bought Volcas instead?

If you can afford it, go for it. I was once (like all of us) poor and had to choose my purchases very carefully. I remember saving my pennies to buy my first synth...it was a stretch at $450 (used)...and being so excited once I had it.

Having an "arsenal" or "collection"? C'mon, I was lucky to have just one! Even today I don't own a lot of hardware synths because of the cost (see #2).

2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?

Not sure exactly what you're asking here, but my #1 concern is can I afford it. Although I gig as a bassist, synths are just a hobby for me so they have to earn their keep.

I've been buying and selling synths for over 25 years now. If I don't use it a lot, it's gonna get sold. There's some I've sold when money was tight and later repurchased only to sell again. I draw a fine line between what's essential to what I want to do and what 's just a guilty pleasure.

3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?

I'd say the opposite, I avoid instruments that are too focused on a particular genre. I want an instrument that can handle any style I feel like exploring.

For example, I don't do "dance"...I have owned a few grooveboxes but flipped them all after finally realizing that step sequencing bores the hell out of me. Wobble basses, risers, hoovers, supersaws, etc. are an immediate turnoff.

4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?
4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?


They are only important for instruments I cannot try before I buy. I miss the good old days here in the USA of small music stores where you could go in and try out various synths. Today Guitar Center has driven most of them out of business and if GC doesn't have it on the floor, I can't try it out. I had to wait two years before my local GC had a Kronos on the floor to try :shock: That's insane!

5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?

I want preset memory but the number of factory presets is meaningless to me. If it has at least 128 user patch locations, I'm all set. More is convenient but not mandatory.

What is a requirement is being able to access 100% of the functionality without a computer. Been there, done that.

6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?

I could care less! I have a long history of picking underdog instruments. For example, I bought an SQ-80 20 years before they became hip. I bought it because I thought it sounded great and the feature set (8 track sequencer with tape synch and floppy disk backup) was unique at the time. Today people only buy them because they are cheap and have an analog filter.

My interests in music are wide, so I need instruments that can emulate pianos, organs and drums just as much as I need synthetic sounds. I look for a core instrument that covers all my needs, then if I can afford it I'll add instruments that handle a particular niche better. My core has always been a workstation because it can still do the job even if I have to ditch my computer and analog synths.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Automatic Gainsay » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:36 pm

1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?
I don't think they're "reserved," but I think people with different goals and skill levels are going to be attracted to different devices.
A side effect of this is that the people who intend to make their own music in their own way, and possess the skill and/or talent to do so, are going to be less interested in products which are marketed more towards a consumer market that is more interested in sounding like someone specific than working very hard to sound like themselves.

2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?
I am probably the very extreme on this scale. I want to have tools that allow me to create the sounds I intend, and I don't want anything that does anything for me. (I mean, professionally, of course... on the other hand I like Korg Gadget as much as the next guy!)

3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?
I don't really have a "chosen genre." I go through a variety of concurrent and overlapping interests. I absolutely never buy a thing because "this is what we use when we are people who make THIS genre of music." In fact, I say that if you want to make gains in the genre you like, use tools others DON'T use in that genre.

4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?
Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but I prefer product demos that demonstrate the sound and functionality of the product. Song-making demos may sound cool, but they inspire purchase due to the creativity of the person doing the demo more than the product itself. I personally don't buy synths because talented musicians can make great songs with them... talented musicians can make great songs with anything. I buy synths for their combination of sound, functionality, and interface.

4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?
I can't bear these, really.

5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?
Yes. Presets are fun, and they make it really easy to crank out songs... but I prefer to be the author of my timbres as well as my music.

6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?
There is a distinction that is rarely made between "so-and-so uses this synth and sounds like this," and "so-and-so's music features a lot of this synth and various aspects of the synth are exposed and appeal." I would never buy a synth because a famous person uses it. That isn't about music, that's about being a fan. I have bought synthesizers because I was exposed to the characteristic sound or functionality of that synth through the music of famous people.


Overall, I gripe a lot about people not feeling compelled to make their own sounds, record their own beats, and write their own music. I do this not to be a dick, but because there is a world of possibility out there that could actually do something for you.
When I was young and obsessed with landing a recording contract, I would emulate the styles and music of a lot of artists that I liked. This was awesome because I was really inspired by their music... but it was not awesome because my creativity was defined by someone else. For example, when my manager shopped my demo to Warner Bros., the A&R guy told my manager, "yeah, we already have Prince." It was a valuable lesson. While influence was still apparent in my music after that, I worked very hard to do the things I would do.
Of course, the hard part of about that is that the consumer-level electronic equipment users may not be capable of making their own sounds and writing their own music, etc... and I think that's the point where people start to cry ELITISM!!
So, for me... devices which provide everything for you, AND pigeonhole you into a specific genre and sound are not particularly awesome. But that's not to say they are useless.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby commodorejohn » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:52 pm

griffin, you're drastically misunderstanding what I was saying. To be clear: I'm not saying that only Seriously Talented Persons can be creative or make art, or that only Serious Original High-Concept Works That Say Important Things are art. I'm the last person that would ever make that kind of claim. Three-year-olds can be creative. The Shaggs made art. Whether it was any good or not is a matter for debate, but it was unquestionably an expression of their own particular creative voice and not some assembly-line manufactured pop nonsense. Every human being has the capability to express themselves creatively; it's part of what we are. And art is often imitative, yes. Even a lot of famous works by great artists are partly imitation. And mimicry is certainly part of the learning process.

But: having a machine roll out prefab imitation? Not so much. You don't learn to do something by having something else do it for you, and you don't express yourself by having a machine hammer through factory patterns. That's all I'm saying.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby tomorrowstops » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:21 pm

bam. what he ^ said.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby moremagic » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:43 pm

if i didnt want a machine that automatically makes anything i play sound awesome why would i have so many delays
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby CS_TBL » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:04 pm

1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?

I think it's related to what you want to make with it. If I bring in my usual *cough* you know what VST I mean *cough*, then I would compare 'that' to Ravel and simpler (say, a typical A/VA) model to regular mainstream pop music. My precious offers more, but only if you require and like the intense complexity of it - because it will cost you some more time than running an osc through a filter.

2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?

I don't buy bigname/hyped stuff because xyz is using it, I buy based on specifications. I bought my Supernova2 rack blind, based on a review in SOS.. :)

3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?

Yes, though I've enough experience to twist 'n turn everything until it fits whatever I wanted to make in the first place.

4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?

It's only interesting if you're into that (live/improv etc.), which am not.

4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?

Factory presets are dumb, and most blokes on the internet are a perfect match for that. That's what my intention has always been with my vids: to showcase things people hadn't heard/thought of before.

5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?

Only relevant to hardware, but more is better if you ask me. The Supernova2 has quite some memory, which is very comfy.

6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?

Nope. A synth's legacy is mostly just nice for reading all about. And even if Arturia would sponsor me for free with their whole boatload, including CS80V 'n stuff, I'd still be using FM8 for that stuff. A few weeks ago I installed a new PC, the stuff you have to install is really mind-numbing. I prefer a few things over zillions o' stuff. I installed Komplete 8 and some libs, and done was I! Install 'n go, rather than listing stuff you've used on the previous PC.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby tomorrowstops » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:24 pm

CS_TBL - I'm pretty sure you could orchestrate a Ravel piece with anything. As long as you use the same intensity that you put into FM8!
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby balma » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:11 pm

Well, after trying to teach a friend how to use them during around 8 years getting negative results, well, no.


synths claim curious and humble approach to them. The most underused and misunderstood. musical instrument on earth, that´s a fact.

And one of the few instruments a lot of people is unable to recognize.
"If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies you won´t find another"
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:23 pm

moremagic wrote:if i didnt want a machine that automatically makes anything i play sound awesome why would i have so many delays

Exactly.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby phesago » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:51 am

commodorejohn wrote:...you said stuff...


I think the point of the thread was to one)put in a different area, both physically and topically, and 2) to create content. Weird, uh? Not trying to sound like a dick, but you fail to understand that he's taking some pointless bickering and turning it into decent food for thought, stuff to talk about. You may feel incline(naturally i might add) to think it's aimed at you, but I argue that instead it was casued by you(not necessarily in a negative context). I've wasted a lot fo time here, and I can say that, griffin generally means well and is actually trying to make gold form lead.


1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?

it depends on the perspectives involved. Sarcastically- yes. a synth player *troll face*

2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?

My main consideration is will it fit my work flow(which gets broken down into function, utility and character of sounds possible to get out of it<this third one can technically be considered utility as well, but having owned a lot of different synths, i know it is actually an important thing to consider>).


3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?

eh. If "does it make sound" count then yes. Other than that I would have to care about fitting into a genre.


4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?

Not totally important, but portability is an issue for me.

4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?

I generally erase the presets if i can, or quickly save over them. I found they are too "cool sounding" for me


5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?

memory does now for most newer products. I make excpetions for the pro1 and xs. I have often considered taking the keys off of my pro 1....and the xs gets away with it due to being so small and lite weight.

6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?

:facepalm:
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:29 am

If you're thinking about what genre you're making then you're not a real artist, you're just copying what other people have already done. Real artists just make the music and let other people worry about what genre to put things into afterwards.

Not to say there's anything inherently bad about non-artistic music making; it can serve a purpose such as being a recreational activity or a way of making a living for the music maker, or it can be for the purpose of making other people dance or relax or whatever.

It's like the difference between a photographer who is a photographic artist; a photographer who takes photos of weddings or building sites or whatever to make a living and a person who just likes to take photos for fun. Nobody's going to look down on someone who takes photos but doesn't exhibit them, and the camera manufacturers realise that it's a much bigger market for them than the others.

Music seems to be a weird thing because everybody is convinced that they're some great artist that hasn't been discovered yet and looks down on hobbyists even though that's exactly what they are. Is it such a tough thing to admit that you're not some hidden talent and you're just part of the 99% of instrument buyers who are just making up the numbers so the manufacturers can stay in business?

I guess a lot of people who buy sports cars think they're racing drivers too, although I think the average sports car owner would be more ready to admit they bought it just to make themselves feel good than the average guy (yes it's always a guy) who spends $10k on their 'home studio'.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Percivale » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:32 am

1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?
Attainability and user ability are different things. Who is to say you can/cannot use it? Unless the synth at hand is so complex to use, requires special skill/talent/dexterity, etc, to the point which it influences the acquisition outcome, I see no direct link between synth versus user types.


2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?
See above. Anything goes. Affordability and space are my pressing concerns when it comes to hobbies.


3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?
I would check to minimise overlap with existing gear.


4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?
These products generate sound/music so such videos must be helpful, to say the least. Specifications alone would not make a product. Through observation and a keen mind, one can grasp a feel "how I would/could use this" myself.


4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?
Concerning patch run-throughs, it gives a "general idea" how the synth sounds (so you know if it is your cup of tea) and the next thing to look at is the amount of "tweak-ability" away from this "general idea" (so you know if it is worth your investment). Audio links are usually less inspiring and often contain minimal information how/what was used.


5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?
Not really.


6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?
Absolutely not. I play synths for my own leisure/goals.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:10 am

phesago wrote:Not trying to sound like a dick, but you fail to understand that he's taking some pointless bickering and turning it into decent food for thought, stuff to talk about. You may feel incline(naturally i might add) to think it's aimed at you, but I argue that instead it was casued by you(not necessarily in a negative context).

No, I understand that perfectly well, and it's a fine topic for discussion, but I just wanted to be clear that I wasn't saying what griffin apparently thought I was, especially as what he thought I was saying is something I don't for a moment hold with.

Stab Frenzy wrote:If you're thinking about what genre you're making then you're not a real artist, you're just copying what other people have already done. Real artists just make the music and let other people worry about what genre to put things into afterwards.

Amen.

Music seems to be a weird thing because everybody is convinced that they're some great artist that hasn't been discovered yet and looks down on hobbyists even though that's exactly what they are. Is it such a tough thing to admit that you're not some hidden talent and you're just part of the 99% of instrument buyers who are just making up the numbers so the manufacturers can stay in business?

I don't think that being a hobbyist disqualifies you from taking an interest in and having opinions on the more abstract side of music-as-art. It's not an either-or thing.
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Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:39 am
Location: Duluth, MN
Real name: John
Gear: Roland JX-10/MT-32/D-10, Oberheim Matrix-6, Yamaha DX7/DX7-IIFD/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/DSS-1, Hohner String Performer

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