Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby phesago » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:14 am

I guess if you understood, truly, defensiveness is unneeded? I could be wrong though...
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:41 am

Dude, I'm not even being defensive. I'm not mad at griffin for misreading me or anything, I just want to be clear that I'm not saying what he thinks I was saying, because A. he thinks I hold an opinion that I don't, and B. clear communication makes for better discussion.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Percivale » Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:35 am

Dudes. Why not take this to private discussion? A subsequent announcement that all is well again would be a pleasant outcome for everyone.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby griffin avid » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:26 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.


I dig a lot of this, but I'm not sure REAL is the correct adjective. Maybe 'my favorite kind' or 'Ideally' but certainly not REAL as in true, sincere, or actual.

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.

Which would suggest the only option left is music/art that only you hear- and serves NO purpose.
And it can't even be fun to make because that would fall under recreational purposes.

Art and an artist are judged by appreciation.
Just like you can go to school to learn to be an artist, you can learn to judge art.
Usually both include a long and intense look at the works of others and, you know, the history of the thing you have an interest in. Along with that are rules, which tend to shape the TYPE of art you would be creating. Musical genres function the same way. And mixing several aesthetics isn't quite rule-breaking.

Music follows and **most** people with an interest already have that catalog from years of LISTENING before deciding to create. If you haven't appreciated a thing, then yes, you need 'to be told the rules' and that leads to following the same rules that are/were instinctively followed by an ARTIST who already knows the field/genre well.

Writers READ more than they write and musicians should appreciate more than they appear to create.
The first bar I set for an artist is finished work(s). That to me, is the true separator. Hobbyists tend to have all unfinished projects and lots of things 'they are going to do". When you are able to step back from your work and say judge me by this, you are an artist.

And I do think there exists undiscovered art and artists. I know for a fact that several works have been discovered by accident long after the creator has died. You know what? They were an artist and created art. The ends of appreciation justified the work as art.

It would be awesome indeed, if every person could decide for themselves What they are- without the burden of appreciation. The whole analogy of sports car owner to race driver is too far off to worry about. No one does that.
What happens is, you spend a large amount in a field and you become an expert in that field, NOT THE ACTIVITY.
They will talk shop about race cars and not racing. And So, if I buy a lot of expensive synths, I become an authority on the quality/design and features of synths, not a great musician (that would be using them).
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby calaverasgrande » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:09 pm

thanks for bringing this up.
This is one of my biggest disapointments with many synth models and their manufacturers.
I often have teh following experience.
  1. I see some neat new gadget in NAMM, AES or Musikmesse reports.
  2. Said gadet appears to have some features I would be interested in, or it solves a workflow problem I have.
  3. When I am able to get complete details of the synth it turns out it's just another TRx0x derivative with all kinds of features for 'todays dance music'.
  4. I am disappointed and buy another Moogerfooger instead.
That is great for people that dance and make the music for the dancing, but I have never been the latter and rarely the former. (yeah I know I need to loosen up, but someone has to make music for the aging, dour Gen X-ers).
I don't think this should be stated as 'types of people'. It is not as if you are born into being a hip-hop or industrial fan. But they certainly do pander to hip hop, R&B, Dubstep and other styles.
They are businesses that need to keep the doors open!
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby ninja6485 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:29 pm

griffin avid 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.


I dig a lot of this, but I'm not sure REAL is the correct adjective. Maybe 'my favorite kind' or 'Ideally' but certainly not REAL as in true, sincere, or actual.

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.

Which would suggest the only option left is music/art that only you hear- and serves NO purpose.
And it can't even be fun to make because that would fall under recreational purposes.

Art and an artist are judged by appreciation.
Just like you can go to school to learn to be an artist, you can learn to judge art.
Usually both include a long and intense look at the works of others and, you know, the history of the thing you have an interest in. Along with that are rules, which tend to shape the TYPE of art you would be creating. Musical genres function the same way. And mixing several aesthetics isn't quite rule-breaking.

Music follows and **most** people with an interest already have that catalog from years of LISTENING before deciding to create. If you haven't appreciated a thing, then yes, you need 'to be told the rules' and that leads to following the same rules that are/were instinctively followed by an ARTIST who already knows the field/genre well.

Writers READ more than they write and musicians should appreciate more than they appear to create.
The first bar I set for an artist is finished work(s). That to me, is the true separator. Hobbyists tend to have all unfinished projects and lots of things 'they are going to do". When you are able to step back from your work and say judge me by this, you are an artist.

And I do think there exists undiscovered art and artists. I know for a fact that several works have been discovered by accident long after the creator has died. You know what? They were an artist and created art. The ends of appreciation justified the work as art.

It would be awesome indeed, if every person could decide for themselves What they are- without the burden of appreciation. The whole analogy of sports car owner to race driver is too far off to worry about. No one does that.
What happens is, you spend a large amount in a field and you become an expert in that field, NOT THE ACTIVITY.
They will talk shop about race cars and not racing. And So, if I buy a lot of expensive synths, I become an authority on the quality/design and features of synths, not a great musician (that would be using them).


I like a lot of what you're saying griffin, but I would also like to put another spin on it. In many ways I'm simply parroting something James Norwood Pratt said about tea, which happens to perfectly apply to music listening as well.

It's easy to appreciate connoisseurship. There are many lavish, stand out pieces that demand if not admiration, than respect from listeners across the board. You may not like Cream or Eric Clapton, but you can at least appreciate white room as being almost an exemplar of its genre. In other words, no one will argue that it's a good song, at least for people who are into that sort of thing.

The real test for someone that loves music, or loves a genre, is in the ability to appreciate the more humble contributions. Can you see the value in a song that's not trying to push the envelope and be a ground breaking classic, but instead be a solid example of a specific genre? That's the step beyond connoisseurship into everyday experience.

Many a great genre has been ruined by artists trying too hard to advance it into something new. There exists no genre that has been fully explored. It's easier to rehash old ideas in a new genre and call it creativity; citing the influences, than to really explore new territory in an established genre, or really flesh out the solid elements of a great sound.

Consider with this Nietzschian aphorism:

Original.- Not that one is the first to see something new, but that one sees as new what is old, long familiar, seen and overlooked by everybody, is what distinguishes truly original minds. The first discoverer is ordinarily that wholly common creature, devoid of spirit and addicted to fantasy - accident.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby meatballfulton » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:51 pm

I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby calaverasgrande » Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:15 am

sorry I guess I skimmed too agressively and didnt see the list of Q's at teh end.

So the questions are asked:
1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?
Yes.
2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?
It is a turn off if I see any mention of specific genre. I feel the same way about "shredder" guitars and "fusion" drumsets.
3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?
For synths I could give a damn if it is appropriate for the genre. I am not going to buy an MPC to make hip hop or usemy X0X to make acid house. But since you mention it, back in the day when I was a young punk rock bassist I did avoid the more 'rockstar' brands of amps and basses. Then I realized those ubiquitous Marshall stacks and Les Pauls that many punk guitarists used were several times over more expensive than ANY bass rig. And I stopped worrying about brands.
4a) How important are live-song-making product demos as selling points?
Pretty important. If it seems to take a lot of menu diving or 3 finger combination button presses to access params than I am out. I get burnt out and depressed making music sometimes. I don't need my gear casting stones in my path.
4b) Compared to sound-cloud links or a patch by patch roll through?
I've never heard a patch or demo in an mp3 file that was compelling enough for me to buy a product. All that demonstrates is what kind of patch somebody else could make. Most peoples tastes are divergent from mine. Ditto for patches.
5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?
Aside from a couple of my drum machines, only one of my synths has patch storage.
6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?
Aside from my high school punk bands I've never consciously courted any particular genre.
I like to say I am too weird for the rockers and rock to much for the weirdos.
I've been pigeonholed as industrial by more than one review. And I am huge fan of early industrial. But I have zero in common with the last 20 years of that genre. (ever since Cabaret Voltaire went all house on me :( )
What does influence my purchase of a synth are it's capabilities. When I found out that the smooth ethereal sounds on many of Japan's records and the abrasive atonal squiggles on early Killing Joke records were the same synth my interest was piqued. Of course a good analog can make a huge range of sounds. But a a Minimoog imparts a similar character to all of it's patches. I heard no such blatant similarity with the OB-X. It's still my holy grail becasue of this. Sadly that synth is very popular because it was used by a ton of influential folks. So it's several career changes and raises away yet.
Conversely I have a morbid fascination with very limited instruments like a moog MP201 to play melodies using LFOs and gates. Next to a Korg KPR77 drum machine and an Atari Punk of course.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:10 am

griffin avid 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.


I dig a lot of this, but I'm not sure REAL is the correct adjective. Maybe 'my favorite kind' or 'Ideally' but certainly not REAL as in true, sincere, or actual.

Yes real as in true and actual. You may disagree with me and that's fine, but I don't really have time to give you an art history lesson here.
griffin avid wrote: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.

Which would suggest the only option left is music/art that only you hear- and serves NO purpose.
And it can't even be fun to make because that would fall under recreational purposes.

At no point did I say these things were mutually exclusive or exhaustive. Do you really think that I was saying that you could either make music for a living or to make people dance but not both? Think about things a little harder before you hit reply. :idea:
griffin avid wrote:Writers READ more than they write and musicians should appreciate more than they appear to create.
The first bar I set for an artist is finished work(s). That to me, is the true separator. Hobbyists tend to have all unfinished projects and lots of things 'they are going to do". When you are able to step back from your work and say judge me by this, you are an artist.

I'm saying that to be a true artist you need to add something of value (any value, it doesn't have to be high art but it needs to be something new). You're saying that you need to just finish something to be a true artist. So do you think that people who paint replicas of famous works are true artists? I can admire the skill of their technique and the effort that they put in but to me they're no more an artist than a gifted cabinet maker or a house builder.
griffin avid wrote:And I do think there exists undiscovered art and artists. I know for a fact that several works have been discovered by accident long after the creator has died. You know what? They were an artist and created art. The ends of appreciation justified the work as art.

This in no way contradicts anything i said.
griffin avid wrote:It would be awesome indeed, if every person could decide for themselves What they are- without the burden of appreciation. The whole analogy of sports car owner to race driver is too far off to worry about. No one does that.
What happens is, you spend a large amount in a field and you become an expert in that field, NOT THE ACTIVITY.
They will talk shop about race cars and not racing. And So, if I buy a lot of expensive synths, I become an authority on the quality/design and features of synths, not a great musician (that would be using them).

I'm not really sure what you're trying to say here, there might be some typos or something but it seems like a bunch of non-sequiters.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby calaverasgrande » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:36 am

I think it is kind of a false qualifier to say that real artists are either not conscious of/or do not deliberately work in genre. The easy disprover of that are rigid genres such as blues and country.
The performers that ply these genres (and many others) are certainly a high ratio of hacks. But even I can't deny that some country and western artists transcend their genre, while staying strictly in the confines of tempo, meter and key.
On the other hand I have had the good fortune to be friends with some people who arguably co-founded funk as we know it (the Meters). To hear it from them they were just playing dance music as best they could figure out to do, with no pretense of contributing to a new genre. At the time it was just a job, though of course now they want every royalty due them for all the samples and covers of their music. Can you blame em?
I think we forget that being a muscian is held in high regard now, but not too long ago, the writer of the lyrics, composer and performer were all different people. And they were often paid hourly with no credit, while a producer or A&R got all the profits and recognition.
I've had this debate with a lot of my musician friends many times and we usually settle into some kind of agreement that some of us are artisans, some of us are artists, and some just hacky mchackinstein and the hacktones.
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby griffin avid » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:23 am

So do you think that people who paint replicas of famous works are true artists?

Again, there's YOUR word ....TRUE....that's your opinion. So there's no reason to go over it again. And your 'history lesson' doesn't make you right as I too, have had numerous history lessons (as I have a degree in fine arts) and started life out as an artist (Painting, sculpting etc...) before I switched to music. And with all that formal education, I still consider having mentors and learning from others the foundation. Same as studying "Styles". And as I said, it doesn't have to be a conscious thing. I don't have to be aware of my influences or cite them in an interview for them to exist.

I can admire the skill of their technique and the effort that they put in but to me they're no more an artist than a gifted cabinet maker or a house builder.

Again, you pick an off-center analogy. Those are Craftsman, not artists.
And my making a [insert genre] song that uses many familiar characteristics of the genre is not the same as recreating note for note a previous hit record. I know you know that, but I don't know why you reach so much...

And even then, there is merit for the guy who made the Mona Lisa on his iPad.
Or switched on Bach and the other examples....
But I'm too busy for a music history lesson. :roll:

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

What's funny is the most important part- about APPRECIATION is the one part of my post that you seem to have checked out on. That's what makes all the difference. If it is accepted (and appreciated) as art, it's art.
No technical discussion stops/adds to/fixes/changes that. What we have after is OPINIONS about the art.

It's merits...it's place in history....worth....pushing forward....reflecting back....
We analyze its influences...possible historic origins etc....

What product could come out today AND NOT be compared to something before it?
So the only true synth-makers are ones that think purely in features and have no sense of WHAT will be done with their product?

Bob Moog said something like this in an interview.
So now, is it about the product or the marketing?
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:59 am

griffin avid wrote: I can admire the skill of their technique and the effort that they put in but to me they're no more an artist than a gifted cabinet maker or a house builder.

Again, you pick an off-center analogy. Those are Craftsman, not artists.

That's exactly my point. :idea:
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby griffin avid » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:56 am

Aww damn. You got me. :cry:
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Re: Are synthesizers for any one type of person?

Postby Voodoo Ray » Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:55 am

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

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

Postby commodorejohn » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:14 am

You know, I never did answer the actual questions, did I?

1) Are synths of a certain type/caliber/complexity/ability reserved for certain types of users/uses?
"Reserved?" No. I think certain synths may lend themselves better to certain styles, but once you get to a certain point of basic functional completeness, you can usually fill just about any role with any decent synthesizer, with a little imagination. (Allowing for some basic issues like whether a synth is polyphonic or not, anyway.)

2) Do you consider this when looking at future purchases?
Not really. I don't care what a synth's "associations" are, if it suits my purposes. For me, the sound suggests its own uses, and it more comes down to whether I like the sound than whether a synth is associated with what I want to be doing.

3) Do you check the alignment of a particular product in relation to your chosen genre(s)?
No. I'm largely into and work in progressive rock (with the occasional venture into '80s-style synth-rock,) and while there are some classic "genre standards" for prog (Moog, Mellotron, and Hammond organ,) there's just as much of a tradition of "anything goes" there, so with gear as with songwriting, I pretty much just do whatever I feel like. (Because it's gonna be a long time before I've got several grand to blow on a Mellotron - even a Minimoog is far out of my budget at this point. And I still need to get my Hammond all fixed up...)

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?
Somewhat. The "live" part isn't really important at all, but finding a good demo or three allows me to get a real feel for the overall sound of the intrument, which goes a long way towards helping me decide whether or not I want to spend $x on it. Factory-patch demos may or may not fill that role, depending on how well the presets demonstrate the machine's capabilities (for instance, hearing the achingly beautiful "Soundtrack" preset of the JX-8P/10 did a lot to convince me that I wanted one before I'd even gotten to play mine at the owner's house, but on the other hand, I would never have bought my DX7 on the basis of its shitty presets if I didn't know from experience that Yamaha FM is capable of a hell of a lot better than that.)

5) Does the preset amount (high or low or no patch memory) influence your purchase?
Depends on the design of the interface and the role the synth plays. If it's something like the DX7 or the Matrix-6 where there's a whole lot of parameters and minimal controls for editing them, I'm going to want a sizable amount of patch memory so's to not have to go through that any more than necessary, and especially when the synth is a versatile jack-of-all-trades (as my polys generally are.) On the other hand, on my MS-20 Mini, with every parameter immediately to hand and my generally going for lead or bass sounds with it, I can usually get to the basic sound I want from any given starting point in the space of a minute or so, so not having patch memory isn't a big problem.

(My DW-8000 managed to land right in the middle of this - I like having the patch memory, and it is parameter-access, but the voice architecture is simple enough that I honestly could've gotten along without it.)

6) Does who else uses it matter? Like if it's already popular for your intended genre?
It's not who uses it so much as what I hear them doing with it. To reference those "genre standards" from the earlier question, I have mixed opinions on Rick Wakeman as a musician (he's damn great when he's surrounded by the right group of people, but listening to some of his solo efforts I get the impression that he has to be dragged kicking and screaming into being awesome,) but his work with the Minimoog on classic Yes records (Close to the Edge in particular) was a major early factor in why I want one (before I got to play around with a decent VST and discovered all my own personal reasons for wanting one.) And while I think Tony Banks (or at least '70s Tony Banks) is a fine musician, he doesn't really have any automatic "cool" cachet in my brain; it wasn't the fact that Tony Banks plays a Mellotron that made me fall in love with the instrument, it was the absolutely amazing work he did with it on Selling England by the Pound (also the reason I kinda want a Pro-Soloist/Pro-DGX even though I've never been keen on preset synthesizers.)
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