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Are you drifting away from recording using 'traditional' instruments?

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  • Are you drifting away from recording using 'traditional' instruments?

    I'm in the middle of recording a new song, and I find myself using my Yamaha MOX keyboard for the vast majority of sounds that I need



    I think I'm slowly moving away from using guitars

    a selection of my songs: https://soundcloud.com/songwriter101

    my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaulTiberiusNads

  • #2
    I went through a similar phase in the mid-late 90s and into this decade a couple years. Which is not to say that synths hadn't played a fair part of my musical life before, but they were often standing in for traditional keyboards, drums, and the more than occasional bass. (And, pretty much completely separate from my songwriting, during most of the decade I was doing an all improv, mostly synth, live echo loop act. Mostly as a solo but I had some pals who would sit in and eventually we started gigging under the name Drift.) But starting in '96, influenced by the of trip hop/downtempo of Portishead and some other heavily dub influenced acts, as well as by hip hop (for a while I was sitting in with a funk/rap band in the early 90s -- but I'd listened to rap/hip hop since the beginning of the 80s or even a little before when it first started appearing on KDAY, which became the first LA station regularly playing rap).



    For a while, regular guitars barely figured in (although I had and still have a soft spot for backwards electric). It seemed an exciting time and I was pushing my own music/writing sometimes right up to the breaking point. I continued writing what I felt were more or less roots/country songs, but I was casting them in post modern stylings. Rather than trying to mimic others in the field, I was trying to forge some new hybrid -- but I was knocked back pretty hard when the UK act A3 showed up blending similar influences (but doing it about 300% slicker, with soulful backup singers and players and slick production). I guess I expected them to be big, since they had captured a lot of what I was going for -- but they were barely a footnote in the pop annals and I doubt many remember them today -- certainly not in the US, where they were almost completely unknown. (Seems I recall they were called Alabama 3 but changed the name to avoid a conflict with a US act.)



    Anyhow, starting in 2002/3, I began moving much more back to guitars and roots instruments. I bought a (cheap) banjo and a (cheaper) mandolin, instruments I'd always wanted and had fooled with in the distant past when friends lent me theirs. And I found myself playing loads more acoustic and barely any electric.



    That said, I was listening to Lene Lovich's first album the other day -- I don't think I'd heard it in at least 25 years -- and remembering how intoxicating some of the early new wave was. I was more a fan of the darker side, your Televisions, Magazines, Buzzcocks, the very first Ultravox records [before -- ugh -- they changed to wimpwave pop with the addition of Midge Ure], and such. (Really did not like most of the popular new wave bands* like the Cars, Police, U2, etc, or the synth pop bands that followed.)



    I dunno... maybe I might be drifting back the other way.



    I really miss the sense of adventure and the sense (right or wrong) of being 'out in front.'



    That said, joining the new wave revival at this point doesn't seem so 'out front.' I mean, there are buckets of folks in the 35-40 age bracket who seem dedicated to reliving that era. Interpol might be a guilty pleasure for me (except for the squashed mastering, of course) but I'm not sure I want to join that nostalgia-bound cohort. Not much sense of adventure there, I don't think.







    * Probably the only really popular new wave band (unless you maybe counted Elvis Costello) I liked was Talking Heads, who I'd seen in '77 in the tiny Golden Bear, winning me over right off. Although, even there, the charm wore thin toward the end. I remember seeing them after they became mainstream popular and had added a bunch of ringer musicians so they could play the more hard-edged afro-funky things they had moved into on the last couple albums... it was the 5th time I'd seen them and they had become more like a review band -- it was a good show with some great add-on players -- but it was really starting to bore me. (Apparently it bored David Byrne, too, who apparently stopped talking to his old bandmates not long after -- apparently they came in off a successful tour and he holed himself up to do some writing and then no one heard from him again for so long they assumed the band was broken up. And I guess it was.


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    • #3
      So is that a yes or a no?








      a selection of my songs: https://soundcloud.com/songwriter101

      my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaulTiberiusNads

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      • #4
        Well I guess you could say that I make a distinction between traditional instuments and traditional sounds. We are to the point now where certain digital instruments like the DX7 are now considered vintage. But would the DX7 be considered a "traditional" instrument?



        I've been using digital keyboards for over twenty years now and I still use them but I don't use them the same way that I used to. I used to really be into all the latest sounds and technology as they came out and used them because I thought they sounded modern and cool. My thinking now is pretty much the opposite of that approach.



        I'm much more likely to use what I would consider traditional sounds in my productions. Things like Hammond organs, acoustic pianos, Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, Hohner clavinets, melotrons, and other electro mechanical keyboards. I also use sample based traditional instruments like basses and string sections and some vintage synth sounds. I consider these sounds to be pretty much timeless unlike the DX7 which sounds very dated to me.



        With the exception of my near mint Wurlitzer electric piano I don't own or have access right now to most of those other instruments but I do have some really good emulations like the Native Instruments Akoustik Piano and B4 organs program.



        When it comes to guitars I still used the real thing. I've never heard anything that came close to emulating the sound of a real guitar, plus I play guitar so there wouldn't be much point in trying to emulate it anyway.



        I guess you could say my objective is make music that "sounds" like I'm using traditional instruments but I have no qualms using non-traditional instruments if they can provide the results I'm seeking.

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        • #5
          I've been a keyboard player (mainly synths) for near 40 years, but last month I decided to buy my first guitar at the local Guitar Center. I was really enthusiast about learning and practicing it for about 7 weeks, then I came to the realization that I hate playing guitar. Not only don't I have the patience for learning a new instrument at my age, I couldn't get over the string indentations and finger numbing calluses. Needless to say, I took advantage of the GC 90 day holiday money back guarantee and returned it, so I'm back to using 100% "non-traditional" instruments again.

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          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by MarkydeSad
            View Post

            I'm in the middle of recording a new song, and I find myself using my Yamaha MOX keyboard for the vast majority of sounds that I need



            I think I'm slowly moving away from using guitars




            I`ve been using Reason since 2005 for all my MIDI and around 2008 I started to use more and more samples. I actually put together a demo for my next record in which I used Reason for everything except vocals. The guitars were all sounds I created myself and everyone who has heard them thinks the guitar tracks are real. Its all MIDI and it sounds quite good, as a matter of fact I`m using that demo for the record.



            I definitely find myself using MIDI/samples more than I thought I would say 10 years ago but as sounds get better and my sound palette develops, I find that I want to hear and enjoy the juxtaposition. Don`t get me wrong, I love organic and natural sounding instruments but there is something to be said for the leaps that sound sampling has made in the recent years.



            In the end it comes down to serving the song. I`m just glad to have the luxury of great sounds and really talented people to work with.

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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by MarkydeSad
              View Post

              So is that a yes or a no?











              I can't remember.


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              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by Ed A.
                View Post

                I've been a keyboard player (mainly synths) for near 40 years, but last month I decided to buy my first guitar at the local Guitar Center. I was really enthusiast about learning and practicing it for about 7 weeks, then I came to the realization that I hate playing guitar. Not only don't I have the patience for learning a new instrument at my age, I couldn't get over the string indentations and finger numbing calluses. Needless to say, I took advantage of the GC 90 day holiday money back guarantee and returned it, so I'm back to using 100% "non-traditional" instruments again.




                Next time, classical.


                music and social stuff

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                • #9
                  I use synths a lot, but frankly, a song doesn't sound right until the guitars go on there. But I also like playing "fool the ear" - playing synth-like parts on guitar, and using samplers to play guitar parts that are "beyond perfect" (sort of like "CGI guitar").



                  Given my philosophy that the voice matters most, all the rest is just there so the vocals and words don't get lonely. I think doing the two versions of "My Lucky Day" kind of proves my point; although the background tracks were very different, the overall impact and vibe of the song really didn't change between the two versions.
                  _____________________________________________
                  There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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                  • #10
                    For a while I was excited by synths and their possibilities (about 13 years ago) but since I've decided there is such a vast array of natural and found and instrumental sounds that playing with electronic sound has really lost it's appeal.



                    I still use it, but no longer try to build entire compositions around it. To me, that would be like trying to build a gourmet dinner around oatmeal...

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                    • #11
                      I play the lot, acoustic, electric, distorted, synth, analog, digital, effects, original, whatever sounds good to me is the go. I mean who cares so long as it sounds better than that MTV, commercial radio, manufactured pleb bull**************** music.

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                      • #12
                        So much music today is made without traditional instruments that I'm surprised at this question. A better question would be whether you're drifting more toward recording traditional instruments.



                        If someone came in wanting to use a banjo plug-in, I'd lend him a banjo and tell him to come back when he learned to play it.
                        --
                        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                        • #13
                          Goes in cycles for me. Right now I'm on a big swing back to traditional instruments. In fact, at my advanced age, I am now, for the first time in my life, the proud owner of an actual electric guitar and amp. And I got an SM57 for Christmas



                          I love synths and samplers and all the toys in the digital box, and I mess around with them all the time - but at the end of the day, I have to make handmade music on "real" instruments or the essential itch hasn't been scratched.



                          If I had to choose between owning a car or my acoustic guitar, there'd be no hesitation, inconvenience be damned.



                          nat whilk ii

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                          • #14
                            Yeah, even when most of the music I was making was dominated by synths, I was still playing a lot of acoustic steel, classical, and electric. That's the lens through which I tend to view music.


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                            • #15
                              I started on piano back in early 1984 in order to learn how to play properly and prepare me for the synth music I loved....the music that blue2blue apparently loathes, like The Cars. Because I spent so much time on piano, I grew to love the feeling of the hammers hitting the strings, the 'realness' of the expression. When I moved to synths, it felt like I went from eating a robust steak and baked potato meal to a McDonalds cheapo hamburger with old, stale fries. There are cool things synthesizers can do and I did enjoy playing the keyboards, but I felt like I needed more.



                              So, I started playing guitar. Like before, first on the acoustic version, then later the electric. I started on it later than some (I was almost 18 by then), but I've been playing it ever since. I've had a few detours in bands playing other instruments, but overall, I've been playing guitar for the past 20+ years. When I write on the keyboard and record it, the results don't really get to me. When I do the same with acoustic or electric guitars in the mix, it feels more 'right' if that makes any sense.



                              I guess I went in the opposite direction instead.
                              (This is my Non-Signature.)

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