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  • Reflections and Philosophy

    For the second time in my life, and for the first in the life of my little brother, we watched BBC's Synth Britannia documentary, which charts the path of the earliest form of electronic and synth-pop acts such as The Normal and The Human League, and traces its growth into the end of the 1980s.

    Before that, I had watched What the Future Sounded Like, which outlines the development of the earliest synthesizers in the 1940s and beyond, and the technologies being developed, as well as the disdain by the musical world for "not being music".

    Now, history aside, I want you to think about something: where must we, as synthesizer players, performers, developers, and devotees go from our current standing? It's true that the synthesizer has penetrated its way into every form of popular music today. Our pop music is nearly all synthesized, even down to the vocal performances, at times. When the synthesizer was new, it was a fight for acceptance. When it began to gain popularity, it was a time to experiment with it in everything from hair metal to pop, even coming from punk roots.

    I feel like it is our duty to once again explore the full functionality of the synth. And I don't just mean dig into that dark place of the menu you've never been and see what stuff does. There has to be something new out there, and we must explore it. I wish that I could offer insight into what that might be, but I can't seem to, even in my recent thoughts on the matter, which is why I come here. Do you agree? Should we adamantly be searching to find the new place of the synthesizer in the world? Where might that place be? Is it time for an entirely new breed of musical device to emerge and once again wiggle its way into our common musical landscape?
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">Yamaha MOX8 | E-Mu Emax (SE Upgrade) | Yamaha RX11 | Yamaha TG33 | Yamaha DX7 | Roland Alpha Juno | Roland D50 | Roland JV-2080 | Korg DDD-1 | Oberheim DMX (w/ Factory MIDI)<br />
    MacBook Pro (Core i7) | Zoom R-16 | Yamaha HSM-50s | Cubase 5 | Ableton Live Intro | Novation Launchpad<br />
    </font><br />
    <b><a href="http://videohomesystem.bandcamp.com/" target="_blank">Video Home System</a></b> - <i>80s/Synthpop/Electronic</i><br />
    <a href="http://vhsmusic.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a><br />
    <a href="http://www.facebook.com/vhsmusic" target="_blank">Facebook</a><br />
    <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/VHS_music" target="_blank">Twitter</a></div>

  • #2
    i think the future is in professional touch products. i've been following axiotron for a few years and they're being reborn as modbook inc. if they make a semi-affordable macbook pro with multi-touch i'm gonna start saving up now.

    http://www.modbook.com/

    you can also buy more affordable dells with music os installed from open labs or you can buy the software for $300.

    dell inspiron touch 'desktop' all-in-one (at $1200): http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-one-2320/pd

    dell touch laptops (at $1400 and $1800): https://www.openlabs.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=20



    i think it will be super powerful combined with tools like ableton live and max or for me personally logic and reaktor, drawing connections between modules, etc.

    the obvious choice of an ipad is nice for middle aged women like my mom, in fact she loves the ipad we got her. but a more professional version is required imho.



    when it comes to new genres and styles imho they're always formless in the beginning. by going deep into sound design and making new strange sounds you can stay way ahead of the curve.

    there are many ways to do so. my strength has always been in digital and plug-ins since the mid 90s when i got my start but i think the analog resurgence and modulars in particular are perfectly suited for this.

    in early 2001 i was doing just that and combining drum and bass with rap. NONE of the mcs i was working with wanted anything to do with it lol and now half of them are into dubstep

    so its never really rewarding unless your timing is perfect. we always joke about my dad being simultaneously 2000 years behind and 2000 years ahead of everyone.

    he's been an experimenter his whole life and his projects don't pay unless he nails the timing perfectly, which is much harder to do than make new stuff

    Comment


    • #3
      They should call this the Open Lap. Just imagine the logo.

      Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

      Comment


      • #4
        Do you agree? Should we adamantly be searching to find the new place of the synthesizer in the world? Where might that place be? Is it time for an entirely new breed of musical device to emerge and once again wiggle its way into our common musical landscape?


        I agree that we should search for a new place for a synthesizer in music. I've been hugely disappointed by the scarcity or even lack of synthesizer recitals and changing this has become my dream.

        Technology developments are not important at this stage. They can introduce mind controlled oscillators with quantum waveforms affected by bipolar crystal vibration modulators next year but it still means nothing because people will demand a VST editor for that in order to make dubstep.

        I'm in opposition to DAW-ism, MIDI editing and other off-line production techniques inherent in electronic music. For this reason, I'm going to pick up an acoustic instrument this year. But since I've been playing synths for many years, I will keep one monophonic synth and try to fill this, what I think it is, glaring gap in the potential application of the synthesizer.

        Comment


        • #5
          Gliesegarden, I like what you're saying. I agree on the technology advancement part of things. I feel like we don't need knew technology, but new adaptations of what we currently have. Just as an example, the 50s saw the electric guitar come out from the back of the jazz ensemble and come right up front and center, and rock n' roll was born. In essence, that's the dream I'm seeking. That new something that is just totally unique.
          <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">Yamaha MOX8 | E-Mu Emax (SE Upgrade) | Yamaha RX11 | Yamaha TG33 | Yamaha DX7 | Roland Alpha Juno | Roland D50 | Roland JV-2080 | Korg DDD-1 | Oberheim DMX (w/ Factory MIDI)<br />
          MacBook Pro (Core i7) | Zoom R-16 | Yamaha HSM-50s | Cubase 5 | Ableton Live Intro | Novation Launchpad<br />
          </font><br />
          <b><a href="http://videohomesystem.bandcamp.com/" target="_blank">Video Home System</a></b> - <i>80s/Synthpop/Electronic</i><br />
          <a href="http://vhsmusic.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a><br />
          <a href="http://www.facebook.com/vhsmusic" target="_blank">Facebook</a><br />
          <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/VHS_music" target="_blank">Twitter</a></div>

          Comment


          • #6
            Great idea for a thread...

            There has to be something new out there, and we must explore it.


            I personally think electro-mechanical relationships haven't been pushed as far as they might go. We have the electric guitar and the Rhodes-type keyboards, as well as a variety of other things. But integrated synthesis and acoustically or mechanically generated sounds could go in all sorts of directions. I imagine the obstacles here are economic rather than anything else. But for people who like holding and playing instruments, this could be a frontier.

            Comment


            • #7
              But for people who like holding and playing instruments, this could be a frontier.

              Interesting. So instead of just new forms of synthesizers, perhaps a sax with an EWI built in, where you can play the synth part, the sax part, or both? Or even further, things like the Moog Guitar with add to the initial abilities of the instrument (infinite sustain, etc.)
              <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">Yamaha MOX8 | E-Mu Emax (SE Upgrade) | Yamaha RX11 | Yamaha TG33 | Yamaha DX7 | Roland Alpha Juno | Roland D50 | Roland JV-2080 | Korg DDD-1 | Oberheim DMX (w/ Factory MIDI)<br />
              MacBook Pro (Core i7) | Zoom R-16 | Yamaha HSM-50s | Cubase 5 | Ableton Live Intro | Novation Launchpad<br />
              </font><br />
              <b><a href="http://videohomesystem.bandcamp.com/" target="_blank">Video Home System</a></b> - <i>80s/Synthpop/Electronic</i><br />
              <a href="http://vhsmusic.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a><br />
              <a href="http://www.facebook.com/vhsmusic" target="_blank">Facebook</a><br />
              <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/VHS_music" target="_blank">Twitter</a></div>

              Comment


              • #8
                I've been hugely disappointed by the scarcity or even lack of synthesizer recitals and changing this has become my dream.


                There isn't much of a demand for this, at least not in the US. That's unfortunate because much of the music we hear, whether in pop music, commercials, or movie soundtracks is performed with synthesizers. It's mostly behind the scenes though. People do see synths and workstations at concerts, whether live or on TV, but have little or no knowledge of what they really are and how they work.

                The general public looks at anything with keys as just a piano or organ... how sad.

                <div class="signaturecontainer">Too many keyboards, not enough music.</div>

                Comment


                • #9
                  For the second time in my life, and for the first in the life of my little brother, we watched BBC's Synth Britannia documentary, which charts the path of the earliest form of electronic and synth-pop acts such as The Normal and The Human League, and traces its growth into the end of the 1980s.

                  Before that, I had watched What the Future Sounded Like, which outlines the development of the earliest synthesizers in the 1940s and beyond, and the technologies being developed, as well as the disdain by the musical world for "not being music".

                  Now, history aside, I want you to think about something: where must we, as synthesizer players, performers, developers, and devotees go from our current standing? It's true that the synthesizer has penetrated its way into every form of popular music today. Our pop music is nearly all synthesized, even down to the vocal performances, at times. When the synthesizer was new, it was a fight for acceptance. When it began to gain popularity, it was a time to experiment with it in everything from hair metal to pop, even coming from punk roots.

                  I feel like it is our duty to once again explore the full functionality of the synth. And I don't just mean dig into that dark place of the menu you've never been and see what stuff does. There has to be something new out there, and we must explore it. I wish that I could offer insight into what that might be, but I can't seem to, even in my recent thoughts on the matter, which is why I come here. Do you agree? Should we adamantly be searching to find the new place of the synthesizer in the world? Where might that place be? Is it time for an entirely new breed of musical device to emerge and once again wiggle its way into our common musical landscape?


                  the problem with all of this is that you speak of 'our', yet overall philosophical/musical opinions are so disparate as to make all of this pretty meaningless. The discussion will go nowhere, in that people who already agree will continue, unscathed.

                  Just make the music you want. There's great gear around, whether you're using software, hardware, digital, analog, modular, or whatever. Some of the best stuff is gear that deviates from the more 'commercial' stuff, and lets you create sounds without all of the same preconceptions. Check out ciat-lonbarde for instance.

                  there's tons of new music around. One problem is that the people who clamor for it generally hate it if it is not close to what they usually listen to.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    there's tons of new music around. One problem is that the people who clamor for it generally hate it if it is not close to what they usually listen to.


                    If you want to break any ground with music, one of the most important things to learn is that you must occasionally listen to music you don't think you'll like, especially when it's stuff which other people seem to enjoy inspite of your own personal aversion. It's hard to do this because it means putting aside some pride.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank you Droolmaster and Praxisaxis. I am with you guys.

                      I often find myself dissenting from the overly-homogeneous group of people that gathers around my usual lunch table at work. I will often say that I respectfully disagree with the overwhelming opinion, even if it is against a particular genre for which I have no love. I then get expectant looks waiting for an argument. At that point I say that I realize the group is waiting for a rational argument but that I am merely disagree and think it is pointless to go any further (because it is).

                      It disappoints me when people that I respect for multiple other reasons are not willing to take a step outside of themselves and listen - to music, to an opinion, or to an idea.

                      As for me personally, I am exploring the idea of the patch as the music and/or performance on a modular. This is not a new idea, but it is new to me. I have normally thought of the patch as a tool to fit into a larger piece or as combined with other patches an recorded to make a composition, but now it is just one patch.
                      <div class="signaturecontainer">Gribs<br />
                      <font size="3"><br />
                      <font size="1"><i>...Music can be used to stimulate mass emotion, while mathematics cannot; and musical incapacity is recognized (no doubt rightly) as mildly discreditable, whereas most people are so frightened of the name of mathematics that they are ready, quite unaffectedly, to exaggerate their own mathematical stupidity.<br />
                      </i><br />
                      G.H. Hardy in A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).</font></font></div>

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I personally think electro-mechanical relationships haven't been pushed as far as they might go. We have the electric guitar and the Rhodes-type keyboards, as well as a variety of other things. But integrated synthesis and acoustically or mechanically generated sounds could go in all sorts of directions. I imagine the obstacles here are economic rather than anything else. But for people who like holding and playing instruments, this could be a frontier.


                        I feel that electronic synthesizers, in general, have taken two steps backwards when it comes to expressive controllers (except in little corner pockets here and there, I know about the AS French Connection and the Continuum and others). 90% of the synth world is designed for DAW and dance and is rather static. Even *piano* style controllers have seemed to step back into cheap plastic-y devices that are hard to be expressive on. So there's that opportunity. Electro-mechanical would also be interesting.
                        <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">What I make with way too many blinky light modular items, plugins, and an Alesis Andromeda. <br />
                        <a href="http://forbiddenstar.com/" target="_blank">Forbidden Star: </a> home studio / melodic ambient / New Age / the deep zone<br />
                        <a href="http://boneyfiend.com/" target="_blank">Boney Fiend: </a>the band, man / punk / garage / beer</font></div>

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          No there doesn't.

                          And no we mustn't.

                          It's fine to reach for new sounds. But it is not necessary.

                          If you want to really change things, change the harmony and proportion.
                          Attack Pythagoras - not Mozart, not Bach.

                          But other composers have tried that. It is much easier for weenies to try to create new sounds and not escape the harmonic structure of two-thousand years.
                          It's much easier to create new sounds.

                          That's why I'm a Romplerista. I don't need new sounds. I'm still learning what soundsBach, Hayden, Mozart and Beetoven gave us. Yes, I love a sine wave. But ultimately, I'm working within the framework that was given to me. I have no desire to change it.

                          After I'm finished with that framework, maybe I'll start fishing around for new sounds.


                          What exactly is a 'new sound', btw? Music doesn't need harmonic structure. It is only much easier to create "new sounds" if you don't understand them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            @Mikelpanky: Damned good thread topic.

                            I agree that we should search for a new place for a synthesizer in music. I've been hugely disappointed by the scarcity or even lack of synthesizer recitals and changing this has become my dream.


                            Go bother your local coffee/bookshop owner or your local community center. Be prepared to play to a few empty rooms and get a lot of strange looks. If you can do that, you may find yourself in the midst of some likeminded people.
                            <div class="signaturecontainer">What I lack in quality I make up for in volume...<br />
                            <br />
                            ...When I became bankrupt, a guitar was something that you patched into an Evolver so it would go mmmrrreeeeeeploploplop....</div>

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ...
                              Go bother your local coffee/bookshop owner or your local community center. Be prepared to play to a few empty rooms and get a lot of strange looks. If you can do that, you may find yourself in the midst of some likeminded people.


                              If you don't get lots of strange looks, you're really not doing anything new.

                              These are really fundamentally 2 different things - making music for money, to be popular, to be famous, using rompler drums, and harmonies, etc - and exploring where sound can take you, using some of the musical concepts that became established in the 20th century, and are still unknown to most people (and hence regarded as strange, or even non-musical). I think that the ot was starting to articulate this, and the use of synthesis within such a framework. What annoys me no end is people who ridicule people who embrace this overall aesthetic because they are not popular.

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