San Francisco, California, USA
I'm a grad student in psychology in SF who likes making catchy music. I've been making music in some form or another for about 16 years, and electronic music specifically since 1999.
Lately, I've been using a lot of Juno 106, SE-1, Ableton Live, Operator.
Electronic Music discussion: ramble: growing as a musician
Written June 03 2010
There are a myriad of skills required to make electronic music. I kind of separate them into the technical/craft skills and the inspirational/artistic. The technical skills are like knowing what a compressor does, or knowing how to work with midi, you know, the details about the applications of various tools, and how to work them. The inspirational skills are more about the feeling or sound that the tools give music, also about translating a thought or emotion into music.
I think there's a relationship between craft and inspiration; craft places an upper limit on inspiration, or at least that's how I see it. Lately, I've been feeling my technical skills in terms of traditional musicianship have been lacking, and so I've decided to spend some time learning to be better at guitar. I have dabbled with guitar and bass in the past, so the choice felt fairly natural. I am already feeling like it's helping me see music in a new way.
I've got a lot of basic chords down, scales, etc. and I guess I'm trying to figure out how to go to the next level. Maybe I'll try to take a couple of lessons or something. Any ideas?
If I were to learn how to play guitar again I would try to play with correct form from the beginning. Bad habits are hard to correct. A lesson or two should be all you need to establish that, as well as endless hours of practice. Some muscle growth is required to feel really comfortable playing with correct form. Physical instruments take too much practice for my liking. I never liked to practice. In fact, that's why I turned to computer music. My computer doesn't need to practice - it's a savant.
Other than that, I try to concentrate on improvisation, since it is a skill closely related to composition, and also because it's where traditional musicianship has the most to offer an electronic musician.
Guitar and bass are interesting compared to the piano keyboard. I like how the fingerings are chromatic. I use that approach when visualizing chords and scales, and I find it's more revealing than imagining piano fingerings.
Also, craft places an upper limit on certain types of inspiration, but luckily not the most powerful ones.
eyesnine said: "Also, craft places an upper limit on certain types of inspiration, but luckily not the most powerful ones."
Craft is important because it's cumulative. Inspiration comes and goes but without it we may as well be dead.
I'm thinking that inspiration supported by the premeditated elements is as good as it gets, after all instruments themselves are crafted if you want to break it down to that.
Good taste doesn't necessarily nee to be very crafty either
@eyesine: Ever thought about a Midi guitar?
I found listening to Bach and cesar franck or any other counterpoint music was a real insight in both composition and craft. Wether it be your guitar skills or improv/compo, learning about jazz, or classical music or any form of music that has a strong relationship with composition and rules can really open your eyes to new things.
Rules can be so liberating. I have never been a fan of things like dice music (12 tone system) and the likes, but in essence there are some real learning moments when you play with the set rules of musical system.
Bach was limited by the church (devils trinote anyone?) but the system might have been key to his (in my eyes) brilliant music.
Lately i have been deeply impressed by the likes of Arvo Pärt, debussy and other minimalists. there's something about limiting yourself, evoking as much emotion with as little as possible.
Also, jazz might be appealing to a EM artist, but in my opinion the live tools today are just instruments in a more abstract form (notebooks and midi gear etc, instead of acoustic or analogue instruments) then you find in jazz. Jazz is all about rules, without it (free)jazz would just be chaos, without any musical context.
A real challengefgor EM artists in my eyes is playing rubato, and i don't mean playing along with a clavia, but drums, bass etc in rubato...
link - clasical music tuts
link - jazz tuts
link - Pärt masterclass
i've thought about a midi guitar but all the ones in my price range have shitty strings I hear...I'm thinking of the casio DG-20.
I do want one eventually though.
dkarma said: "i've thought about a midi guitar but all the ones in my price range have shitty strings I hear...I'm thinking of the casio DG-20.
I do want one eventually though."
I have the same with midi wind instruments... and i dont even want the eigenharp
Well, Fant00m, you inspired me to order a book on counterpoint today.
Another thing I was thinking about today was that it's easier to listen to a song on guitar and figure out how to play it (approximately) than it is to listen to an electronic music track and reproduce it because there's just so much going on. I think I'm going to look for someone who's my equal or better as far as emusic goes and try to learn some stuff from them.
Besides knowing your craft to the point of making your tools work for you instead of the opposite, I think there's something to be said for how ambitious you are. How bad you want something. How big a thrill you get when you finally succeed. That sort of motivation for a victory can be addictive. I can only relate to this for the opposite reason. I'm content just rattling the walls.
Jim said: "Well, Fant00m, you inspired me to order a book on counterpoint today.
Another thing I was thinking about today was that it's easier to listen to a song on guitar and figure out how to play it (approximately) than it is to listen to an electronic music track and reproduce it because there's just so much going on. I think I'm going to look for someone who's my equal or better as far as emusic goes and try to learn some stuff from them."
So true, I can get totally addicted to a certain EM artist (last couple of years it was Amon Tobin, lately more a combo of a few artists). Like Noisia has been the holy grale for bass sounds for me
Great to hear you got inspired! I hope you'll enjoy the journey as much as i do.
i think one of the most important things i've learned since i began em, has been patience. i don't really have any formal training in dsp or classical music or anything, so its been really slow going for me. i've been basically teaching myself, with some help from some lovely websites ; )
however, i think this has made it more rewarding as all these secrets become revealed to me. i still feel though that my songs lack overall development. i can make cool bits and loops but its still very difficult for me to make them progress. thats my biggest problem, not the technical side.
which way does causality flow?
If you aren't comfortable enough with your technical skills, your inspiration can get trampled quickly while you try to make it sound like it is in your head and/or trouble-shoot.
But if you aren't inspired, the technical stuff gets old real quick.
the point of all of this is to practice, of cours. Also: work within limitations, esp. with electronic music. It's far to "unlimited" and if you aren't working within a set of limits, you will get lost in options.
there is a word that every modern electronic musician should know well, and would do well to cultivate an intimate relationship with.
my technical expertise was always hindered by the HW I used I knew how to use midi and sequencers and samples and stuff but the gear never could to exactly what I was trying to do and that alone hindered my creativity more than anything. like well if we routed the midi this way we could do this and it would be awesome, but SHIT we dont' have a midi in where we need it...hence the need for more gear. It's like a self fulfilling efficacy.
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