Re: MUSIC ( not vs) Techno and Prog ?

From: James Rogers (
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 23:49:51 MST

On Tue, 11 Jan 2000, wrote:
> I also have extensive education in both electronics and composition, as well
> as being an accomplished player. I first started playing around with Synths
> when they used to have oscillators on their bellies... we'd make sawtooth
> waves and go "''woah"...bzzz!

There is a lot to be said for the sawtooth wave. The harmonics are so
undeniably appealing and the waveform is very versatile. I wish I
had learned to program synths on an old analog beast. My first
experiences were in the early ages of digital. Not very pretty from a
programming standpoint :^)

> Taking music and art into new realms (for me) require a commitment to
> exactly the opposite, not losing "interest" in the fundamentals. This is
> exactly what I find boring with the many MANY house, dub, techno,
> ambient, and electronica CDs that I REALLY want to like... they've
> abandoned all else in a quest for "waoh"...bzzzz

This is a very true characterization. Lately one of the biggest problems,
as I see it, is that when you buy a synth it almost always comes with some
arbitrarily large number of preset sounds which seem to be the staple of
the "me too" crowd. Worse, there is an increasingly large market for machines that
effectively function as "techno construction kits" which take very
little imagination to use. A lot of the bland "sameness" with a lot of
the mediocre techno is a result of these trends. There was a time when
creativity was born out of necessity. Perhaps the barrier to entry has
become too low.

One of the greatest blessings of modern synths is the depth of the sonic
possibilities, but very few artists take the time to learn to program new
sounds. The amazing sounds these machines can make is what attracts me to
them in the first place. I cringe when I hear popular music where the
sounds are so obvious that I can name the machine and patch number. What
is the point of using a synth if you aren't going to add something to the

I am generally in complete agreement with you. The sounds themselves can't
carry a well-written piece, particularly if the sounds are canned. The
ability to build deep and interesting musical constructs from its basic
components is still an essential skill for making great music; to
integrate carefully designed sounds just adds to the experience.
Unfortunately, modern technology lets a person with mediocre skills "pass"
for having talent, by letting the machine do all the work (basically
utilizing the creativity of the person who programmed the machine at the

-James Rogers

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:14 MDT