Author Topic: Gear Acquisition Syndrome related blog post  (Read 1639 times)

petekelly

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Gear Acquisition Syndrome related blog post
« on: September 18, 2012, 03:12:46 AM »
I think I need a 'purge' ! (Process mini-blog)

I spend an awful lot of time trying to determine as to whether software programs – synths, effects, samplers etc. may be useful (or not) for my musical projects. If I decide to buy a certain program, I spend even more time figuring out how it works. Of course, some things are pretty straight forward, but something like Native Instrument’s ‘Kontakt’ (for example) has an awful lot going on ‘behind the scenes’ as it were, and I’ve spent a significant amount of time with it, trying to figure out how I might find some interesting elements to it which aren’t immediately obvious.

I’m wondering now if I’ve succumbed to that most odious and insidious condition that musicians can be afflicted by – ‘GAS’ (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I have a relatively humble set-up, which probably cost me less than a half-decent 5 year old car would do. Saying that, I have a LOT of stuff and as I’ve said earlier, I spend a lot of time working with that ‘stuff’.
When it works, it’s cool, in that it gets used in my music and I get to broaden my sonic palette and look at new techniques and ways of working. Also, it keeps the old noggin ticking over, I feel it’s always good to try new things out. Some of my ‘core’ techniques have come out of happy accidents with working with some program or using a program in a different way in which it was intended to be used.

However, I’m starting to wonder if is less is more and do I need to stop looking to new ‘shiny’ things and concentrate on what I have ? I think that marketing people know that a lot of musicians are looking for that killer application that will improve their work markedly in some way. Look at the amount of ‘ambient themed’ sample libraries / synths / loops and the likes that are out there. Whole synths are marketed as making great sounding ‘pads’, for example. My feeling is that you need to spend time with what you know in a lot of cases, to come up with interesting results. I’m fortunate in that I’m quite an imaginative chap, so new ideas are never too far away. ‘Ambient X Super synth’ may yield great results, but there’s a lot of satisfaction in the DIY approach, methinks.

On balance, exploring synthesis and sound-mangling techniques is something I’m deeply fascinated by, so even though a lot of this experimentation never sees the light of day in my material, I believe that the time energy ‘invested’ is never wasted in the pursuit of artistic endeavour and it feeds into the final work, one way or another.

Original text here:
http://igneousflame.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/process-mini-blog-and-the-evil-gas/
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 02:14:32 AM by petekelly »

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2012, 06:17:56 AM »
Good topic Pete......if we can't talk about "New Shinny Things" as you put we can at least talk about our GAS.  Good therapy.

I have been on the look out for something new, something that would spark some creativity, something to inspire me with new sound making potential.....its always a fun journey and usually a discovery is made.  Could be hardware, software, fx etc.....however I came up empty and through the process I released that I have all that I need and all that I actually want right here in the studio.   

It is quite refreshing to watch all the NAMM product videos of this years new gear and various other gear related media and come away wanting none of it.  "Im Cure" ;)

Like you I found that delving into sound manipulation techniques has become an inspiring format for new sonic ideas.  Recently Ive been creating new warped sounds by taking my patches in my
Virus TI and sampling them and processing them further in the software dominion.  Sonic recycling!

 


Seren

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 12:24:58 AM »
I find I need to push myself every now and then to look at whatI already have and try to use it differently.
  Recently been working on some recordings of playing a wine glass in my Sonar 5 software and explored some of the effects and things I'd not touched before.

Sometimes just playing with seeing what can be done is just fun, even if not useable - I ended up with 16 hours worth of sounds to sort through and choose which I wanted to use.

and I think that this exploration is likely to bear fruit on other projects too.

Another question, light hearted perhaps, is what is the most used piece of equipment I have - surprisingly turns out to be the drummers stool I use to sit on..... :o

petekelly

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 03:45:03 AM »
Yes Julio,
Perhaps discussion is valuable therapy !. I'm actually thinking of not buying any more new music stuff for a while, I've got to crack on with my next album and the distraction of learning something new might not be such a good idea. I'm saying this after a possible Reaktor purchase, mind you :)

Sonic exploration here we go - it's never considered to be a profession is it ? Musician yes, composer yes, but sonic explorer, not so.

Seren

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 04:28:55 AM »
Sonic explorer, sound sculpter, soundsmith - yes. 8) 8) 8) 8)

LNerell

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2012, 05:44:57 PM »
Interesting topic, I just did a minor purge of mostly gear I haven't been using in a long while. It felt good but I'm still feeling like I have too much gear. I might end up doing another purge in a while, I have a few pieces that basically just sit around not getting much use, and as others have said I don't know the full depths of what I have now except for maybe a few things like my wavestation AD. Some times I look back at what I had in the 1980s, basically a sampler and a few analog synths. Everything was much simpler to use back then, I sometimes miss that simplicity.
Take care.

- Loren Nerell

hdibrell

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2012, 09:05:47 PM »
Interesting topic, I just did a minor purge of mostly gear I haven't been using in a long while. It felt good but I'm still feeling like I have too much gear. I might end up doing another purge in a while, I have a few pieces that basically just sit around not getting much use, and as others have said I don't know the full depths of what I have now except for maybe a few things like my wavestation AD. Some times I look back at what I had in the 1980s, basically a sampler and a few analog synths. Everything was much simpler to use back then, I sometimes miss that simplicity.
Yes. (Sigh) I do, too.
Never regret money spent on old books, old dogs or old friends.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome releated blog post
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2012, 04:53:05 PM »
Some times I look back at what I had in the 1980s, basically a sampler and a few analog synths. Everything was much simpler to use back then, I sometimes miss that simplicity.

Well put Loren.......this is what I have been after, the simplicity.  Im sure you all  know of ambient artist Rudy Adrian....love his music but what impressed me was the majority of his music was composed on one keyboard, a yamaha Sy 88 or something like that.  Just one synth.  Talk about knowing you instruments. 

I have had a good selection of keys to play with in the past but Ive whittled it down to an Matrix 12 & a Virus TI......really, if you can't  create with this combo.

Also I feel theres not much happening out there regarding new instruments for sonic creation...software perhaps. 

The last recent hardware synth that inspired me was the Hartmann Neuron, I had the funky misbehaving software version.....very unique sounds though.

As Ambient Electronic musicians we have this vast world of sonic possibilities and it was the gear that defined and shaped electronic music at its origin.

 

petekelly

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome related blog post
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2012, 07:19:20 AM »
In the spirit of my original post, I've been spending some time revisiting two of my favourite synths - Native Instrument's Prism and Razor.
With fresh ears (so to speak), I found some even more interesting qualities to these synths that I wasn't previously aware of.
The 'sonic exploration' continues !

JeromeDisney

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome related blog post
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2012, 03:15:42 AM »
I think that these days you can spend a lifetime exploring the possibilities of just one instrument. It's far more important to get the music done. I find it's easier to mentally decide what I am going to do before I sit down at the keyboards or guitar or whatever. Sure the different sounds can spark some creativity but you can also get lost in it to the point where you don't know where you are headed. And buying another piece of gear is not going to solve it either. Just my opinion.
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it - Mahatma Gandhi

Seren

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome related blog post
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2012, 03:33:25 AM »
It is a balancing act - often discovering something new with what I have opens a whole gateway of possibilities. But having too set an idea at the beginning often limits whre I end up.

But recently I ended up with 16 hours worth of sounds to listen to and choose which top use - luckily the 16 hours was divided into 15 and 25 minute segments so not too many files to play......

Chronotope Project

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Re: Gear Acquisition Syndrome related blog post
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2013, 03:34:23 PM »
An important discussion, since "more is better" or "new is better" can be serious (and expensive!) distractions. When my mouth starts drooling over some new gear or software, I try to ask myself several questions:

1. What can I do with this that I cannot do now? Do I have a particular project or direction that really requires another gear-buy, or am I being seduced by advertising, or envy?

2.  Have I fully exploited the gear I already have? Do I really even know what I already have in my toolkit? I try to spend a couple of hours each week just auditioning sounds, and often come across some extraordinary things I never knew I even had.  And then, there are the many sounds I almost automatically reject. (Paid for, but not used.) Are they really unequivocal "rejects?" One powerful exercise for an electronic music composer is to identify some "reject" sounds, and to try to tweak or use them in a creative way. Sometimes, the "power of limits" can create a very fertile ground for new work. Sometimes, this leads absolutely nowhere, but sometimes--for me--it opens up a new avenue.

3. Am I using my current tools fully and creatively? Since I'm a cellist, I've explored all kinds of "extended technique" to open up the sonic possibilities of the instrument. If with this single instrument, I can create a whole universe of sounds, why not apply this philosophy to all of my instruments? This involves spending some more time with the "guts" of electronic instruments and software, rolling up one's sleeves, learning  more about their inner workings, and some admittedly "unproductive" time spent goofing around. But it can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, and lead to new frontiers in one's sound.
Jeffrey Ericson Allen
Chronotope Project