AM I BETTER THAN MY TOOLS?... ARE YOU?

Am I better than the tools I use? Absolutely, positively not! There is so much more I could do if I only knew how. And that is a deep statement, I think, because it is not just technical mastery of all the apps, it is mastery of recording, mixing, and the most abstruse part... The creation, for me, of original sounding music that feels good.

Because of the Apple conference, I guess, the talk about tools seems at the double quickstep. The complaining is thru the roof, it seems. Of course, without this complaining there would be no vigorous and healthy debate... Not that it means very much, because on the bottom line tools can only do so much. How I look to them to help make a weak track stronger! a thin sound thicker! But I cannot fool myself when the music is simply not there.

There are many who view and post on this forum who take great pleasure in the techno toy quality of iOS music making. That is great. There are many who want to create a heartfelt pulse that makes you want to jump and shout. That is terrific. There are those who want to immerse themselves and others in a lush landscape of sonic textures. That is fabulous. It is all happening. Then what is the true source of the dissatisfaction with the tools that so often comes across? The lack of seamless interaction. The syncing and the routing, the crashing and the freezing, the virtual not being virtual enough. We want seamless syncing, rapid routing, instant interconnectivity, accurate acoustics and multi timbral saturated synths capable of leaping tall mainframes in a single bound. We want. Oh, how we want!

So what am I ranting about? Just this... For those who care about such things, do we investigate our musical souls with as much intensity? If we had better tools would our music be.... Better? Are we missing something organic with our fascination of sophisticated circuitry and far seeing algorhythms? Might the looking inward be as important as the looking out? How do we create to our true potential? With better tools? Perhaps... As long as you are better than your tools. And if you, like myself, are not better than your tools is there reason to be dissatisfied, angry and impatient with devs, manufacturers, platforms, limitations, inaccuracies, breakdowns, prices and foibles? I'm just asking.

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Comments

  • Fascinating. No, clearly I'm not better than the tools. How do I know? Because, after close to a year of digging in to this platform and it's fabulous array of tools, I have yet to complete one song/project.

    I have a lot of things to be dissatisfied with but the developers and their tools as displayed here are not among them.

  • I agree, and with the current cost of most of these apps, there really is little to complain about... However there are some apps that made promises and never delivered... And that is frustrating... To dive in and support something then get left in the cold...
    It's not all about price, time invested in learning and understanding these creations is a huge factor, and when we are told "this is coming" and it never does... or when you can't save your work , it's pointless even getting started... Crashes, lack of the basics is the huge complaint and rightfully so... But yes.... You have to be able to create and that means you have to rely on the tools, wether few or many.... But they go hand in hand... Reliably and creativity in the tools makes it possible to dig into your own self and finish tracks

  • edited September 14

    Hey LinearLineman,

    :) Good points! And much food for thought. Each day it seems the available pool of music software and hardware of various kinds expands. Sure... somewhere an old analog poly is slowly eroding, or some program has become abandonware. And there definitely aren’t as many hardware polyphonic synths being made, imho. But overall, we are swimming in an ocean of choices. Trying to choose, simplify, and streamline is a top priority. Also, just having some spare time to play/create some music. For a couple hundred bills or maybe less, having a totally wireless Bluetooth synth, controller, and speaker/headphone setup? Almost unimaginable science fiction ten years ago, but now a reality. Good stuff!

    But personally, I’m about on the level of banging on a metal pot with some water swirling in it. Boooiiinggg! Boinggg! :D

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • edited September 14

    @mAxjUlien said:
    Good perspective. Even the most self congratulating among us will have to admit the devs responsible for these tools are significantly more talented/able than the greater majority of those who use them.

    I’ll check back in to see how the thread (d)evolves.lol.

    Can't argue with that statement.

    @LinearLineman

    Nice post

    Regarding tools, since all my musical heros never used any electronic instruments I can only say music does sound better on quality tools but the tools are secondary to the user.

    Regarding the complaining about Apple, it mostly comes from what Apple choose not to incorporate into their devices. Like USB C which i believe they had a hand in inventing right?

  • edited September 14

    It amazes me how people (and I have most likely (100%) been guilty of this too) break down their initial experience with an app by the minute. 'After fifteen minutes I thought blah blah...' 'Then about an hour in I started to get it...' etc. Insanely accelerated expectations with our little platform. Any review or impression of Ableton on desktop that said 'Fifteen minutes in..' would sound absurd but here on the forum it is par for the course and we seem to get it.

    Anyway, these days, particularly because of BM3, I am far more interested in how an app will work for me after hundreds of hours using it. That is the real gold. Anything that you can make sound good in 15 minutes will sound good for anyone. Is it you using the app or the app using you? (Insert Yakov Smirnoff meme) To just want to throw a general description of an aesthetic at an app and get a return says far more about the app than us as individual artists.

  • edited September 14

    @AudioGus said:
    It amazes me how people (and I have most likely (100%) been guilty of this too) break down their initial experience with an app by the minute. 'After fifteen minutes I thought blah blah...' 'Then about an hour in I started to get it...' etc. Insanely accelerated expectations with our little platform. Any review or impression of Ableton on desktop that said 'Fifteen minutes in..' would sound absurd but here on the forum it is par for the course and we seem to get it.

    Anyway, these days, particularly because of BM3, I am far more interested in how an app will work for me after hundreds of hours using it. That is the real gold. Anything that you can make sound good in 15 minutes will sound good for anyone. Is it you using the app or the app using you? (Insert Yakov Smirnoff meme) To just want to throw a general description of an aesthetic at an app and get a return says far more about the app than us as individual artists.

    So true. I’ve barely scratched the surface of half my iOS apps compared to how deep I’ve gone with my hardware and desktop software. Stuff like the Scapers, Quantum, Idensity.... complex apps that I’ve just neglected to put the hours in that they deserve. If they'd cost more money I’d have probably learned them inside out by now and have made hundreds of user patches and got my head around all the intergration logistics etc. Humans are odd creatures :/

    To be fair tho half my time in iOS so far has just been spent looking to get multiple apps working together nicely without problems and figure out all the various, nuanced import procedures for different apps etc etc. If none of that stuff was a factor then I’d complain WAY less and just be getting on with the fun stuff.... Lately thinking about going back to plan A and just use ios one app at a time and focus just on iOS sound design type stuff. Hard to complain in that scenario.

  • edited September 14

    @Dawdles said:

    @AudioGus said:
    It amazes me how people (and I have most likely (100%) been guilty of this too) break down their initial experience with an app by the minute. 'After fifteen minutes I thought blah blah...' 'Then about an hour in I started to get it...' etc. Insanely accelerated expectations with our little platform. Any review or impression of Ableton on desktop that said 'Fifteen minutes in..' would sound absurd but here on the forum it is par for the course and we seem to get it.

    Anyway, these days, particularly because of BM3, I am far more interested in how an app will work for me after hundreds of hours using it. That is the real gold. Anything that you can make sound good in 15 minutes will sound good for anyone. Is it you using the app or the app using you? (Insert Yakov Smirnoff meme) To just want to throw a general description of an aesthetic at an app and get a return says far more about the app than us as individual artists.

    So true. I’ve barely scratched the surface of half my iOS apps compared to how deep I’ve gone with my hardware and desktop software. Stuff like the Scapers, Quantum, Idensity.... complex apps that I’ve just neglected to put the hours in that they deserve. If they'd cost more money I’d have probably learned them inside out by now and have made hundreds of user patches and got my head around all the intergration logistics etc. Humans are odd creatures :/

    To be fair tho half my time in iOS so far has just been spent looking to get multiple apps working together nicely without problems and figure out all the various, nuanced import procedures for different apps etc etc. If none of that stuff was a factor then I’d complain WAY less and just be getting on with the fun stuff.... Lately thinking about going back to plan A and just use ios one app at a time and focus just on iOS sound design type stuff. Hard to complain in that scenario.

    I hear yah / interesting, just curious if you have used BM3...?

  • @AudioGus said:

    @Dawdles said:

    @AudioGus said:
    It amazes me how people (and I have most likely (100%) been guilty of this too) break down their initial experience with an app by the minute. 'After fifteen minutes I thought blah blah...' 'Then about an hour in I started to get it...' etc. Insanely accelerated expectations with our little platform. Any review or impression of Ableton on desktop that said 'Fifteen minutes in..' would sound absurd but here on the forum it is par for the course and we seem to get it.

    Anyway, these days, particularly because of BM3, I am far more interested in how an app will work for me after hundreds of hours using it. That is the real gold. Anything that you can make sound good in 15 minutes will sound good for anyone. Is it you using the app or the app using you? (Insert Yakov Smirnoff meme) To just want to throw a general description of an aesthetic at an app and get a return says far more about the app than us as individual artists.

    So true. I’ve barely scratched the surface of half my iOS apps compared to how deep I’ve gone with my hardware and desktop software. Stuff like the Scapers, Quantum, Idensity.... complex apps that I’ve just neglected to put the hours in that they deserve. If they'd cost more money I’d have probably learned them inside out by now and have made hundreds of user patches and got my head around all the intergration logistics etc. Humans are odd creatures :/

    To be fair tho half my time in iOS so far has just been spent looking to get multiple apps working together nicely without problems and figure out all the various, nuanced import procedures for different apps etc etc. If none of that stuff was a factor then I’d complain WAY less and just be getting on with the fun stuff.... Lately thinking about going back to plan A and just use ios one app at a time and focus just on iOS sound design type stuff. Hard to complain in that scenario.

    I hear yah / interesting, just curious if you have used BM3...?

    Yup, big bm3 fan. When 3.1 drops I’ll be in a much better place :) I miss Rosetta/steppolyarp etc in there atm...

  • edited September 14

    @LinearLineman said:
    Am I better than the tools I use? Absolutely, positively not! There is so much more I could do if I only knew how. And that is a deep statement, I think, because it is not just technical mastery of all the apps, it is mastery of recording, mixing, and the most abstruse part.

    This reminds me very much of photography.

    There are so many things that musicians and photographers have in common. I know some photo communities where people discussing more about new cameras and lenses than about they’re experience of photography.

    The creation, for me, of original sounding music that feels good.

    That’s the only way getting happy with our art. Creativity just needs creativity. What ever tools we use...

    So what am I ranting about? Just this... For those who care about such things, do we investigate our musical souls with as much intensity? If we had better tools would our music be.... Better?

    Photographer are in the same boat. People think if they buy this new camera or this new lenses their photography will improve and getting better. Most of them will disappointed because it will not work and they will go on buying new gear. This is the way to get a
    Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). Many musicians and photographers suffer from GAS. How many Appaholics we have here in the forum? 😎

    I know photographers they use just one camera and just one lens, and they just take beautiful pictures because their creativity. These photographers are happy and they don’t need more gear. They just going out and taking nice photographs... 👍

    Anyway...
    I really love these kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves sometimes! 😎
    Great thread, thanks @LinearLineman !

    P.S. / Edit
    To answer the main question: No, I’m not better then my tools!
    I'd be glad to understand and serve them all. But unfortunately, I often don't have the time to get into all the beautiful music apps on my iPad in detail.

    On the other hand...
    When I just take my guitar and make some music with it I’m happy! 😊

  • edited September 14

    Am I better than my tools? Shirley, you jest.

    I am music and I write the songs.

    On a desert island I can re-create the history of music up to the chant using sticks, stones and scraps of found fabric stretched over hollow logs to make drums.

    I will purse my lips together and blow. The birds will be alarmed to hear my musical birdsong. I will call virtual a taxi with two fingers to make that whistle that can be heard on the next isle over.

    I will hum and sing songs about beer, railroads, trucks, drug experiences, loose jeans and most of all something hard to describe until you feel it called "Rock". (Visualize A little head banging here). I will vocalize an air guitar so the children will know how their ancestors looked playing this "Rock" thing.

    When the electrical grid stops and all our batteries are drained, will there be music? Yes. Because... I am the essential tool.
    The singin' dancin' fool.

    Everyone around me says softly when I arrive: "That guy's a tool."

  • @McDtracy said:
    On a desert island I can re-create the history of music up to the chant using sticks, stones and scraps of found fabric stretched over hollow logs to make drums.

    When the electrical grid stops and all our batteries are drained, will there be music? Yes. Because... I am the essential tool.
    The singin' dancin' fool.

    Everyone around me says softly when I arrive: "That guy's a tool."

    Great post @McDtracy ! 😊👍

  • edited September 14

    @McDtracy said:
    Am I better than my tools? Shirley, you jest.

    I am music and I write the songs.

    On a desert island I can re-create the history of music up to the chant using sticks, stones and scraps of found fabric stretched over hollow logs to make drums.

    I will purse my lips together and blow. The birds will be alarmed to hear my musical birdsong. I will call virtual a taxi with two fingers to make that whistle that can be heard on the next isle over.

    I will hum and sing songs about beer, railroads, trucks, drug experiences, loose jeans and most of all something hard to describe until you feel it called "Rock". (Visualize A little head banging here). I will vocalize an air guitar so the children will know how their ancestors looked playing this "Rock" thing.

    When the electrical grid stops and all our batteries are drained, will there be music? Yes. Because... I am the essential tool.
    The singin' dancin' fool.

    Everyone around me says softly when I arrive: "That guy's a tool."

    Your post made me smile.

    And reminds me of a book I read, the Singing Neanderthals. While I have some criticism of how conclusive the author states certain points about what we know based on fragmentary evidence, it was overall a great book. We do have evidence that early humans were already musical. We make tools. And we always are trying to improve them. This seems to be utterly human.

  • The tools I can fit into this space...
    Probably easier to say what I _couldn't _do between the tools you can see and the software ones therein.

    My weak link is time.

  • edited September 14

    @kobamoto said:
    yes I am

    Word. My shit sounds like my shit whether it’s ikaossilator stuff, Auxy, Grooverider, combination of things. I am proud to say I recognize my harmonic, rhythmic and melodic styles coming through regardless of tools. Underlying any feature request or gripe I have with apps is simple a desire to speed up/streamline my process. Get the music out of me more efficiently

  • @kobomoto and @db909. Would love to hear your stuff! Must be rockin'. Please share! ( sorry if I have missed... Please tell me what to search.) and I have to agree db909, my stuff always sounds like me. Just bad luck, I guess.

  • Tools are tools and I’m not a tool to being compared to.

    The problem on this forum, since audiobus link apps, is people forgotting about music and its enjoyment and focus too much in the forum itself and all the related stuff.

    We don’t need to qualify an app by complexity or features. Instead of how much you enjoy your time with it? It helps you in your journey?

    I can enjoy some apps from the first second, the 15th minute and the lost hours... sometimes the same can bring me all.

    We are obsessed with productivity because we have been taught on fast living but also because all of us feel the time going on and we want to make a sign... a record in someone else life... a feeling in those we love...

    So focus on love yourself, enjoy living, give others a chance and just let life loving you... with or without tools, with or without music.

    Love is the notes not played but heard by our hearts and souls.

  • @Dubbylabby
    I like this quote ... “We are obsessed with productivity because we have been taught on fast living but also because all of us feel the time going on and we want to make a sign... a record in someone else life... a feeling in those we love...”

  • @Dubbylabby said:
    Tools are tools and I’m not a tool to being compared to.

    The problem on this forum, since audiobus link apps, is people forgotting about music and its enjoyment and focus too much in the forum itself and all the related stuff.

    We don’t need to qualify an app by complexity or features. Instead of how much you enjoy your time with it? It helps you in your journey?

    I can enjoy some apps from the first second, the 15th minute and the lost hours... sometimes the same can bring me all.

    We are obsessed with productivity because we have been taught on fast living but also because all of us feel the time going on and we want to make a sign... a record in someone else life... a feeling in those we love...

    So focus on love yourself, enjoy living, give others a chance and just let life loving you... with or without tools, with or without music.

    Love is the notes not played but heard by our hearts and souls.

    +1

  • edited September 14

    @kinkujin said:
    @Dubbylabby
    I like this quote ... “We are obsessed with productivity because we have been taught on fast living but also because all of us feel the time going on and we want to make a sign... a record in someone else life... a feeling in those we love...”

    Thanks, mate. That LP from Raul Midon has some tresaures like that song or Suddenly that inspire these kind of haikus on my channelling.

    Newer songs such Invisible Chains also represent my feelings of from life.

    The suggested book could be “The Power of Now” from E. Tolle but just if we/ourselves/One/I&I feel the silence music between words

    We are Love in mutual Presence.
    <3

  • Yup, time marches and I bet we all feel pressure to produce something (of quality) before the opportunity is gone. Bottom line though is you just need to get on with it and stop mucking about. The tools on iOS today are more than adequate and if you really want to buckle down and create then you will. We’re all a bit spoiled is the problem - the more you have the more you want was never truer, and we want it easy... but that’s how we’re programmed these days. We need to fight against that programming which takes a big desire not only to create (and really work at it) but to see things through. I question the strength of my own desire because I haven’t been too productive or seen many things through lately! And sure there are app updates I’d dearly love to see land but no way I should be stalling my music making until they arrive (might never happen). Excuses are the enemy. Ah, that’s better :)

  • edited September 15

    @LinearLineman This is not directed at anyone specifically, but from the general issues I see most people have that stop them from finishing anything....INDECISION.

    HOW TO RISE ABOVE THE TOOLS THAT CREATE INDECISION AND FINISH SONGS 101:

    oF course we are better than the tools we use. I'm a musician...I can make music with a tin can and my voice, a fork, a window, a kazoo, it doesn't matter....however, the tools allow us to take ideas in our head and create something tangible, but before this what one needed more than anything was people. If you take 12 percussive instruments, no matter how primitive, what it took to make that into something magical , were other people to play these ...like a small drum circle.

    So for hundreds of years, the only way to record music, whether just a beat or a full orchestra band....it had to be notated or written down. It wasn't until the phonograph that we started documenting sound as recordings and this changed everything and the music business/the recording business was born.

    It wasn't until recently that anyone of normal means, could afford to record something that was worth keeping. 4 tracks were great sketch pads, but unless you could afford an expensive reel to reel and a mixing console and the mics and cables to go with it, that you could even compete on any level with the recording industry. And so creative musicians that wanted to document their ideas and songs, had to earn favor with a record company and literally sign away their rights to their music, in order to get these songs onto a permanent medium that would sound great. There was no such thing as creative freedom in those days, because you had producers babysitting bands and creative decisions were made by professionals who predicted what would sell on the open market. So if your music ideas were too out there, too original, you would get shot down by your producer and that was that.

    Synths were all hardware back then and again, were for people that could afford them.

    So, skip forward a tad and it was the Alesis ADAT digital recorder that first started to really make owning a recording studio, semi affordable. You still had to be able to afford a mixing console, but now, you could make recordings that rivaled the big studios, for practically pennies. Oddly enough, this was also the beginning of the end, for many studios....

    Shortly thereafter, Roland came out with the first affordable digital hard disk recorders that were mass marketed.
    I owned their first 8 track, then the VS 16 and the VS 24, by which time pro tools and Cubase started to proliferate, VSTs were born and then suddenly almost ANYONE could afford to make great sounding records.....all it took was lots of practice. If you were a multi instrumentalist, with the help of drum machines, you could make music, for the first time in history, without anyone else but yourself.....and at a high quality. Nobody was buying records anymore by then, but that's besides the point...lol

    So now we suffer from the exact opposite problem as before......we have too many tools. Should I record a dubstep song tonight or grab my guitar and record a folk song, or should I make a hip hop beat? Should I sing or make an instrumental? Should I use and old analogue keyboard I have or fire up the sampler(another huge innovation that changed how we make music) or should I fire up a VST? Should I use a wavetable virtual synth, or subtractive synthesis? Should I run through one plugin with 500 sounds until I find inspiration or should I tweak the knobs and design a new sound?

    Here is the issue....as long as you keep asking yourself, which options shall I use, and are indecisive, nothing will get done. So your tools essentially can bog you down with too many decisions and not enough time to try out all the options....so what is the solution? You get in the habit of getting started and saying yes to the first options that spill out instead of mulling over whether to use them. For instance, fire up a synth.. limit yourself to 10 sound auditions...I don't care where you start...on patch 155 for all I care. Then say "I"m going to write the verse or chorus to a song and this will be my first instrument. "

    Pick a tempo....stick with that tempo. Pick a key...stick with that key. If you feel the need, pick a genre.../.let's say pop or rock. Then lay down 4 bars of a riff. If you must, keep laying down 4 bars of a riff until you find something you don't hate....set a time limit...like lets say 20 minutes. Then go onto the next step. Create a beat behind your riff. Change it if you want but set a time limit so you aren't there all week. Then lay down a bass. We are talking 4 bars here, for christs sake you can do this! When you are done with all the instrumentation, ask yourself, what would sound great before this or after this, as a part or section. Then you are on to your next task. Force yourself to finish 3 parts, an intro, a bridge and an outro, maybe even a solo section. Then arrange the parts into a song and call it a day.

    It doesn't matter if you do it ALL in Korg Gadget....or all in Cubasis, or all in any one piece of the many softwares you have. The idea is not quality as much as finishing something ….creating something tangible. Limit your options, the harder it is for you to finish anything. If the above mentioned process takes you 80 hours, then limit yourself to 4 parts, drums, bass, vocals and one other part. The more difficult it is to finish, the more options you take away. Make a two part song, with an intro and an outro...that's it. The idea is to finish.

    Then when you are done, repeat the process...remembering ambitions you gathered during the last recording. So if you ran across a kick drum you thought would sound great, but had already decided on another one for the last song, use this as motivation to start the next song. Keep a record of all your "what ifs" and over time, try them ALL!
    But for God's sake, finish something....and more somethings than you ever have, by limiting your options until you get a flow.... a regular output. And from this regular output will emerge a wonderful thing.....quality. Quality songs, riffs, parts...quality songs, mixing, quality albums....your life's work. But each accomplishment is a lilly pad to the next accomplishment. Occasionally you can give up and say "screw this, this just isn't working" but more often than not...finish....at all costs.These finished products are the building blocks of your future expertise.

    I know absolutely brilliant musicians.....they can play any style, know the most complicated riffs, have all the equipment and plugins in the world and a the drop of a hat can come up with amazing parts....but the never or rarely record any songs. Wny? too many options and not enough limitations based on goals that need to be completed. People hate deadlines.. and deadlines are ultimately flexible, but why do we have them?SO SHIT GETS DONE! they are a limitation on time. That limitation creates a need to finish within the limitation imposed.

    So all this bitching and moaning about the tools we have, is ludicrous when you consider that 500 years ago you had two choices....work on a farm or die and musical studies and composition were luxuries for people either part of a church or a court where you had the favor of a king or queen that paid for your ass to be a musician. The rest of us made music after working on the farm all day, using very little resources, a handful of instruments and a musician would be lucky if they wrote 5 songs and passed it down to their kids.

    So for the first time in history, you have more options that Mozart, the beatles, led zeppelin and Dr Dre....in your hand on an ipad or iPhone. And what do you do with it? Well......you could take a spoon and a bottle, make a clanking noise and beatbox over it and put it on youtube, if it's not beneath you....OR you could spend two days watching tutorials on ONE piece of software and master that first and then set a goal of recording ONE 2 minute song and think to yourself....THANK YOU UNIVERSE THAT I WAS BORN IN THE AGE OF OPTIONS AND DON"T HAVE TO SELL MY SOUL OR ANSWER TO ANYONE CREATIVELY WHO MAKES DECISIONS FOR ME!

    I follow my own advice and I"ve recorded over 1000 songs since the year 1986 when I got my first 4 track. I make decisions to limit myself, like recording a full song on a Korg Electribe app, or Korg gadget. Could I have done a song on my desktop without learning a new piece of software first...sure....but would I have? I don't know, but these regular goals, are my search for what I'm missing....to see what else is out there, but at the least I'm getting thigs done and you can too! If anyone out there, can't follow the aforementioned protocol...I can help....I'll coach you through a song by giving you tasks to complete and limitations, so you have no excuse. YOU ARE better than your tools. The tools are a means to an end...what's stopping you is indecision and excuses. (Ignore my whole rant if you are super creative AND productive)

  • Well done people. Mostly good to be alive mostly.

  • edited September 15

    Tools are for work, my music gear are my toys :D

  • @bedheadproducer said:

    @LinearLineman This is not directed at anyone specifically, but from the general issues I see most people have that stop them from finishing anything....INDECISION.

    HOW TO RISE ABOVE THE TOOLS THAT CREATE INDECISION AND FINISH SONGS 101:

    oF course we are better than the tools we use. I'm a musician...I can make music with a tin can and my voice, a fork, a window, a kazoo, it doesn't matter....however, the tools allow us to take ideas in our head and create something tangible, but before this what one needed more than anything was people. If you take 12 percussive instruments, no matter how primitive, what it took to make that into something magical , were other people to play these ...like a small drum circle.

    So for hundreds of years, the only way to record music, whether just a beat or a full orchestra band....it had to be notated or written down. It wasn't until the phonograph that we started documenting sound as recordings and this changed everything and the music business/the recording business was born.

    It wasn't until recently that anyone of normal means, could afford to record something that was worth keeping. 4 tracks were great sketch pads, but unless you could afford an expensive reel to reel and a mixing console and the mics and cables to go with it, that you could even compete on any level with the recording industry. And so creative musicians that wanted to document their ideas and songs, had to earn favor with a record company and literally sign away their rights to their music, in order to get these songs onto a permanent medium that would sound great. There was no such thing as creative freedom in those days, because you had producers babysitting bands and creative decisions were made by professionals who predicted what would sell on the open market. So if your music ideas were too out there, too original, you would get shot down by your producer and that was that.

    Synths were all hardware back then and again, were for people that could afford them.

    So, skip forward a tad and it was the Alesis ADAT digital recorder that first started to really make owning a recording studio, semi affordable. You still had to be able to afford a mixing console, but now, you could make recordings that rivaled the big studios, for practically pennies. Oddly enough, this was also the beginning of the end, for many studios....

    Shortly thereafter, Roland came out with the first affordable digital hard disk recorders that were mass marketed.
    I owned their first 8 track, then the VS 16 and the VS 24, by which time pro tools and Cubase started to proliferate, VSTs were born and then suddenly almost ANYONE could afford to make great sounding records.....all it took was lots of practice. If you were a multi instrumentalist, with the help of drum machines, you could make music, for the first time in history, without anyone else but yourself.....and at a high quality. Nobody was buying records anymore by then, but that's besides the point...lol

    So now we suffer from the exact opposite problem as before......we have too many tools. Should I record a dubstep song tonight or grab my guitar and record a folk song, or should I make a hip hop beat? Should I sing or make an instrumental? Should I use and old analogue keyboard I have or fire up the sampler(another huge innovation that changed how we make music) or should I fire up a VST? Should I use a wavetable virtual synth, or subtractive synthesis? Should I run through one plugin with 500 sounds until I find inspiration or should I tweak the knobs and design a new sound?

    Here is the issue....as long as you keep asking yourself, which options shall I use, and are indecisive, nothing will get done. So your tools essentially can bog you down with too many decisions and not enough time to try out all the options....so what is the solution? You get in the habit of getting started and saying yes to the first options that spill out instead of mulling over whether to use them. For instance, fire up a synth.. limit yourself to 10 sound auditions...I don't care where you start...on patch 155 for all I care. Then say "I"m going to write the verse or chorus to a song and this will be my first instrument.

    Pick a tempo....stick with that tempo. Pick a key...stick with that key. If you feel the need, pick a genre.../.let's say pop or rock. Then lay down 4 bars of a riff. If you must, keep laying down 4 bars of a riff until you find something you don't hate....set a time limit...like lets say 20 minutes. Then go onto the next step. Create a beat behind your riff. Change it if you want but set a time limit so you aren't there all week. Then lay down a bass. We are talking 4 bars here, for christs sake you can do this! When you are done with all the instrumentation, ask yourself, what would sound great before this or after this, as a part or section. Then you are on to your next task. Force yourself to finish 3 parts, an intro, a bridge and an outro, maybe even a solo section. Then arrange the parts into a song and call it a day.

    It doesn't matter if you do it ALL in Korg Gadget....or all in Cubasis, or all in any one piece of the many softwares you have. The idea is not quality as much as finishing something ….creating something tangible. Limit your options, the harder it is for you to finish anything. If the above mentioned process takes you 80 hours, then limit yourself to 4 parts, drums, bass, vocals and one other part. The more difficult it is to finish, the more options you take away. Make a two part song, with an intro and an outro...that's it. The idea is to finish.

    Then when you are done, repeat the process...remembering ambitions you gathered during the last recording. So if you ran across a kick drum you thought would sound great, but had already decided on another one for the last song, use this as motivation to start the next song. Keep a record of all your "what ifs" and over time, try them ALL!
    But for God's sake, finish something....and more somethings than you ever have, by limiting your options until you get a flow.... a regular output. And from this regular output will emerge a wonderful thing.....quality. Quality songs, riffs, parts...quality songs, mixing, quality albums....your life's work. But each accomplishment is a lilly pad to the next accomplishment. Occasionally you can give up and say "screw this, this just isn't working" but more often than not...finish....at all costs.These finished products are the building blocks of your future expertise.

    I know absolutely brilliant musicians.....they can play any style, know the most complicated riffs, have all the equipment and plugins in the world and a the drop of a hat can come up with amazing parts....but the never or rarely record any songs. Wny? too many options and not enough limitations based on goals that need to be completed. People hate deadlines.. and deadlines are ultimately flexible, but why do we have them?SO SHIT GETS DONE! they are a limitation on time. That limitation creates a need to finish within the limitation imposed.

    So all this bitching and moaning about the tools we have, is ludicrous when you consider that 500 years ago you had two choices....work on a farm or die and musical studies and composition were luxuries for people either part of a church or a court where you had the favor of a king or queen that paid for your ass to be a musician. The rest of us made music after working on the farm all day, using very little resources, a handful of instruments and a musician would be lucky if they wrote 5 songs and passed it down to their kids.

    So for the first time in history, you have more options that Mozart, the beatles, led zeppelin and Dr Dre....in your hand on an ipad or iPhone. And what do you do with it? Well......you could take a spoon and a bottle, make a clanking noise and beatbox over it and put it on youtube, if it's not beneath you....OR you could spend two days watching tutorials on ONE piece of software and master that first and then set a goal of recording ONE 2 minute song and think to yourself....THANK YOU UNIVERSE THAT I WAS BORN IN THE AGE OF OPTIONS AND DON"T HAVE TO SELL MY SOUL OR ANSWER TO ANYONE CREATIVELY WHO MAKES DECISIONS FOR ME!

    I follow my own advice and I"ve recorded over 1000 songs since the year 1986 when I got my first 4 track. I make decisions to limit myself, like recording a full song on a Korg Electribe app, or Korg gadget. Could I have done a song on my desktop without learning a new piece of software first...sure....but would I have? I don't know, but these regular goals, are my search for what I'm missing....to see what else is out there, but at the least I'm getting thigs done and you can too! If anyone out there, can't follow the aforementioned protocol...I can help....I'll coach you through a song by giving you tasks to complete and limitations, so you have no excuse. YOU ARE better than your tools. The tools are a means to an end...what's stopping you is indecision and excuses. (Ignore my whole rant if you are super creative AND productive)

    I don't personally find the 'shall I do this or shall I do that' thing an issue. A variety of good tools speed workflow up and enable ideas to quickly be reality. If you know your gear inside out then you know what to reach for. For me that's where having all this stuff shines and is worthwhile.

    Problem I have with ios is unique to me compared to my other tools, I just don't have time to learn everything inside out cos I've bought too much stuff vs 'hassle free time I'm able to (or choose to) spend on iPad'... I haven't made loads of presets or totally figured most of my apps out...Just constant fiddling around with different stuff for 20 minutes here and there. Curbed ios purchases for a while now except for basic apps...Ive found constant purchasing of complex apps to be counter productive in terms of sound design and finishing tracks.

    An example by contrast is my Analog Keys. Didn't really dig it at first and kept reading people saying the sound was 'meh'. Nearly sold it but after 3 months of solid sound design I had a ton of 'go to' patches for certain (great) sounds and it became something that sped up production workflow and sounded perfect for those sounds when I need them quickly. After 3 months... I've probably not spent 3 hours in half my ios apps...It'd probably take a year+ to be that deep in to the stuff I have on ios and for the apps to be a similar wealth of presets etc. Buying a new app before I've fully dug in to the previously purchased one/s is something I'm super conscious/wary of now.

  • It’s not the machine. It’s the man behind the machine.
    But anyway, I agree that we’re spoiled here with all that’s available at a fraction of the cost of desktop software and hardware. I was more focused and more productive a long time ago when my choices were limited. So now I feel like I should set the iPad and the Mac aside to work with a couple of pieces of hardware where I don’t have a computer screen to be distracted by. No internet, no forums, no App Store, and no eye fatigue either. It was far more enjoyable that way. I had to put in a lot more work to achieve the same results. But it was much more rewarding. Now I just gotta commit myself to that way of working again.

  • @bedheadproducer said:

    @LinearLineman This is not directed at anyone specifically, but from the general issues I see most people have that stop them from finishing anything....INDECISION.

    HOW TO RISE ABOVE THE TOOLS THAT CREATE INDECISION AND FINISH SONGS 101:

    oF course we are better than the tools we use. I'm a musician...I can make music with a tin can and my voice, a fork, a window, a kazoo, it doesn't matter....however, the tools allow us to take ideas in our head and create something tangible, but before this what one needed more than anything was people. If you take 12 percussive instruments, no matter how primitive, what it took to make that into something magical , were other people to play these ...like a small drum circle.

    So for hundreds of years, the only way to record music, whether just a beat or a full orchestra band....it had to be notated or written down. It wasn't until the phonograph that we started documenting sound as recordings and this changed everything and the music business/the recording business was born.

    It wasn't until recently that anyone of normal means, could afford to record something that was worth keeping. 4 tracks were great sketch pads, but unless you could afford an expensive reel to reel and a mixing console and the mics and cables to go with it, that you could even compete on any level with the recording industry. And so creative musicians that wanted to document their ideas and songs, had to earn favor with a record company and literally sign away their rights to their music, in order to get these songs onto a permanent medium that would sound great. There was no such thing as creative freedom in those days, because you had producers babysitting bands and creative decisions were made by professionals who predicted what would sell on the open market. So if your music ideas were too out there, too original, you would get shot down by your producer and that was that.

    Synths were all hardware back then and again, were for people that could afford them.

    So, skip forward a tad and it was the Alesis ADAT digital recorder that first started to really make owning a recording studio, semi affordable. You still had to be able to afford a mixing console, but now, you could make recordings that rivaled the big studios, for practically pennies. Oddly enough, this was also the beginning of the end, for many studios....

    Shortly thereafter, Roland came out with the first affordable digital hard disk recorders that were mass marketed.
    I owned their first 8 track, then the VS 16 and the VS 24, by which time pro tools and Cubase started to proliferate, VSTs were born and then suddenly almost ANYONE could afford to make great sounding records.....all it took was lots of practice. If you were a multi instrumentalist, with the help of drum machines, you could make music, for the first time in history, without anyone else but yourself.....and at a high quality. Nobody was buying records anymore by then, but that's besides the point...lol

    So now we suffer from the exact opposite problem as before......we have too many tools. Should I record a dubstep song tonight or grab my guitar and record a folk song, or should I make a hip hop beat? Should I sing or make an instrumental? Should I use and old analogue keyboard I have or fire up the sampler(another huge innovation that changed how we make music) or should I fire up a VST? Should I use a wavetable virtual synth, or subtractive synthesis? Should I run through one plugin with 500 sounds until I find inspiration or should I tweak the knobs and design a new sound?

    Here is the issue....as long as you keep asking yourself, which options shall I use, and are indecisive, nothing will get done. So your tools essentially can bog you down with too many decisions and not enough time to try out all the options....so what is the solution? You get in the habit of getting started and saying yes to the first options that spill out instead of mulling over whether to use them. For instance, fire up a synth.. limit yourself to 10 sound auditions...I don't care where you start...on patch 155 for all I care. Then say "I"m going to write the verse or chorus to a song and this will be my first instrument.

    Pick a tempo....stick with that tempo. Pick a key...stick with that key. If you feel the need, pick a genre.../.let's say pop or rock. Then lay down 4 bars of a riff. If you must, keep laying down 4 bars of a riff until you find something you don't hate....set a time limit...like lets say 20 minutes. Then go onto the next step. Create a beat behind your riff. Change it if you want but set a time limit so you aren't there all week. Then lay down a bass. We are talking 4 bars here, for christs sake you can do this! When you are done with all the instrumentation, ask yourself, what would sound great before this or after this, as a part or section. Then you are on to your next task. Force yourself to finish 3 parts, an intro, a bridge and an outro, maybe even a solo section. Then arrange the parts into a song and call it a day.

    It doesn't matter if you do it ALL in Korg Gadget....or all in Cubasis, or all in any one piece of the many softwares you have. The idea is not quality as much as finishing something ….creating something tangible. Limit your options, the harder it is for you to finish anything. If the above mentioned process takes you 80 hours, then limit yourself to 4 parts, drums, bass, vocals and one other part. The more difficult it is to finish, the more options you take away. Make a two part song, with an intro and an outro...that's it. The idea is to finish.

    Then when you are done, repeat the process...remembering ambitions you gathered during the last recording. So if you ran across a kick drum you thought would sound great, but had already decided on another one for the last song, use this as motivation to start the next song. Keep a record of all your "what ifs" and over time, try them ALL!
    But for God's sake, finish something....and more somethings than you ever have, by limiting your options until you get a flow.... a regular output. And from this regular output will emerge a wonderful thing.....quality. Quality songs, riffs, parts...quality songs, mixing, quality albums....your life's work. But each accomplishment is a lilly pad to the next accomplishment. Occasionally you can give up and say "screw this, this just isn't working" but more often than not...finish....at all costs.These finished products are the building blocks of your future expertise.

    I know absolutely brilliant musicians.....they can play any style, know the most complicated riffs, have all the equipment and plugins in the world and a the drop of a hat can come up with amazing parts....but the never or rarely record any songs. Wny? too many options and not enough limitations based on goals that need to be completed. People hate deadlines.. and deadlines are ultimately flexible, but why do we have them?SO SHIT GETS DONE! they are a limitation on time. That limitation creates a need to finish within the limitation imposed.

    So all this bitching and moaning about the tools we have, is ludicrous when you consider that 500 years ago you had two choices....work on a farm or die and musical studies and composition were luxuries for people either part of a church or a court where you had the favor of a king or queen that paid for your ass to be a musician. The rest of us made music after working on the farm all day, using very little resources, a handful of instruments and a musician would be lucky if they wrote 5 songs and passed it down to their kids.

    So for the first time in history, you have more options that Mozart, the beatles, led zeppelin and Dr Dre....in your hand on an ipad or iPhone. And what do you do with it? Well......you could take a spoon and a bottle, make a clanking noise and beatbox over it and put it on youtube, if it's not beneath you....OR you could spend two days watching tutorials on ONE piece of software and master that first and then set a goal of recording ONE 2 minute song and think to yourself....THANK YOU UNIVERSE THAT I WAS BORN IN THE AGE OF OPTIONS AND DON"T HAVE TO SELL MY SOUL OR ANSWER TO ANYONE CREATIVELY WHO MAKES DECISIONS FOR ME!

    I follow my own advice and I"ve recorded over 1000 songs since the year 1986 when I got my first 4 track. I make decisions to limit myself, like recording a full song on a Korg Electribe app, or Korg gadget. Could I have done a song on my desktop without learning a new piece of software first...sure....but would I have? I don't know, but these regular goals, are my search for what I'm missing....to see what else is out there, but at the least I'm getting thigs done and you can too! If anyone out there, can't follow the aforementioned protocol...I can help....I'll coach you through a song by giving you tasks to complete and limitations, so you have no excuse. YOU ARE better than your tools. The tools are a means to an end...what's stopping you is indecision and excuses. (Ignore my whole rant if you are super creative AND productive)

    Thank you so much for your incredible good post @bedheadproducer ! 😊👍
    There is much truth and wisdom in your posting. I think it is worth thinking about all this. At least I feel quite addressed! I also find it hard to finish musical projects for some reason , which is of course unsatisfactory.

    Maybe one day I will contact you personally. Many thanks for your friendly offer to help if you can. I appreciate that very much. 🙏😊

  • @Dawdles said:

    Problem I have with ios is unique to me compared to my other tools, I just don't have time to learn everything inside out cos I've bought too much stuff vs 'hassle free time I'm able to (or choose to) spend on iPad'... I haven't made loads of presets or totally figured most of my apps out...Just constant fiddling around with different stuff for 20 minutes here and there. Curbed ios purchases for a while now except for basic apps...Ive found constant purchasing of complex apps to be counter productive in terms of sound design and finishing tracks.

    > An example by contrast is my Analog Keys. Didn't really dig it at first and kept reading people saying the sound was 'meh'. Nearly sold it but after 3 months of solid sound design I had a ton of 'go to' patches for certain (great) sounds and it became something that sped up production workflow and sounded perfect for those sounds when I need them quickly. After 3 months... I've probably not spent 3 hours in half my ios apps...It'd probably take a year+ to be that deep in to the stuff I have on ios and for the apps to be a similar wealth of presets etc. Buying a new app before I've fully dug in to the previously purchased one/s is something I'm super conscious/wary of now.

    hey...did you get my message that the banana app is called Morf?
    Ok, for you I have a different reply:

    I too, bought everything I was told was worth having, over a 6 month period. (and I mean everything) I knew I'd never be able to learn all of it in a short period of time. I've literally owned Gadget for 5 months and just tried using it the first time 2 days ago.

    One of the downfalls of increasing technological excellence, is that software has a bigger learning curve than in years past. It used to all be more simple and more user friendly and intuitive...of course it was...it did 1/16th of what software can do today. No, for you the solution is not decisiveness as much as it is balance. You have X amount of hours a week to make music. If you are like many of us, you have to prioritize what comes first. In my case I have a quota. I need to write and record at least 1 song a week. Some weeks I'll record 5 songs...other times I record 1 song a month, but in the end...I average about 40-50 songs a year....with 52 weeks...that's just about 1 a week. So, if I can squeeze in 8 hours of learning new software a week AND also reach my song writing goal, I will. If I only have enough time to write and record a song, no tutorial time...then I don't learn new gear. it's as simple as that. Finishing a song takes priority over learning new gear.

    Learning new gear is mainly a priority because I'm on a new platform....but, once I've learned almost all there is to know....then tutorial time will be minimal and relegated to new pieces of software. I don't watch a lot of tutorials on how to do stuff on a PC, because I've been doing it for years....occasionally something new comes out, like a major update to Cubase and I have no choice, especially if they moved stuff I was familiar with, to a new place. Otherwise, it really depends on whether or not I'll even use new features.

    So I do think youtube can be as much of a distraction as a benefit. On more than one occasion I was going to watch 30 minutes of youtube and then create and ended up watching more youtube until I was too tired. This forced me to re prioritize what I was going to do the following day. I do follow a regimen though, because if I didn't...too much time would pass un noticed and I'd get half as much or less done. If you have a job, kids, a wife and chores...you have no choice but to manage your time wisely. I don't have any of that stuff, so I have the luxury to fuck off 24/7 (I sit dogs for rover.com) so if it weren't for my own self imposed deadlines, and prioritizing my time, even though technically I need to less than some people.....I still wouldn't get nearly as much done. So in the end....much of life, and I"m sure you can agree, is about balance. All work and no play makes Jack a Dull boy, but all song writing and no life experience can make for some dull songs. I have obsessed over music making and in the end...I need to breathe and interact with people and smell the roses too. Balance....it's a wonderful thing.

  • @Multicellular said:
    The tools I can fit into this space...
    Probably easier to say what I _couldn't _do between the tools you can see and the software ones therein.

    My weak link is time.

    what a nice tidy set up! 9 to 5 is a dream killer.....unfortunately our society will have it no other way.

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