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Downsizing, a revelation.

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Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Arpangel » Tue May 28, 2019 2:42 pm

Very strange times, I've been stuck in a friends flat in London on and off recently, medical reasons. I took my Music Easel, a handy recorder, and my i Pad, and a little Cube amp, pair of headphones, all very light and portable. It's been good, very good, I've got more recorded than normal, and it's given me a chance to get deep into the Easel, which has litteraly changed my outlook on gear and music, in a way that I dont really want to have to go home to my unweidly distracting studio and keyboard rig.
I've had a big clear out and got rid of all my modular, keyboards and effects. Now I don't need anymore space than a small coffee table.
I think the reason for how I'm feeling is that the Easel combined with the tablet with Thumb Jam provide all the sonic colours I need, that I could ever need. It's like I've gone through life and I've only just discovered instruments that I can really jell with and relate to. Crazy.
Sometimes it's good to rationalise, it's easy to get caught up in getting things because you think that one day they'll be useful, and they never get used, in fact, they become a distraction, you move from one to the other without getting deeply into any of this stuff.
Also, I've come to terms with the fact that I only every do, and want to do certain things, I've focused on the essence of what I want to do musically, once you do that you can steam ahead feeling absolutely focused.
I can reccomend this approach, it won't work for all of us, and a big studio is necessary sometimes, but it's worth thinking about this whole thing. We all love equipment, but ultimately it's about what it can do for us, and for me it's about doing the maximum possible with the minimum possible.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Martin Walker » Tue May 28, 2019 2:51 pm

Hi Arpangel!

That's an extremely honest and heartfelt exploration, and it's certainly worked for you.

I suspect many of the rest of us wouldn't be quite so brave at downsizing :beamup:


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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Arpangel » Tue May 28, 2019 3:00 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Hi Arpangel!

That's an extremely honest and heartfelt exploration, and it's certainly worked for you.

I suspect many of the rest of us wouldn't be quite so brave at downsizing :beamup:


Martin

Hi Martin, it wasn't easy, a lot of things I was really attached to had to go. But, I'm surprised at how I feel now, I don't want any of those things back at all. It's like as you get older you realise it's only metal, plastic, etc, just stuff. Also, Suzanne Cianni once said that she fell in love with her Buchla, had a sort of, relationship with it, I can maybe understand what she was talking about.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue May 28, 2019 3:57 pm

This thread is very relevant to me as I'm about to do something similar, albeit in a slightly different way.

I'm shortly going to have use of an apartment a long way away from where I live, almost as a second home (for work reasons, I hasten to add!), and as I'll be spending quite a lot of time there going forward I want the ability to do music production there in some form.

I'm deliberately restricting myself to what I can carry in a couple of flights (after all, it's all going to have to be brought back someday), and I'm also going to buy additional stuff rather than move existing gear so I'll be keeping it 'lite', so to speak.

Getting deeply into one or two pieces of equipment yields great results. Certainly some of my favourite work historically has been done on far more limited stuff than I have available now.

As a collector and lover of synth tech, I'm not going to fool myself that I'll be stripping down here at home any more than I already have done when it was getting a bit out of hand space-wise. If nothing else I don't want to, plus I have plans for a future studio setup after a planned house move a handful of years hence! That said, I think supplementing my home gear with a modest portable setup in an apartment elsewhere will prove fruitful!

Thanks for reassuring me that it's not a stupid idea :thumbup:
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby The Elf » Tue May 28, 2019 4:42 pm

It's not a bad idea to see what you can live without. A lot of gear has passed through my hands, become firmly stuck there, but once once parted with, forgotten like a spring mist. Others I've parted with have nagged me for many years that I did the wrong thing - and some I've had to buy/beg/borrow once again!

I admire your bravery, mate. I hope all of your old stuff falls into the 'mist' category!
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby BillB » Tue May 28, 2019 4:44 pm

So basically, what you are saying Eddie, is that a thread about downsizing has reassured you that its a good idea to buy more gear... :beamup:
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby arkieboy » Tue May 28, 2019 5:04 pm

This has pretty much been my (enforced) hi-tech philosophy for ever for various reasons - partly because of the lack of diversity in guitar-synth market and in the modules that support midi mode 4 in some way. Also because I spend money on guitars too - I'm sure I'd be better served with synths had I played keyboards ... even so I have far fewer guitars than some I know from round here ;-)

I found that I could pretty much gain all the sounds I needed with an analogue synth, a digital synth and a rompler/sampler of some kind - it started out as a GR700 (i.e. a JX3P) + a TX81Z (doubling on real-sound duties), morphed through various iterations where the analogue synth became an Oberheim Matrix 6R and then a Supernova IIR, the digital synth became a D550, a GR50 (i.e. D110) and then a Wavestation XR, and the sampler/rompler was a U110, a Yamaha A3k and then an EMu E5000. Because you need two hands to make one sound on a guitar, layering different synths became something I did a lot - you can get a lovely rich sound by layering Fantasia on a D50 with an Oberheim string sound on top of some Roland string samples, but there was a TX81Z preset that I used for the bell beginning before I got the D550. God bless MIDI!

Lately I've just been trying to get the most out of my VG99 - see one-synth-challenge episode 1 - and my virtual guitar-synth rack has similarly small number of modules - ES2 + EXS with a vacancy for the digital synth I've yet to fill. I'm definitely not a sound designer, but have to be able to tweak because presets designed to play from a keyboard seldom work out of the box when glued to a guitar, which inevitably leads you out of the programming shallows and into deeper waters. Having to sell gear to buy more has also meant I've had to carry my favourite sounds forward - I have a basic sawtooth lead I've implemented on all my analogue synths because if I need to play those old songs, then I'd better have that sound; ditto that Prophet clavinet-like sound (of which there were several examples on my M6R) which I tweaked so I could play it like a picked acoustic guitar - the sound now lives on in my ES2, SNII and VG99.

I like to think I pick good gear with depth - I understand the immediacy of a Juno 10-6, but I'd have never bought one myself had I played keys. I think there's a lot to recommend it.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue May 28, 2019 5:05 pm

BillB wrote:So basically, what you are saying Eddie, is that a thread about downsizing has reassured you that its a good idea to buy more gear... :beamup:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsl7-TJtPew ;)
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby BillB » Tue May 28, 2019 5:29 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:
BillB wrote:So basically, what you are saying Eddie, is that a thread about downsizing has reassured you that its a good idea to buy more gear... :beamup:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsl7-TJtPew ;)
:bouncy:
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby MOF » Tue May 28, 2019 5:30 pm

I hold on to old gear for bouncing into Logic as audio when I revisit old songs. Those don’t often get used in the final mix as I tend to replace them with soft synth sounds.
I haven’t got the heart to sell them and most of them aren’t worth a fraction of what I paid for them.
I do a lot of composing with Garage Band on the iPhone when out and about (admittedly not great using a small virtual keyboard and I replace any vocals with a decent mic’ when transferred to Logic) but it shows that you can do so much with minimal kit these days.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue May 28, 2019 5:43 pm

I fooled myself into thinking I was downsizing.
I wanted to see what the iPad could do, now that it has matured a bit more musically. I’ve done a few ipad only gigs (iPad apps and mic and guitar input) and really enjoyed the stripped down approach.
But - have you seen how many super cool apps there are now? Apps you will never see developed for a tower or laptop. Long story short - I have way too many apps now that do awesome things. I haven’t taken the time to learn them all just the necessary bits to get the cool tracks I am looking for.

Nothing wrong with that but if downsizing also means simplifying then that’s no longer me!
I’m a far cry from Bruce Springsteen, a mic and a reel-to-reel machine yet again.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Dave B » Tue May 28, 2019 5:59 pm

I've gone for a halfway house solution.

I have had a couple of clearouts over the years and have reached a stage where I rotate gear out of storage and into the house. It's not quite 'one in one out' but I do tend to pack stuff away when not being actively used. I've recently dug a couple of things out and am just about ready to pack them away again as I've seen something else in the collection that I want to explore.

The only thing which permanently lives in the studio is my beloved old Wurli EP200a. I love it's sound, it's immediacy and it's playability - I'll use that now for working out music. Oh and I have one module still midi'd up and permanently installed in the rack.

I can feel a good guitar clearout coming sometime as I'm not playing it much these days. But even if I do, I'll still arguably have too many. But I should get some cupboard space back ....

:D
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue May 28, 2019 10:42 pm

Glad it's working out for you! (Though the circumstances surrounding the necessity could undoubtedly be better!)

I don't mind self-imposed limitations; there are lots of times when I will jam out with just my Korg SQ-1, DSI MOPHO, and a dely/reverb with a pair of headphones. There's a vast continent of sonic exploration with just a simple setup like that.

However, I prefer the sound of multiple synths. I also like having options for guitars (just one of each: a Tele, a Strat, a Les Paul, and a super Strat). Being a hardware guy means that there are always a lot of boxes surrounding me.

I don't buy into the Marie Kondo world of pithy phrases to make me feel like I'm gaining, existentially speaking, by only having one drum machine. :)
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 29, 2019 8:05 am

ManFromGlass wrote:I fooled myself into thinking I was downsizing.
I wanted to see what the iPad could do, now that it has matured a bit more musically. I’ve done a few ipad only gigs (iPad apps and mic and guitar input) and really enjoyed the stripped down approach.
But - have you seen how many super cool apps there are now? Apps you will never see developed for a tower or laptop. Long story short - I have way too many apps now that do awesome things. I haven’t taken the time to learn them all just the necessary bits to get the cool tracks I am looking for.

Nothing wrong with that but if downsizing also means simplifying then that’s no longer me!
I’m a far cry from Bruce Springsteen, a mic and a reel-to-reel machine yet again.

I'm using my i Pad alongside my synth quite successfully, apps are amazing, I'm using Thumb Jam mainly, Animoog, and TC-11
What I find about apps is that as soon as you connect a Midi keyboard to them they die, they are designed to be played from the screen, keyboards kill them dead, you loose all the liberating things you can do sliding your fingers around.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Guest » Wed May 29, 2019 8:49 am

There's an old adage that states: "If there were only one word in the English language, it would still be possible to tell the Shakespeares from everyone else".
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed May 29, 2019 12:50 pm

Arpangel I’m sorry to tell you this but - an MPE controller might get you there or at least close to there. I also find the Korg nano kontrol good for some apps. Still trying to integrate the quneo and the boppad.
Even on the iPad Pro touching and rubbing glass doesn’t always feel right to me unless the app is really well designed for glass which admittedly many are.
Playing chords and accurate melodies and leads are mostly better with a keyboard controller or the midi guitar app. But wait - there’s another app that makes that easier now! Oooh I better buy it!
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Arpangel » Thu May 30, 2019 7:37 am

ManFromGlass wrote:Arpangel I’m sorry to tell you this but - an MPE controller might get you there or at least close to there. I also find the Korg nano kontrol good for some apps. Still trying to integrate the quneo and the boppad.
Even on the iPad Pro touching and rubbing glass doesn’t always feel right to me unless the app is really well designed for glass which admittedly many are.
Playing chords and accurate melodies and leads are mostly better with a keyboard controller or the midi guitar app. But wait - there’s another app that makes that easier now! Oooh I better buy it!

Yes, part of the learning curve is trying to master the screen, touch etc. Trouble is with controllers which one? I suppose being able to alter parameters with my feet would be good, freeing up my hands to play things.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Martin Walker » Thu May 30, 2019 3:57 pm

Arpangel wrote:I suppose being able to alter parameters with my feet would be good, freeing up my hands to play things.

Over the years I've had a footpedal plugged into every compatible synth I've owned.

Currently it's attached to my Prophet 12, where it gets allocated to a host of useful real-time parameters such as filter frequency and the like.

Having one foot for this duty, the other for sustain switch, plus one hand on modwheel, pitchbend wheel, ribbon controllers etc. gives me wonderful performace control.


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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby The Elf » Thu May 30, 2019 4:43 pm

I use several foot pedals/switches to control volume/filter-type stuff, of course, but I'm also sending signals to effects, recording/playing/overdubbing/clearing/breaking down loops, firing off sound effects, muting instruments while I set up loops silently, switching insert effects on/off, swapping patches, cross-fading instruments, triggering bass notes...

On stage my feet are almost as busy as my hands these days!

I think that it helps to develop a consistent system, and then learn it. When it becomes second nature you can create some very dynamic performances that would otherwise be extremely difficult to achieve.
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Re: Downsizing, a revelation.

Postby Martin Walker » Fri May 31, 2019 6:04 pm

The Elf wrote:I think that it helps to develop a consistent system, and then learn it. When it becomes second nature you can create some very dynamic performances that would otherwise be extremely difficult to achieve.

Exactly! :thumbup:


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