Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Is That?

I was just looking at Ableton's new Operator which allows you to draw your own waveforms. This seems like an interesting idea but I can tell you that in my own experience with additive synths, this idea while satisfying perhaps to the geeky side of music is not necessarily an avenue to making good music.

I must admit that when I first started making music with synthesizers, the more controls I had the better and when I bought my first additive synthesizer, well, the idea of being able to actually draw partials made the geek in me get excited. Absynth also let me draw waveforms. I was in Geek heaven at least for a time.

So now, many years latter now, I have a Moog Voyager and I get much more exited about patching a control voltage than I do drawing waveforms. Why? I will get to it.

But let me also point out that the idea of drawing waveforms is nothing new. The "Synclavier" and "Fairlight" come to mind. In fact, I remember a friend of mind working with a "Synclavier" at RPI. He took me over there one day and pulled up a file called metal. You could see the waveform but the thing sounded like crap at least to me.

My point is that being able to see what you hear is not always the best way to make music. Neither waveforms or partials hold any great sway for me anymore because I can't make a real connection between what I see and what I hear. Funny thing is, I can on my plain old subtractive analogue the Voyager which is why I suspect the original Minimoog did not well and I suspect Bob Moog understood this. I have listened to his interviews which are pretty enlightening. He speaks of their needing to be a connection between musician and instruments. I guess I can't just connect to waveforms anymore, perhaps the geek is me is asleep.

Anyway, before everyone goes crazy with Operators new concept of making the old new again, perhaps they should study the past and find a way to avoid pitfalls in the future.

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