Monday, May 21, 2012

The Cure to Gear Addiction

I am always amazed at the seemingly never ending parade of the latest, greatest piece of gear, synth or controller on the market. I admit to being a gearaholic myself but perhaps in the end, the best cure is music itself.

One of the best definitions of music that I have heard especially electronic music is by Edgar Varese who defined music as organized sound. In an odd way, some of the worst advertisements for products I have seen are satisfied customers who much like a child, want to show you their new toy and so make any assortment of sounds with it. The problem here is that these videos lack the second part of the Varese' definition, "organized".

As a gearaholic, I must admit to being guilty of that same childlike delight over a new "sound maker" although I do identify a SoundCloud recording as "demo" which implies it is more sound than organization.

My recordings that I consider musical works involve far more planning as yes, organization. At times they do come from experimentation and that pure childlike delight over sound in the tradition of John Cage but at times they involve a far more developed concept or one might say, the "organized" side of electronic music.

So, I now come to the reason I wrote this. I was watching videos if various gearaholics demoing the Ehkdahl Moisturizer, a spring reverb with open springs and built in filter that can be played. A few caught my eye or ear in a negative sense. One was a guy banging on the thing with sticks and randomly (not organized) twiddling with filter knobs. Apparently he thought this was interesting. I would rather listen to disco than this cacophony of random unorganized sounds.

The next was a guy with this simple sample and hold circuit which he thought made melodies (he emphasized how impressed he was by this) run though the moisturizer while he twiddled with knobs and banged on the springs. Same negative effect for me.

The only video that I thought was interesting was from Richard Devine that showed some novel avenues to a more musical and yes, organized use of this product.

So now I come to the cure. In the future, before jumping on every gear bandwagon, I want to ask myself a question. Can I use a product in a musical and organized way or am I just buying another expensive toy to bang on with a rattle.

This is not necessarily a criticism of the moisturizer because I do think it has real musical applications but rather to suggest that demos need to weigh in more heavily on the organized part of music as "organized sound" and ask the question "How can this product be used musically" rather than how can I make sounds with it. The difference I suggest is the difference between sound and music.

No comments: