I am sure that most people remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken asking for more and more cowbell. Lately, I feel like him. I was researching some musical ideas this morning and last night and I already have 3 more pieces of gear I would like much like the comical call for more cowbell. Then I started thinking about those early pioneers of electronic music who either spent days slicing tapes, punching cards to run a computer program or using rudimentary oscillators to make electronic music that in many ways is far more creative than anything today my own work included.
I know I tend to pick on dub step as a genre but it seems to me it's based on a single sound used in cliched variations of wob wob wob to crank out dance music for crazed drug addled youth at raves. Ok, sure I guess I sound like a grumpy old man and yes, I am showing my age. But I think of Alvin Lucier's "Dripsody" or Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Hymnen" which are wonderful collages of sound pieced together by by artists who would have dreamed of having the tools I have to work with.
About a week ago I started thinking about cross overs. I built one not by buying new gear but using Live's instrument racks and EQ8 and a few soft synths and hardware I already have. I loved the results. So much so I started a new project called the mirror project. Mirrors help us to see ourselves. We see the faces of many people every day but we only see ourselves in mirrors. Musically I think I have become so consumed by looking for the next best cowbell that I failed to realize the magic of sound that those early artists knew so much about.
So, I look in the mirror and realize that I don't need more gear or cowbell but it's time to start really listening and thinking about sound and music and like Alice in the Carol's tale go through the looking glass and rediscover the magic of sound free of the burden of worrying about new gear. The old gear still has many secrets to be revealed just behind the looking glass.