Hardware vs Software: Tools of musical composition

Hey crew…

Hope all is well. It’s been a minute since I posted a blog, but I’m back. Been pretty busy between various music projects, work, fam, life, etc. This post is sorta related to the last few as its on the subject of how we, as musicians, compose music and the tools we use. Two days ago I happened to be reading an article on world renowned electronica musician, Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher in Future Music Magazine #235. He has a new release entitled “Squarepusher presents: Shobaleader One”. I’ve featured a track or two of his on my podcast The Sunday Soundtrack.

Being a solo artist until this new release, he’s greatly relied on hardware to produce his tracks. He’s relied on the Yamaha QY700 up to now to handle all his sequencing. Even with the employment of actual musicians for this release, he’s still using it for that task.

The interview is actually pretty good. In it he talks about his use of samples (or lack thereof) in his compositions. He said the following:

“With a modern sequencing package, I get four pages of snares, a hundred kick drums and a giant screen. That’s my idea of hell”

That, ironically, reminded me of a thought I had just a day prior… about a hip-hop producer I connected with on Twitter that graciously shared with me a slew of drum kits and samples. One file alone contain 1600 snares….1600! I thought to myself…”How would I ever be able to audition all of those snares in a somewhat timely fashion to find “the right one” for a tune?”. Ever since getting Logic Studio and an MPC shortly after that, I’ve been collecting samples and loops on the net (from the vast majority of free ones offered) for quite a bit of time how. So far to the tune of about 5GB alone. This doesn’t include the sample CDs that come with my monthly purchase of Future Music Magazine, and occassionally Computer Music and Music Tech.

I’m in a moment of time where I am seriously enjoying using Logic Studio as my DAW of choice, but at the same time, there’s something about pressing buttons, turning knobs, and seeing the glow of LED and LCD screens in the studio, that makes it all part of composing music (not to mention picking up one of my guitars or my bass guitar as starting points).

The hottest composition tool that, in my mind, is a mix hybrid of hardware and software is NI’s Maschine. I won’t even begin to get into this right now, but it is what’s on point right now. Tons of videps all over the net, big time artists using it. Many have made the jump from the MPC to this unit.

That being said, I think Squarepusher shares the following mindset with many artists who have been composing music in the digital age. He sums it up quite nicely:

“My advice to anyone who’s reading this would be: Don’t worry about what I’ve got. Don’t worry about what anyone else has got. Take whatever’s in your studio and make music. The most important thing is that you keep the free flow of ideas. Keep pushing your imagination. If you can only afford two bits of gear…fine! Use them, push them as far as they’ll go”.

Am I an advocate of the above quote? Yes, definitely… but at the same time, I am hardly against buying new gear at all. While I had enough hardware in my studio to make music without a Mac, I found that using a computer easily made the process and workflow MUCH easier and quicker.

I often key my eyes on everything coming out that’s new, but with Logic Studio and a rack full of synths, a MPC, and an MC-808, I find myself hard pressed to purchase anything new. What I am beginning to find exciting (again) is to breath life into some of my older modules (even the stock sounds) and combining them with Logic to come up with tracks that are….”Fresh”! šŸ˜‰

Thanks for the read… now go make music. Peace.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

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Quiktraks (60 sec audio) – Day 3

mpcblue2
Crew…

How’s everyone. Third installment here. The newest piece of gear I have in the studio is an AKAI MPC 1000 sampling music production workstation. The beat you hear is a simple one I did a few months ago when I first got it. While I wont go into the long time history and popularity of the machine, I primarily got it because I am used to (and prefer) composing drum tracks on a drum machine’s pad versus a keyboard, and as it is designed to do, it’s a nice sampler as well.

The track is the original beat, with me laying a lil 70’s funk rhythm guitar over it. Nothing fancy, everything dry….a few seconds of funk.

Background Notes:

Drums and vinyl scratch: MPC 1000
Guitar: Fender Strat recorded dry into Logic Pro 8

My personal tracks are on my Myspace page
The Lab is here.

peace…
F!