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Zack!



Joined: Mar 13, 2003
Posts: 4
Location: Jacksonville, Fl.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2003 3:20 am    Post subject: Getting started Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

To: Howard and others on this wonderfully new site. I am often asked how to get into electronic music. I would hate to see someone get in on a lark and have thousands of dollars worth of equipment end up in the closet, but I would also hate to see them become discouraged due to lack of capabilities.

Maybe knowing how each of you got into this crazy field would be helpful, or how you would do it if you had another chance at getting started.

What is the minimum configuration? I know this is a difficult, if not impossible question to answer, and that is why I am asking it. It is the question I am most often asked. I am interested right down to brand names and suppliers.

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ZACK!
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egw



Joined: Feb 01, 2003
Posts: 1507
Location: Asheville NC
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2003 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Everyone will have a different opinion about this!

It depends alot on the persons background, and what they want to do musically.

For someone who wants to make dance music, I would say download the free version of fruityloops or similar software. No risk, and you can see if it does anything for you.

For someone who wants to learn synthesis, In my opinion the Nord Modular is unsurpassed as a learning vehicle. And used ones are getting very affordable, now that the new model has been announced.

For a person who already has a musical background (perhaps on keyboards) then the first question is whether they want to record their own music, jam at home with other (either electronic or "conventional") musicians, or perform.

For the home musician a computer based solution will provide the most bang for the buck. I say this even though I haven't chosen that route for myself. If you have more money to spend, dedicated HW can be more satisfying.
A sequencer or digital recorder should be an early consideration - so that you can create somethng, listen to it later, add to it or change it, share it with others. These are essential to progressing with the music.
The choice of instrument is a very personal one, and depends on musical skills and preferences, as well as budget. There are lots of used synths out there that will provide a good basis for exploration at nominal cost.
Join the email lists for various types of equipment, and you will get lots of free advice about the pros and cons, known bugs etc. for any of these.
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mosc
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Joined: Jan 31, 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2003 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Good question. (I moved this topic to the "How tos" forum.)

I got started in electronic music back in the 1960's with a couple of tape recorders and a shortwave radio, a Heathkit Mohawk. You could get really great sounds with it by tuning between stations. I used this humble setup for quite some time before I ever heard of a synthesizer. I could do layers with the sound-on-sound feature, as well as looping and editing. Today, this isn't the right way to start because tape recorders are quite obsolete.

However, you can get great multitrack audio software for your PC that works with the soundcard. There are several low cost versions of multitrack recorders you can get. I use Sonar, and it is fabulous. The make a low-cost starter version. There are other good brands as well, including Emagic and many others. My guess some software comes free with the PC or with the soundcard. With most of them you can do great things with your recordings like speed up, slow down and play in reverse. You can copy sound from one track to another and delay it to create echoes. This is very overused in my opinion, but it's lots of fun if you are just starting out.

I would get the multitrack recording going before considering getting any synthesizers. Learn to mangle sound and create compositions using very simple sound materials. In the 1950's there was a early form of music called Musique Concrete, the was just natural sounds with various tape manipulations.

If you want to get into some established style, like Techno, Trance or the like, then that will require special tools, and one should ask questions of artists who are doing those styles. You can ask people here on this forum. These styles are so well established that manufactures make special equipment called grove boxes just for this kind of music. Still, no matter what style you want to get into, I think learning how to handle multitrack recording on the computer is a critical first step.

You will find that some people in this field are collectors of equipment. They have rooms of synthesizers. I have known many electronic musicians and I'll tell you, there is absolutely no correlation between the amount of equipment and the quality of the music. Some people would disagree. I have heard good music made with lots of expensive equipment, but it's rare.

On some CDs you'll see lists of equipment used for the compositions. This is interesting if your an equipment historian, but it's easy if you're just starting out to get the impression that you need lots of gear to make music. Most good musicians, electronic or otherwise, concentrate on their musical skills, not on their instruments. The best electronic musicians I know are constantly trying to minimize the amount of gear that they use. When they get a new piece of equipment, they tell me with great pride the two or three other pieces they are able to get rid of.

After you get comfortable with multitrack audio recording, then you need to learn about MIDI. But that's for another posting...

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djfoxyfox
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Joined: Feb 05, 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:17 pm    Post subject: Getting started Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Zach said:
Quote:
Maybe knowing how each of you got into this crazy field would be helpful, or how you would do it if you had another chance at getting started.

Before even hearing Switched on Bach in 1968, I saw the Monkees use a Moog on TV in 1967. The sounds they used on "Star Collector" and "Daily Nightly" blew my mind. (And "Love is only Sleeping" was my first exposure to 7/4 time!) All these songs are on their Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. LP. In college, I met someone who was dating my sister's roommate who was doing EM at Ohio State. So I found out all I could from the guy and took classes at OSU. My exposure to Hearts of Space on radio while I was still in Ohio and then to WMUH's Beyond the Barriers and WXPN's Star's End after I arrived in the Lehigh Valley REALLY turned me on to spacemusic. I'm now a DJ who programs three radio shows, two of which feature EM. And now I'm working with Howard and Greg in Subspace and Xeroid Entity. I also appear on Okefenokee Dreams 2001 with Free System Projekt, AirSculpture, and Dave Brewer, a CD released on the Neu Harmony (UK) and Quantum (Netherlands) labels.
Quote:
What is the minimum configuration? I know this is a difficult, if not impossible question to answer, and that is why I am asking it. It is the question I am most often asked. I am interested right down to brand names and suppliers.

I've forsaken all of my other synths for now, concentrating on the Nord Modular Keyboard and guitars through a Boss effects perdal. Effects I use are a reverb and an Akai Headrush delay/loop recorder.

Howard said:
Quote:
I got started in electronic music back in the 1960's with a couple of tape recorders and a shortwave radio, a Heathkit Mohawk. You could get really great sounds with it by tuning between stations. I used this humble setup for quite some time before I ever heard of a synthesizer.

Sounds like you might be interested in checking out the vacuum tube products of Metasonix at http://www.metasonix.com A bit on the pricey side, though.

The Creatvie Synth site has a two part article called "Techniques in Experimental Music" by John Papiewski who "provides a glimpse into the creation of timbres, and the recording process, in the production of experimental electronic music releases." It's at http://creativesynth.com/features/TechExperimental/TechExp_01.html Apparently, all he uses for a sound source is a three panel STS-Serge Modular synth.

Cheers,

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Zack!



Joined: Mar 13, 2003
Posts: 4
Location: Jacksonville, Fl.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 11:01 am    Post subject: Thanks all -- I think this could keep going, though! Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I had a young man ask me how to get started. Wail -- hmm. In the beginning? Wink

Moog? He could not even pronounce it correctly, but is now drooling to get one of the analog monsters.

Of course, to him a vacuum tube was pulling hard on a bong! He had never seen the glow or smelled the ozone of that wonderful world.

He ended up with a KORG N-364, a mixer, and several PCs.

I thank everyone who has responded thus far. Now, if I am wrong, I can blame it on you guys. '-)

______
ZACK!
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Zack!



Joined: Mar 13, 2003
Posts: 4
Location: Jacksonville, Fl.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 11:01 am    Post subject: Thanks all -- I think this could keep going, though! Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I had a young man ask me how to get started. Wail -- hmm. In the beginning? Wink

Moog? He could not even pronounce it correctly, but is now drooling to get one of the analog monsters.

Of course, to him a vacuum tube was pulling hard on a bong! He had never seen the glow or smelled the ozone of that wonderful world.

He ended up with a KORG N-364, a mixer, and several PCs.

I thank everyone who has responded thus far. Now, if I am wrong, I can blame it on you guys. '-)

______
ZACK!
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mosc
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Joined: Jan 31, 2003
Posts: 17550
Location: Allentown, PA
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2003 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The main draw of the big analog modulars is the knobs. There's nothing like controlling a beast with tons of neat looking knobs, especially for insecure control freaks, like me. I suspect that is the reason many of us got into synthesizers in the first place.
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TDman



Joined: Mar 24, 2003
Posts: 1
Location: Denver, CO

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I got started in electronic music when I heard Kraftwerk's Autobahn in '75. I was into sci-fi and this futuristic-sounding stuff intrigued me. By the late 70's I had latched onto Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and others of that ilk. In the mid 80's I purchased my first synth (Korg Poly-800 II) and totally got the bug.
For me, a minimum setup would include: 1 analog/va synth (Roland Juno-106/Novation K-Station), 1 Digital/hybrid synth (Kawai K5000S), 1 sampler (EMU/Akai), 1 drum machine/groovebox (Alesis SR-16/Korg ER-1), 1 or 2 effects processors Lexicon/Roland). Some recording equipment would be good too, but I would recommend coming to grips with the synth gear first. The equipment I just listed should be thought of as a rough guide (based on personal preferences), not some definitive guide.

Hope that helps,

Andy K
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SayersWeb



Joined: Apr 07, 2003
Posts: 54
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2003 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My experiences are somewhat similar to Andy K's. Back when synthesizer music was relatively unknown I found myself drawn to just about any music that used synthesizers. It just seemed right to me. Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon was probably my first real attachment to real synth music.

The first time I heard Radio Activity by Kraftwerk, my life changed forever. This was magical music that blew me away. Soon after I found Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Wavestar, Software (Mergener/Weisser), Synergy.... I could never get enough of it.

I have no musical background whatsoever. In 1989 I bought my first synthesizer (crappy Roland D5) and little hardware sequencer. I worked with this for several years without much succes. It wasn't until the mid 90's that things started to get interesting.

The creative options available these days are staggering. It is so much easier to get started with music. All you need is a PC or Mac, a cheap controller keyboard, and some software. There are even freeware software synths available. This should at least give someone the chance to see if synthesizer based music creation is interesting enough to make a further investment.

I prefer the hardware synths though. I just don't enjoy sitting at a PC with a mouse trying to create music. I love to hit some keys and twist some knobs to make sounds. It's much more natural to me. Wink

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elektro80
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Joined: Mar 25, 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

1. I am not exactly sure if I ever got into electronic music - but I am pretty sure I am into music. I guess I first started to consider the synth as my main instrument when I heard the first David Vorhaus LP. I also stuff by Reilly and la Monte Young and others... like Arne Nordheim..

Music by bands like Magma, Van Der Graaf generator, Hawkwind, Can and Amon Düül made me interested in taking music.. well... somewhere else.

2. Recommended minimal setup? Hmm.. is there such a thing? Depends on if you are going for perfomance oriented music or simply recorded music. Of course, many do both .

There is a lot of "vintage" techniques which you would probably want real hardware for. learning to play a mono and/or duophonic synth is something you would want an ARP Odyssey or an Octave Instruments Cat 2 for. You might want a lot of hardware outboard effects like compressors and stuff.. and you might also want to have a decent PA around for practising and getting that fat vintage amped sound. Hmm.. you might also want a lot of smaller digital reverbs and delays - second hand is cool - for fattening up source signals before you feed them into other efx units.. hmm.. Old stepfilter/analog sequencer rigs might be of interest.. without going completely modular. You might find that you could create a very very very decent effects rig using modular synth modules - without really having to build a true modular synth. you can create semimodular efx patches that enables you to play interactively in stereo.. (hmm.. did that make any sense..)

But... software is cool too. Softare synths often make more sense if you already have a decent old synth already. And many of the emulation synths I love are just cool if you actually need a PPG Wave 2.2, prophet or MiniMoog or whatever for a specific song. My problem is that I have a lot of music written for specific ensembles .. and often write for the instruments I know.. If you want to write new music from scratch emulation synths might be of little use.

There are so many directions you can take musically so I guess one first has to take some musical decisions. Then get some gear.

but if you get real hardware gear.. get some with a lot of knobs ..
knobs are cool
knobs rule
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