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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
Presets vs Custom sounds - your thoughts?
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mosc
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting discussion about authenticity and music. I think you kind of nailed it as being undefined. If you use certain presets you run the risk that they might sound like musical clichés. I sometimes get that feeling what I hear the classic lead synth sound, or the standard drum machine sound. But, if you're really good at it, it will still sound like good music.
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1:11



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting Topic,
this has been heavy on my mind for about half a year, so thought i'd share my 2 cents.

When i first began making music, i considered myself a "sound designer". Didn't use presets, and spent most of my time programming the keyboards and creating original samples. The programming was what made me shine, and using a preset was the last thing on the mind.

FLASH FORWARD
After a 10+ year hiatus, i return to music. While playing around with gear, i immediately create something i liked, using presets, and caused somewhat of a dilemma...
Was this song original, even though the entire palette of sounds came from other programmers?

It then hit me, that my programming before wasn't even original. i didn't create the waves inside a Wavestation, or the JD-800, ect... i only manipulated what was already there. A guitarist uses the sound of the guitar, not create it, and then manipulates it. Which was a personal revelation.

i then began using Presets purposely, Using sounds anyone can have access to. i wanted to use the most played out sounds possible!! i want people to recognize the sources, because it would show the creativity behind how the sound was used.

As was said above, if sounds works, there's no reason to alter it in sake of "originality". If you're using it in an original way, then you rock.

No need to reinvent the wheel. If it works, it works.
At least that's how it's lookin over here........
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Krasiva



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

1:11 wrote:
No need to reinvent the wheel. If it works, it works.
At least that's how it's lookin over here........

Precisely!

I use both; presets and custom made. But usually I seek proper preset archetype and start to tweak it to be suitable. But then sometimes presets (especially drums and basses) work just the way they are.

Cheers,
Jumbo/Krasiva
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mosc
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi, Krasiva. welcome to electro-music.com

Great to have you here.

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dewdrop_world



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

1:11 wrote:
i then began using Presets purposely, Using sounds anyone can have access to. i wanted to use the most played out sounds possible!! i want people to recognize the sources, because it would show the creativity behind how the sound was used.


Interesting perspective.

It reminds me of a quote I heard once from a Japanese Zen priest: "Everybody does the same thing in zazen (group meditation practice) so that I can see their true individuality."

In my own sound design, the synthesis techniques are really simple... embarrassingly simple... what I get from SuperCollider that I don't get anywhere else is tremendous flexibility in applying modulation sources to the simple techniques. Control signals go way beyond LFOs and envelopes, and the ability to give a precise shape to control signals outstrips Reaktor (possibly even Max/MSP -- I'm sure in Max it's all possible, but whether it's as straightforward as in SC is another question).

So, like in this one -- http://soundcloud.com/dewdrop_world/affectations-torso -- I have multiple band pass filters running on various noise sources, all of them with different center-frequency shapes. Not that it was easy to do in SC, but it would be basically impossible with, say, Absynth.

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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

dewdrop_world wrote:
1:11 wrote:
i then began using Presets purposely, Using sounds anyone can have access to. i wanted to use the most played out sounds possible!! i want people to recognize the sources, because it would show the creativity behind how the sound was used.


Interesting perspective.

A related intent going into Scrabble-to-MIDI was to treat the canned instrument voices that come free with the Java MIDI library as found sounds.

Here are some free sounds available on anybody's computer. Do something interesting with them.

It was nice that the people implementing that library for Mac OSX did an especially nice job with the instrument voices, but the primary thrust of our effort was creative game-based composition for free found instrument voices, as contrasted with composition of the voices themselves.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

dewdrop_world wrote:
So, like in this one -- http://soundcloud.com/dewdrop_world/affectations-torso --


I like that piece a lot, James. It's a great one to play with the AmbiophonicDSP. Excellent!

BTW, are you really in China?

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Krasiva



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Hi, Krasiva. welcome to electro-music.com

Great to have you here.

Thanks!

Wonder if people know which presets are famous? Like was Van Halen's Jump-sound preset?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Krasiva wrote:
mosc wrote:
Hi, Krasiva. welcome to electro-music.com

Great to have you here.

Thanks!

Wonder if people know which presets are famous? Like was Van Halen's Jump-sound preset?


It's often fun to go through the presets on a new synth. There will usually be something called "Blade Runner", sometimes something like "Alan Parsons" etc. Sometimes you're surprised.

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dewdrop_world



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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
dewdrop_world wrote:
So, like in this one -- http://soundcloud.com/dewdrop_world/affectations-torso --


I like that piece a lot, James. It's a great one to play with the AmbiophonicDSP. Excellent!

BTW, are you really in China?


Thanks!

Funny thing about that piece (section of a longer work) -- the deadline for the premiere was coming very fast. Somehow I managed to knock that one out in about a week, and also handle teaching duties etc. It turned out to be up there with other pieces that I slaved over for months Smile -- I mean, I'm really happy with that section of the whole piece, despite it being done much more quickly than I usually work. Sometimes all the chips fall in the right places.

It's even better with the choreography.

Yes, I actually am in China!

http://flash.cnimc.com/xhjpkc/channel.php?subjectID=38&channel_ID=3&subject_ID=38

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mosc
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

dewdrop_world wrote:

Yes, I actually am in China!

http://flash.cnimc.com/xhjpkc/channel.php?subjectID=38&channel_ID=3&subject_ID=38


Tres cool. You'll have to put together a program of music from China for us. I hope things are working out for you there. I would love to come visit. Smile

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emdot_ambient



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Using presets are no big deal. If they work for your music, use them.

When I've composed with synths that have presets I've generally approached things from two directions (actual results usually end up being a combination of the two):

1) Work on creating presets with no compositional use in mind. Just work on sound design. Ultimately, the presets I come up with inspire a song.

2) Work on composing a new piece starting by running through a bunch of presets to see if anything inspires me. Once I've found a preset that inspires me, I'll lay down some tracks with it, maybe tweek it a bit, then build the rest of the song with other presets that are (almost always) edited to fit the song. It's extremely rare to find presets that work "as is" in any song, except as the core sound that started the whole composition.

Working strictly with presets that others have created, to me, is as boring as composing strictly with loops others have created. But that's me. And sometimes I have gotten really annoyed by people using the same old presets over and over again (DX7s for example). They can lull the user into laziness and into them being totally ignorant about what their instrument is capable of, but what the hell, they can do what they like.

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bschiett



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:13 am    Post subject: Re: Presets vs Custom sounds - your thoughts? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Freds 1030 wrote:
What are your thoughts about composing using factory presets vs custom patches?
I know is a bit of a generic question and for different styles there might be different "standards", but I'm curious to hear people thoughts on this.

In my opinion the sounds are part of the composition and using a default sound or loop is almost like cheating, but that might because my background and the style of music I compose.
I do think that your pallet is like a little universe you create, so at the end your music has more personality. Then again, I've been guilty of using factory loops and synth patches when working again a tight deadline (on the film scoring world).


my first synth was a korg wavestation, which I got used with the programmed sounds from the previous owner still on there. I was really impressed by the sounds, but very quickly got into the editor to make my own, muting certain parts and changing them ... so although the presets helped me decide if I wanted to buy the instrument in the end I only very rarely used the presets on music I was working on. Most of the time I started with a preset which I then kept taking apart and changing until it created a sound I never heard before Smile

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bschiett



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

dewdrop_world wrote:
1:11 wrote:
i then began using Presets purposely, Using sounds anyone can have access to. i wanted to use the most played out sounds possible!! i want people to recognize the sources, because it would show the creativity behind how the sound was used.


Interesting perspective.

It reminds me of a quote I heard once from a Japanese Zen priest: "Everybody does the same thing in zazen (group meditation practice) so that I can see their true individuality."

In my own sound design, the synthesis techniques are really simple... embarrassingly simple... what I get from SuperCollider that I don't get anywhere else is tremendous flexibility in applying modulation sources to the simple techniques. Control signals go way beyond LFOs and envelopes, and the ability to give a precise shape to control signals outstrips Reaktor (possibly even Max/MSP -- I'm sure in Max it's all possible, but whether it's as straightforward as in SC is another question).

So, like in this one -- http://soundcloud.com/dewdrop_world/affectations-torso -- I have multiple band pass filters running on various noise sources, all of them with different center-frequency shapes. Not that it was easy to do in SC, but it would be basically impossible with, say, Absynth.


nice track - what is the sound coming in at 3.43?
what kind of signals are you using to control the center frequency of the bandpass filters?

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Coriolis



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There is also the question of the audience - will they know or care that you used a preset? Most people wouldn't recognize the "Jump" patch unless it was used to play that exact tune!

Whatever philosophy to subscribe to, do it for yourself - not the audience (whether or not they are musicians).

</2cents>

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:
Most people wouldn't recognize the "Jump" patch unless it was used to play that exact tune!


Someone at my work was singing other words on a well known tune, then I asked her if she knew what that tune was and she didn't realize until I sang the usual words.

Context does a lot!

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Context is very important - I think even more than the actual sounds themselves.

Imagine you're watching a BBC Nature program, and they've chosen a trance tune (and not the usual orchestral or ambient music) to accompany Sir David Attenborough narrating a sequence about phytoplankton! Most people would feel strange about that choice, I think - even if they don't know the musical terms "trance", "ambient", etc.

The same people wouldn't be able to spot that overused factory preset from the Wavestation - as long as the composition fits the mood of the pictures.

But of course; if you, the composer, needs to stay away from presets to do good work, then that is what matters.

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DES



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've wrestled with this issue off and on for years. I used to really work on my sound design almost to a mania. A number of years ago I was playing keys in a band and really just got frustrated trying to get the sounds exact. Guitars and drums would just play right over top but more importantly the audience really didn't seem to care, as long as the overall song sounded good. I thought about it and decided that guitars, bass and drums have a relatively small pallet of sounds to draw from (compared to a synth), so why was I going out of my way with my patch programming other then to please myself? Yea I thought it added something to the overall sound quality, but did the audience really care? ....

I thought about it in the context of a painter. A lot of very talented painters use(d) pre-mixed paints to start with. Some (especially years ago) made their own paint from scratch. Both will mix and adjust each to taste. Yet when you look at their finished works, you don't really know whether a particular color was hand made, commercial or mixed. You very well may see 'preset' colors like reds, blues, etc. In anycase it's the final result that maters.

There are some very good preset patches out now. If they help with a musical idea I have no problem using them 'as is' or tweaked...

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I sit and mess around with patching up synth sounds every now and then. It's fun, but (more with some kinds of synths than others) it's frustrating because I tweak and tweak but I don't get the sound I want. Then I dial up a piano sound on the Kurzweil romper and just sit and play for hours...

No need to rule out one or the other, it's fun to patch and it's fun to play. Sometimes the two don't combine, is all. Smile

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Having a "personal" sound does not really depend on whether you use presets or design sounds from scratch imo - it's more dependent on playing style and the kind of treatments you do to the sound after recording, or if you are playing live, effects chains and the like.

I find that one efficient way to making original, unique sounds is to use a lot of processing, resampling, effects editing, often redoing the same effect over and over, and generally just messing about with the sound until it's not recognisable any more. You can use perfectly generic effects and free VST's to arrive at this, or some combination of obscure and esoteric effects boxes.

The whole idea is to keep processing until it sounds good, and save it. Then keep going to see what's beyond what you think you are happy with, and hopefully stumble upon something new. But that's just me. I now do this in real time, so that the entire process is there every time i need it, as opposed to resampling something with new effects every time, forcing me to remember (or, God forbid, write down) what I did to get to that effect.

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Ni-Kulo



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

presets are a great thing if youre new to all this and still got much to learn.


i guess everyone started with some presets and tweaked them around.


however in the longrun ofc its much more satisfying to learn about sound synthesis etc.

you'll learn more and its more fun imho^^

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ni-Kulo wrote:

i guess everyone started with some presets and tweaked them around.


Depends on how old you are. I'm older than presets. wow! Let us pray

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Coriolis



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wow, how's that for a tag line:
"Howard Moscowitz - Older than presets" Laughing

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Laughing That was classic Mosc!
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Antimon wrote:
As long as you're not breaking any law, there is no such thing as "cheating" in music, objectively speaking. Subjectively speaking, you can get any answer imaginable to your question - it's all down to what you think yourself. It's a harsh and boring answer, but there you go.

I often feel that one of the most difficult and crucial issues when making music is finding the balance between how much you are enjoying your own music, and how much you care about how others will enjoy it.

Also, reinventing the wheel can be great fun! Smile

/Stefan


very well put! or, i agree at least.. haha Surprised

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