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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
An actual on-topic post: Synth Music Compositon
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Joined: Aug 14, 2011
Posts: 224
Location: Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Audio files: 100

PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:38 pm    Post subject: An actual on-topic post: Synth Music Compositon Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very few of the posts in this section are actually about composition.
So I thought I'd write one.

I create almost all of my tunes the same way, ie. with no planning beforehand.
I play around with one of my synths until I find a sound I like.
Then I noodle with that sound until I find a melodic and/or rhythmic line I like, then record it.
Next I play that track back and find a new sound and line to complement the first.
Then I add another, and another, etc.
Almost all of my tunes are done in one sitting.

I don't like a lot of reverb.
I layer a lot of tracks and things can get muddy quickly if the sounds are too thick.

I prefer very boingy sounds.
I actually prefer digital sounds to analog.
My least favorite synth is my Alesis Micron, which is supposed to be the most analog sounding.
My favorite synths are a Microkorg and a Casio "Cosmo" CZ-101.
The Cosmo is the boingiest but the MK is the most fun to play and to play with.

Influences on my music are many. I've always listened to all kinds of music.
I picked up polyrhythms mostly from world music.
My corny stereo imaging is pure George Martin (Beatles producer).
I love music that repeats but changes, like Ravel's Bolero or Pachelbel's Canon in D.
I love music that starts out simple and builds gradually.
I use lots of phase and filter shifting, and morse code rhythms, all inspired by shortwave listening.

(For those of you unfamiliar with shortwave: Long distance SW signals are bent around the earth by the ionosphere. The ionosphere continually changes and those changes affect every sonic quality of the broadcast signals. This planet has its own randomized multi-mode filter!!!)

Early Genesis was a big influence, but not just the influence you're thinking of. You're thinking of Tony's orchestral keyboards, right? Equally influential was Mike's dramatic bass pedal! When Mike stepped on the thunder, things got real serious. Listen to the instrumental section at the end of Entangled with good speakers, and hold onto your wig.

I wasn't influenced much by past synth players.
I like early Tomita and Synergy but I approach music differently.
I wasn't really aware of Jean Jacques Perrey until recently, though there are similarities to my music.
I loved Hot Butter's version of Popcorn, which might have encouraged my frequent silliness.
Kraftwerk sounded like non-musicians. I enjoyed some of it but wasn't particularly impressed.

I'm an experienced guitarist but I'm totally winging it on keys.
I know I do a lot of things "wrong" but it sounds good to me.
I play keyboard synths because they are musical instruments.
I don't want to make music with a sequencer.
I don't like to use much automation. Too many too-precise rhythms annoy me.
I dislike house, drum and bass, etc. It's too mechanical and formulaic for me.
(and I'm sure that EDM "producers" don't like my music, either)

I don't like slight variations on the same old @#$%.
I like originality, imagination and a sense of humor, so I love 1:11 / Acid Trash.

Merry Synthmas and Dear Mary were actually written years ago.
I might give more of my 200+ old songs the AEJOTZ treatment.
Dear Mary is one of a handful of Sci-Fi themed songs I wrote for an unfinished concept album.
I'm often tempted to revisit "Space Chanty" and even include the vocals.
(You guys would crap if you heard me sing. It's my best thing. I just got tired of performing.)

I do all my recording on a BOSS BR-600 digital multi-track recorder.
You can bounce tracks all day with no sound degeneration and it has an UNDO button!
When you screw up and record over a good track you can undo it!
It also has gobs of effects and a drum machine but I don't use them.

I can't think of anything else to say.
I hope this encourages others to talk about how they make music and what influenced them.

AEJOTZ is pronounced "A-Jotz"
retro-futurism now
electronics = magic

Last edited by A E J O T Z on Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: Jan 18, 2005
Posts: 3859
Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting read there! Fascinating how I deeply agree with some (Hot Butter, Alesis Micron or Ion in my case) and disagree with some (Kraftwerk, analog).

Great to see an on-topic post in a forum that, as you have noticed, mostly seems to be about people trying to promote their work.

Antimon's Window
@soundcloud @Flattr home - you can't explain music
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Joined: Aug 14, 2011
Posts: 224
Location: Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Audio files: 100

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Creative disagreement is a wonderful thing.
Imagine how boring it would be if we all had the same tastes.

No, don't! It's too awful to think about!

Very Happy

AEJOTZ is pronounced "A-Jotz"
retro-futurism now
electronics = magic
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Joined: Oct 05, 2011
Posts: 80
Location: rio de janeiro, brazil
Audio files: 1

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

this was nice indeed.

I don't have much time to do my music, because I have a day job and wife and kid and no home studio (just a tiny room turned into computer office) so I have to rely on careful improvisation most of the time. but I want to do more complex arrangements in the future, like I did in my first album (Round Mi, 2003). maybe later this year.

many of my published recordings are of solo instruments. I think even that way I'm able to communicate an interesting mood, melody or harmony. often, I don't find necessary to overdub a lot of tracks to create a satisfying musical experience.

the Kluster/Cluster musicians - Conrad Schnitzler, Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius - have been growing influences in how I can make music. my very recent album Connection is a tribute to Conrad and was mostly made using his methods. I used VSTs for almost all the sounds here, but also the Monotron Delay for one of the tracks and a short melodica recording stretched using Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch for the harmonic background drone in another track. a positive thing about the Schnitzler influence is not to care about elaborate concepts and just do interesting sounds and harmonies, pile them up until you're satisfied. what I get from Roedelius is to trust your inspiration and have attitude in improvising - that way you can make wonderful harmonies and melodies. Moebius teaches to embrace strange sounds, noises and rhythms that can transport the music to different places - something only electronic music can do. I think all of this can be heard in my Connection album, which I'm proud of.

I always publish my music as albums, which is an influence of the symphonic genre, my favourite kind of classical music, but also of J.M.Jarre, the first electronic musician I heard. I think the album format is still good as you can have a variety of music in a tactile package, even if it's a digital album. and nowadays you can have any length of music and call it an album, as long as you have this substantial experience. today I count 11 solo albums and several other releases.

the instrument I used mostly was the Roland XP-30, my first synth, which I got in 2000. now I have other instruments but the recent years have been extremely busy as I started my family. nowadays things are in their places so I've been able to accelerate my musicmaking again. so I released a lot of old archived recordings and this process is still ongoing. my next release will be the 10th anniversary digital edition of my debut album.

so in the last few years I bought a bunch of other synths which only now I'm beginning to work with. they are the microkorg, korg poly-800II (from the 80s), korg electribe EMX-1 (so I can start putting more rhythm and percussion in my works), korg monotron delay and monotron duo (I made a whole album just with the delay, and called it symphony no.2)

I also have a digital piano, yamaha clavinova clp-330. I always liked experimenting with the piano on the synth, but more recently I've been alternating electronic and solo piano albums. the piano really helps developing the musical senses. I'm now working on my third solo piano release, a collaboration with a photographer, which will be released for free (as it's a collaboration). It's the same format as Perpectives, one of my 2012 releases.

I always prefer to work old style using manual overdubbing, microediting, as if I was recording with tape, razor and glue. I welcome occasional errors, mistakes. usually when I try to fix those mistakes the music loses its character. I record directly to the computer, using the old soundforge 5 (still works perfectly) and occasionally other audio editors.

all of this might reflect on unprofessional sounding music sometimes, but I don't mind. I'm always doing the best I can with the circumstances of the moment. some people like the results and that makes me happy.

I don't believe in giving the music away for free, but I've been putting all my music on bandcamp. for me, that's enough for those who want to experience the music freely - and it's very easy to download the 128 kbps samples using third party software, if you really want to. I make my music available as cheap downloads and I also offer handmade physical copies for those who like that kind of thing (as I do). and I still have a few solo albums available for free, like the Conrad tribute. also, I enjoy collaborating with different artists, and all my collaborations have been free downloads.

also, I like to control all aspects of my music production. I don't need to rely on labels, cover artists, webdesigners, etc. I do all that by myself. of course this might limit my audience, but I'm more interested in building a solid work. one of the many positive things about collaborations is the opportunity to reach people that otherwise might not be aware of my music.

if anyone wants to see what this is all about, please visit my site, www.gustavojobim.com .

It would be nice to see what the others can contribute to this thread.
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Manuel Marino

Joined: Aug 07, 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cool rambling, so maybe it's my turn I think.

In 1993, I was composing like you said, track per track, by inspiration only. I could start with a melody or with a bass line or with a rhythm and then build from there.

In 1993 I was using an M1 Korg only, and working mainly on midi projects for small games.

Few years lately I was having many different keyboards, sound modules and a workstation with Creamware hardware.

I was studying with a piano teacher in that period. Consider that I started as guitarist, but betrayed my guitars for synths Smile

The more I was studying melody and harmony, the more was changing my way to compose.

Now I prepare my ideas on my Yamaha piano, often writing stuff on paper, creating a structure before sitting in front of a sequencer.

I can say that I study my scores at the same time, so inspiration (intuition) and rational composition all together work to create a unique masterpiece.

Each new soundtrack I create is the result of my study in all the previous experience in music composition.

Listen to Free Samples from my soundtracks or read Guitar, Bass, Piano and Drums Lessons and News from my Homepage.
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