Less is More?

The age old statement sometimes has its truth, sometimes not.

For me, I feel that after getting my Korg ESX electribe sampler I achieved a major step forward in my music production. Why and how could that be, when I have Logic Pro, Pro Tools and Ableton? The Korg limited in its sample memory, sound control parameters, pattern length, effects, and the list goes on.

Well what the Korg has going for it is that everything is pretty much on the surface and the limitations tend to make me think more about each element and what the purpose of each element is. Instead of paging through my 6000 kick drum samples to find the “right” one, on the Korg ESX I just find something close from the limited selection of favorite samples I have loaded in, then tune it, filter it, pitch bend it, or whatever to make it work for me. After all, an acoustic drummer usually only plays with one drumset and most people don’t complain that the drummer isn’t changing their preset/patch during each song.

So less choices makes me think about options less and makes me just make a decision and move on. Sure the tonality of that kick drum might not be perfect, and I want to add a slight boost of 1.7kHz to it, but guess what? The people in the first row won’t know the difference, and surely you might not know the difference in a live situation where the sound is not always perfect.

Surely I could place limitations on myself with the computer, such as saying “only use these presets”, or “no 3rd party plugins”, but I am often not able to regulate myself. When you have limitless potential, you fell like you need to exhaust all possibilities before accepting that your music is the best it can be. Sometimes it feels like you can’t make the best art if you don’t page through all 10,000 synth presets in your library. I also get distracted in front of a computer where I want to check email, look on eBay, and watch outrageous youtube videos.

Sitting in front of my Korg ESX and playing the Korg DSS-1 through is has created some very awe inspiring sets lately. I can’t say the same for all the mousing around in DAWs over the years. It is like I finally got back to making music instead of programming sounds which never manifested themselves into any codified music.

So, my advice to anyone and everyone is to avoid the pitfall of doubt brought on by the limitless possibilities in regard to music making. Learn to make a decision quick and be OK with the results. If you are second guessing everything you never get anywhere. Also, like Jimi Hendrix said “If people want to hear it like the album, they should go home and listen to the album.” (My paraphrase). Art is living, and hopefully the mix changes day to day, venue to venue and the performance does as well. Don’t get bogged down by the idea that only one version of a performance will last forever. Nowadays everyone has a cell phone and they video concerts, then the videos are uploaded before the concert is over. People love all the versions as long as there is passion in the music. Nobody wants to hear performers who are so concerned with perfection they forget to make it about true emotions.

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