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Dangerous (learning) curves (was Fast & Trashy, Slow and Chaste)
Thanks for the comments... it makes me think of something I've noticed
with regards to the whole "learning curve" technology angle:
What I tend to see is this: the more gear is involved in a performance,
the more the musical experience of looping seems to be about creating
this big, massive "thing" that is set into motion, and then sort of
spins around of its own accord, almost independently of the player.
There's a funny parallel between musical gear and motor vehicles in that
way: the music that tends to be made by artists with loads of equipment
in their rigs often strikes me as being like a giant 18-wheeler semi
truck: it takes a long time to get started, it takes a long time to slow
down, and you have to plan your turns half a block in advance on account
of the massive size involved. But it certainly can sound impressive
when it's up and running...
I can't help but think that a lot of this has to do with the "mental
fatigue" angle you and Andreas brought up... it seems like the more
stuff is involved in the actual rig, the more mentally demanding it
tends to be to steer it in a particular direction, with a particular
sense of speed. And the easier it can be to change the rig around, swap
components in and out, and alter signal paths... which in many ways
forces a person to start all over again with the whole curve of using
their "instrument" in an agile and intuitive manner.
The main impetus for having the big rigs tends to be a desire for lots
of different sounds, and wanting to be able to access a wide variety of
But isn't it interesting how some people will spend decades playing
"just" a piano, or a tabla, or their own voice, and find ongoing
inspiration and freedom within the confines of "one sound"? Isn't it
funny how often it's harder to make a decision about what to play with
dozens of options availble, instead of just one or two? And isn't it
strange (and scary) how easy it is to constantly want to modify, or
change, or upgrade, or trade up, a piece of electronic music gear, when
we find ourselves frustrated with the music we make with it?
Wired magazine had a really good article on this subject:
It's ostensibly geared (no pun intended) towards the laptop music realm,
but the ideas it addresses apply to pretty much any performing musician
who's ever tried to use "external gear" as an instrument...
I'm not trying to knock anybody here - there are plenty of folks with
huge rigs and huge sounds who I really enjoy listening to. I'm just
thinking out loud about things that have crossed my mind many a time.
(And trying to see how many more innuendos I can squeeze into a subject
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