I don’t use twitter too often, because you can lose a whole day looking at people’s aphorisms and most of them are just that, without any durability behind it. But once in a while you find an engaging thought, like that in my previous article.
Anyway this post is about something else. I recently got involved into sound design, mainly because I like to compose music, and it seems like a terrible waste not to include the world of digital sound production. But if you don’t necessarily need bass for breakfast and megasaw mayhem before bedtime, you might be repelled from the superficiality of most digitally produced music. The thing is even worse: digital music seems to be either musically empty, just some basic repetition, that doesn’t tell any story, or musically overloaded, such that the story that might be there comes too slowly for your taste.
So I got into it, tried out some synthesizers and ran into the problem, that this sort of composition literally urges you to simplicity. Music making is less of a seclusive idiosyncracy, as it used to be, than a constant journey of discovery in a world full of unknowns. This can be beautiful, but you eventually get to the point, where you realize, that it’s not you turning those knobs, but the knobs actually twisting you.
Occupied with physics the last two years, I felt ready to push the safety switch and bought a book about sound design. Judging from it’s content, that stretches from physics to musical programming to analysis and back, both in a very fluid text and mathematical language, I’d recommend it as the most comprehensive introduction. Every background you need can be found online. See: Designing Sound by Andy Farnell
The problem one might have with contemporary music, thus is not one of digital or traditional methods, but the old distinction between good and bad music. And this again, is not so much a question of taste. Taste limits your possiblities to conveive and listen to music. Bad music today is such, that doesn’t make use of the possibilities it has. It treats you like an ignorant in giving you only the minimum level of content possible.
Luckily, there are some more famous people to back this. Belgian musician Stromae for example, pokes fun in a very sympathetic way on the simplicity of his own songs (see below). But this irony is also all over his texts, which is a symptom for why bad music can flourish as it does. People simply don’t care. Stromae has gained immense popularity, but the majority of his fans doesn’t even speak his language – following some youtube comments, it might be really just the beat of this songs, their most simple aspect, that lets people go crazy. Interestingly he has also written a song about the danger of losing one’s time on twitter:
Stromae lessons (french):
If you need some quick ressources, look here for some contemporary techniques for playing instruments of the western classical orchestra, or check out this article for a list of libraries for animal sounds.
Update: recently found out about biofeedback music like this project, with which you can use plants as midi controllers.