Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
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vurt
addled muppet weed
46974 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:23 pm

Michael L wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:55 pm
First there is the hot sauce, then there is no hot sauce, then there is.
the hot sauce knows.

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McLilith
KVRAF
1796 posts since 7 Jul, 2003 from Huntington, WV

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:08 pm

vurt wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:23 pm
Michael L wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:55 pm
First there is the hot sauce, then there is no hot sauce, then there is.
the hot sauce knows.
"He who controls The Sauce, controls the universe!" :hihi:
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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
8322 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:34 pm

dionenoid wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:48 am
What i said about The Doors was because you seemed to indicate that they were an unimportant band but became popular after JM died. Sorry if i misunderstood that.
You did, apology accepted. I always liked Riders on the Storm but you rarely heard it on the radio back in the day. And I was specifically referring to their status in Australia and how they eventually broke (on) through (to the other side) many years later. If you were unaware of what had been going on overseas in the 60s, it would have seemed like revisionist history.
It's true, there was a revival (and bigger worldwide acceptance) of their music years later. "The End" in "Apocalypse Now" boosted it, but also and especially the Doors movie.
Actually, it was many years later that I found out that was The Doors. At the time it was just some song.
But i know, in Australia everything always happens a few years later :)
Not Joe Dolce, baby! Or, strangely, Abba.
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KVRian
627 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:50 pm

McLilith wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 4:59 pm
Someone recently said the following on KVR. I've removed their name, because my post really isn't about them personally. It's about synth culture in general. Roughly similar things have also been said by others in the past. Anyway, here's the quote:
Someone wrote:I hope this admiration for everything 80's, synthwave and stuff like that will die away as soon as possible...
This reminds me of something I've been wondering about lately...

I'll never understand this sort of thinking being applied to synth sounds. It isn't done for other instruments. Take the piano, for example. I never hear anyone say:
No One Ever wrote:"Egads! You're not going to use a grand piano on that piece of music are you? That's so very '1800s', and totally outdated! I can't wait, till everyone tires of this wearisome little 'piano fad' and finally moves on from it." :lol:
The piano hasn't changed too much from the 1800s, but no one ever nags about how outdated "that sound" is. Ignoring "prepared" pianos for a moment, you can't even change the sound of a piano substantially. They only options are to use the foot pedals, to get a paltry three different "presets" of the beast. :wink: Yet, few will criticize the lack of sound variety, or the fact that the basic piano sound has been around far longer than any of us have been alive.

In the synth world, each patch we create can potentially be a new and unique instrument, with its own sonic character, different performance attributes, etc. In a sense, we really are creating new instruments when we create new patches or programs on synthesizers. So, why don't we treat our different patches with the same respect accorded to other instruments? Why are synth patches treated like a disposable commodity, instead being given the respect of being a unique instrument in their own right?

I just used the piano as one handy example. The same could be said about guitars, drums, orchestral instruments, pipe organs, many folk instruments, etc, etc, etc. There are lots of instrument sounds which originated before we were born, yet we generally don't treat them as disposable, outdated, sounds and instruments. However, synth sounds are treated like "fleeting fashion statements", encouraged by many to never reappear after being used for a relatively brief period of time.

I dare say, the vast majority of the KVR crowd probably loves synths. So, why don't we treat our various synth sounds more like respectable instruments in their own right, and less like disposable fashion statements?

Note: I'm not picking on anyone here at all here. This is just something I've been wondering about for awhile now, and I thought it might be interesting to start a conversation about it. :)

Additional Note: I just want to make it abundantly clear, I don't hate pianos at all. Quite the contrary, I think they can be quite beautiful. Although, I did wonder at first if I really needed all 5 of the deeply-sampled acoustic pianos included in Komplete 12 — not to mention the 4 electric pianos that were also included. That's just a lot of piano in a single package. :wink: I have a different acoustic piano for each day of the work week, and two electric pianos for each day of the weekend. I'm abundantly blessed with pianos, thanks to the very good folks at Native instruments. :)
It could be the comment of that poster is more directed towards the appeal of 80s nostalgia and less to do with the actual technical skills and aptitiude required to program synths.

I can sort of relate to the poster. I grew up in the 80s and grew up on a lot of those old 80s pop bands. I am not a fan of the 80s sounds. It's hard to describe, but you can hear it in Stranger Things show and the Drive movie sound track. It makes me cringe when I hear those sounds because I don't hear cool and hip. I hear cheese. It reminds me of Porky's and Electric Booglaoo movies. I guess you could sort of say that about any type of sound, even the early 90s grunge alt rock sound and so on .

I think many peeps who weren't around in the 80s maybe don't realize that there were really good and cool bands in 80s that used synths (Ultravox, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears e.t.c.) but they make up like 1% of what was around back then.. There was a lot, A LOT of really shit music that was made with those famous retro synths and I think some of the modern throwback nostalgia taps into the shit music a bit IMO. I think that might be where that poster was coming from.

Maybe you need to pickup a 38 Special or Honeymoon Suite record and listen to it to get what I mean . 😂
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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
8322 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:34 pm

That's very true. When I think of "80s synth sounds", I think of Ultravox and John Foxx or Killing Joke and The Stranglers, not Vangelis or JM Jarre. Those guys, like Kraftwerk, already sounded dated, even back then. Later on in that decade it was Skinny Puppy that set the pace, which made that tired, old stuff sound even more old and tired. Listen to the synths in these, both from Killing Joke's first album in 1980. It's when I first started to get really interested in synths -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f42MLoLbnnQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7WPI4TJImo

Or this, from the third Ultravox album in 1979, where Billy Currie takes on the guitars at their own game, using his trusty ARP Odyssey -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5EEqpkgES4

And for those that doubt the power and influence of Killing Joke, there is this -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axGza9EmF9M
(I can't believe that idiot is actually trying to play that part instead of letting an LFO do all the work.)
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zerocrossing
KVRAF
9649 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:30 pm

Dirtgrain wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:16 pm
Did they call it Progressive rock back then? I grew up in Ann Arbor in the '70s and '80s. I have Yes and Rush records that I bought back then--we had an ELO 45. But I don't remember the term progressive rock applying to them. I spent plenty of time in the record stores (I even had an eight track/record player my uncle gave me, ha). Maybe I recall that term on the radio--like we had a progressive rock channel? I might have just been oblivious. Did Yes ever self identify as progressive rockers? Or any bands? Was it a label they claimed--or solely one applied to them?
I have a memory of talking with my friend about how Yes and King Crimson were prog and The Police was “Art Rock” so I think the term was in common usage. This was probably about 84.
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wagtunes
KVRAF
16141 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:20 pm

Keyboard Magazine (originally Contemporary Keyboard) started in 1975 (I bought every issue) and right from the start they referred to prog rock. So the label started at least that early but might have been earlier.

The thing is, back in the 60s and early 70s nobody around here referred to any genre other than pop and rock. We weren't genre hung up. In fact, most stuff was just referred to as top 40 which, at the time, could have been Led Zep, Carpenters and John Denver all on the same playlist. Specialty stations outside of country and classical didn't start for quite some time after. In this area, the specialty stations started when hip hop hit. Top 40 radio pretty much died. The days of playing Judy Collins followed by a Rolling Stones song were over.

Today, radio is so specialized that you might as well just get Sirius. At least with that, you have so many choices there's very little you can't hear. Commercial radio is absolute crap these days. At least in this part of the world.

Anyway, the prog rock label was at least around in 1975. It may have been sooner but I never heard it mentioned verbally on any station or by any person until I read it in Keyboard.

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zerocrossing
KVRAF
9649 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:30 pm

Ed A. wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:17 am
Forgotten wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:12 am
vurt wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:11 am
Forgotten wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:07 am
Ed A. wrote:I was a proghead back in the seventies, but I couldn’t care less about “modern” prog. IMO, prog peaked forty-five years ago.
For it to be progressive, it has to show progress over what came before - that was the point of using the term 'progressive' in the late 60s/early 70s. Nothing called 'prog' now is a progression from before - it's just the same stuff rehashed.
radiohead?
Have they ever been called prog?
I’m a Radiohead fan (at least from OK Computer on) and I wouldn’t consider them prog at all.
They’re easy as prog as most Pink Floyd.
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Benedict
KVRAF
2816 posts since 5 Mar, 2004 from Gold Coast Australia

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:27 pm

BONES wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:34 pm
Vangelis or JM Jarre. Those guys already sounded dated, even back then. Later on in that decade it was Skinny Puppy that set the pace, which made that tired, old stuff sound even more old and tired.
OMG you just dissed The Big V. GRRRRR! back atcha

Altho hearing Vangelis and Skinny Puppy work together might be interesting seeing I like both

:-)

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Michael L
KVRAF
2715 posts since 25 Jan, 2014 from The End of The World as We Knowit

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:03 pm

Forgotten wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:07 am
it's just the same stuff rehashed.
Australia is not only a leader in the Rehashed Rock genre, we own the bloody trademark: https://rehashed.rocks/

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Forgotten
KVRian
1093 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:25 pm

Michael L wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:03 pm
Forgotten wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:07 am
it's just the same stuff rehashed.
Australia is not only a leader in the Rehashed Rock genre, we own the bloody trademark: https://rehashed.rocks/
:hihi:

AnX
KVRAF
4903 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:27 pm

BONES wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:34 pm

And for those that doubt the power and influence of Killing Joke, there is this -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axGza9EmF9M
(I can't believe that idiot is actually trying to play that part instead of letting an LFO do all the work.)
oh wow, that is fuckin awful

saw KJ live last year, they were amazing, as good as when i saw them in the 80's

Local Man
KVRian
532 posts since 31 May, 2017

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:42 pm

The OP is kind of funny to me because synthwave is a complete regression in terms of synthesis and the synthesizer itself being respected as an "instrument" as you say. It is sepia soaked nostalgia that completely co-opts and trivializes the serious music that came before it. That said it has its place and I kind of like some of it. But in terms of synthesis as a respected art form, I would look elsewhere.

Unfortunately, synthesizers are more and more becoming the objects of fetishists. Be it middle aged tone purists (similar to the vintage guitar collectors of the previous generation) or naive young people who view synths as some kind of magical time capsule to a more real and tangible time (like a Polaroid camera that makes sounds).
But that doesn't mean that there aren't also those that are continuing to explore the boundaries of what synthesizers are capable of in order to progress the art form.
Thats what I love about this moment. Culture is wide open. If you don't like what's going on in the mainstream, you have so many other avenues to explore. In the past that wasn't always the case (at least not to this degree).

But synthesizers have always been polarizing in this way. In the early days there were those that saw them as tools that could create literally any sound, including sounds that no one had ever heard before (at the time a truly revolutionary idea). And then there were those that just wanted to make crappier sounding "trumpets" and "guitars."
It's the same today. There are those that a truly want to create new sounds from nothing, and there are those that just want to make some caricature of what they think the good old days where like.

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KVRian
627 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:16 am

zerocrossing wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:30 pm
Dirtgrain wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:16 pm
Did they call it Progressive rock back then? I grew up in Ann Arbor in the '70s and '80s. I have Yes and Rush records that I bought back then--we had an ELO 45. But I don't remember the term progressive rock applying to them. I spent plenty of time in the record stores (I even had an eight track/record player my uncle gave me, ha). Maybe I recall that term on the radio--like we had a progressive rock channel? I might have just been oblivious. Did Yes ever self identify as progressive rockers? Or any bands? Was it a label they claimed--or solely one applied to them?
I have a memory of talking with my friend about how Yes and King Crimson were prog and The Police was “Art Rock” so I think the term was in common usage. This was probably about 84.
If I recall correctly, progressive rock as anyone that wasn't too metal or too rock & roll. Asia, ELP, Yes, e.t.c. I never even heard about King Crimson or Fripp until the 90s.. I guess I was too young they were too underground.
Just a keep on a goin' a forward, without a single ounce of fear

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telecode
KVRian
627 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Why so little respect for the synthetic "instruments" we're creating?

Post Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:28 am

wagtunes wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:20 pm
The thing is, back in the 60s and early 70s nobody around here referred to any genre other than pop and rock. We weren't genre hung up. In fact, most stuff was just referred to as top 40 which, at the time, could have been Led Zep, Carpenters and John Denver all on the same playlist. Specialty stations outside of country and classical didn't start for quite some time after. In this area, the specialty stations started when hip hop hit. Top 40 radio pretty much died. The days of playing Judy Collins followed by a Rolling Stones song were over.

Today, radio is so specialized that you might as well just get Sirius. At least with that, you have so many choices there's very little you can't hear. Commercial radio is absolute crap these days. At least in this part of the world.
Interesting you think that. I actually think radio is not specialized at all, at least not around here. There are only a handful of stations, and they all play the same songs over and over on all the stations. Which is interesting because as of the result of Spotify and the algorithm trends, i have discovered and gotten into more new artists and genres than I have ever before in my entire life. There is no f**king way I would have ever had the opportunity to get into people like San Halo and Flume back during the U2 / DIre Straits era when majors ran everything.
Just a keep on a goin' a forward, without a single ounce of fear

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