Getting tired of synthesizers.

Anything about MUSIC but doesn't fit into the forums above.
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AngelCityOutlaw
Banned
216 posts since 4 Dec, 2017

Post Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:09 am

BONES wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:37 am
What a load of bollocks. Maybe you can't manage it but I have no trouble at all getting at least the same level of expression out of my synths as anyone playing any other instrument.
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BONES wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:37 am
That is one of the most ridiculous arguments I have ever heard. What you say is true of all instruments. What sounds simpler than a double bass, for example? Certainly none of the sounds I use for my basslines. What sounds cheesier than a clarinet?
The more complex you make a synth tone the less capable it is melodically. This is a fact.

Why then do all the synth leads on even workstation keyboards and music from metal keyboard players, to video game soundtracks, to Yanni's lead tones almost all sound essentially the same? Usually pulse or saw wave with pitch bend, portamento and lfo for vibrato, maybe a bit of distortion?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ3SLyvrmFw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LYB7iLZNWE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR5xu-g8hv0

Spoilers: It's because it's the sound that most-closely emulates the play-ability and timbre of string instruments like a guitar or violin, and are seriously about to tell me this doesn't sound cornier than using one of the acoustic instruments instead?

Music Bird
KVRist
324 posts since 23 Apr, 2017 from Eastern US

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:57 am

Not the person you quoted. But violins are only really suitable for country and folk and world genres as well as classical, not so much Western popular music genres other than country, old time, classical, Celtic and others other than pop, rock or EDM which violins are usually sampled from a Kronos/other workstation or EWQL stuff.
But yeah other than that guitar solos on a keyboard are always going to sound cheesy. Guitar solos are more better on a guitar but violin or sax sounds great but not as good as the real thing on my synths. Maybe not like the actual thing but still just as good.
And the only acoustic instruments that make sense in popular styles are horns, sax, and flute. Maybe if people were less ignorant of synth sounds when you can make as many sounds without having to sound like recorded instruments but for those on tight budgets like me and many others synths work well. Plus even though strings have been used in popular songs for centuries they arent really suited towards the compressed mess that is Top 100 current and 2010s and 2006 plus pop and mainstream EDM these days.
Synth1, PG8X, Dexed, Sound Canvas VA, FB-3x00 series, blooo, scrooo, qyooo, SQ8L, GTG FM4, DSK Asian and Indian DreamZ, and much more VSTs. Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Alesis HW.

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zerocrossing
KVRAF
9980 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:56 am

I started on guitar first, so when I get bored with synths, I can dive into guitar and bass. The synths don’t mind.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~

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AngelCityOutlaw
Banned
216 posts since 4 Dec, 2017

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:05 am

Music Bird wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:57 am
Not the person you quoted. But violins are only really suitable for country and folk and world genres as well as classical, not so much Western popular music genres other than country, old time, classical, Celtic and others other than pop, rock or EDM which violins are usually sampled from a Kronos/other workstation or EWQL stuff.
But yeah other than that guitar solos on a keyboard are always going to sound cheesy. Guitar solos are more better on a guitar but violin or sax sounds great but not as good as the real thing on my synths. Maybe not like the actual thing but still just as good.
And the only acoustic instruments that make sense in popular styles are horns, sax, and flute. Maybe if people were less ignorant of synth sounds when you can make as many sounds without having to sound like recorded instruments but for those on tight budgets like me and many others synths work well. Plus even though strings have been used in popular songs for centuries they arent really suited towards the compressed mess that is Top 100 current and 2010s and 2006 plus pop and mainstream EDM these days.
So acoustic guitars, drum kits, pianos, harmonicas, and the human voice are all not suited to popular music? Weird. I wonder how many people actually agree with that idea? Probably very few.

I'm also not sure why you're fixated on popular music when this is kind of about all music.

What I am talking about is this:

If you buy a violin, you can play any violin repertoire and sound authentic to that music. You are only limited by your skill.

But your guitar rig that gives you the most epic blues rock tone on earth may not get an equally-great heavy metal sound and if you try to play songs by Mercenary with your blues tone, it will not sound right.

Same kinda deal with synths. You cannot just buy one synth and sound like all the other synths. If you want to do 80s Synthwave stuff, you're going to have to have specific synths or good emulations of them as the timbre is a defining element of the style. Without it, it will not sound authentic even if the composition style is spot on.

This actually also why people have such a difficult time putting a date on a lot of AC/DC songs or country music from the 80s and 90s. They generally never followed production trends or used trendy sounds, so a lot of that music still sounds like it could have been made today.

I see that a positive. You'd think that, with synth guys obsession with having an original and "unique" sound, they'd be more attracted to acoustic music given this advantage.

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3990 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:02 am

Listeners and musicologist talk about style and what fits in. Musicians don’t, unless they are copycats with a limited taste... Those who came up with a specific sound the first time certainly didn’t... (their style might had not been defined yet by those who cannot listen without knowing into which category that has to be sorted...)

revvy
KVRian
582 posts since 15 Feb, 2020

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:11 am

BONES wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:37 am

What a load of bollocks. Maybe you can't manage it but I have no trouble at all getting at least the same level of expression out of my synths as anyone playing any other instrument.
I just had a listen to your stuff on Spotify (congrats, very aggressive stuff, I like aggressive beats too) and it doesn't rally back up that statement. Have you got synth stuff you've done that's not Novakill that's expressive in the way most musicians (those who play an instrument) understand it? Thanks.

Music Bird
KVRist
324 posts since 23 Apr, 2017 from Eastern US

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:14 am

AngelCityOutlaw wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:05 am
Music Bird wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:57 am

And the only acoustic instruments that make sense in popular styles are horns, sax, and flute.
Edit: please delete.
Last edited by Music Bird on Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
Synth1, PG8X, Dexed, Sound Canvas VA, FB-3x00 series, blooo, scrooo, qyooo, SQ8L, GTG FM4, DSK Asian and Indian DreamZ, and much more VSTs. Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Alesis HW.

Music Bird
KVRist
324 posts since 23 Apr, 2017 from Eastern US

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:15 am

Music Bird wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:14 am
AngelCityOutlaw wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:05 am
Music Bird wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:57 am

And the only acoustic instruments that make sense in popular styles are horns, sax, and flute.
By the only instruments, I meant the only ones other than acoustic guitar, upright bass, drum kit, and piano, and in some cases harmonica (really just Stevie Wonder and a few others). As well as vocals.
Synth1, PG8X, Dexed, Sound Canvas VA, FB-3x00 series, blooo, scrooo, qyooo, SQ8L, GTG FM4, DSK Asian and Indian DreamZ, and much more VSTs. Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Alesis HW.

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
9558 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm

AngelCityOutlaw wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:09 am
The more complex you make a synth tone the less capable it is melodically. This is a fact.
Yes, it's also why we don't always make our synth tones complex, innit?
Why then do all the synth leads on even workstation keyboards and music from metal keyboard players, to video game soundtracks, to Yanni's lead tones almost all sound essentially the same?
Now you are just contradicting yourself. First you say that there is too much variety, then you say that it all sounds the same. It can't be both so which is it? If a certain, narrow range of lead tones seem popular, that should tell you that most people are capable of distilling the complexity into something that works (or copying something that has worked previously).
Usually pulse or saw wave with pitch bend, portamento and lfo for vibrato, maybe a bit of distortion?
Spoilers: It's because it's the sound that most-closely emulates the play-ability and timbre of string instruments like a guitar or violin, and are seriously about to tell me this doesn't sound cornier than using one of the acoustic instruments instead?
You've chosen three songs that sound corny from start to finish. How about the leads in these songs?
https://youtu.be/vIdbeJzjKSs?t=88 (From 1:30)
https://youtu.be/UQDEUzu7BzI?t=206 (From 3:28)
https://youtu.be/fKPPC9VjAL4?t=99 (From 1:39)
AngelCityOutlaw wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:05 am
If you buy a violin, you can play any violin repertoire and sound authentic to that music. You are only limited by your skill.
But it is ONLY suitable for that range.
But your guitar rig that gives you the most epic blues rock tone on earth may not get an equally-great heavy metal sound and if you try to play songs by Mercenary with your blues tone, it will not sound right.
Do you not see the logical flaw in your argument? A blues guitar will work just as well in a heavy metal song as a violin. Both are limited.
You cannot just buy one synth and sound like all the other synths.
Similarly, you can't buy a cello and sound like a viola, even though both are bowed string instruments. You just need to look at each with the same perspective and not allow semantics to cloud your perception.
If you want to do 80s Synthwave stuff, you're going to have to have specific synths or good emulations of them as the timbre is a defining element of the style.
No, you're not. Those are sounds that are pretty much bread and butter for any synth. It's the more modern sounds of genres like dubstep that may require modern instruments but for old sounds, anything will do. The reason for that is nothing to do with the sound, as such, it is more about the modulation possibilities of modern synths. e.g. Being able to change the LFO rate based on velocity or aftertouch and things like that, which old synths weren't able to do.
Without it, it will not sound authentic even if the composition style is spot on.
Of course it will but you can say the same about acoustic instruments. e.g. The saxophone was originally an attempt to make a brass clarinet but it turned out that a brass clarinet sounds nothing like a wooden one, so they had to call it something else. You just weren't around at the time, so to your perception they have always been different instruments. It's equally likely that in 100 years time, people won't see a Minimoog as being the same type of instrument as a Korg Wavestate.
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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
9558 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:58 pm

Music Bird wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:57 am
But violins are only really suitable for country and folk and world genres as well as classical, not so much Western popular music genres other than country, old time, classical, Celtic and others other than pop, rock or EDM which violins are usually sampled from a Kronos/other workstation or EWQL stuff.
Billy Currie and Ultravox would beg to differ -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2wXc6p8i_w
Since I bought NOVA Essentials at Xmas, we've been putting orchestral strings into our music left, right and centre. Real orchestral strings work a treat with synths.
Even cor anglais has it's place in rock music -https://youtu.be/Ya6yJKUPZSQ?t=114
(From 1:55) or here - https://youtu.be/OlARIbI_dqU?t=165 (From the start, and again at 2:50)
revvy wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:11 am
Have you got synth stuff you've done that's not Novakill that's expressive in the way most musicians (those who play an instrument) understand it? Thanks.
Listen to our basslines, especially on songs like Gone or Crusade, they are at least as expressive as any double bass player could manage. That's all done with velocity, no automation at all. Elsewhere there is no advantage to what we do in that kind of playing so it doesn't feature in our music. That doesn't mean I don't spend lazy Sunday mornings playing stuff on my Seaboard Blocks with lots of expression. It's just not stuff I would bother recording, it's more personal stuff.
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), UR44C, Cubase, DUNE, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Hive, Substance, Arcsyn, Aparillo, Phase Plant, Pigments, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft 2.

revvy
KVRian
582 posts since 15 Feb, 2020

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:07 pm

Totally agree with your point on the strings.

Not so sure about the sysnthecsized basslines being as expressive as other instruments, most bass in electronic music is hardly that changing or nuanced in my experience. Even bass guitar is renowned for brining much value to music apart from being particularly expressive, at least in terms of main function. Double bass, due the music it often appears in, clearly more so.

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AngelCityOutlaw
Banned
216 posts since 4 Dec, 2017

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:54 pm

BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm
AngelCityOutlaw wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:09 am
The more complex you make a synth tone the less capable it is melodically. This is a fact.
Yes, it's also why we don't always make our synth tones complex, innit?
This contradicts the point you originally criticized me for making, guvna'.
BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm
Now you are just contradicting yourself. First you say that there is too much variety, then you say that it all sounds the same. It can't be both so which is it? If a certain, narrow range of lead tones seem popular, that should tell you that most people are capable of distilling the complexity into something that works (or copying something that has worked previously).
Synths are too varied to have a distinct timbre that is generally agreed to be "what a synth sounds like". That is the crux of all the problems that I have with synths and electronic instruments in general.
BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm
You've chosen three songs that sound corny from start to finish. How about the leads in these songs?
Yes, all of those songs sound awful to me.
BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm
But it is ONLY suitable for that range.
Strings have been used in basically every genre and fit because strings do not define the style. You don't need a specific violin tone to be authentic to strings used in rock, disco, funk, new age, etc.

This is not the case for synths or electric guitars.
BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm
Similarly, you can't buy a cello and sound like a viola, even though both are bowed string instruments. You just need to look at each with the same perspective and not allow semantics to cloud your perception.
That's because you don't buy a cello to sound like a viola. The correct analogy here is it's like buying a cello that doesn't sound like what a cello is supposed to sound like.

When you buy a synth or electric guitar rig, what exactly are you trying to sound like? There's a ton of possibilities and (in)appropriate choices.

You cannot truly play death metal, with Kenny Wayne Shepard's usual guitar tone.
BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:49 pm
It's the more modern sounds of genres like dubstep that may require modern instruments but for old sounds, anything will do.
The fact that some synths retroactively have the capability to emulate what came before them does not invalidate the claim that specific synths are required for specific styles; especially not when you follow up with this...

A classical guitar from 200 years ago can play what one from 2020 can, and vice versa, with equal authenticity.
BONES wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:58 pm
Listen to our basslines, especially on songs like Gone or Crusade, they are at least as expressive as any double bass player could manage. That's all done with velocity, no automation at all.
The mistake that you are making with the term "expression" here, is that you are treating this term as if it applies to purely technical considerations of performance.

A synth cannot replicate the "expression" of acoustic instruments because of physics. The sound is not affected by its physical environment, you don't hear little finger squeaks, rattling wood, breath noise, and other imperfections because they don't exist for a synth.

I'm not trying to persuade you into not liking or preferring synths or something. I am explaining why I personally don't prefer writing music with them.

Whether you agree or not really doesn't matter.

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Hink
Rad Grandad
31139 posts since 6 Sep, 2003 from Downeast Maine

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:11 pm

You cannot truly play death metal, with Kenny Wayne Shepard's usual guitar tone.
I disagree, it's just a matter of your words but in fact the guitar tone is going to have very similar qualities but mostly it will be clean and dry (well if you have pres like I do it might get dirty on the way out :hihi: ). What differentiates a death metal tone from blues or country, or whatever is the manipulation of the guitar tone post guitar. Sure different pups, different configs, wood might be better suited for different sounds still the difference here has very little to do with the tone of the guitar. Face it, our tone is brought about by the manipulation of the guitar tone using electronic devices :shrug:
Why are so many guitar player jokes one liners? So the rest of the band can understand them.

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AngelCityOutlaw
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216 posts since 4 Dec, 2017

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:34 pm

Hink wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:11 pm
What differentiates a death metal tone from blues or country, or whatever is the manipulation of the guitar tone post guitar. Sure different pups, different configs, wood might be better suited for different sounds still the difference here has very little to do with the tone of the guitar. Face it, our tone is brought about by the manipulation of the guitar tone using electronic devices :shrug:
That's what I've been saying.

and within the vast number of electronic devices which go into creating the sound, they are not all created equal and are often a key element to certain guitar-driven styles.

Thus, one cannot expect one guitar setup to do everything and equally well. Even when compared against the same styles, the difference in quality can be dramatic. Sometimes that comes down to user error, but in many cases it's just the sound of the equipment.

As I said, to my ears, especially where heavy rock is concerned, there seems to be 9 bad or mediocre tones for every 10.

You have to essentially know what you're after beforehand, and find a tried-and-true combination that will get you there or similarly close. It's not like an acoustic instrument where you can just play and get the sound you were expecting to hear from it. :violin:

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
9558 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Getting tired of synthesizers.

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:46 pm

Well, for my ears 10/10 death metal tones are absolute, cringeworthy garbage, no matter who is doing it or what they are using but that doesn't invalidate anything, it is simply a reflection of my personal taste. (Death Metal is the corniest, cheesiest rock genre I can think of. No, honestly, it's like a really bad parody, poorly executed.)
AngelCityOutlaw wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:54 pm
Synths are too varied to have a distinct timbre that is generally agreed to be "what a synth sounds like".
Your problem is that you want to equate the word "synth" with "violin" or "oboe" but you should see it as a class or group of instruments like "stringed" instruments or "woodwind" or "brass" or "percussion". It's a catch-all category, not the specific name for a particular type of instrument. Just as within "stringed instruments" there are sub-categories like "bowed" and "plucked", within the synth category are things like 'analogue" and "sample-based" synths. Nobody gets their knickers in a knot when you refer to a guitar and a violin both as "stringed instruments" so why should you get all antsy over people calling a Minimoog and DUNE "synths"?
l of those songs sound awful to me.
That speaks volumes about your lack of exposure to a variety of music, not to the worth of those songs. After all, two of them enjoyed sustained commercial success over many years and are widely regarded as having influenced many other successful artists. (The other one, of course, is my band, which has done neither of those things.)
[quot]Strings have been used in basically every genre and fit because strings do not define the style.[/quote]
So have synthesisers for exactly the same reason.
You don't need a specific violin tone to be authentic to strings used in rock, disco, funk, new age, etc.
But you do need a violin, no other stringed instrument will do, will it? Again, it's a simple matter of perspective.
This is not the case for synths or electric guitars.
Of course it is. The Cars used the same Minimoog as Gary Numan and Velvet Acid Christ and 1000 other artists playing 100 other styles of music. But other artists in those genres will have used a dozen other synths, too - CS-80, Jupiter 8, Prophet V - and most of the time you won't know which it is you are listening to. I doubt there is a single genre of music that hasn't seen synths used in it.

Artists from Chuck Berry to Richie Blackmore have used the Gibson Les Paul. It's been used for genres as diverse as Heavy Metal, Jazz and Country music. But it's not the only electric guitar you are allowed to use for any of those genres, you'll see just as many Rickenbackers and Fender Stratocasters and great players who will swear by their Epiphone clones, too.
That's because you don't buy a cello to sound like a viola. The correct analogy here is it's like buying a cello that doesn't sound like what a cello is supposed to sound like.
Buy the same token, you don't buy Absynth if you want to sound like Howard Jones.
When you buy a synth or electric guitar rig, what exactly are you trying to sound like?
In my case it was "a rock band". That was my only goal - to sound like a rock band without having to use a guitar, bass or drums.
of possibilities and (in)appropriate choices.
Just as I'm sure some people buy a tenor sax when what they really needed was an Alto. So what?
not truly play death metal, with Kenny Wayne Shepard's usual guitar tone.
Why would you want to sound like someone else? Surely you'd want to forge your own path?
The fact that some synths retroactively have the capability to emulate what came before them does not invalidate the claim that specific synths are required for specific styles;
No they aren't. That's just bullshit that people like to use, it has no basis in fact. Take, for example, the venerable acid bass line. There are those who would say you can only do that with a real TB303, yet there are countless examples of people doing what is recognisably an acid bass line with any of 100 different synths and doing so successfully.
A classical guitar from 200 years ago can play what one from 2020 can, and vice versa, with equal authenticity.
But it can't play what a modern electric guitar can play, can it? And that's the perfect example - just like synths, guitar technology has moved on and there are many, many things you can do with an electric guitar that you could never contemplate with an acoustic. Similarly, there are many things you can do with a modern synth that you cannot with an old model.
The mistake that you are making with the term "expression" here, is that you are treating this term as if it applies to purely technical considerations of performance.
No, that's your mistake. Expression is nothing more than a way of expressing emotion through your playing.[/quote]
A synth cannot replicate the "expression" of acoustic instruments because of physics.
And a violin can't replicate the expression of a saxophone for exactly the same reason. But they al have their own means of imparting emotion through the way they are played. That's what makes them different.
The sound is not affected by its physical environment, you don't hear little finger squeaks, rattling wood, breath noise, and other imperfections because they don't exist for a synth.
You could put them in if you wanted to but I think most players spend their lives trying to get rid of that sort of thing, don't they?
I'm not trying to persuade you into not liking or preferring synths or something. I am explaining why I personally don't prefer writing music with them.
And I'm trying to explain to you why your thought processes around the subject are deeply flawed. Or why your thought process only applies to a tiny sub-section of circumstances, which you chop and change to fit whatever part of the argument you need to bolster. The reality is that everything you've said can be true for one small subset of the overall scene/market but nothing that you've said applies universally. It's all about finding what works and doing that. It's simple, really, but you choose to make it hard on yourself by seeing things the wrong way.
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