Don’t Just rely on Software Talent is the Key

2010-11-23 - 15:43 | Music Production |

I opened my first major production studio back in the early 90s with friends who were very musically and electronically inclined.  Prior to opening I was a rapper and writer working with live musicians and also sampling on analog equipment so using software was new to me.  When we opened the studio we used PC based Cakewalk that ran in midi of which has evolved into digial Cakewalk Sonar today.  The studio was in that location for about a year before we moved to a different space across the street.  We bought an Esoniq EPS, a Korg 01W and a four track.  At the time Macintosh was offering much more in the arts of music as well as graphics as compared to PC so we left the PC platform and went over to Macintosh by buying a GSII.  This computer was state of the art at the time and hard disk recording was unheard of.  Everything ran through midi.  We ran MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn) Performer software.  During the 13 years the studio was in operation, through our eventual 3 moves to bigger locations, the computer would change from GSII to a Mac G3 to finally a Mac G4.  The 4 track would change to 8 track, Adat, to finally hard disk recordings.  The EPS Esoniq would change to an Akai MPC sampler.  Software changed from Motu Performer to Motu Digital Performer to Motu Digital Performer 5.  We also had a host of modules that ran through patch bays. 

With the emergence of digital software, our $50,000 worth of equipment would be valued eventually at $8,000 .  The reason for this is because analog equipment was no longer needed so all those modules (Planet Phatts, and etc), adats, midi machines, drum machines and etc were now obsolete.  We could now get those sounds in digital packs.  By the end, the only thing the studio ran on was the computer, MPC 3000, an expensive microphone, and a nice size mixing board. And this leads me to the point of this commentary.  Software is a vehicle to reach an end result. That end result being music production.  I went to college for sound engineering and film.  So I learned how to splice sound on a reel to reel manually.  By the time I graduated everyone was using software.  Yes I did some software in school but still it is the point that by learning how to splice tape manually I was able to develop my ears for sound engineering which seems to be a problem with many producers today.   Today’s producers can do some amazing things but still the best producers have either had some formal training, play an instrument, or know enough about an instrument to play something on their track.  With several of my fellow producers we often discuss musical theory and why, in theory, something would sound right if we did this or that to the music.  Using software is a great technology that expands the instrument capability of the producer.  I literally must have over 12000 instruments at my disposal. But still there are some who don’t concentrate on the music aspect   of producing.  Yes producing is music but a producer can simply sample and put together a musical compensation that has little or no instrumentation which in the end could compromise the musical integrity .  Obviously that is fine if the musical outcome is reached however I would suggest you push the envelope and begin using the instruments (digital or analog) that will enhance your music further and not just your software sounds and samples.  If only because it could limit you in your musical growth.

Music has evolved and with it, the attitude towards it should evolve especially from a production stand point.  I except the way production is done today and at least half the time I produce the way production is looked at today with my own twist.   This I have to do because I am a selling producer and therefore I have no choice but to abide at least to a degree by the music that is current.  But for all of you older producers past the point of 30 who remember the era you come from, remember your training and use your skill when producing.  Newer producers, don’t forget  sounds and software are great but it is your creativity that makes the track.   If you are  talented I would say it almost does not matter which software you use because in the end nobody cares.  People just care about the output.  Still you can be a musician and not just rely on software to make your composition.  But of course you are grown so you can do what you will.

Rock Jersey (Dwight Walker)

General Manager SIRA Media Group


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