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Less is More

For electronic music composers, life is a grand – and crowded! – playground. We are surrounded by thousands of great-sounding toys: sequencers, samplers, synthesizers, VSTs galore. There is such a glut of sonic beasts out there, one could make a full-time career out of downloading and auditioning them … with little or no time left for actual composition.

Which is why electronistes would be well served by heeding the maxim: less is more.

In synthesis terms, this means limiting your instrumentarium. If you work with 20 programs, put 19 of them aside and focus in on just one. If you are presented with a bank of 80 patches, get to know a select few intimately, instead of jumping giddily from one to the next. If you pump your signals through a dozen effects plugins, force yourself to use just one or two.

Compositionally, “less is more” means simplifying your materials, structures, ideas. Rather than cramming a piece with 147 loops arranged in dense fractal overlaps (resulting in ugly musical overkill), try working with just a handful of exquisite loops served up simply and elegantly. If you’re a groovester, go sparse instead of dense, allowing your listeners to savor the beauty of each individual pattern.

Resist the temptation to overstate, bombard, show off. Leave space, formal and sonic, in your music and trust your listeners to fill in the blanks.

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm by rachmiel · Permalink