Autechre sound sculpting

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by the_mule, Apr 25, 2005.

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  1. the_mule

    the_mule Guest

    How does Aphex Twin (and other abstract sound and beat makers; Autechre, Radiohead, etc) get the artistic control needed to create his sounds? Ive played with everything from Logic to Reason to Absynth to Battery and all seem to have good things that I like. But im missing the piece to put them all together. Im imagining being able to start with a base sound or sample that I have either made or taken from a loop disc or somthing, put it into a program where I can have total control over what that sound does (crackles, hisses, pops, echo's), and then send it back out to another program to be sequenced and edited into a song with other sequences. So far I have found good, easy to understand, sequencers and loop machines in Reason. I have found good sound sulpting options in Absynth and Battery. But I lack the ability to put them all together. If I understand programs like Logic and Pro tools correctly, then they are supposed to act as a sort of "Base" station for me to plug everything else into. But all the external programs, such as the ones I previously mentioned, come from different companies and have different plugin formats (i.e. VST and AU). When I start trying to use VST converters and such, things start to get messy and unreliable.
    Bottom line: When I hear an digital noise in a song, it dosn't sound like its been taken from a loop CD or any other preloaded source. It sounds as if the Artist has sculpted the sound from the ground up and then sequenced it how he/she wanted. I want this ability.
    Thanks alot for reading this far. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Ideas without a means.
  2. axel

    axel Guest

    logic gives you about every possibility to make whatever you want,
    it's only up to your creativity and knowledge of using it right!!
    learn your tools and you can make anything....
    about people like aphex, he is manipulating old vintage hardware a lot rewirering with lots of cables and a soldering iron manipulating the actual architecture of synths, but logic or dp can get you as close, specially logic with the power of the enviroment, and it's possibilities...
    but learn the basics first, there are endless possibilities to create anything you really want, or check len sassos for the power of the logic enviroment...

    experiment, i do develope most of my sounds myself using logic and some sub apps AU's and some rewire (but rarely, 'cose it's mostly for stuff like reason :cry: ) also hardware, analog synth stuff which i can and do re-programm....
    creativity is the key :D
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Throw all that stuff in the dumpster, go out and get some mics and some pres, find a few people that can actually play an instrument (they are called musicians) and record some real music ... (no offence intended). Just my opinion.
  4. bounce

    bounce Guest

    okay, kurt, you're my homie and all but you've tripped my trigger on that comment ; (

    comments like that make me think of all the lawrence welk fans telling jimmy hendrix to stop all that freakin' noise- "that's not music!" they said. now- my point...
    i studied music all through elementary, high school, and majored in it in college then played and toured all over. i play several instruments well enough that people pay me really good money to play on their records and record and arrange music for their record or their tv show or film. BUT, i'm not going to be caught dismissing someone else's artistic style as not being music or "musical" without getting inside it. ray charles said it best "most any style of music has a soul, man, you just gotta find it" or something like that : ) NOW, just because some guy or girl comes in my studio with his laptop and a piece which he DESIGNED more than played does not bother me enough to say "move over, let a REAL musician play something there instead of that." it's true that technique on a traditional instrument or knowledge of theory, harmony, yada yada can really do great things for you, but don't be too quick to dismiss people who are using NEW INSTRUMENTS (AKA MAC G4's, boxes with lights and buttons, theremins-not very new, or other less traditional devices) to create sounds and/or music that MOVES US. Autechre does AMAZING ground breaking stuff that is not music any of us grew up on. to most people it IS NOT PREDICTABLE. to many it may sound like R2D2 got food poisoning but to others it is INSPIRATIONAL- people who are tired of only having the choice of listening to that 12 bar blues through that great tube sagging- creamy tube screaming wonderfully recorded guitar amp playing the same sounds that we've heard for 60 years (don't get me wrong i love this, too, i've got stacks of classic instruments and amps for this reason). it's not that we don't like classic styles or approaches, it's just that SOMEONE'S gotta push the sonic envelope somewhere else once in a while. miles davis understood that sound and timbre are sister tools as does herbie hancock, michael landau, and others playing "traditional" instruments. Kurt, have you heard any BJORK records? try bjork's "homogenic," an amazing mixture of REAL humans playing violins, violas, cellos, and more as well as REAL humans manipulating or programming machines in real time or not. often there's a person that sticks his/her head out with some UNCONVENTIONAL approach and makes some new sound which the majority procede to bash incessantly, then a few years later those same people are trying to replicate those same sounds or techniques because NOW they understand the style because it has finally become commonplace. the same can be said of RECORDING TECHNIQUES. just think how many times we did something blatantly NOT by the book while learning (or not); didn't use a D.I. when there should have been one, got the phase ALL jacked up, ran a +4 output into a channel we didn't realize was -10, or something we felt embarrassed about only to find it SOUNDED AMAZING. accidents make beautiful babies, people, so don't be too quick to judge folks doing things in a way you may not have tried (there are exceptions, of course, when they are blowing up gear YOU paid for- hee hee) or acclaimated to yet.

    now, back to the post question...for glitch, IDM style stuff such as authechre, aphex twin, bobby karate, the matic (shameless plug), i use Ableton Live, Cycling 74 Max/MSP based apps such as drool string ukelele, burnt toast, and yes, reason is cool as well. logic is also very powerful but remember not to STOP LISTENING to playback even though you did something wrong ; ) try creating some of your own sounds or motifs and mapping them across a sampler in one of your apps and changing various parameters such as lfo's, adding delays, alternate tunings, run one device through some other device or it's cv input, etc.
    now, know this: it's not as difficult to create interesting new sounds as it is to make it INTO A PIECE OF MUSIC that moves you in some reactionary way. that's where the artist is born.

    technique and knowing those that came before you are important but THIS I BELIEVE TO BE THE FINAL TRUTH ABOUT WHAT MAKES GOOD MUSIC:

    MUSIC IS ABOUT CHOICES...the notes you CHOOSE to play, the volume you CHOOSE to play them at, the timing or lack thereof you CHOOSE to play them with, the timbre of those notes you CHOOSE, all driven by your awareness (or lack thereof) of your emotions. to me THIS is soul and these things determine whether or not your music has it.

    we must keep our ears open to the "less skilled" as we may just learn something (not just the "more skilled").

    <deep breath>

    okay, sorry, kurt, that comment made me flash back to a guy trying to sell me an anti-drum machine sticker where he had based his entire campaign on one or 2 rap songs he did not care for...he picked the wrong guy ; ) just imagine if somebody had tried to sell hendrix a "electric guitars must die" patch? (NO, i don't EVEN think I'm anywhere near hendrix, i'm just using his name as a point about PROGRESSIVE instruments and approaches for their time in comparison to their contemporaries- leave me out of this equation altogether, please, for this point)

    rant ended. kurt, you're still my homie and i have greatly enjoyed most of your posts here at i'm sure one day you're going to rant about one of my posts (maybe this one!). God bless america!

  5. axel

    axel Guest

    yo yo yo, i have to agree totally on the last post!!!!

    yepp, using magnificiant and unusal, creative sounds doesn't mean it's not or bad music!!

    i agree also about the fact that the skill of actually playing comes first, but there are people from various genres who took it a step further by playing very skillfull and musical new sounds, or using them for their music, stevie wonder e.g. was one of them, the edge from u2 and so on and so on... the list could be just endless... and they are all serious good inovative musicians, so is aphex twin or monolake (the creator of ableton live) music for me is about an emotional expression of creativity... funkstoerung (a german electronic duo) have made some tracks out of a ONE SINGLE 30sec. sample and they created an entire track with everything music needs, drums, basslines, pads, melodies, harmonies, great arrangements, etc. with the help of 1000s of effect settings and cutting and ............... musical creativity!!

    so all musicians out there keep on playing and using new sounds........

    the mule: i have to add: i use osx there is a wicked app called jack tools you can send various audio apps at the same time through your card, nice for layering stuff, just experiment, then record the lot, stick it again into an app, tweak it, squeeze it, and PLAY IT!

  6. o2x

    o2x Active Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Yup, music isn't necessarily about creating clean polished anally retentive sounds. Music is the collaboration of (in western culture) 7 notes combined in various structures to create a medium that can be expressive to the musician and inspiring to the listener.

    Anyone who dismisses electronica as 'not music' is in my opinion shallow and narrow minded. Sure you might not like it, but believe me, i would rather listen to that than some sterile tosser who can play three chords who has very little songwriting ability.

    Music is about creation, about inspiration, about sounds, emotion and power. Not about whether or not you know your dorian from your mixolydian.

    I have worked with many UK electronica acts - most of who are proficient in at least 1 "traditional" instrument, and believe me, there's something quite satisfying in sitting fannying about with old electronic boxes making squelchy noises. Don't knock it until you try it.

    As for the original post. Electonica has no boundaries, push your equipment to the limit. Sample anything and everything, use eq, fx, filters, ocillators, envelopes, anything. Its about experimentation. Buy old kit that has gone out of favour, exploit it, get it to make noises it wasn't intended to do.

    Be creative - and don't let anyone tell you it's not music!
  7. axel

    axel Guest

  8. D-Unit

    D-Unit Guest

    Yo Bounce -

    You ROCK! I couldn't agree more with your sentiments.

    As for The_Mule ....
    I really dig your inquiry. I think that we're all trying to answer that question (even those of us who know some or all of your so-called "base" programs inside and out): HOW DO TALENTED ARTISTS LIKE APHEX TWIN MAKE SUCH COOL SOUNDS?!

    I'm going to venture to say that it has more to do with a deep understanding of SYNTHESIS, SOUND DESIGN and ELECTRONICS (i.e. circuitry, component modification) than with COMPUTER SOFTWARE. Even a basic understanding of, say, AM or FM synthesis will prove invaluable as you begin sculpting your own unique sounds.

    There used to be a GREAT Keyboard Magazine tutorial available online by Peter Gorge called "Soundforum" that used a free Native Instruments synth to walk the reader thru several exercises -- I would have given you the link but they seem to have taken it down (Does anyone out there have an active link to these articles??). Here's the closest page I could find that's got lots of other GREAT links on it:

    I'd recommend you find ONE BASIC synth and really study it -- I like my Korg MS2000 for this. It's relatively inexpensive (less than $500), it sounds really good for an "analog modeling" box, and it's got plenty of features so you've got room to grow. Find out how sound synthesis works (by way of the Soundforum articles and/or other online/print publications, etc.) and you'll find that creating new, custom sounds -- or even tailoring factory presets to your liking -- will become SO much easier.

    Good luck, and have FUN!
  9. axel

    axel Guest

    yeah, D - UNIT --- nice one,

    or to start of the learning curve of synth structures and synthesis, lfo's, filters and there interaction, in the digital domain, try tassman, great to learn and understand, then you are a step further to translate to hardware, the next step, that is!
  10. o2x

    o2x Active Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Yup knowing the general structure of how synthesis works is always good. In terms of analog (subtractive) synthesis, things are generally pretty easy, Wave shape, Ocillators, Filters, Envelope, voila. Things get a bit more complicated in newer synthesis techniques however. Get a good grounding but don't go OTT. I always find its more fun to play at twiddling knobs (oo-er). You often come across sounds that you'd never create from 'knowledge'.
  11. axel

    axel Guest

    yup, yo yo...

    did i made the impression that it is all about knowledge??

    just tried to get the original question 'on the feet'
    i personally when it comes to creation, try to stay as far away from my knowledge as i can, that way it keeps my head free for creative and spontanious musical creation...

    you need to know, but ones you know, you can kick it all overboard...
    or something like that !??!@#%^ :D don't know really, just making music... with twisted sounds, he he
  12. karbomusic

    karbomusic Active Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Everything said here about creative freedom and pushing the envelope is absolutely true...


    That is one of the most misused statements of all time...

    It don't mean poop if it is nothing more than an excuse not to do the work and build a solid musical foundation. I can't tell you how many musicians I have played and worked with that made the rest of the band sound awful for no other reason than "rules were made to be broken and I'm being creative" when in fact that wasn't what they were doing at all, they simply didn't have the self discipline to learn the rules in the first place (then break 'em) and used the statement to make up for it.

    Please continue to be creative, but be true to yourself and the musicians you work with and don't use it as an excuse. This doesn't apply to anyone here as I don't know you, but 9 out of 10 times that I see this argument in person it is due to the above and could have something to do with Kurt's original statement to begin with. If it doesn't apply, then at least remember it so you will know it when you see it in the future as it is everywhere.

    Best regards-

  13. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    picasso had to learn to paint realistically before he invented cubism. you have to learn the basics before you can create something totally new. The more of a musical foundation you have, the more freedon you have to create. You can not build a very strong house if you don't have the basic carpentry skill needed. music is no different. sure, you can play with all the new tools and toys we have nowdays and achive somewhat pleasing results, but in order to create an artistic work of any consequence, you have to first learn your craft.

    Now, some people have more innate ability than others and its easier for them to get there. But hey still have to put in their time to bring their ability up to par. in our business that is called 'paying your dues.'
  14. karbomusic

    karbomusic Active Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Looks like I replied without responding the original question...

    For the_mule:

    I noticed you spoke much about sculpting a sound. Can you hear in your head the exact sound you want before trying to create it?

    In otherwords are you attempting to arrive at a sound that sounds "Artistically Sculpted" or do you know what it sounds like and need to create it?

    If you do already know exactly how you want it to sound then possibly taking the software and exploting it to its limits one piece at a time might have some value. It can take some time to become intimate with a piece of software or instrument and be able to really make it do what you want it to.

    Best regards-

  15. bounce

    bounce Guest

    "I can't tell you how many musicians I have played and worked with that made the rest of the band sound awful for no other reason than "rules were made to be broken and I'm being creative" when in fact that wasn't what they were doing at all, they simply didn't have the self discipline to learn the rules in the first place (then break 'em) and used the statement to make up for it."

    i agree that in specific stylistic contexts this is VERY true (and it annoys me greatly as well). i had students years ago that would play something blatantly wrong technically without a basic foundation that was just plain brilliant. that said, there truly is GOOD bad and BAD bad (based on motivation and execution) : ) of course, if the "art" is just for yourself, who can really judge? but, if you expect to appeal to a particular stylistic artery, you will need some foundation for the subtleties of the style and shade from there.
    many people hear the word "electronica" and think of someone's HIGHLY repetitive motif over a 4 on the floor kick drum and assume that wraps it up (this is usually music created for solely for dancing more than listening on your home theatre system- unless you're sitting there remembering how fun it was dancing to it-snicker). there are AMAZING things being created all over the world (as well as here in los angeles) that utilize ALL things available to music (tempered tunings, odd meters, variable swing and polyrhythmic layering, atonal voicing, evolving melodies, etc.) in a very emotional, compelling way. there is also a lot of cold MATH music out there that left out the "emotional" part. some of that is really cool as well from a sound design standpoint. just insert "soul" and there you have something ; ) random events can really inspire one to "corral" or create really great music. just think of the first time you plugged into a guitar stompbox that made some really unexpected sound. made ya play differently didn't it? the same can be said of using "all the wrong plug-ins" on your drum sample or track and recording the moment your machine froze. just another 2 cents...

    it's funny, this thread has almost turned into the equivalent of the mac vs. pc debate...hee hee hee

  16. karbomusic

    karbomusic Active Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Now that brings back memories. I once had a cry baby that when plugged in backwards (ouput to input and vice versa) it made the guitar sound like a space ship. And yes, I used it quite a bit after that... [grin] I would never want someone to stop experimenting; It's all multifaceted and foundation is part of it as well as exprimentation.

    humorus side note:

    I saw a tv segment a few months ago where there was this art show and all the big time art connoisseurs were invited to attend. They interviewed them all and there were many comments using all the fancy creative words about where the artist was coming from, the emotional statements they were trying to make.... Many very intelligent and artistic assesments of the work.

    As soon as the interviews were over they were all told about the artists... They were all three year olds with a brush and a bucket of paint... Meaning of this? Nothing, I just thought it was funny...

  17. bounce

    bounce Guest

    i think i saw that show! ahh, planet earth. we know everything...


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