Piano lessons destroying electronic music life

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gminorcoles
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Piano lessons destroying electronic music life

Post by gminorcoles » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:42 pm

When I was a kid I was a decent saxophone player, then switched to bass because my uncle was a great bass player in bands in my hometown. I heard Kraftwerk in an electro set on a local radio station in I think it was 1981, when I was 11. It started an electronic music obsession that always grew. I was also into other music like punk and hardcore and many other things, but in my 20s in the 90s I just wanted to dance and electronic music finally drove out the corrupt demons of guitars and basses and dumb lyrics from my soul.

In my thirties I thought why put time into practicing an instrument, I could spend the same hours per week just composing directly in reason with no keyboard, even, because I couldn’t play keyboard. This worked pretty well but to say that it is not spontaneous is an understatement.

Then last year I started taking piano lessons with an old friend who is a very good classical and jazz pianist.

I thought awesome , this will free me to get into electronic music even more, and i have bought a few synths.

I have sold most of the synths, in turn. It’s really strange, now I am gong to piano showrooms and writing music on a score. I am trying to compress my synths into vsts and one or two big synths like a Kronos and a kurzweil forte.

I still listen only to electronic music, but I find that the filters, the four four or even the glitchy skittery beats, it’s all pretty trivial ( but when it’s on the stereo my brain still thinks it’s fine). I listen to bonobo or sbtrkt or machinedrum or some other music approved for middle aged people and it sounds great, but then I get totally bored pasting together the loops and sounds and beats that I make that are similar.

But playing keyboard live with an old friend who plays guitar, is really fun, improvising badly over some sequences I made to give some rythmic structure. But I would never want to listen to that same music.

I am getting more immersed in classical, as a player, but don’t really listen to much classical though I always “appreciate” it which is different than enjoying it.

Anyone else bifurcated like this? What happened?

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oranginafiend
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Post by oranginafiend » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:03 pm

you're very close to enlightenment.

now just get rid of all the synths.

then get rid of the piano, and just compose on pen and paper.

then throw away the pen and paper.

then stop listening to music altogether.

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Post by thevegasnerve » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:22 pm

well, I think the piano is reconnecting your interest in music. Its dynamic (percussive and melodic) and simple in application. It begs for someone to take control of it. and is perfect for composition by design.

When you go down the rabbit hole of VSTs and DAWs, its easy to lose control of the expressiveness, some can master that domain with intense practice.

Honestly, you have to choose a method to create. Why not consider finding a way to use the saxophone too?

Loopers and drone instruments are perfect instruments to use with live musicians. Drones with a little LFO pulse can really be nice in the background. Modulars/semi-modulars are perfect for this. Get a Minibrute with a few pedals and let that thing be your rhythm section.

Just some thoughts coming from someone who loves to improvise, I cant write on a DAW, or at least have little interest in seeing all the graphs... : )

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Post by commodorejohn » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:04 pm

I go through phases. Right now, I'm pretty much exclusively noodling around on guitar and bass, and playing acoustic piano at my church on the weekends. But I know myself too well to think that that means I've lost interest in my synthesizers - I'll be back on that kick sooner or later, and if I were to sell them in the meantime, I'd just end up buying them back as soon as the bug bit again...
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Re: Piano lessons destroying electronic music life

Post by tioJim » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:22 am

gminorcoles wrote:When I was a kid I ... What happened?
GREAT POST

What happened? You're living a life my friend. Growing. Changing. Developing. You can never step in the same river twice and all that.

Don't stop. Sounds like you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Exactly when you're supposed to be doing it :)

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Post by Panason » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:12 am

oranginafiend wrote:you're very close to enlightenment.

now just get rid of all the synths.

then get rid of the piano, and just compose on pen and paper.

then throw away the pen and paper.

then stop listening to music altogether.
Thank you, this is what I came to see! :tu:

It's a funny one as I have been wanting to get piano lessons so that I can make better electronic music. I despise classical so I'm unlikely to get diverted in this manner.

But I think the issue here is that making electronic music is largely programming, which is a different and a lot less expressive/ emotive activity than actually playing an isntrument. You get the satisfaction later when you play back your programmed sequences but there are no complex dexterity skills to develop and not so much direct expression involved.

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Post by Fog Door » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:36 am

What happened?
Sounds like you are doing exactly what you want to do and thoroughly enjoying yourself! When you are younger the music you choose to create can be strongly influenced by what you think is "cool" or what might be commercially viable, whatever, then you reach a certain age where you just no longer give a f*** what anybody thinks - natural progression! ;)

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Post by gminorcoles » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:05 am

I mean what happened to mean “did you go through a similar process” did an archetype of your passion attack the other icons on the altar and upset the careful order of your interior space

It’s interesting to describe it and to listen to other people’s stories of surprise and surfeit

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Post by Sounds From The Shed » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:36 am

gminorcoles wrote:I mean what happened to mean “did you go through a similar process” did an archetype of your passion attack the other icons on the altar and upset the careful order of your interior space

It’s interesting to describe it and to listen to other people’s stories of surprise and surfeit
I think what has happened is you are caught up and investing your time in your current passion. Time or lack of means you invest less in you previous interests.

It doesn't mean they are irrelevant, it's just at this phase of your musical progression they are less important, and you have less enthusiasm as you have a new focus.

Thing is though, you will learn new skills, ditch the computer for a start as vst's and computers are not about making music. Then when you are ready to progress back to analogue/electronic music you will have a whole new skill set and it will be amazing.

But for now keep doing what you enjoy and know it can lead to other avenues down the line....

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Post by Gizmo » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:22 pm

The "playing" (keys in my case) is everything IMHO. For me, synthesizers have fullest life when played. Synthesizers are integral to my setup, are valuable and important, but the keyboards are central.

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Post by R.U.Nuts » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:44 pm

gminorcoles wrote:I mean what happened to mean “did you go through a similar process” did an archetype of your passion attack the other icons on the altar and upset the careful order of your interior space

It’s interesting to describe it and to listen to other people’s stories of surprise and surfeit
As a teen I played guitar and was heavily into punk and hardcore. I hated electronic music since at that time in Germany (mid nineties) electronic music was about monster huge mass events like Loveparade and Mayday which were basically the direct opposite to the squatted house punk shows I visited. I also didn't like the chemical drugs the ravers were taking and preferred a good spliff and beer.
Actually spliffs were probably the thing that got me to Underground electronic music events which were happening in the same venues as the punk shows. But the music was different from the hyped rave music: D&B, Jungle, Dub, Dancehall, Psy Trance. Funnily Psy Trance got me into playing accoustic instruments: Latin and African percussion which often accompanied the Psy Trance beats. So I became one of those Neo Hippies that annoyed the hell out of people playing Djembé and Bongos in public parks in the late nineties.
A few years later I got into downhill mountainbike riding and this made me quit making music for the next ten years except for sometimes playing old Punk Songs on my accoustic guitar (and again annoying people in public parks). After some severe injuries riding downhill mountainbike I quit riding and got a music PC with Ableton to substitute for not riding anymore.
After maybe a year of fiddling around with a mouse creating Daft Punk-ish music I decided that I needed something more immediately since I wanted to make a live act. But I couldn't find a MIDI Controller setup that I liked. So I bought my first hardware synth. At about the same time I went to an art excibition about John Cage and his influence and legacy on music and that was a game changer. Most of the music I listened to suddenly sounded formalistic and in some cases outright boring (looking at you Punkrock). And then I discovered modular synths. Got to know people that organized Noise and Experimental concerts, played shows with prepared guitar and modular and so on. At the moment I'm actually starting to make more conventional music again with my modular. I even bought a drum machine. I wonder if the day will ever come I'll start making nineties style rave techno with it. What an irony that would be...

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Post by Dragonaut » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:40 pm

I like the above response best. Especially the mention of John Cage who has been so influential on electronic music. Think of Erik Satie and Aphex Twin and their connection to piano and electronic music. For me the piano has more of a connection with experimental music than perhaps guitar or other instruments. The compositional possibilities are wider reaching and it achieves an orchestral sound all in one instrument. What other instrument allows one person to illustrate their personal ideas so we’ll all on its own?
https://soundcloud.com/acaciabridge (IDM, Ambient, Bass, Downtempo)
www.instagram.com/dr_science_phd (synths, hikes, and views.)

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Post by Funky40 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:28 pm

R.U.Nuts wrote: At the moment I'm actually starting to make more conventional music again with my modular.
after this, is was waiting for this:
R.U.Nuts wrote:(and again annoying people in public parks)
:lol:


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Post by R.U.Nuts » Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:36 pm

Funky40 wrote:
R.U.Nuts wrote: At the moment I'm actually starting to make more conventional music again with my modular.
after this, is was waiting for this:
R.U.Nuts wrote:(and again annoying people in public parks)
:lol:
Yeah, but I haven't made up my mind yet how to do that with a modular:

a: Get a case that can be battery powered

b: Get a ridiculously big sound system, so I just need to open my window.

I guess I'm old enough now for b. Other people in my age buy Harley Davidsons or Mercedes AMGs which can annoy a whole smalltown, too.

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Re: Piano lessons destroying electronic music life

Post by Funky40 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:00 pm

gminorcoles wrote:What happened?
......getting older ?



Piano is Magic !
it is a *VERY* sophisticated and evolutioned Instrument !

You can put an amount of dynamics and spontaneousity into it that is immens !
Dynamic phrasing, Tonal phrasing and progressions,
and coming from other instruments it even does not take too much time to get there.......


honestly, electronic music feels so cheap and boring compared to that (at least in regards to self playing ....not vs. comparing the outcome ;) )


i turned piano 3.5 years ago.
stopped touching my modular.
now i´m back to modular ........and Piano is suffering.


What i can add: when the time is right,
begin to merge both worlds.
Thats what i have donne, and it works perfectly.
i never would touch a Synth again exept my modular when i want to play "Synth" or "Synthetisized" sounds.

check out Pianoteq6.
i load it into H-AU. a Host programm on mac for AUs (VST on mac).
i add FX plenty to it. the trick is to know which ones works, and which ones work together. Plus superb Reverbs on top !
i play Piano thru the FX chain......live ( at home)
( Host programms cause they have less latency than a DAW)

i´ve donne jamms on "Hollywood Best Sci-Fi" Film level, realtime playing, just playing piano ( but have often to deal with up to HUGE latencys, which is the drawback. depends on the FX setups and to set buffer sizes)

tl;dr:
you can combine the Piano world with the "synthesized sounds" world *perfectly*.............if you one day should feel like doing so ;)
Just that this has then to happen ITB. FX, Sounds and Routing options are ITB heaps above what you can have when doing same in hardware only.
But when the patches stand, *incl.* mapping CCs to controllers!!!, can you play it like its hardware. ( just the latencys......but can be fine. depends on the FX involved, plus buffer setting )

anyway worth to check Pianoteq btw.
https://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq6


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Post by umma gumma » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:47 pm

I have an old beatup piano here: I need to get the thing tuned up & working

most of the music I listen to lately, is classical stuff. there is a lot going on in those old dusty manuscripts :D

I wonder when the cycle will flip; people will get bored with the generic same-old pop music of the day, and appreciate the intricacies of jazz. or classical music, again

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Post by Sinamsis » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:58 pm

Panason wrote:
oranginafiend wrote:you're very close to enlightenment.

now just get rid of all the synths.

then get rid of the piano, and just compose on pen and paper.

then throw away the pen and paper.

then stop listening to music altogether.
Thank you, this is what I came to see! :tu:

It's a funny one as I have been wanting to get piano lessons so that I can make better electronic music. I despise classical so I'm unlikely to get diverted in this manner.

But I think the issue here is that making electronic music is largely programming, which is a different and a lot less expressive/ emotive activity than actually playing an isntrument. You get the satisfaction later when you play back your programmed sequences but there are no complex dexterity skills to develop and not so much direct expression involved.

This is mostly true, although to me, every way of creating music has it's merits. The dexterity involved with various forms of electronic music is a mental one. Finding ways to be creative in a format that can be redundant and receptive, or creating some form and structure from amorphous things (looking at you modular). It's a mental exercise that can push your brain and ears, not your finger tips. Playing an instrument (I play guitar, bass, keys and drums all poorly) is much more immediate, and in some ways can be very transient like modular. You can be play around, play the most beautiful progression, riff, whatever and forget what specifically you just did, or the way you did it.

Anyways, like others have alluded, I tend to go through phases. Just playing my acoustic guitar, or just playing electric guitar, or my Rhodes or whatever. One day I'll evolve and mash them all together for some really weird shit. Eventually they all overlap and intertwine. But I heavily emphasize one over the other at times, and it allows me to interact with music and creating things in very different ways.

I would also note that I took piano lessons when I was pretty young, and that was my introduction into music. Learning the basic theory and seeing the notes all logically laid out in front of me was very helpful. I wish I had stuck with it, and I would love to enhance my knowledge of music theory. Even though I rarely play acoustic piano, I find it makes me a better musician much more than playing guitar did, if that makes sense. Perhaps I never pushed myself far enough with guitar, but it's so easy to get caught up in simple scales and chords that can be transposed up and down with ease and without thought.

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Post by morgulbee » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:07 pm

Sounds pretty normal to me. I started out playing trumpet in school and professionally for a bit. I also hacked at piano but never properly learned. Then the synthesizer bug hit me, and I took a teach-yourself piano course (this was long before youtube) so my hacking at synth keyboards got a little better. Spent years playing with DAWs. Most recently I'm playing with modular and trying various "new" controllers, and trying to wean myself away from the DAW being the center of my universe.

For the longest time I thought I wanted to learn to play guitar, but I knew I never had the time to take lessons and practice. Now I have the time (or could make time for it) but the desire is gone. Guitar music isn't high on my "like" list right now.

My music tastes have changed significantly too. I used to listen to and play a lot of jazz and rock. I loved playing classical trumpet but never cared to listen to classical music. Now, decades later, I really don't like to listen to either jazz or rock, at least not for extended periods of time. Instead I listen to trip hop, some hip hop, EDM and other styles of current pop music. I'm an old guy and most of my peers still prefer the rock music of their teen years. That's just not me.

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Post by mongrol » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:42 pm

Sounds like OP needs to listen to Erased Tape label. Rival Consoles, Frahm, Ben Lukas Boyson. All electronic based to some degree, even loop based but oh so much more compositional with nods to the classical or orchestral discipline.

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Post by p_shoulder » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:56 pm

Panason wrote:But I think the issue here is that making electronic music is largely programming, which is a different and a lot less expressive/ emotive activity than actually playing an instrument.
I'll be honest, it would be interesting to know just how much piano playing goes on even in the seemingly most programmed tracks. While you can go very far in the programmed genres without these skills (and I'm aware some relatively big producers that can't play traditional instruments well), learning piano definitely has advantages (I'm also aware that some big producers also are good piano players :) ). It is one of the more convenient interfaces for input in a DAW (being that the piano keyboard is the "default" interface of the synthesizer). It is a good way to learn music theory of which rudimentary knowledge can be helpful (though any instrument will do just as well here). Piano's probably one of the better "sketching" instruments out there for melody and harmony (again, there are others, but it helps to have an instrument to work ideas out on... though in dance it'd probably be nice to have some rhythm oriented sketching tool too).

Although not the most popular at the moment, there is actually a fair bit of electronic genres (even dance, such as the jazzier side of house / downtempo / D&B / etc.) where I'm hearing a fair bit of playing. Electronic music scores is one of the more prominent genres I can think of in this regard: while they do sometimes have sequenced elements and programming of textures and patches, it is largely *not* a programmed genre.

Music is a journey and tastes and techniques do evolve. (I'm currently going through a "score a sketch of the tune in Finale" phase myself. :) )

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Post by thevegasnerve » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:08 am

If anything, synths and cool fx pedals killed my desire to play the piano or guitar. Well, I still enjoy them, but they are not nearly as important anymore. Now live drums are different, nothing comes close to playing those still..

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Post by BailyDread » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:53 am

I see most electronic music as being very different from music that is written for one single instrument like piano... With more traditional forms of music, the thing you are listening to is the intervals, and the structure of the notes in relation to one another across time. With electronic music, the point is very different. it's far less about the relationships of notes etc, and more about the overall quality of the sound; its timbre and its spatial sense, the mix of the elements etc.

So it makes sense that appreciating a musical composition is very different from appreciating a track. I've listened to Basic Channel literally thousands of times and it never gets old. I'm not listening to the (rather uninspiring) musical changes and rhythmic loops, I'm taking in the entire qualities of the sound. It is very literally enjoying the sound, whereas listening to more traditional music is more a matter of enjoying the information being conveyed in the sound (the intervals and formal structures). It's a double edged sword though, because when electronic music is great it has a directness that is unparalleled, but when it's bad, it's just busy noise for noise's sake.

Just my two cents tho!

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Post by thevegasnerve » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:19 pm

BailyDread wrote:I see most electronic music as being very different from music that is written for one single instrument like piano... With more traditional forms of music, the thing you are listening to is the intervals, and the structure of the notes in relation to one another across time. With electronic music, the point is very different. it's far less about the relationships of notes etc, and more about the overall quality of the sound; its timbre and its spatial sense, the mix of the elements etc.

So it makes sense that appreciating a musical composition is very different from appreciating a track. I've listened to Basic Channel literally thousands of times and it never gets old. I'm not listening to the (rather uninspiring) musical changes and rhythmic loops, I'm taking in the entire qualities of the sound. It is very literally enjoying the sound, whereas listening to more traditional music is more a matter of enjoying the information being conveyed in the sound (the intervals and formal structures). It's a double edged sword though, because when electronic music is great it has a directness that is unparalleled, but when it's bad, it's just busy noise for noise's sake.

Just my two cents tho!
I think you are on to something. Certainly I find timbre of much greater importance in electronic music for some reason when I listen. The really good stuff seems to understand how important just that one aspect can be on the listeners experience..

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Post by Panason » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:03 pm

p_shoulder wrote:
Panason wrote:But I think the issue here is that making electronic music is largely programming, which is a different and a lot less expressive/ emotive activity than actually playing an instrument.
I'll be honest, it would be interesting to know just how much piano playing goes on even in the seemingly most programmed tracks. While you can go very far in the programmed genres without these skills (and I'm aware some relatively big producers that can't play traditional instruments well), learning piano definitely has advantages (I'm also aware that some big producers also are good piano players :) ). It is one of the more convenient interfaces for input in a DAW (being that the piano keyboard is the "default" interface of the synthesizer). It is a good way to learn music theory of which rudimentary knowledge can be helpful (though any instrument will do just as well here). Piano's probably one of the better "sketching" instruments out there for melody and harmony (again, there are others, but it helps to have an instrument to work ideas out on... though in dance it'd probably be nice to have some rhythm oriented sketching tool too).

Although not the most popular at the moment, there is actually a fair bit of electronic genres (even dance, such as the jazzier side of house / downtempo / D&B / etc.) where I'm hearing a fair bit of playing. Electronic music scores is one of the more prominent genres I can think of in this regard: while they do sometimes have sequenced elements and programming of textures and patches, it is largely *not* a programmed genre.

Music is a journey and tastes and techniques do evolve. (I'm currently going through a "score a sketch of the tune in Finale" phase myself. :) )
Totally agree. Like I said, I want to get piano lessons because I believe it will enable me to compose the music that's in my head. I only have a good sense of rhythm so far, and a good ear (I'm told), and my last music class was in school decades ago. Without knowing basic music theory and harmony I believe I'm at a serious disadvantage. A.k.a. you have to know the rules in order to bend them.

For the OP's "problem": You could just get some kind of audio recorder and a mic and always record when you play your piano or whatever . You then have the option to grab some of those recordings and use them in elecronic music...either as samples or as templates for chord structures etc....
gminorcoles wrote: but then I get totally bored pasting together the loops and sounds and beats that I make
This is a massive problem for me too and I have spent a lot of time trying to find a "workflow" with hardware so that I can record tracks largely on the fly , avoiding as much as possible using the DAW to compose music by pasting stuff in like lego blocks. The lack of capable/available hardware sequencers is a problem and currently those who are happy mousing around in a DAW have the edge in most genres of electronic music.

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Post by gminorcoles » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:54 pm

Some of my best music is the stuff pasted together in reason. Back then I was thinking more like jazzanova for my own music, where I tried to make the sequences detailed enough to sound "real" not as an imitation of life but because I wanted to hybridize played and sequenced music. I know theory and it's actually easier to marshall that knowledge when you are clicking around because there is no time pressure.

But those are old ideas now, 2005 is when that phase ended. My new ideas are long on the music, short on what is recognizable to us edm fans as a concept.

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