DAW as crutch

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Standup
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DAW as crutch

Post by Standup » Fri May 12, 2017 8:23 am

I've been using modular synth for less than a year. Making progress, learning. At my current patching skill level though, performing live is out of the question and playing a piece live to 2-track is out of the question.

I usually do drums in my DAW (pro tools) and sync my modular via MIDI. Sequences stay in time with the drums if that's what i want.

I do all my arranging in the DAW, usually taking 4-5 tracks from the modular and using the DAW to fade things in and out, creating flow and sections.

I depend heavily on the Eventide Blackhole plugin for reverb, which was dirt cheap when they released it to promote it. Sound Toys effects are a huge part of the sound--pitch shifting, delays, auto pannning, sometimes even additional filtering which I SHOULD be doing in the modular with a VCF.

So much of what I have done so far couldn't exist without the DAW. I admire you folks that can play the modular "live", I'm nowhere near there. I hope in another year maybe more of the sound will be self-contained in the modular system, though effects will probably always be outboard units, I don't see putting effects in the modular.

Here's a group of little tunelets I've done while learning my modular system:
https://soundcloud.com/ericagner13/sets/synthlandia

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Post by suboptimal » Fri May 12, 2017 1:35 pm

I think it's important to think of a studio as a giant modular instrument. Use the tools you need to make the music you want and don't get caught up worrying about the "purity" of a given approach. It's ideological crap that just gets in the way.

The modular itself is an instrument that takes years of practice and study to master, and that's usually after the module swapping has settled down.

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Post by shamann » Fri May 12, 2017 2:13 pm

I've done a lot of both approaches, recording straight to two-track or heavily editing a bunch of recorded bits. The fun for me for recording a single performance is that I like being forced to make peace with decisions/mistakes made during the performance, and if I ultimately don't like something, I have to figure out how to do it from the top.

But in terms of recorded output, each suits me fine. Doing offline multi-track editing gives you a lot more flexibility. The goal in recording is to put forward the optimal performance for that recording, how you achieve that is irrelevant and certainly doesn't matter to anyone listening.

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Post by Standup » Fri May 12, 2017 3:53 pm

I'm actually OK with how I'm doing this, but obviously feel some weird guilt about it. As a goal, later, I'd like to be able to play something live and complete.

Happy with my results for now though.

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Post by felixer » Mon May 29, 2017 4:48 pm

Standup wrote:I'm actually OK with how I'm doing this, but obviously feel some weird guilt about it. As a goal, later, I'd like to be able to play something live and complete.

Happy with my results for now though.
if you play live you'll need to get all those things in hardware that you do with plugins now. eg a good reverb and eq. those are not crutches but essential parts of any live rig.
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by big job head » Wed May 31, 2017 3:24 am

if you play live you'll need to get all those things in hardware that you do with plugins now
i know there a lots of hardware gurus in here but i find plugins are great to play live too. i recently got some expert sleepers I/O modules and paired with reaktor blocks its very powerfull!

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Post by felixer » Wed May 31, 2017 6:48 am

big job head wrote:
if you play live you'll need to get all those things in hardware that you do with plugins now
i know there a lots of hardware gurus in here but i find plugins are great to play live too. i recently got some expert sleepers I/O modules and paired with reaktor blocks its very powerfull!
yeah, but it makes you dependent on a computer. if it crashes you're dead in the water. hardware can crash too (most of it is a computer after all) but the chances are a lot smaller. i always get a bit nervous with laptops on stage ...
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

cycad73

Post by cycad73 » Wed May 31, 2017 10:28 am

The best setup is the one that works for you, the one where you can be creative. this is not a situation that you can force in advance. Even the placement of certain tools is important. We tend to offload a lot of our thinking onto the physical environment.

I keep getting caught up in a situation where I'd like to include a certain instrument that can supply the "breath"... but somehow things are better without it.

This dilemma has kept me up at night on more than one occasion.

Somehow visually, in the mind's eye the whole thing works, it's a perfect picture.

But music is not a picture. I actually create music with the imperfect, incomplete, imbalanced setup, though I have options to do otherwise.

If things are perfect then the element of hope disappears. The image of the unattainable is sometimes a secret ingredient because in working to cover the gap, something new, fresh, vital is introduced into the music.

The cliche "addition by subtraction" applies. But few investigate its inner workings. The sense of loss, the unattainable, functions perhaps as a kind of negative space, that allows the other elements to breathe, to resonate.

But then every so often I switch things around and try again, just try. Maybe at some point the breakthrough will come.

Trying the same thing and expecting different results? Always a mistake, but these are the mistakes that need to be made. I got to the "working" setup also mainly by just trying things.

What "is" -- a mystery beyond all mysteries. But it is the source of music. Better sometimes that it remain a mystery.

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Post by Fastus » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:36 am

You might want to experiment with some modular sequencers - I'd recommend the Rene in particular - because not only will it help ween you off DAW over-dependence, but it will introduce a different method of making music which may ultimately make your music more varied & interesting as well.
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Post by felixer » Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:52 am

cycad73 wrote: If things are perfect then the element of hope disappears.
that's an interesting one.
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by stk » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:57 am

felixer wrote:
cycad73 wrote: If things are perfect then the element of hope disappears.
that's an interesting one.
I like

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Post by stk » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:02 am

@op sounds like the daw is a tool. Which is what it should be, just another tool in a box of things to help you actualise music.
Modular, guitar, oscillator, distortion, double kick pedal, delay. These are all tools. Make music and ignore doubt.

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Post by felixer » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:08 pm

in my experience perfection is plain boring. easy to achieve nowadays but not something desirable imho. perfection is the end of things: where to go from there?
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by Muzone » Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:41 am

felixer wrote:in my experience perfection is plain boring. easy to achieve nowadays but not something desirable imho. perfection is the end of things: where to go from there?
If you think you've achieved "Perfection" it's just a sign you've set your goals too low ;)

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Post by stk » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:47 am

Of course, perfection is a theory wholly alien to the artist who has passed stage 0.

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Post by felixer » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:00 pm

'perfection' in my book is when you achieve exactly what you where after when you started. there is this funny advertising cry saying that 'you are only limited by your imagination'. alas, most people's imagination doesn't go very far out. i myself prefer to be surprised by whatever happens naturally, instead of relying on some planned path ... nurturing accidents.
in fact one of eno's oblique strategies says 'honor thy mistake as a hidden intention'. i like that one ...
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by authorless » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:53 pm

When I play live it is usually just modular and a couple of pedals (EHX 45000, and Eventide Space, TimeFactor, and PitchFactor). I do, however occasionally use my laptop and audio interface as a mixer/recorder because I do not know of a mixer that offers the flexibility in routing options that the laptop/audio interface offers.

You DAW is just a tool, just like your modular is a tool.
"Wait a month and buy from a fellow wiggler who's desperate for new modules." - Johnisfaster

"It's oscillators are so precise and lifeless it's actually a digital modelling analog synth." - nadafarms

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Post by thevegasnerve » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:07 pm

cycad73 wrote:The best setup is the one that works for you, the one where you can be creative. this is not a situation that you can force in advance. Even the placement of certain tools is important. We tend to offload a lot of our thinking onto the physical environment.

I keep getting caught up in a situation where I'd like to include a certain instrument that can supply the "breath"... but somehow things are better without it.

This dilemma has kept me up at night on more than one occasion.

Somehow visually, in the mind's eye the whole thing works, it's a perfect picture.

But music is not a picture. I actually create music with the imperfect, incomplete, imbalanced setup, though I have options to do otherwise.

If things are perfect then the element of hope disappears. The image of the unattainable is sometimes a secret ingredient because in working to cover the gap, something new, fresh, vital is introduced into the music.

The cliche "addition by subtraction" applies. But few investigate its inner workings. The sense of loss, the unattainable, functions perhaps as a kind of negative space, that allows the other elements to breathe, to resonate.

But then every so often I switch things around and try again, just try. Maybe at some point the breakthrough will come.

Trying the same thing and expecting different results? Always a mistake, but these are the mistakes that need to be made. I got to the "working" setup also mainly by just trying things.

What "is" -- a mystery beyond all mysteries. But it is the source of music. Better sometimes that it remain a mystery.
I too am a fan of "the sense of desperation" in my setup, which coincides with placing heavy limitations on what gear can even be placed in my playing environment. Anyways, found your discussion interesting and relevant.

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Post by Muzone » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:49 am

felixer wrote:'perfection' in my book is when you achieve exactly what you where after when you started......
Ah I see, not that difficult then.....

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Post by felixer » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:58 am

Muzone wrote:
felixer wrote:'perfection' in my book is when you achieve exactly what you where after when you started......
Ah I see, not that difficult then.....
depends what you're after, obviously :hihi:
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by submute » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:54 pm

I ran my modular into Ableton and Guitar Rig and got over being a purist quickly.

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Post by andrewhuang » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:00 am

I like to think about what I want out of the approach. Working with the DAW allows a certain kind of exactitude that is sometimes necessary for the musical vision. Working without it tends to be more enjoyable. :)

From the perspective of listening to music I've had some hand in working on, I'm always amazed at the transportive power of music. When I'm enjoying the finished piece, it doesn't make a difference to me whether I remember hunching over a laptop, or recording it in one take, or laboring over it for years.

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