Too Many Choices

There is a certain kind of rut that I get into when trying to make music on a desktop/laptop. It comes from having too many options in my music-making software.

My two primary programs are Ableton Live 9 (gotta upgrade to 10 still) and Reason 10. Within each program are tons of plugins, software synths, samplers, options for routing. And within each of those are the presets.

For example, If I want to make a drum beat using Kong (drum module in Reason), it loads the default kit. Most of the time I don’t want to use it. What happens next is I spend ten minutes finding a preset I like. Then another ten or so minutes tweaking the preset. It’s not particularly complicated. But, it takes time. This is time I could actually be making a new beat. Multiply this by any number of software instruments I want to use and I end up spending a significant portion of my already-limited music making time hunting for sounds.

The easy(ish) answer is that I should take a day to go through the presets of the modules that I use most and segregate, or otherwise highlight, the patches I like best. I can then use those as my starting point for new tracks. But, I suck at planning my music-making time and only think to do this after I am in the middle of a preset-hunting expedition.

This is where less-robust apps on iOS have an advantage. They don’t necessarily have a ton of sounds. Their interfaces are stripped down. I can open them up and start making a loop. If I don’t like the default patch or samples, there aren’t a ton for me to scroll through. Usually there is something I am happy enough with to get going.

Less choice is good sometimes.

Ableton Live Non-Song

What makes a “non-song?” In this instance, it is the lack of overall structure. Here, I am, somewhat randomly, adding and subtracting loops that I recorded.

Most of the sounds come from samples of my 8-string guitar. The techno bass is the Novation Bass Station plugin. The drums are from the Ableton Live sample set.

I enjoy putting tracks like this together. They are pieces of something else. Maybe a story. Maybe a video. Maybe something that just sits there while you are doing other things.

Let me know what you think.

Out of nostalgia for my days of slicing up audio using Cool Edit Pro, I checked out Adobe Audition today. After searching in circles, I realized that there is no purchasing Audition. You have to subscribe to access the software through Adobe Creative Cloud. Minimum price = $19.99 a month. If this model was the only way to access music software, I imagine we would have a lot more piracy or a lot fewer budding dorm room producers and engineers.

Thank you, PropellerheadAbleton, and so many other music software companies for not going this route.

Adobe Audition = $$$$