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Topic: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

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  1. #1

    Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    Hey everyone,

    How's it going? In recent months (by recent, I mean the last year) I have been slowly discovering that when I use a sequencer, I tend to write the same thing. Not the same tune, per se, but same motives, rhythms, textures, instrument combinations, everything.

    However, when I use Sibelius 3, my mind seems to open back up and I stop using my personal cliches. Has anyone else experinced something like this? I like my sequencer because I can use vst's and effects that are integrated but I don't like the "limitiations" that my mind give me. I've been making a concious effort to get out of my rut.

    The main reason I like the sequencer is because I can sync to Video, however, with Sibelius 4, which I haven't got yet, I can do the same thing. So, in the end, I may be abandoning my sequencer if it improves my work flow. Does that make sense?

    Oh well, just thought I'd share and see if anyone else has come across this.

    Jonny
    For more information, check out www.jonathoncox.com/intro.html

    "The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." - Igor Stravinsky

  2. #2

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    Actually...

    I like to do both. If I'm writing a piece for large ensemble (orchestra, choir, band), I like to write piano version first with pencil and paper. I'll then take that and write in orchestration notes and use that to sequence in the material.
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  3. #3

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    When I compose/arrange off the top of my head, I seem to fall into the trap of creating music that sound quite similar. This would be true if I used either a sequencer or notation program. When I put "pencil to paper" (which is a heck of a lot of work for me), then sit and think, then tinker on the piano, and then continue with "pencil to paper", the issue of creating similar sounding music is lessoned.

    However, I believe that I am at a point in my music life that it would suit me best to take some kind formal composition classes. I am feeling a bit "dry" compositionally and would enjoy the formal class setting to explore new musical ideas.

    Now if I can only find the time and money.

    This is an interesting topic. I look forward to reading the responses.
    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  4. #4

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    My best ideas have come from pencil and paper first. The melodies form in my mind and do not have restrictions of range, tone or playability. (Is that a word?)

    My next step is a notation program to get ideas down and much like word processors, moved around (spliced and diced). Finally, sequenced to make the most of cc's to bring out expression and musicallity. (If that is possible from a source [the computer] that only knows two states of anything {0 or 1} [on or off]. But, in the end it's not the sampler, the sequencer, the notation, or the idea, but how one makes it human that counts.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  5. #5

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    The guide should be - use the tools that YOU achieve best results with!

    I prefer to work with sequencer, but most "classical" composer I know prefer notation programs. (but I feel like screaming at those few who act superior to me because of that fact. it's the RESULTS that matter!). But not to get carried away.. if the seq limits your workflow, by all means go for Sibelius!

    Cheers Matt

  6. #6

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    I think you and I are in the same boat, Jonny.

    Before I had GPO and used software sequencers, I was using a hardware sequencer (Roland MT200) attached to my digital piano. I loved that thing - and for the time, it was state-of-the-consumer-level-art (i.e. NOT a synclavier).

    But, like you stated in your post, I too tended to fall into some of the same patterns of choices in textures, rhythmic motifs, etc. I think it had more to do with how my playing was at the time than with my lack of imagination.

    But since I started to use Finale, that beautiful blank page with all those instruments just waiting to help me paint my musical pictures is more inspiring and less restrictive, because I am NOT PLAYING everything in. Now, I have to be careful and not let my flights of fancy get me into trouble with creating something that is not at all playable. But.. for the most part - I find using notation liberating. I still do all the TWEAKING in a sequencer, but the creation - I prefer notation.

    And, like Rich, I often start with pencil and paper. mostly to scetch out IDEAS - not even notes sometimes, just textures, notes to myself about rhythms and such.

    Now, you are no doubt saying as you read this: "Jerry! You are certainly not one to really be in a position to talk about not getting stuck in the same old stuff, since most of what you have posted here in the past 2 years has been pretty much the same-old-same-old!" But I would remind you that, like most people here, I tend to put what I consider to be my best foot forward and my most polished and realistically rendered stuff here above all else. No one believes me, but I CAN write much more sophisticated music than I show here. It just takes me an much greater amount of work and effort (and courage) to finish it and get it posted. It's harder to FINISH those pieces because the sky's the limit. And there is ALWAYS more you can do to a piece.

    Anyway, I know there are people who prefer the piano roll, and there are those who prefer notation, I think that it really doesn't matter what you use to flesh out your ideas, as long as you find the process as inspiring as the music you write.



    Jerry
    MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5ghz 4GB Ram OSX 10.5.8
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  7. #7

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry W.
    No one believes me, but I CAN write much more sophisticated music than I show here. It just takes me an much greater amount of work and effort (and courage) to finish it and get it posted. It's harder to FINISH those pieces because the sky's the limit. And there is ALWAYS more you can do to a piece.
    Jerry
    Now wait a (*(%^$$#@@% minute, Wickham...who sez that what you post here isn't sophisticated?!?!?! Don't you fall into the trap set by many (but not all!!) academicians that melody is a sign of weakness.

    You smell what Snorlax is cookin'??
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  8. #8

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    Here's my 2 zlotys:

    For all us auto-didacts with no keyboard skills or formal training, things like Sonar, Finale, GPO, and Band-in-a-Box are keys that unlock a huge door that otherwise would have stayed shut! Whatever it is I know, I learned through trial and error (mostly the latter) with those pieces of s/w.

    Snorlax
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  9. #9

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    I've sometimes wondered whether simply dealing with all this technology kills the Muse. In the short term, yes. Those evenings when you sit down excited and ready to play, and "System Error" keeps flashing at you like the top Joker in a deck full of Jokers. But eventually, I've found, she does do me the favor of a return visit, once the cussing dies down and everything works with everything else.

    What the sequencer does--in conjunction with certain VST's and synth voices--is let me open up to forms of musical expression far beyond those of my principal instrument, the acoustic piano. Since my principal musical activity (when not struggling unsuccessfully to play classical pieces invariably beyond my skills) is to extemporize, over the years the piano has often gone through long phases when it all sounded the same and it seemed that my tank was eternally running on empty. But now, when I take a brace of instruments (say, a GPO wind section playing multi-timbrally) the sequencer just lets me push 'record' and see what comes out. As often as not: junk. But, occasionally--very occasionally--something better arrives that I can then tweek, erasing and correcting the stumbles, perfecting the expression and rendering the rythms not-quite-so-humanized into a pleasing pulse. With these tools I can draw results from an improvisation that almost sounds like they were preconceived. In this way, the synthetic instruments become like voices speaking through me, and the sequencer becomes my friend in helping me pull away all the detritus that comes out of the dig until I reach the musical artifact at the core.

    I know it's a different, weird approach to using this technology. I'm in awe of you educted musicians who can blend intellect and inspiration to craft some of the great music I hear in these forums. But for my peculiar approach to using these tools, I am able--once past the inevitable hurdles--to find inspiration from the technology itself that helps me transcend the same-old-same-old ruts.

  10. #10

    Re: Does the sequencer kill my inspiration?

    "I like my sequencer because I can use vst's and effects that are integrated
    but I don't like the "limitiations" that my mind give me."

    You can do both (sequencer and notation) with MidiYoke (free). It creates
    a bunch of 'virtual' ports. You can set your notation program to Output to
    these ports. Then you can set your sequencer to accept Input from the
    same ports.

    Run both programs at the same time. Put all the Vst's and effects you want
    on your sequencer tracks. Work in the notation program. When you hit play,
    it will send the info to the sequencer which will use all your Vst's & effects
    before sending the audio to your soundcard.

    This works great for me using an old Sibelius 1.4 and Sonar 4 Studio/GPO.

    After you finish the piece, you can even make a MIDI version to load into your
    sequencer for further tweaking.

    - k

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