An Embarrassment of Riches
I’ve just bought Native Instrument’s software Kontakt sampler and have spent the last few days starting to get to grips with what it can do and it made me reflect on how much time I’ve spent doing the same thing with numerous other music software programs. I like to think that I work ‘lean’ and I use as few programs as I require, but I don’t think that is really the case these days. I don’t have any hardware kit to speak of, but I have lots of music software. I made a mental list of all the DAWS (Digital Audio Workstations), synths, effects, sample libraries and other various audio esoterica and it’s quite exhaustive !
Quite often I spend a fair bit of time learning something which ends up getting very little use (if any) in my music. The positive thing to say is that its part of the lifelong learning thing that we are told is good for our brains and keeps the creative juices flowing. Eno said something to the effect that its a good thing to keep working, even though we may not be producing anything as it keeps our creativeness ‘alive’, so that when a great idea comes along we are able to act upon it. I feel the same about guitar playing, I try to play for an hour a day, just to keep ‘in shape’ so to speak, in case anything comes along. I tend to forget the specific details of a particular program as I move from one to another, but I feel there’s an over-riding memory of what it can do that is planted deeper in the brain that comes to the surface when needed.
So, I think I need to prioritise somewhat and concentrate on the potentially useful stuff. Saying that, experimentation is a big part of what I do and I do love to experiment with all these musical tools and sound producing thingies to broaden my musical palette as much as possible. These exotic and esoteric sounds inspire me and I don’t feel that time is wasted searching to discover the small but select sound ‘gems’ that I stumble across / refine.