Soldering vs. music making
  • This is kind of an open mic question to all of you here on the forums:

    Do you consider yourself more musicians or instrument builders or electronic engineers?
    Do you spend more time soldering, making and hacking or playing and composing music?

  • An initially reluctant builder, mainly due to not having anywhere to build at first. But since I’ve created a little build area in my living room I’ve been building a lot and doing all those geeky hacky things you try to avoid.

    Time and energy is limited right now and so I’ve done very little with my built stuff. Doing a kit is great as there’s a plan and it’s a fairly routine task. If only music was so simple ;)

    I started my musical experimentations around 1990 and until the Internet distracted me in 1995 I was fairly productive. I was also not working and so had plenty of time in the day to write.

  • Soldering is more fun sometimes. Some day’s I just say to hell with it all and sit down and make noise. I guess it’s a mood thing. Being an engineer it’s always fun to build something and make it work.

  • If you offered me a job designing/building synths or making music full time (everything else being equal of course) it would be a really tough choice, although I know a lot less about making synths than I do about making music which might explain my fascination with it.

    I got sucked into the “everything is going software” craze and it destroyed my productivity and fun. Currently trying to rebuild a hardware studio with as much DIY gear as possible. Probably suffering from “as soon as I finish building MegaDevice I’ll start making songs again”, always with a new MegaDevice in the queue. I do really need a sequencer though. Been on the Midibox waiting list for a while.

    I really don’t like hearing the same song 100 million times which is probably why I just play with my synths and never finish any actual songs.

    I consider myself a hobbyist musician/geek.

    Right now I’m definitely soldering more than composing.

  • Instrument designer ie “meta-musician” :)

  • been trhu a big phase of doing no music at all. Seems a bit weird having a pile of stuff and never using it. Go in phases…

    really need to resurrect my shruthi been sorely neglected, need to upgrade the patch memory thing, and firmware, and also recalibrate, also want to try martins mods, and get the programmer working….

    etc.

    Hello all, been away for a while :wave:

  • @pichenettes: Is discussing several designs, weighing pros and cons being a “meta meta-musician” ;) ?

  • A meta meta-musician is one who comes on this forum and bugs Oliver to try to influence his designs :)

  • haha yes.
    i’m going in phases. i’ve made more music than diy, then i focus on diy again, lately i haven’t done anything. but my band is very forgiving. maybe lack of rosch even improves the performance ;)
    hehe

  • Mix on vinyl, try to create music with little korg em1 and recently have fun to create my own instrument...
  • guess there is a big grey zone between instrumentalist, composer and instrument designer/maker, where all these three things kind of melt together. This is particularly evident with electronic instruments, where the instrument does not have a fixed shape,

  • Currently in the depths of doing both! In between building stuff, my band is rushing to complete our album, I’m rushing to complete my fake soundtrack saga & I’m rushing to complete the mixes of the last band that came here to record. All the while I am going around the country for work, getting ready for the wedding and bracing for the “bun in the oven”. Funny part is I’m a total procrastinator! I was in that phase of “I just need some more gear, then I’m ready” and not really doing much of anything productive musically. Thankfully, the house we bought has a finished basement which I turned into a geek “man cave”. Studio / theater. All the gear has been acquired and enough space to set it all up! It’s on!

    I’m scared for when I start to delve into modular synths.

  • The last few months soldering wins ;-)

  • I am a procastinator too. I Made no music at all for some time then got some gear to get me startet again… Then a shruthi then preenfm another shruthi and so on. I also started making fx boxes. I was always interested in Electronics as a kid, but a Idiote Electronics teacher turned me off, big Time.
    building some diy stuff Made me notice, that turnoff is gone now. I want to get to making more music, but for now i think the craving for new gear will keep me soldering.
    i also got a little Bit into Video bending.
    I think maybe i Set myself a goal like ‘make some Audio/Video gig’ or something to force me to beeing more productive at some point. But in the near Future there is a lot of stuff that needs to be build.

  • Just a piano player.

  • The Shruthi was my first electronics DIY. I’m still amazed I built it without killing it or myself. Now I’ve really got the bug and am contemplating all kinds of DIY electronical things… If you don’t hear from me for a while, it will be due to electrocution.

    I had a binge of electro synth music in the mid 1980s. Built myself a small studio and produced some really horrible crap (some of it survives unfortunately). DX7, TX7, RX11, QX sequencer, Tascam 4-track (I still have some of these things). Totally quit when I got divorced, sold almost everything. Then I got into loop-based music, in the late 90s I guess, with Acid. Then I quit that entirely, dove into guitar (again) spent wads of cash on tube/analog gear, stopped playing guitar altogether, sold everything, and then built myself a new electro synth studio a couple of years ago.

    I seem to be way more productive with synths and software. Computer stuff comes more naturally to me and I can use it to fake being a decent musician rather than relying on my guitar chops which are mediocre.

    So I’m a flake, basically. I try to go with the flow… wherever it leads. That’s what creativity is all about. I just get bummed by the long dry spells when I don’t seem to be able to make a note. Lately, that’s where the DIY stuff fills in the gaps.

  • You mean these Thingies i build all the Time….. i could do Music with it????

  • I definitively spend more time soldering than playing music, all the time believing that once I’ll have my next thing built I’ll use it and really write music with it.
    Fortunately I’ve got my band and weekly rehearsals that keep me practicing and writing music. But that’s mostly with guitars. I actually don’t like keyboards much. I don’t really like creating music with computers. I need to build a sequencer…..... wait..

  • I’m much the same as 6581punk and randy909. I’m a frustrated wannabe electronic musician (well, I play guitar, but that’s hardly considered cool these days) who came to Mutable looking for a nice cheap synth, got the soldering bug and haven’t actually done much with the several synths I’ve built. One big factor was that a synth could take me a weekend or so to build and my girlfriend, whilst supportive, would get annoyed at the lack of attention, so I’d feel guilty spending too much more time actually playing with the thing I just built. The other problem was space – if you’ve got your music gear all set up then it’s easier to sit down and start playing, but I always had to hunt around for power supplies and MIDI cables and the like before I could even start playing with something.

    I’ve just moved into a new flat where I have space to get the gear set up, bought the last thing I “needed” for the studio – a Korg Electribe ES1 mk2 (got tired of waiting for hardware samplers to be available in kit form, and I do love the Electribes) – so now I have no excuse for not sitting down and actually writing some music. Well, there’s the impending baby, but how much time can that really take up? ;)

  • Probably consider myself more an instrument builder than a musician and feel more comfortable with that now-though compared to most stuff I build (DIY eurorack modular) the Shruthi certainly tips the balance towards musicality-very immediate gratification both with the build process and with being able to turn it on and hit a key to make sound in seconds flat whenever I want.

    Agree that getting together with others for musicmaking/meets is a really good thing-getting other people's perspectives on what can be done with your own equipment is the best part of it.
  • I definitely spend more time soldering than playing nowadays, but part of that is that I find soldering really relaxing after a day's work - I've got quite a maths-y day job and I was finding it difficult to switch off at night, and found soldering really helped. Which is quite weird, cause it's so detailed, but I think the intense thinking about that shoves the other intense thinking out of my head, so it does the job.

    Having sad that though I've been a frustrated guitarist for years now and since I've started building synths I've found it easier to make music and it seems to be more in tune with the way I think about music than the guitar ever was. I've been building a modular synth for the past year and it really appeals to my thoughts around making music. I did have a worrying moment last night though when I had a patch running and I was just sitting there enjoying what the synth was doing and came to the realisation that, patching aside, I wasn't really involved in the music! Was still good though.
  • I totally agree on the point that soldering is a way to relax and get off too brain-heavy work. Another point for me was, since I am sitting in front of the computer most of the time, doing something manual, where you don’t have to stare at pixels was quite a good change!

  • Well we all feel like that.

    I used to enjoy writing software too, but doing so for a living soon kills the enjoyment of doing so.

  • “I used to enjoy writing software too, but doing so for a living soon kills the enjoyment of doing so.” That’s one reason I got out of the music business 30 years ago.

  • Absolutely a musician.

    I suck in electronics diy, and definitely I'm an engineer but not electronic...

    I wish I was more able to build electronical stuff (read: understanding what I'm doing), but doing music is what I can do best. At least I love to think so...
  • P.S. I get the Neverending Story reference…

  • @muldee I am an engineer too, but non on electronics.
    I have a hard work with lots of thoughts (due to italian crysis), and I agree tha soldering wash my brain.
    I'm also a frustrated guitarist but I didn't sell the gear, perhaps I'm a collector.
    One year and a half I slept into modular synths ocean, and falling in that water is fine. Shruthi is my first synth's kit, but I got courage and I have many projects on the way. I fall in love with the sounds that a small box can produce. And I have bought more shruthis.
    I like to DIY stompboxes and fx that I use with guitar and synth, with different amps, transistors, tubes, audio systems, hifi hi-end.
    I have also two young kids, and I am officialy The broken kid's toy repairman. So I think about circuit bending the toys.
    I'm not a musician, definitely, (and this is hard to say for me) but I like music, sounds and noise. I like also waves on the scope and even led lights on the frontpanels....
    I think, that you mates are amazing.
    Marco
  • Please explain the Neverending Story reference.

  • Electronics has been my hobby since I was 12-13. Playing came later, and the only musical stuff I've built are Shruthi x2 and a PreenFM. I really would like to build my own reverb, but haven't found a kit. I am lazy novadays, earlier I did make my own pcbs, for example for 3chip, a cable tv descrambler for pay tv. It was a lot better that for ex. Maxidecoder:)

    I just quit playing in a band, and my child is soon 4 years old. Theoretically I have now time for music making, although kendo takes some time. And a completely useless thing called work takes helluva lot of time :/
  • I can’t explain it. It just is.

  • Istran, you might consider belton-based reverbs, especially at generalguitargadgets or tonepad.
    It should work for synthesizers with little to no modification.
    Also, any kit using using a spinsemi FV-1 chip should provide reverb.

  • Thank you very much MicMicMan, this looks promising: http://tinyurl.com/bt7koed
  • yeah the belton reverb “chip” sounds ok, and it is super easy to do. i haven’t tried with synthesizers, just with a bass and it was a quick breadboard setup. it’s basically a bunch of PT2399’s inside, something like that.

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