MY METHOD TO ENSURE VARIETY ON AN ALBUM MADE WITH A MINIMAL SETUP.

August 22, 2020 § Leave a comment

Work on my 7th album is finally picking up speed and given that I’m in the exciting thick of the creative process, I wanted to share with you the main way in which I deal with one of the most obvious pitfalls of working with a very minimal setup: lack of variety of sound (I consider it an issue because I do want variety of sound – I totally understand that other musicians will instead strive for a continuity in sound).

I adopted this approach when I started work in 2015 on my first truly electronic album, “A flame my love, a frequency”. I had strong doubts about moving to an all-electronic setup, but what ended up keeping my fear in check was twofold: 1) realizing I was still going to make a weird type of song-based music 2) the main electronic references I had in mind were really old school  (Delia Derbyshire and Raymond Scott), and while I wasn’t going to try and mimic those sounds, it helped to define what I did *not* want, and from there I set to obsessively trying (almost) every single combination possible with my 4-piece setup (Moogerfoogers MF104M and MIDIMuRF, and Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano and Septavox). What ended up on the album was the distillation of song form combined with the sounds that most resonated with me, and – the method : -) – I kept a table in a word document with precise data on what the technical settings were for each song. In this way, I *knew* objectively – not vaguely *thought* or *felt* – that I had a varied sound spectrum and therefore feel for each song.

The main column indicates the synth used and its two main settings (mode and waveform) and the pedal(s) and any Bussing info. I also kept info on length of song and approximate tempo, voice effect setup, and plugins. As work on the album progressed, looking at the table helped me make sense of the whole and the individual parts, and how they needed to balance each other out in terms of tracklisting order. I am once again using this strategy for this 7th album, with one more criterion (more about it once the album is out).
I hope this might have proved of interest (and now fans of the Septavox and Pocket Piano know which modes and settings I used for each song! :-)

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