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Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? #3007510 09/10/19 09:59 PM
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I have never used a Soft-Synth but browsing the web, there are millions of sounds out there, for example, The Komplete 12 and all the synths from the 50's to now.
I realized not everyone has access to the same tools and resources but I hear people talking about sound design and I am wondering if anything created today is truly new or unique?

Another example: The new Roland Fantom, is the sound going to be different than all that is already released?

This question is not to put down creativity but rather about curiosity as to the possibility of creating something that does not already exist.

I see the value if, you do not have an array of sounds and synths but giving where Soft Synth is, is there really something that has not been made?

KC Island
Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007513 09/10/19 10:26 PM
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I should think you would receive a range of views given the diversity of the forum. Most (if any) sound design I do these days is about two things:

- fitting a sound into it's role (timbrally in the mix, longitudinally for the speed of notes, etc.)
- experimenting a bit at the edge of sound desgn to see if something with character pops up (e.g. took dog for walk, the frogs were croaking up a storm, sampled them on the phone, used the sample in a ring modulated sound bed, result has a different personality than using a sample and hold/ lfo modulated pattern, song might evolve differently, different = good!)

What I've discussed above are both traditional sonic roles, but if you think about sound for new musical roles, I think you need new ways of playing sounds to create new idioms. The Fantom will likely do existing things better than some other tools, but like you I doubt it will create a new musical style or a new way of playing. (Some new hit songs may use the new factory patches. That seems to happen in LA when a new Roland drops.)

Whether you consider something fresh may depend on your background. There are more people than ever using modular synths and chasing novel sounds. Great question! HTH.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Tusker] #3007518 09/10/19 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker
I should think you would receive a range of views given the diversity of the forum. Most (if any) sound design I do these days is about two things:

- fitting a sound into it's role (timbrally in the mix, longitudinally for the speed of notes, etc.)
- experimenting a bit at the edge of sound desgn to see if something with character pops up (e.g. took dog for walk, the frogs were croaking up a storm, sampled them on the phone, used the sample in a ring modulated sound bed, result has a different personality than using a sample and hold/ lfo modulated pattern, song might evolve differently, different = good!)

What I've discussed above are both traditional sonic roles, but if you think about sound for new musical roles, I think you need new ways of playing sounds to create new idioms. The Fantom will likely do existing things better than some other tools, but like you I doubt it will create a new musical style or a new way of playing. (Some new hit songs may use the new factory patches. That seems to happen in LA when a new Roland drops.)

Whether you consider something fresh may depend on your background. There are more people than ever using modular synths and chasing novel sounds. Great question! HTH.


Very interesting response.
I am friends with a lot of EDM artists and majority refer to themselves as Sound Designers.
But to your point regarding incidental creativity, I was doing vocals last night and shortly before the song, I chugged some tea and preceeded to shake the tea in my mouth and the recording is amazing! That was not my intentions but it happened and it sounds like a guitar, kind of funky BeeGees like groove.

Last edited by Audioicon; 09/10/19 11:13 PM.
Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Tusker] #3007521 09/10/19 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker


(Some new hit songs may use the new factory patches. That seems to happen in LA when a new Roland drops.)


You´ve put it in brackets,- but it´s the most important part of your post.

Originally Posted by Tusker

There are more people than ever using modular synths and chasing novel sounds.


But unfortunately,- all these sounds don´t have any impact on a hit or sales.
They never did.

In fact, you can use everything when it fits the tune.
Composition and arrangement are MUCH more important than SOUND (-design).

The term sounddesign didn´t exist before late 80s/early 90s in music industry,- now less than ever in the 60s and 70s ...
I really love creating patches, but I also know these are relatively unimportant for success.

A.C.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007532 09/11/19 02:29 AM
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Sound design is a fine art. After all, someone has to create those thousands of patches which you find on the net, right? wink The more good programmers throwing those patches around, the better.
Even if you mainly use presets, if you know about creating sounds, it will be much easier to modify presets to the need of the arrangement.
Creating a good sound is for me a satisfaction, a pleasure, and a (welcome) challenge. Of course every sound has to be tailored for the composition. But starting from a bank of sounds that I have programmed myself helps to focus and stay organized. And it's, of course, more rewarding.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007541 09/11/19 03:49 AM
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Yes.


"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!
So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007553 09/11/19 06:48 AM
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Yes. People still paint paintings, take picture, and do a thousand other things that have been done many times before. There are 30M+ tracks on Spotify, and yet people still write new music every day. Every time we create we make meaning - at least for ourselves. That is enough. Whether simply taking a preset and slightly customizing it for purpose, or starting from INIT, the result is something that satisfies the judgement of the most important person - whoever is making the changes. This is the essential conceit of all art - this is so because I wish it to be so. This power of choice - to either use the preset sound, or to create one fresh, or modify is part of the creative arc. It will be with us as long as humans are alive, even if there are 100M more patches released next year. Every one of those patches meant something to the creator, but may not mean much to me. And for that reason, sound design will endure. Not everyone will design sounds, just like not everyone plays an instrument or whatever, but some will find deep and enduring meaning in it. I know I'm glad Eric @ Spectrasonics still likes sound design... and that U-he still wants to design synths, etc.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007563 09/11/19 10:41 AM
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Sound design to some folks has the same effect as playing an instrument to others. It is a healthy outlet for talent and creativity. IMO, it is definitely necessary. cool


PD

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Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Nathanael_I] #3007590 09/11/19 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
Yes. People still paint paintings, take picture, and do a thousand other things that have been done many times before. There are 30M+ tracks on Spotify, and yet people still write new music every day. Every time we create we make meaning - at least for ourselves. That is enough. Whether simply taking a preset and slightly customizing it for purpose, or starting from INIT, the result is something that satisfies the judgement of the most important person - whoever is making the changes. This is the essential conceit of all art - this is so because I wish it to be so. This power of choice - to either use the preset sound, or to create one fresh, or modify is part of the creative arc. It will be with us as long as humans are alive, even if there are 100M more patches released next year. Every one of those patches meant something to the creator, but may not mean much to me. And for that reason, sound design will endure. Not everyone will design sounds, just like not everyone plays an instrument or whatever, but some will find deep and enduring meaning in it. I know I'm glad Eric @ Spectrasonics still likes sound design... and that U-he still wants to design synths, etc.


Very well stated. smile

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007593 09/11/19 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ProfD
Sound design to some folks has the same effect as playing an instrument to others. It is a healthy outlet for talent and creativity. IMO, it is definitely necessary. cool


Interesting, I have never looked at it this way.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007603 09/11/19 03:21 PM
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When I started on synths in 1981, sound design was a necessity. Especially when I started on a PAiA modular! Synths with patch memory were out of reach of the gigging musicians back then. I'm the creative type and I love sound design.

On modern stuff I do check out presets but I don't judge them by presets alone. I do some sound design to judge them and have "acid tests" to see how REALLY good they are.

Very few of my devices have factory presets I actually use. Kurzweil 1000 ROMplers, Oberheim OBSX, Moog Taurus I, Lexicon model 200 and Eventide 2016 digital reverbs. That's it!

I've checked out the hundreds of presets in soft synths but the sound leaves me wanting, I love the hardware too much.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007606 09/11/19 03:37 PM
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Sound design is still necessary on new cover material unless you just play same old stuff or hire it done. Modern producers like Benny Blanco go out of their way to create sounds that can’t be found any available boards or software presets.

Last edited by CEB; 09/11/19 03:38 PM.

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Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Al Coda] #3007611 09/11/19 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Al Coda



Composition and arrangement are MUCH more important than SOUND (-design).

The term sounddesign didn´t exist before late 80s/early 90s in music industry,- now less than ever in the 60s and 70s ...
I really love creating patches, but I also know these are relatively unimportant for success.

A.C.


Interesting view AC! I am not necessarily say I disagree, but coincidentally I just watched a documentary about Trentemoller, a danish musician/sound designer/DJ, who’s music I really like. In this documentary he claims that “sound is 50% of the music”. Probably he is referring to his electronic music genre, but still.


Rudy

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007619 09/11/19 04:48 PM
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Thanks to this thread, I have been wondering if the 4+ decades of fiddling with sound design have been wasted, lol. (not full time of course)

Horrors!

Then I reflected that while it's ok to be hyper-pragmatic (as Al Coda and I frequently are) about the commercial value of sound design, there is a spiritual value to music, which is probably why we all got involved in it in the first place. So I found this bbc clip about two of my heroes (Oram and Derbyshire) felt much more enthusiastic and am now eager to do "waste" more of my time! Shame on you, OP! wink cheers

Enjoy!


Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007626 09/11/19 05:30 PM
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Sound design is absolutely necessary in today's music! It's just a little different now. The producer or production team is often tasked with coming up something unique and original as sweeteners for the track, or sometimes even the main hook. By far the most common technique is to sample a part of the vocal track and manipulate it in interesting ways. I'm putting these up as links so I don't flood the thread with huge Youtube videos laugh

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y83x7MgzWOA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDxS1vy3MJ4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDcwbh-3zmI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mWTKwGzrEg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eBA-XfLBl8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYO-x0drtF4

etc etc etc...

Edit: After listening to it again, example #2 could well be a stock vocal sample, so you can cross that one off the list... sorry.



Last edited by Bill H.; 09/11/19 05:41 PM.
Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007632 09/11/19 06:41 PM
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Here's Skrillex doing his thing in Ableton. He made the video to show that he created the hook to the track and didn't rip it off, but it's an example of how sound design is done today.


Last edited by Bill H.; 09/11/19 09:43 PM.
Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007670 09/11/19 09:55 PM
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For me it's a major part of the fun. Is picking parameters and assigning modulation sources part of sound design? For me, it's an integral part of making a synth mine. It's why I prefer a deeply programmable Kurzweil to most of the stuff out there.

And it's not just about tweaking. I've spent 30+ years creating and refining expressive guitar patches, and have recently started pursuing the question "how can I make a fully artificial timbre as expressive / playable as an acoustic instrument?"


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Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Tom Williams] #3007695 09/12/19 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom Williams
For me it's a major part of the fun. Is picking parameters and assigning modulation sources part of sound design? For me, it's an integral part of making a synth mine. It's why I prefer a deeply programmable Kurzweil to most of the stuff out there.

And it's not just about tweaking. I've spent 30+ years creating and refining expressive guitar patches, and have recently started pursuing the question "how can I make a fully artificial timbre as expressive / playable as an acoustic instrument?"


Now we´re talkin´ !

I posted like I did above because I don´t consider tweaking patches or even programming your´s from scratch, controller assignments included, as sounddesign.

To my understanding a sound designer is a specialist creating noises using all kind of tools and for special purposes,- audio logos, special sounds for movies, computer games, cellphones, industrial purposes etc..
A sound designer also creates sets of (factory-) patches for programmable electronic MIs, actually not being released,- testing boundaries/limits of what´s possible and demoing the machines features as also finding the best profile pushing sales.

But as a keyboardplayer, for me it´s normal tweaking patches, adjust ´em for playability and expressivity the way it fits my playing style best.
That includes creating some new patches from scratch, not existing in the factory set, too.
I don´t think buying/owning synthesizers etc., patching cords, turning knobs, sequence and record the results into a DAW makes a sound designer.
Too many do.
The purpose and demand do ...
When you get payed for designing sounds for a purpose,- you´re a sound designer.

When you go on a tour and program your rig for a setlist,- you´re not IMO.
There´s ONE exception,- when it´s YOUR music you already made special sounds for from scratch and now re-create to perform ´em live..

I also like the depth of Kurzweil VAST and MIDI,- but just only because I made about 200 programs p.ex. on the PC3, many VA patches from scratch, I don´t suggest being a sound designer.
I´d say I just only learned the machine and enjoy it´s features.

For the most stuff we do, pop/rock/blues/jazz music, sound design doesn´t matter much.
Almost any sound needed exists in more or less good quality,- samples & presets,- and there are only minor tweaks necessary to make ´em usable.
The rest is doing the splits, layers, controller assignments and balancing patches,- all the stuff neccessary to get the job done.

ymmv

A.C.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Tom Williams] #3007699 09/12/19 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom Williams
For me it's a major part of the fun. Is picking parameters and assigning modulation sources part of sound design? For me, it's an integral part of making a synth mine. It's why I prefer a deeply programmable Kurzweil to most of the stuff out there.

And it's not just about tweaking. I've spent 30+ years creating and refining expressive guitar patches, and have recently started pursuing the question "how can I make a fully artificial timbre as expressive / playable as an acoustic instrument?"


This is a slippery slope, and I'm well down the mountain myself... Roli Seaboard Grand? Yup, early adopter. Super expressive, but piano technique is wasted. I concluded good for lead lines only and that I wanted to play black and whites or go all the way to a Continuum.

For something with black and whites, the Non-Linear Labs C15 is exceptional. No poly AT. No MIDI. But the keyboard is scanned at 4,000 levels or something like that. two ribbons, two pedals. Very, very expressive - much more so than any other synth action I've played. It uses a Fatar TP-8s with custom scanning - just shockingly expressive, especially notable are low velocities, which normally have no control on Fatar synth actions. It has a synth engine that makes really playable sounds that are plausibly acoustic. Highly satisfying to play. Does NOT program like a subtractive synth because in the main, it isn't. Physical modeling, FM, etc. Definitely digital, but sounds "real".

Old, simple analog stuff just doesn't get very close. The oscillators are too simple, not enough modulation, etc. The Schmidt 8 voice is the exception. It makes heavy use of ring-modulation to generate waveform complexity that you'd otherwise only get digitally. And with several filters, each that can modulate differently, very expressive sounds can be made. It is a subtractive synth, yes, but the oscillators are just order of magnitude better than a standard analog poly. Like the C15, it demonstrates how much the oscillator actually can and should do for expressive sound. I suppose the CS-80 would also fit the bill (though they are a bit hard to find and I wouldn't want to maintain one).

The John Bowen Solaris can play effectively at this game. It has the ability to modulate each phase of the ADSR, the slopes, etc. It is like a modular - anything can modulate anything in pretty much unlimited ways. It takes time, but if that modulation control is used and tweaked until it fits the sound exactly right, it makes HIGHLY expressive sounds. This too is digital, 4 OSC, 6 envelopes, unlimited modulation, DSP, etc.

Ultimately, you end up needing better control surfaces, and once you start down that path, you end at the Continuum fairly quickly. It is the only thing presently made that has the actual physical sensitivity of a fine acoustic instrument. But - no existing keyboard technique matters. You start at the beginning and learn to play it. Like the C15 - no MIDI. Custom hardware scanning. Custom sound engine that is NOT subtractive and IS digital.

I do think the future of synthesis is digital. Or at least digital modulation/control layers of analog things. Real physical things are complex and almost infinitely varied in subtle ways, and simple ADSR doesn't cut it. The whole harmonic envelope needs to vary and resonate over time. In software, PPG's Infinite does this. Alchemy dabbled in it. Sculpture gets this effect going well if you have Mainstage/Logic.

So, my journey so far is that this territory of "plausible acoustic expressiveness" is a) digital, b) complex oscillator driven (FM, PM, etc), c) modulation dependent, and d) physical interface constrained. Legacy MIDI doesn't get there - none of the most expressive things use it. Hopefully MIDI 2.0 opens up a new high-performance controller world.

Last edited by Nathanael_I; 09/12/19 01:50 AM.
Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: RudyS] #3007779 09/12/19 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RudyS


Interesting view AC! I am not necessarily say I disagree, but coincidentally I just watched a documentary about Trentemoller, a danish musician/sound designer/DJ, who’s music I really like. In this documentary he claims that “sound is 50% of the music”. Probably he is referring to his electronic music genre, but still.


Yes, I think he does.
It was the perspective of DJs always.

In fact perspective matters here, which is also musical style dependend.
It all began when record company´s A&Rs thought DJs were the ones to ask what the customer wants/needs,- and when they had their feet in the doors, they started "bedroom" producing w/ an AKAI sampler and offering a "production" for 3k bucks, which was cheap and tempting for the companies.
Often these were compilations w/ some small additions, different EQ ... birth of "remix".
Once they were "producers" the "re-mixing" started,- initially simple,- put some loops and a 4-on-the-floor bassdrum underneath a existing playback,- eliminate snare and simplify hihat to even 16th throughout or even 8th offbeat ...
It has a history.
Some became famous w/ this s##t alone and made money,- bought more gear ... the evolution of techno dance, hiphop and electronica.

It´s a completely different world than mainstream pop, rock, blues or jazz where the focus is on virtuoso and precise instrumental performance.
It´s very obvious, the simpler the "music" is, the more sound events it needs.

Watch Joe Zawinul performing on his synth arsenal and you recognize these are almost all straight simple plain sounds allowing to play a mix of all kind of unforeseeable phrases and motives up to insanely complex runs.
Same rules for Chick, Herbie etc.,- the main goal is improvisation over a theme, form and changes.
When it comes to the great vocalist of the past decades up today,- it´s all about arrangement, orchestration or there´s already a band, sometimes both.

Or when watching a guitarist like Walter Trout creating demos for a new album still w/ help of a drumbox and a cassette deck in no time, then hire musicians playing, have sales and tour,- brilliant.

OTOH, in those genres being dominated by sequencing MIDI and audio clips, samples/loops containing complete phrases/lines,- the sounds are much more important.
It´s completely different approach, which for me has the roots in compensating (some) lack of musical knowledge.
There´s all kind of "philosophy" existing and justify different,- but to me it´s the same than asking if arts comes from mastery or desire/will ... a never ending discussion though.

So for me and what I did and will do in future, sound design is 2nd row,- maybe 3rd.
I better practise and don´t spend my time w/ sampling, truncating, looping and DSP treatment or hang in front of screens all the time optimizing workflow when using complex editors and the featuritis of DAW apps I don´t really need.
I have ´em, but every time I use that technology I feel it´s not what I really love.

I love playing instruments and I love the music where others play their instruments.
It´s not I hate programmed music,- but I also don´t prefer and don´t listen to all these "tracks" being uploaded to the web which mostly are endless repetitive sequences where people turning filter cutoff and resonance knobs.
And they are ALL artists, scientists and sound designers.

Well,- in today´s world, everyone is an artist,- that´s what I learned.

smile

A.C.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Tusker] #3007783 09/12/19 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker

Then I reflected that while it's ok to be hyper-pragmatic (as Al Coda and I frequently are) about the commercial value of sound design, there is a spiritual value to music, which is probably why we all got involved in it in the first place.


True !
But very often, that "sound design" is just only mere chance and end in itself.
Doesn´t mean the vid,- I didn´t watch up to now,- will do later @ nite.

smile

A.C.

Re: Sound Design: Is it really still neccessary? [Re: Audioicon] #3007834 09/12/19 10:32 PM
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My immediate response was "Necessary to insiders who reflexively auto-judge a bit based on meaningful experience" or "Necessary to make the piece better for everyone else?" If a sound works in context, its a winner. If its some esoteric event-sound at which only insiders can swoon, then its mostly a curio. Modular is too often in the latter column, but its almost pipe-organ powerful when it serves the first.

Its easy for Us to smirk when someone uses a well-known Omnisphere patch, but no one else has a clue. They're just drawn to the music for its own sake. I don't (yet) use Omnisphere, so I don't know, either, which is a positive, not a problem. So yes, sound design is still necessary. Its just a matter of knowing when and why. I have to build a Unique Event sound for dramatic effect by hand for "A While™", but a soulful, dusty Wurly is just five minutes of tweaking away. I've also used presets and blends of presets to reach worthwhile goals. Anyone who gets puffy over that one is welcome to vape seagull farts. Metaphorically.


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