This week’s provocation ties in with Houston’s column yesterday on the re-emergence of outboard hardware in our composing rigs. As always, this provocation isn’t intended to be a statement of fact, or even to be taken literally… it’s simply a way to get a fresh perspective on the topic. To provoke, in other words. And I can’t wait to hear what you think of this one.
For any of us who have ever been bitten by the gear bug, this is straight-up heresy! We need that gear to be competitive. It provides us with inspiration, with new sonic possibilities. It’s an indispensable part of our work flow and our creative process. So the more the better… right?
On the other hand, having less gear might require us to use our creativity in a different way. Stripping down the studio might become its own sort of provocation—to delve a little deeper into the gear we do have.
For many years, my Kurzweil K2000 was at the heart of my studio, and I used it pretty much as a controller. Not much else; just a way to get notes on the screen. Which is kind of a shame, really. That synth had (and still has!) deep processing power that I’ll most likely never touch. Having less gear might oblige me to step outside my comfort zone.
“Less gear” could also be taken in a less literal sense—consider the balance between electronic and live sound sources in your scores. What if you had to use only live players for a project—could you do it? I’m guessing you could. What if you couldn’t even compose at the computer… what if you allowed yourself nothing but (the horror!) pencil and paper?
I’ve tried it before—I spent several hours one sunny day on my balcony, armed only with a few score pages and a pencil. And a rapidly-shrinking eraser. It gave me a whole new appreciation for masters like Bernard Herrmann, who (so the legend goes) often wrote his sketches, in pen, at the dinner table while surrounded by family.
How else could you read this provocation? Where does it take you? Hop on those comments, people, and make some noise.