Computers getting in the way of creativity


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All my tracks on SoundCloud are 100% hardware, except the very first one that is software only.
A lot of them are 100% OP-1, even, so I basically dropped an .AIF from it and put it directly on SC.
2 of them are created with only one Pocket Operator.

I just can’t produce on a computer, it took me years to understand this simple fact.
I’m much more productive with only one or two pieces of kit, up to 3 I’d say.
I have tracks where I layered lots of parts and went forensics on the editing / arrangement / mixing and I learned a lot from that, but I prefer a billion time capture the freshness of a live take, even if it means there are “errors”.

Computer is for me basically a multiple tracks recording system, that’s all. Which is why I would really like to get something like a QuPac and get rid of it, at some point…


A new setup requires practice, no matter if there’s a computer involved or not.

For various reasons, a modern computer with a DAW feels like you can just sit down and immediately use it creatively.

That’s just not true.

Your setup idea makes sense for what you’re planning to do. It might not be a good setup for you, but I’d at least give yourself some time to practice and come up with a process.

For example, you got some great keys there. Why not start with some jamming while you record with the intention of throwing everything away except for the really good bits?

Again, that’s just an example.


I’ve listened to some of your songs in the past and they are of really good quality for not using a computer, the Qu Pac is definately worth a look, though I might go for the qu 24 or 32 as I like knobs and sliders :slight_smile:


I guess I’m impatient and always used to getting something going quickly. It may be too late to practice as I’m now surrounded by wires and synths having broke it all down :slight_smile:




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I have not used a computer for recording for 10 years, and even then it was only for about 6 months, I just do not find it enjoyable, in some ways I feel that I am missing out though, but I really don’t think I will ever be able to return to it, too much hassle. If I was to though, I’d almost certainly dump all the external hardware as I think that hardware comes with its own hassles and combing the two is tantamount to creative suicide for me. If I was to go itb it would probably be renoise as I quite like trackers, but meh windows/mac/linux just put me off.

It is a real shame that there does not exist a modern multitrack recording device which allows midi synced audio recording with the level of editing that a daw allows but without all the hassle of an desktop operating system, believe me I have looked, digital portastudios are always crippled in some way or in the case of high end ones are too much like an old computer (long boot up times, bulky, slow)

Props to those who can be productive with a daw, or those who treat it like an instrument, I can definitely see the appeal, but not for me.

I guess the real trick whether hardware only, daw only or a mixture of the two is to be comfortable with the compromises.


I think, it’s not a hardware vs. computer thing, it’s how we approach making music or composing at all.

My studio is setup to support hardware-only, software-only, and hardware/software mixes. Hardware-only is more used to create and capture the basic ideas, software-only to arrange, mix, and master.

I often start a project by jamming on the keyboards, or using a guitar, or a bass, or another instrument, which just fit’s in the situation. A hardware recorder (Tascam Portastudio) is always ready to go and to capture the main idea on several tracks. I don’t care about the sound quality or the perfect sounds during this phase. The idea has to be right, as well as the groove and the vibe. Sometimes I hit the nail within 15 minutes :wink:

Later, maybe the next day, I reconstruct the idea adding some embellishments. Can be pure hardware, but often enough I use a DAW to make the recordings and start to create the song structure, start with the mixing etc.

There might be this big difference. I know that in the computer I have tons of sounds, presets, and more, and I am often tempted to search for the perfect thing. Always, if I did the search, I lost the idea. On hardware I only take what is there … for the moment … and carry on with my idea … :wink: .

Having a background of playing instruments live, it’s always easier and faster for me, to use either a linear sequencer, switch off quantisation, because it always kills my groove, or make live audio recordings. I had to learn, and I’m still learning to create good grooves with step sequencers :wink: .

It helped much to use the OT for my other midi gear. I think, I’m a “knob-guy” :wink: . I never had this experience with any DAW. Klicking notes with the mouse just doesn’t feel right, even after having quite some experience with the OT or other hardware sequencers. If I hear a note in my mind, my fingers already know where on a keyboard or fretboards this note is. On the piano-roll I would have to search and find the place and calculate the duration of the note. Too complicated for me :wink: .

Maybe it’s only the human/machine interface combined with the general approach?


I often read numerous posts on here about computers getting in the way of creativity

TBH, it’s mostly internet getting in the way of productivity.


Not sure why you use a mouse to enter notes in your DAW.
I always use my keyboard or pads to enter notes.
MIDI can be recorded live just as well as audio can.


Yep, my post was little long and misleading. Indeed, I record live midi in my DAW. But working with a piano-roll and a mouse seems not to become my cup of tea :wink:


Lol, true, too tempting to check out new gear and read about making music :slight_smile:


I found that when I used Ableton and wanted percussion there was way too much choice! I prefer Logic. I’m lazy about percussion and like it to happen fast. I’ve a good patch I now use through the mother 32 that gives good kick, snare, hats and toms.

I agree with what you others on here say ,in that the computer is necessary at the end, but as a starting point I found it a hinderance. I like the idea of creating my own sounds, hence the modular gear I’m using, and the likes of the REV 2 with all the sound creation options it gives rather than look for a preset sound that fits.


I love Ableton … and … I had the exact same problem … searching for ages for the best fitting drum kit. But I did overcome this.

I have just earmarked some nice sets, or I have a “template” at all, or I have a couple of audio clips to start with. After the idea is in the box, there is plenty of time for refinement, but TBH, I cut this short and concentrate on other things to finish the track.

My credo might be strange, but I don’t know whether real drummers take the time to find the perfect kick-sound or the perfect-what-you-know sound. They have a decent kit, play it well, why should I try differently :wink:


For me it’s often the exact other way around. I started making music in a DAW and it’s still the way I’m most creative and fast. When I think of all the time I spent thinking about hardware, watching videos and setting it up… I think I could have done a 100 tracks in ableton instead :rofl:
So often I want to go with the flow, but then a cable is missing, or the space on my desk is too limited or something is not working, and it kills my creativity in that moment.
I really enjoy fiddling around with elektrons and modular and I guess it has it’s great moments with happy accidents, especially on something like the Octatrack. It’s fun, and the most important thing - the reason why I use hardware at all - it’s a break from looking at a computer screen, which is what I do at work most of the time.
But often it’s just a hassle for me to find work arounds for things I could easily do in Ableton.
I really enjoy the Digitakt at the moment for simply making patterns on the couch when I need a computer break. It’s simple and fast, but still full of surprises.
But where my elektrons really shine for me (especially OT) is playing live, jamming or interacting with other musicians.

That’s really a problem for me, I can’t manage to combine the two worlds in a nice way. It’s either, or mostly. I can’t get it right. Overbridge and Audio via USB helps though.


I have recently found the opposite to be true for me, as well… the computer doesn’t get in the way of my creativity - in fact, it encourages it by being so immediate. However, that immediacy has had a hugely detrimental effect on my ability to actually play. In the past few weeks, I have been struggling to complete a project that might have taken a day had I tracked it on the computer. Like most of my projects, it is built almost entirely around hardware synths and sequencers. Normally, I’d sync 'em up and track them all into Cubase. However, for this one I decided to ‘go all hardware’ and dust off an old multitrack tape machine (I wasted a day going through two malfunctioning units before settling down with a tiny and lo-fi Fostex A8. This should have been seen as an omen).

Alas, little did I know the frustrations and humiliation I was about to endure. My memories of working with tape machines had become slightly romanticized, and I soldiered on!

The Fostex is a 1/4" 8-track reel-to-reel. I thought to myself 'limitations are good, it will be inspiring!" As the first order of business, I decided to track the sequences as a stereo mix, adding another stereo mix of Continuum. The rest of the instruments would be recorded in glorious mono across the remaining four tracks.

It took forfreakingever just to get the sequence tracks down. I didn’t want to mess with tape sync, so had to track them all in one go, tweaking the synths (modular, AK, and ARP 2600) as I recorded. It was many days before I felt I had just the right take. Had I used Cubase, this would have taken a couple of hours, at most, as I could record each one in turn, concentrating solely on that instrument’s panel instead of running around my room.

It was, however, only with the next tracks that the ordeals truly began. Much to my dismay, I had misplaced the ‘punch in’ pedal on the Fostex and none of my other pedals worked properly with it, leaving a loud ‘click’ every time I tried to punch in. That meant recording the entirety of each track as a single take - for the full 11-minute length of the song.

No problem - it’s a Berlin-School thing, so all simple stuff. Oh dear. How I have come to depend on the computer for comping multiple takes! Still… hubris won the day and I kept at it.

And then it came time to track the leads. What an embarrassment. After two full days of missed notes, wrong notes and bad timing, I walked away deflated and defeated - for now, anyway.

So… I guess this was a really (really!) longwinded way of saying that the computer has made it all too quick and easy for me. In order to make the most of my little time, I have come to depend on it a bit too much to fix up the rough edges of my playing, or to facilitate multiple takes. After years of this what little chops I had (and I had very little indeed) have atrophied due to lack of practice. And that, of course, is my answer… not necessarily to ditch the computer, but to make sure I don’t neglect my playing. Nothing gets in the way of creativity more than not keeping up one’s skills, whatever they may be (keys, buttons, faders, knobs).


That made a good read and sounds a heroic effort. Think of the satisfaction you will have once it’s finished. And no doubt you will finish it as you’re in to far. It’s like watching a crap movie. You know it’s going to be hard work to watch but you can’t turn it off as you’ve already given it your time and have to see it out :grinning:


I think striking the balance between the two is the hard part. But it’s more satisfying in hardware:)


It is so, so like this. I am determined to finish the tracking today. I said the same thing every day for the past week.