Computers getting in the way of creativity


I disagree a bit :wink: … CAUTION … unserious post … or maybe not?

For me making electronic music is using innovative gear, searching for new ideas, creating new concepts for making music and sounds … computers and software included.

But if I watch people using their smartphones - hmmm - those cameras, or play-tools, you name it, which somehow to someones surprise can also be used to make phone calls, yes real old-school voice-calls, but mostly use it as selfie-camera or text-messenger (like we did on the very first SMS-capable phones, back in the 80ies?) … And I have seen those digital-zombies downtown, hunting Pokemon in the middle of the street and very upset about cars blowing their horns :wink: Is this innovative use of technology?


True, but I wasn’t really talking about the innovation factor, more the moving with the times and embracing contemporary technology factor.

The ‘no computer’ stuff is just something I’ve never understood, but that’s a personal thing. I work with computers as an IT specialist all day and have no problem with using a computer to relax making music in my free time. If I were, say, a plumber and I got home and was expected to fix pipes etc in my free time, I’d say no thanks, but computers - in one form or another - such an integral part of the way modern life is lived that I don’t feel any particular crossover between using one for work and using one for pleasure.

I also think you are really neglecting a world of possibilities that could be extending your creativity if you don’t use a computer. There is no piece of hardware that comes close to the functionality of a DAW, and by not using one you’re denying yourself access to that.

I also never understand the logic of the ‘Larry Heard didn’t use a computer to make his classic tracks, so neither should I’ line of thought, unless of course your benchmark for your music is that it should not extend beyond the ground already covered by Larry Heard, or whoever.

All a matter of opinion, just one of those like ‘we have free will’ or ‘Funk music is brilliant’ that baffles me.


Totally agree … a totally-no-computer-at-all attitude seems often unreflected and ideological. If mankind would have done so in general, well, we would still think that a thunderstorm was a raging god, hadn’t fire for cooking, would still live in caverns or on trees …

But sometimes going back in technology can also give us new insights. Example: “old-music” played with instruments from another age or rebuilt medieval instruments. Maybe this can also be applied for the one or other case of a no-computer but hardware project. But not as a general principle of right vs wrong.


You had me up till you implied funk music isn’t brilliant


Hahahaha. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, funk music is the boat that left me on the island.


How is using an old 8 track simpler than using a computer?


I don’t think there’s a huge learning curve- just learning what does what.

They have a free infinite lasting demo you can try out!


I guess your implied axiom that simpler is better is where we might diverge.


I think the main reason we use so much IT tech these days is the convenience factor. We are willing to sacrifice an awful lot for ”convenience” IME - not always sure its healthy in the long term…


For me the Octatrack was /is a good teacher, the way one has to work with it, enabled me to understand electronic music a lot better. But i still would like to have a more comprehensible interface with faders and some keyboard build in.


I personally take a hybrid approach, but avoid the computer until final take / mix refinement stage. I often combine guitar, bass, and synths in my writing and this is only feasible through a multi-track, multiple take method. I’ll use some plugins, but again this is focused on the mixing and mastering phase of a project. If I’m working on a purely synth based idea, I prefer to keep it all hardware.

Basically I view the computer as a very powerful mixer / tape deck. I do use a vst on occasion, but even then it is for a kick or snare sound which gets sent to a sampler in the hardware world. Coming from a bass and guitar background, physically interacting with instruments feels natural to me. I’ve tried composing with the computer and it just doesn’t jive with how I want to actually create music. It does jive with how I like to edit and refine ideas though.


In terms of electronic music creation, things like Elektron boxes represent convenience imo, not computers.


Thanks Ryan, I think I will :slight_smile:


You conditioned yourself to play physical instruments, Nothing natural about it.

You could condition yourself to compose with a computer. Not by any means saying you should, you of course do as you please.

I like the idea of doing things that don’t feel instinctive.


Related - I do often get “option paralysis”, since I have a stack of collected-over-the-years hardware (synths/sequencers/effects), but also use Cubase and Ableton, plus plug-ins on a Mac. Do I split the systems, or use everything as a hybrid system? Do I sequence drums on Cubase/Ableton, or do I synch the drum-machines and sequence on there?

…or do I just sit there and stare at the system, 'cos I can’t make up my mind? :smiley:


I’m not saying the computer is not “natural,” just that it doesn’t feel that way TO ME. Some people create music purely on the screen and I have no problem with that overall.

What doesn’t feel instinctive (to me) is loop based music. I come from a punk / hardcore / metal background, so most electronic based music is very foreign to me. Moving to solo productions forced me to take a second look at electronic music and challenge myself / my preconceived notions of “music.” Now I find myself exploring genres I would have completely ignored and incorporating them into what I want to create. The computer is still a part of that creation process, just not the center and not necessarily the “inspiring” part of it. I’d also hate giving up the editing power of the computer or trying to replicate that in the analog or tape world… no thanks.


Totally understand what you’re saying, and was by no means a criticism, sorry if it came across that way.

For me personally, I find if I completely rely on what feels instinctive I get repetitive, stale results.




I didn’t take it as a criticism so no worries! I think often the software vs hardware debate is overblown. One isn’t inherently better than another, but one is certainly more expensive :skull:


Not sure if that’s true. To run modern vst’s you need a good computer, then you need your software, then you have all these different effects, sample packs, vst’s etc. dangled in front of you! :wink:

Then the software company might upsell with a cheapo plastic controller to give you the hardware experience. On top of that they will update the software charging you an upgrade fee and stop supporting the version you paid for, often with bugs that will never be fixed.

Your software is also vulnerable to upgrades in os’s. Where as if you bought a moog for example in 1980 it may still work and in fact be worth a lot more than you paid for it!

There is a glut of hardware but there is way more software as there is less expense and risk in producing it.

Hardware is demonstrated at shows like namm, software can be demonstrared via a restricted demo!

It’s easier to impulse buy software than it is hardware, as those with Steam accounts with unplayed software would testify too!

That’s why the majority of black friday deals are software, you buy it thinking it’s a deal but how much use do you get out of it. Especially if it’s a sample pack, i almost feel dirty using them, it’s like cheating.

Where as hardware is there, it is visible, tangible and if you don’t get on it has a resale value!