Minimalism

Riffing off the self imposed limitations thread…

Really, there are as many musical genres as there are producers. Does anyone find themselves using a very minimal sound palate and trying to work within the chosen sounds?

I find, for myself, that throwing more and more and more into a track and it just becomes an uninspired few minutes of mush that never gets finished. It’s hard for me with so many variables to choose a path through.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some John Hopkins and some Tipper and some Rone and some Christian Loefller… those guys do amaaaaazing things with a ton of sounds and a ton of sound design. In fact when I first heard John Hopkins, I couldn’t listen intently for an entire song. Just toooooo much happening and I couldn’t take it all in.

So along with paring back my gear, I’m also paring back my sounds. Trying, hopefully, to make a little Haiku, instead of a Stephen King novel. Again, that’s not to take anything at all away from the people who do it differently. It’s just how my brain works.

So my question to the group is, those of you who find yourself in the “less is more” camp: Any thoughts? Did you figure it out early and work within that framework? Any other artists that work in this way? One act that comes to mind is Ritchie Hawtin / Plastikman - which I enjoyed when I was younger.

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i dropped the native instruments stuff a few years ago because it was too much to choose from and too well preproduced.

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Totally agree with you. I’ve moved away from DAW dominated production and am pretty much only leaning on an AR and DN nowadays. Plus it gives me the upside of building a live performance in a stimulating way.

I think self imposed limitations can help boosting creativity. Being too dogmatic on the contrary might hamper the end result as well I think.

The main challenge in my opinion however is not coming from the many options found in the domain we’re discussing, namely music making / gear. Rather for me it’s about finding enough time in my daily life to make music- and I don’t even have kids yet :sweat_smile:

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I’m just now starting to realize that I love the idea of less is more. I believe what started this was a combination of things.

  • Making the conscious decision not to buy more gear and utilize what I currently have
  • Having less time for music because of my kids / work, therefore a more focused approach is key
  • Also listening to many artists recently that just focus on a few elements that work really well together (James Shinra and Microlith mainly) It seems they use standard 606, 808, 909 drum kits, Juno as polyphonic synth, 101 as bass synth, 303 for lead synth. Not in every case, but this is the acid / electro formula for the most part.

From this point on I have my different gear having specific tasks for the music. Reface CS for chords and pads, hihats from the TT-606, bass or lead from the Bass Station 2, etc…) Also focusing on what I already have, I’m forced to look at other ways to display variation in my tracks, namely the composition / structure instead of the sound palette. It seems now, much of my recent tracks have a similar sound to them, but a different feel in the composition.

Minimalism is difficult though because I still GAS for items like a TB-03 and a Digitakt for sampling, but I honestly have enough. It seems we always want more for the sound design portion, but forget to focus on more within the structure.

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My favorite kind of music is psychedelia, and it’s a genre known for cramming as much as possible into a recording, so I naturally lean that way. Animal Collective, Flaming Lips, late Beatles…

But I do like minimal stuff–just a man and an acoustic for instance. I just never know when to say stop and end up jamming so many instruments and sounds into my productions lol.

Minimalism is an idea I’ve been playing with more lately. I made a composition that had five instruments altogether just recently… One of which only played when the others didn’t. No bass, no pads, just melodies and conga. I was quite pleased!

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minimal is good

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I’ve always loved Gabber (and by extension most forms of hardcore techno) for its ability to make the most of a very minimal set of sounds and parameters.
All you need for a decent Gabber track is a kick, clap, hats, lead synth and a couple of vocal samples. Turn gain up to 11 and go mental.
Hate minimal techno though. I guess I prefer minimalism as a methodology more than an end product.

EDIT: when I say I hate minimal techno, I’m talking more about the early 2000s onwards stuff, not the Detroit or Birmingham stuff.

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Interesting idea. What would you say is the difference?

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Hello, I like the “keep it simple” way of live. Making simple track with less gears (actually just a DT is enough for me) with a lot of space in the sound. It’s just fun and inspiring. We are many to not be pro musician. I dislike theses music with so much harmonics and agressive compressor.

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Same here! I can’t find ANYTHING that really does it for me in the minimal (insert anything) genre. I can hear what I like in my head of course. Vaguely. That’s the big trick though, getting it out. We all have this thing called “taste” that varies widely among everyone. What does it for one doesn’t for another. Just makes music a thing that has a bazillion different flavors, not a bad thing!!

But as another poster mentioned, composition and transitions and structure are the foundations to build on if you are not using a ton of sounds / gear. I like things that change and morph over time. That’s why I like to hang on this forum. Elektron gear makes that stuff way easy to do and makes it fun.

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Here’s three songs I’ve always really loved for the minimal approach. The elements work so well together, I just listen and zone out. I’ve tried doing stuff like this but it gets boring, fast!

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Terry Riley (I think) manages to be minimalist and psychedelic af.

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We’re on the same page brother

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Saw Sarah Hennies play a solo triangle set here in Louisville. Or maybe it was just half her set and the other was a snare or something, it’s been awhile. Either way, twenty+ minutes of just triangle was mesmerizing.

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Good minimalism is harder to do really well, compared to slapping multiple tracks together.

It needs much more focused, fluid musicality and rhythm, even if atonal and arrhythmic …

IMHO

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Minimal AF!

Just the other day I got so fed up I was like “That’s it! I’m going to find a hollow log and a stick and be done with it!” :rofl::joy::rofl::joy:

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I love the idea of minimalism but I also love my gear. I counted something like twelve different instruments on the last track I finished, not including effects… to me, it works best to keep throwing part after part at the tune. eventually something really grabs you and glues it together. so then just trim back or re-work as needed.

I’ve done it before though, for sure. spent an entire year making songs with nothing but the Monomachine, recorded directly out of the stereo output, normalized, EQ’d, limited, done. and it’s super fun! but I’m not there these days.

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Yep… Come Out by Steve Reich is as simple as it gets but fucks yer head up. Ace outside on a good system

edit. link to bad video…

The one above. Oh my! listen to the lot of it. As loud as you can stand it … Beautiful.

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