Hey 'nauts. Been spending a lot of time here reading and learning. What a great community!
I have an AR mk2 waiting under the bed for my birthday next month and I’m obsessively reading and watching YouTube videos while I anticipate the Great Unboxing. In the meantime I’d love some tips on what order to approach things to make my learning experience smooth and enjoyable. Genres I want to work in are melodic-ish techno / house, krautrock inspired slower stuff and possibly some big textured ambient stuff. My goal is more to make warm, hypnotic, organic sounding music that comes from the heart, rather than aim for a specific genre.
Long, self-indulgent background info below - feel free to ignore and just answer the question!
I’ve been dabbling with electronic music production since around the year 2000. For a few years I was all software - I used FL Studio and a bit of Reason and a load of VSTs. I got overwhelmed by self doubt and the enormity of the possibilities with software, plus not wanting to sit in front of a screen after a day at work doing the same, and I fell out of love with making music.
Around 2012/13 I bought a Korg Monotron Duo on a whim and it completely blew my mind, opening up a whole new world for me. It was so immediate and satisfying and the analog sound just filled me up! When the first Volcas were released I’d already pre-ordered the Keys and I got the Beats soon after. I was super productive with these in a way I’d never been before and I churned out tune after tune of very lo-fi but (for me) immensely satisfying stuff (some examples here - recordings are very poor and all have drop outs etc… Stream Spuddha music | Listen to songs, albums, playlists for free on SoundCloud). The workflow of the two Volcas was perfect for me. I could record live into the sequencers then tighten it up and add parameter locks, then do lots of live tweaking as I recorded it into Audacity via my audio interface to create simple, evolving sounds.
I got frustrated eventually with the lo-fi quality and the obvious limitations and since then I’ve been on a quest to recreate that immediately joyful analog sound, with a comparably engaging workflow but a more “grown up” sound and a lot more flexibility. On a fairly limited budget I’ve slowly traded up, trying things out for drums and synth sounds.
I tried a MD UW for a year or two but it was always too cold for me. SP-303 was too free form. Streichfett and Rocket (with Keystep Pro) were both too limited and “digital”. Mopho Keys sounded great but I hated the sequencer.
Two years ago I got an AK, used and I’ve been slowly developing my knowledge and skills with it. As with many other folks, I find I can get some amazing sounds from it but I don’t always have the patience or time to get there. Still we’re working on our relationship together!
The biggest limitations for me are my confidence and how busy my life is. I can probably do a maximum of 30 mins per day of noodling with my music stuff, maybe 60-90 mins once a week and some days none at all. I find my self doubt often plays out in a lack of patience. If I can’t make stuff sound good I find it hard to stay with it for much longer.
So what are your tips for getting to know the AR Mk2? How can I learn it thoroughly and deeply while still getting satisfaction on the way? What have you found most rewarding on your journey together and what would you say to yourself when you first got it with the wisdom you have now?
Thank you for your patience with this epic question!