We talk a lot on the blog about gear and the technology that we use for our craft, be that music or post.
Our recent article on DAW innovation highlighted a malaise that seems to affect many of us working in composition, that is the stuff that is supposed to help us with our craft, seems to often have the opposite effect and actually hinder us.
Manufacturers treat artists as consumers and yet our raison d’etre is to be producers (in the widest sense of the word) - which are in fact polar opposites. Who can blame them though, read any forum and nano seconds after a new product is released you’ll see pages of posts about wanting more. Yet it seems that a growing number of us long for a simpler way to get our ideas down, not more complexity.
There’s an old joke told in Norfolk (a rural part of the UK), a man stops in a country lane to ask a farmer the way to Wymondham (pronounced Windum), the farmer replies “well you don’t want to start from here.” The fact is we are here, there’s no turning back the clock on the new “more is more” philosophy.
Yesterday I invested in a new guitar - yes she’s the beauty shown above. I was in a store with thousands of guitars to chose from, but I chose her. I fell i love with her the moment I saw her, I had a visceral rather than a cerebral response to her. I picked her up and didn’t want to put her down, she inspired me to play, she evoked emotions that other things don’t. As far as I was concerned she was the only guitar in the store. Great pianos do this to me too, as do some electronic things like a Jupiter 8 or Stylus from Spectrasonics. These are the things I can waste hours on, in fact time doesn’t exist when I start to get lost in them.
We all have our favourites, those instruments, microphones, hardware or plug-ins that make us smile and fill our imagination with a desire to create, they inspire us to make something new, something beautiful, a creative gift to the world.
Your choices will be different from mine, what works for you may not work for me and vice versa, so these constant p*ssing contests about gear are frankly meaningless, if they do anything at all they reveal a person’s values and their priorities. Surely if we are to build communities of real value that really reflect who we are they are communities that discuss how to be better at our craft, not what tool to use. It seems absurd to imagine the painters of history arguing about brushes, my guess is they would argue about ideas not stuff.
None of us are innocent we all get seduced by the stuff, but sometimes we need to be shaken hard and be reminded “it’s about the craft stupid!” Perhaps we should have groups meeting in school halls where we all take it in turns to admit our addiction. As we now live in online school halls I’ll be the first to start this if it helps “my names Russ and I’m a gear addict and some of the time it ruins my creativity!”
When being bomabarded with all the constant gear options and opinions I can only offer one piece of advice - invest in inspiration. I’m off to caress my new lady and see what we come up with.
Let us know what you reach for in your studio for inspiration, I’m sure we would all love to know what floats your creative boat, remember there is no right or wrong. Discuss.