(a repost from a journal I wrote in September of 2009)
So this is what happens. As a musician - and I'm sure, most any artist - one goes through phases of methodology and equipment. One changes, progresses (hopefully) and one's tools change as well. We acquire new things and abandon others based on whims, techniques and/or technologies. Each new toy/instrument invites new ways to work, think and approach our goals. Budget factors in there, somewhere.
When I was sixteen or so, I had a small studio setup. One synth, a piano, and a digital delay. Three cables, roughly. This expanded. A four track recorder, speakers, my own amplifier/stereo, a two track, etc. More things are acquired. A drum machine, a computer, more effects... more cables.
Then another synth, a mixer, more effects, etc. WAY more cables. This is phase II... perhaps. How does one quantify? Computer adds MIDI. Different flavors of cable.
College. Music program. Another synth or two - more effects, more cables. Live performances necessitate more cables - and longer ones at that. One must be prepared for variables in PA accessibility. Microphones for vocals (another band project - now I'm the singer as well). A rack-mount synth - and another... and another.
Now my synths have more polyphony - and more outputs. I'm using nearly all the channels on my 16 track mixer now - sometimes more. A sub-mixer is added. Small effects boxes. More drum machines - individual outs - multiprocessing... everything stereo - or more.
No computer anymore - not for music at least. It's all discrete boxes with multi-outs and effects. Nearly everything has it's own sequencer and clock. All machines must be synced via MIDI and/or DIN sync. More cables - more boxes - more channels - digital and analog. And more live performances.
Because there's no way to back my work (no computer/MIDI) it must all be recorded - right to two track. Live takes - in realtime. Whomever says electronic music is not live knows nothing about it. Every track is a live take. One takes the high points with the lows and strives for the best take. Now I'm writing and recording one... two... three tracks - per night! I have no choice - if I get an idea I must record it before the spark is lost. I'm obsessed. I come home from work and record from 10p-6am. This is my oxygen.
I borrow synthesizers and drum machines I can't afford - a Multi-Moog, Arp 2600, TB303, Microsynth, TR909. Some I get to perform with. I use machines at friend's studios - a Wave, Moog Modular, MKS80, Buchla 200. Learn them all - even if I never use them again.
You become an expert at quickly making checklists for performances/gear. Packing, being one's own roadie, setup, performing, and breakdown... with setup again upon getting home at 5am. It's joy, thrill, headache, and obsession.
Things change again. Too many boxes, too many cables. Too much stuff - this crap is heavy! Other solutions - must simplify. An MC-505. All in one box - 2 or 4 outputs. Sequencer, synthesizer, drum machine, multi-effects processor - performance interface. One learns to work around it's limitations... the mono-surface - it's lack of modularity. But its' one box and a few cables. Several years of learning, performing and recording on one machine. Several albums worth of tracks - and countless more experiments no one will ever hear. I learn to use it to control/sequence other studio gear for variety - interesting results. Every interface enforces a new approach to composition. Much like every brush or chisel. A tool's a tool's a tool.
Projects at home demand more studio time. Remixes, sound design, audio editing. More computer centric. A new phase. Machines age... buttons don't respond - digital OSs gets buggy. It happens. Onto the new. MIDI control surfaces, new software - new methodologies and approaches.
I get my first laptop. Sleek, and fast. I've sold much of my discrete gear - even the 808 (never shoulda done THAT!!). Too much space, too many cables. Onto the new.
So here I am. All these damn cables in bins and boxes. Taking up space... collecting dust. So now I must sort... and hopefully find new homes. And that's what I've been up to lately. Sorting, measuring, taking stock.
I dream of the age of wireless-ness - often.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
So - today I spent some time thinking about my dad and what he is and means to me and how he has influenced me personally, artistically, and emotionally. I was one of those fortunate people that grew up in a very musically aware household. My parents - both influenced by the psychedelic and experimental factions of the culture in NYC - listened to a lot of everything. From acid-rock to pop to orchestral, opera, eastern, and on and on.
One minute could be Puccini, the next could be Frank Zappa, Flamenco, or Janis Joplin. My dad in particular had interests in Eastern traditional styles. I remember listening to Ravi Shankar and other Indian recordings, as well as Chinese Opera. He is an avid opera fanatic(!) - so there was no shortage of that in our home… to such a degree that I generally find it difficult to listen to or sit through even half an opera. That said - there are also MANY magical moments in opera that are sweepingly gorgeous in texture, and raw emotional power. I remember going to the Metropolitan Opera House as a child and watching many lavish performances way up in the bleachers through (you guessed it) opera glasses! What a lucky thing for a child to have access to. The overall spectacle is something I'll always treasure.
One of my dad's best friends, a composer and pianist named John Beaulieu, had an enormous loft space in Tribecca and hosted many eclectic and avant-garde live performances in his home that I got to experience. Sometimes I was even part of the performances - hell - the whole audience was! It was after one of these shows in the late 70s that I got to play with my first synthesizers: A Synket, Moog Sonic Six and a Mini-Moog. Clearly those moments of having free access to such wonders was an incredible experience for me as a child. I was utterly fascinated! A box with knobs and lights that made different kinds of sounds when you turned the knobs and held down a key… A box that had no pre-defined sound to speak of from one moment to the next. A morphing hodgepodge of random sonic delights!
I still don't know what my dad thinks of the music I've made or recorded, but he has many a time willingly come to a number of my performances over the years - which I truly appreciate. He has always promoted the idea of having me follow my creative and artistic interests - which is another priceless gift.
For the past few years he has (finally!) started taking voice-lessons and it's been fascinating talking to him about the more technical aspects of music and performance from the perspective of him as a student wrestling with things like keeping pitch, following a beat, and the difficulties of rehearsing and slowly learning to play the piano.
My dad, Professor Lawrence Galante, an eternal student and teacher who continues to embody the idea of growth by learning. We don't always communicate as well or as openly as I would like on occasion - but his steadfast pursuit of learning and challenging himself is a noble quality I have always admired - and his eternal love of music and how it has enriched my life is a gift beyond compare. It continues to be one of the more steadfast and defining interests in my life.
So, Dad, thank you for all the notes - both high and low!
With much love and admiration, your son - anthony.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I have finally taken the plunge in deciding to write and post a blog. Though some of it will be centered around my personal interests, thoughts and processes, I will also include posts from many other sources and artists that I admire, follow, or have had the pleasure of working with - covering all aspects of creative/intellectual endeavors... not just audio. I hope you enjoy the journey with me, and please feel free to drop a note, comment, or follow this as you will.
curiously yours, anthony antfactor
curiously yours, anthony antfactor