Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Advantages of Being Restricted

What was your first major musical influence? When most people are asked this, they will probably name a band that they loved when they were younger or an artist that they wanted to sound like. But, when I started making music, that was not the case. Sure, over the years there have been artists who have influenced my work, but not when I was first starting out. Back then, my major influence was my restrictions.

It sounds strange when you say it, but its true. When I first started making music in high school, all I had available was a copy of GarageBand on the school computer. I couldn't get any fancy plugins or sample libraries, and though GarageBand is not a terrible program, it is limited to what it can do.

So what did I do? I took the few synths and sample libraries that I had, and made my music from that. No, it was not great. No one is great in the beginning, but it shaped my music long after I stopped using GarageBand.

What did I learn from this? Limiting your options can give you a better advantage. This is not an original idea. Graham from the Recording Revolution has talked about this on his website and YouTube channel.

But how is it an advantage? Its easy to get caught up in the search for better gear. Most of us could make a list of software or hardware that we would like to have one day. But none of that guarantees us a better sound. Sure, the $2000 mic will have a better quality than a $200 one. But you will still sound poor if you don't have the proper recording skills.

Limiting your options forces you to take the tools that you have and master them. Why have 20 synths that you only use once in a while, when you could have one synth that you use every project and can make 20 sounds with? Not only will it be a big save on your wallet, but you are forced to focus on your skills rather than your gear.

Most of the gear that I use now, I was using two years ago, when I first started getting serious about music production. Yet, my music sounds much better than it did back then. I have also heard some people really kick butt with just GarageBand.

See you soon,

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