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The Purist Argument

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

So, I have been at it with this production thing for about 5 years now. I am certainly not the most skilled at what I do, but my work isn’t shabby either. I learn new things, literally every day. Sometimes (any producer will tell you this) you get that ’eureka’ moment when you suddenly understand something that has been evading your comprehension. For me, not so long ago, it was LFOs. I know, right? LF-WHAT? (Not to be confused with LMFAO)

But I have found that the grasp in understanding how it all works is not the key to making great music. The key is listening. This is true with any music. Secondly, there is taste. We all have our own and we know what we like. It saddens me sometimes to see great artists change their awesome style to do ’what everyone else is doing.’

There seems to be a lot of that these days. My style certainly isn’t for everyone. I was in fact told once by a producer I admire, that my music wouldn’t sell. This, in contrast to the fact that some powerhouse artists were still making that sound. This despite an EP running all the way up the psytrance charts. A year later, when he heard my set, he asked whose music it was. ‘Mine’, I replied. ‘It is fucking amazing’ was his response. I guess he forgot what he’d said before.

Synthesizers are seriously complicated beasts. You can literally make any sound you want, if you know how. I swear, the guy that invented it, must have either been crazy, or on drugs. Maybe both. For me, learning how to use oscillators, filters, LFOs, envelopes and all the other assorted bits is actually quite interesting. Yes, it is rather time consuming, but one can come up with some pretty cool sounds.

Having played live psytrance in Vortex Trance Adventures in Cape Town was a good way to test tracks!

Which brings us to the purist question. Create it yourself or use samples and presets? I know people who would rather cut their fingers off before using a sample. I know other, quite well known producers, who use only samples and presets. No, I’m not telling you who, because really, what is the difference?

Samples and presets both were made on a synth. Someone spent hours making the perfect kick or serum preset. If you are on the dance floor, you’ll never even have the slightest clue about how most of the sounds were made. And it doesn’t matter to you if it was a sample or a kick that took 2 hours to make. Good music is good music.

So which do I prefer?

Hmmm, good question. As I said before, I actually like creating sounds. But there are times that I can’t get exactly what I want, so I search for a sample. Admittedly, that may take up to 10 tries to get the right sound, so in the end it is just as time consuming.

The differences are so subtle that even other producers can’t tell which was made by you, or bought in a sample pack.

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