a tiny bit of history

A little more than a week ago was my 17th anniversary as a member of the KvR forum. I’d meant to write something to reflect on it… but as I started the process I realized I didn’t have much to say. Neither the things that changed nor things things that stayed the same were much of a surprise to me.

Today, in a resurrected thread “Is FM synthesis your goto?,” I did find a surprise in something I wrote in mid-October 2016:

I don’t use FM as much as sampling or subtractive, but I do use it and like it. I tend toward experimental, ambient, noise types of stuff, so it’s not like I’m hooked on FM basses or something.

This was when I was planning to get my first Eurorack modules but had no idea how much that would impact my music-making methods and my style.

In the last couple of years I’ve rarely used samples anymore. Sometimes a quiet layer of a field recording in the background. I used one solitary note from NI Una Corda on No Place. I do kind of want to mess with sound-on-sound looping, which is technically sampling, but not sampling as the sound source as I meant in that post.

Likewise, subtractive synthesis has really fallen by the wayside for me. I was using my Microbrute in about 1/3 of my songs for a good while, but no more. Once in a while I use LuSH-101 or a subtractive patch on the Reface. For a lot of people subtractive synthesis pretty much IS synthesis, with the assumption that every synth has a filter and it’s the most important factor in its timbre.

I kind of got obsessed with FM from 2017 onward as I learned about “West Coast” synthesis methods, and the subtleties of exponential FM, linear and thru-zero linear FM, its relationship to phase modulation and wavefolding, etc.

Having recently heard some neat-sounding subtractive synthesis patches in product demos, and recalling how much I liked the Microbrute when used in specific ways, I’ve decided that I want to explore subtractive synthesis a bit again. So now my plan for album 13 is to do that alongside making a study of Akemie’s Castle. I’ve got a couple of great filters in my rack and can also make use of some nice software filters. Should be fun!

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