There’s nothing revelatory in noting that the tools one uses to make music directly impact the resultant musical output. Like the simplest concept of gesture, whereby physiology, routine, muscle memory, and ease of playing all conspire together to give music composed on and performed by a specific instrument lend to the larger idea of “idiomatic”, that vernacular voice which acts as a fuzzy boundary around which all new ideas and push and pull, the various purposeful strengths and weaknesses of various software invariably lend their stamp on influencing the type of work an electronic composer finds themselves creating.
That’s all just a fancy way of saying that thanks to getting cozy with a piece of software named ACID once I began exploring the world of computer music, the sounds that found themselves coming from my headphones had taken on a far more loop-based, rhythmic, dare I say hiphop-ic character than anything prior. Partially out of laziness, partially out of fun, and eventually (embarrassingly so) out of the pursuit of profitable gain, music that was veering dangerously into dance (or worse yet, MC backing track) was defining the entire output of my time. At one point while romancing the vague possibility of having my electronic music picked up by a very reputable label (a fantasy that sadly fizzled just as it was seeming most promising) I cobbled together an assemblage of works-in-progress, all of which happened to have been rendered in that particular piece of software:
There’s no shortage of unfinished projects in my collection that were started in ACID, but listening to that compilation now, albeit 8 years since its creation, the limitations of the medium scream louder than all the work that had gone into it. The sheer layeredness of it all. The locked-in feel. And, while I know this is going to sound redundant as it’s the core mission of ACID’s compositional toolkit, the absolute, unbending loopiness.
The search is on, then, to line up the right tools for the right job, as the work I’m currently embarking on leans so heavily on the organic, the unpredictable, and the unrepetitive, it’s obvious that despite all best intentions, I have to be careful about the gesture, take heed of the subtle ways in which intention is being bent by the whim of the tool itself – yet do it without resorting back to the days of writing obscure performance instructions on a piece of paper, handing it to a stranger with an instrument, and letting fate work out the rest.