Less is more – do you still believe in it?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The old saying Less is More is losing its edge. It might be the other way around nowadays. And it’s us creatives who are the ones to blame. We are simply buying way too much stuff. How many compressors do you really need? Synths, drummachines? Distortion devices?

Since software doesn’t take up real space, only a bit of disk space, installing software is often an almost unconscious process. “Oh it’s free? Install!” “Oh it’s cheap? Install!”

This not only causes decision stress it might also kill your creativity. Because you’re missing the deep connection with your instruments and plugins because you are only scrapping the surface of what’s possible. And you’re probably using the same presets everyone else is using. Which turns you in sounding like everyone else.

Limiting yourself pushes you to find new ways when using your limited set of tools. It is an investment in yourself as a creative. Why invest in new tools when you’d better invest some time in yourself?

Maybe this sound weird to you since I am a sound designer and I am selling my patches. But the foundation of my creative work comes from the Less Is More principle. I am able to create these patches because I have creatively explored my tools day in day out. I studied them for a really long time. And as a long time Reason user I am also involved in testing the software, from the early alpha stages on. I often communicate with the developers who will sometimes use my ideas to optimise the product. A recent idea of mine that got used was to offer a wider range of delay times for the Quartet Chorus Ensemble.

I am always analysing and testing my tools. For example by testing what kind of overtones a saturation devices generates, odds and evens and in what kind of order. I am testing Impulse Response files as cabinet speaker simulator all the time. As a guitar player I am super interested in finding great tones using digital devices. And since I am also very much active in podcasting (mostly Dutch, under the Podpraat moniker) I am always testing and analysing mics and compressors to get the best vocal sound. This also helps me to sound better as a singer for my own music:

In short: I am always testing and analysing because I want to fully master the tools and instruments I am using.

And sure, I have also fallen in the trap of buying things I not really need. I am not a specialist in VST instruments although I bought many. I mostly use Reason rack devices, also when I am using Ableton Live (using the Reason Rack Plugin). And I mainly use Reason Rack Effects, also in Ableton Live, for example the fantastic Cakewalk RE-2A, McDSP C670 and Moo compressors.

My main creative drive is to:

  • explore, analyse and learn modern sound tools
  • use these tools for creating great sounds and great music

The only way to do this is by limiting myself. I know that I can’t master all the tools in the world. So I make choices and only deeply explore just a few.

One day I will make a list of the tools I love deeply.

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