From the book that launched a thousand synthgeeks
January 21, 2011 2:07 AM   Subscribe

It is impossible to recommend that book highly enough.
posted by mhjb at 2:08 AM on January 21, 2011

Hey, great post, deserves the props for sure!

Nic and I made some noise together here and there years back, during the glory years of the NY "downtown scene". He was fun to play with. He'd sample you live, loop it, grind it up, turn it inside out and throw it back atcha til you hardly recognized it! All with that crazy trombone-controller he put together. An engaged and dedicated sound pioneer. Top guy, too, a real gentleman.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:34 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

No Delia Derbyshire?! Or is this only a particular brand of handmade electronic music?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:47 AM on January 21, 2011

No Delia Derbyshire?! Or is this only a particular brand of handmade electronic music?

What an odd comment. All the artists featured in this FPP are contemporary, living artists. Derbyshire is from an earlier generation of electronic music composers, and is now deceased. I'm sure Nic Collins could tell you plenty about Delia Derbyshire, but there is no particular reason she should necessarily be included here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:10 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Aw, my husband got that last year for his birthday. Warm fuzzy feelings now.
posted by ifjuly at 5:03 AM on January 21, 2011

Sorry, flap, chalk it up to earliness and lack of coffee.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:12 AM on January 21, 2011

Hey, no sweat, C_D!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 AM on January 21, 2011

Nice timing, I'm reading this book right now as part of learning about electronics. Really enjoying it. The way he approaches technical issues isn't perfect for me, but his evocation of the "lifeworld" of homebrewed electronics is fascinating and inspiring.
posted by facetious at 6:19 AM on January 21, 2011

Oooh...thanks for the heads up. Will definitely be checking this one out.
posted by dubitable at 7:13 AM on January 21, 2011

Great post. Some old analog PAiA and home-built gear still languishes in our basement, waiting patiently for the day when I grow from procrastinating and timid tinkerer into a fearless and inspired maker of new sounds.

One of my biggest hang-ups (other than lack of talent) is that there's just TOO MUCH AVAILABLE. The amount and variety of sound/music-generating/recording/production equipment and tools, both hardware and software, is staggering, and every new addition is an excuse to not master the tools you already have. A perfect example of this is the VAST array of free and low cost VST software instruments and processors available for use in many PC-based tools.

I read something that Brian Eno said (somewhere, that I can't currently find, therefore i'm probably mangling it) - expressing somewhat the same thought. He mentioned how the current variety of electronic instruments provides instant gratification (gimme that Axel Foley riff!), but doesn't apparently encourage exploration or mastery. By contrast, many musicians will spend a lifetime with a single instrument (eg guitar) and learn how many different ways there are to pluck or excite the string, or how altering pressure on the fret can modulate harmonic content, or the noises you get tapping on the BACK of the neck when the amp is on the verge of feedback. etc etc etc.

I think Nic Collins is one of the relatively few who go "deep" into electronic sound-makers (and music composition) to explore all the possibilities, nuance and variation.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:52 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Just ordered it. Thanks MeFi!
posted by preparat at 10:04 AM on January 21, 2011

Some links for those beginners who'd like to get in to making this stuff (after you've bought the book...):

Beavis Audio Research articles and projects
Sebastian Tomczak schematics and shortform explanations of cool circuits
Electro-music forum noob-friendly Q&A on making Collins-style electronics
Bbob's workshop notes
Ray Wilson DIY synth maven

and in about 6 weeks I will have finished writing my intro to audio electronics tutorials based on this material and they'll be on my blog
posted by mhjb at 11:42 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

UbuWeb — a great bookmark in its own right — has some more Adachi Tomomi, though it's not all electronic music.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 12:05 PM on January 21, 2011

every new addition is an excuse to not master the tools you already have.

One of the big dangers of EM-making is getting lost in the technical aspects and the veritable plethora of options ... leading nowhere. One day I ran across this valuable Stravinsky quote I'll pass along:

The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.

A few instruments or sounds that please/motivate you, and (if you care to sequence and/or record) a simple hassle-free software (say, Garageband), are all that's needed to create something pleasing (see Ian Baxter link). After completing a few things, you can pick a new direction and add only what you need to your toolkit. A set of Oblique Strategies might help too!
posted by Twang at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

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