Trent Reznor on Synth History.

This is fascinating. TR didn’t get to be synth guru through happenstance; he had a really unique position to witness the development of synths in the late 70s and 80s.

It’s really interesting to hear him poke at the popularity of the DX7; it’s influenced my use of software synths a lot with my use of Native Instruments FM8. It’s interesting to hear that that ubiquitous 80s has very different connotations at the time…

Nine Oh Nine!

I love love LOVE 909s. I don’t own one obviously, but I’ve used so many hardware and software replications over the years. Something about that snare – punchy AND snappy – that gets me every time.

Here’s a cool video by Doctor Mix showing some famous 909 patterns. Most are obvious, but at 1:23 – boom – one of my favourite songs. Hunter by Bjork; how she uses the 909 is beautiful. I’ve heard that beat hundreds of times; hadn’t worked out how it was done.

Of course, Bjork is the master at repurposing EDM tropes. Her chopping up of the classic Amen Break on the outro of Crystalline? Beyond beautiful.

Quote: How Music Works


I love facts like this. Mainly because they reframe concepts of what is “real” – something many musicians obsess over. There’s a popular idea that old recordings are more real, that modern recordings are full of tricks and cheats and it’s-all-done-with-computers to make them sound better. But of course; there’s nothing new about the thinking, only the technological means…

“Drums and upright basses posed a big problem for these recording devices. The intermittent low frequencies that they produce made wider or deeper grooves (in the case of the Edison machines), which make the needles jump and skip during playback. So those instruments were also shoved to the rear, and in most cases were intentionally rendered almost inaudible. Blankets were thrown over drums, especially the kick and snares. Drummers were sometimes required to play bells, wood blocks, and the sides of their drums instead of the snares and kick drums—those thinner sounds didn’t make the needles jump, but could still be heard. The double bass was often swapped with a tuba because its low end was less punchy. So early recording technology was limiting not only in terms of what frequencies one heard, but also in terms of which instruments were actually recorded. The music was already being edited and shaped to fit the new medium.”
― from “How Music Works”

It’s a fantastic book, by the way.