Less is more inside the studio

I know that many of you, like me, are passionately reconnecting with music later in life. It’s easy to “get the bug” when you consider the extraordinary possibilities afforded by modern technology. Chances are you love gadgets, but once you put your toe in these waters, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the plethora of choices. And, unfortunately, the “wanna-be” nimrods that comprise the sales staff in most equipment retailers are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Before you know it, you are “collecting stuff” because new gear is cool, and does for you what a closet full of designer shoes does for the female species. Perhaps it is no coincidence that one of the most vibrant and useful online music technology communities is aptly named: GearSlutz.com! Many of its members, myself included, affectionately confess to having dealt with chronic GAS: Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Without intention, you can easily become a Gear Slut – but this is a slippery slope.

Here’s some additional food for thought from Carl Beatty, a veteran engineer and Professor of Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music on this topic.

At the risk of being rhetorical, we must remind ourselves that technology doesn’t help us write a better tune; and the more “moving parts” you have in your studio, the more you have to learn and maintain. You’ll end up spending loads of time (and money) learning the ins and outs of gear, and less time making music. This is not to understate the importance of gear, but rather emphasize a going in perspective that “less is more”.

The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity – Bruce Lee

I place a high premium on my time and the results I get from whatever I choose to pursue. From this, I’ve become a strong believer in the application of Pareto’s Law, better known as the “80-20 principal”. The law essentially states that 80% of our desired results come from 20% of what we do. It directly refutes the conventional wisdom of “the more you put in the more you get out”. This is a subject in and of its own, but its applicability to my journey has been invaluable. The bottom line is that you’ll get much better results, with much less effort, by using more of the few things that matter, and much less of the many things that don’t.

One Response to “Less is more inside the studio”

  1. Gerard Manley Says:

    Hear Hear!! Apart from anything else this philosophy reduces waste and is kinder to the environment.

    I do of course accept that manufacturers need to maintain sales to exist and DEVELOP new technology, but there needs to be balance.

    I live in Christchurch New Zealand. We recently had very destructive earthquakes and to my surprise, three studios who lost their purpose built premises have continued from bedrooms!!! Food for thought – the engineer not the engine.

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I am a professional hobbyist when it comes to this.   Though my relationship with the piano began at a young age, I only recently pulled off the gloves to rekindle it and haven’t looked back since.   This was partly inspired by huge advancements in music production technology now available to all  – and from the comfort and privacy of your home!   I’ve never subscribed much to job titles so I won’t attempt to label my genre.  Besides, composing music mirrors life in that there are really only two ways to write a song: your way, and the wrong way. 

Thank you for your interest and encouragement.