Scanning the pages of the weekly/monthly music press, you quickly gain the impression that ours is a dynamic, rapidly-changing industry where new products are lucky if their shelf-life spans six months maximum. You are also bombarded with statements informing you of the fact (for 'fact' read 'opinion') that the instrument you have just bought has been superceded. You shouldn't let that fact cause you too much grief though. For it may well be the case that the commercial 'shelf-life' of your instrument has expired, but it doesn't follow that its 'working life' has too.
Take Dave Stewart (interview: p29) as an example: he's a professional musician who still makes use of the Prophet-5 synth in his set-up. That machine has long been out of production, superceded by 'better' products some might say. Yet Dave hasn't junked it - in fact, it is still the first instrument he turns to when he begins working. Why? Because he can produce the sounds he wants from it, having committed time in the past to learning how to programme it.
Which brings me to my point. If more of us continue to rely totally on the preset sounds supplied by a manufacturer with their latest synth or sampler, then it's obvious why the product only has a useful life of six months - because that's how long it is before we are all bored silly with the preset sounds! We only have ourselves to blame for this ludicrous situation. And it is one which will grow worse if we don't make the effort to explore the equipment we buy.
Consider the new Casio RZ-1 sampling drum machine (review: p8) for a moment. Most people will want that machine for the user-sampling facility it offers. For the price, it can't be beaten. Yet I suspect that few of those end-users will actually sample things themselves: they'll end up using the factory cassette samples available with the device or rely on tapes made by 'other people' and sold by enterprising sample libraries. And again, they will be throwing away another chance to stamp their own identity on the music they produce with such equipment. No wonder so much of today's music is banal, uninspiring and totally devoid of personality.
Editorial by Ian Gilby
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