Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

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Loop Whirk-Kid
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Loop Whirk-Kid » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:27 pm

I feel quite strongly about this:

Who says and where does it say anywhere that using a preset is cheating?

It may be recogniseable but it's not cheating!!!

If that's the case then a massive chunk of music these days may as well be written off - I'm talking about samples, they're basically presets right, pre-written, made already, however you look at it! But I'll bet that most people like a track somewhere along the line with a sample in it. It's how well it's done that counts!

People forget that music is a collection of sounds, melodies and rhythms, all put together in such a way that they become something that we enjoy listening to and maybe dance to. As long as that continues then it doesn't matter. A piano is a preset sounds like a piano. Does it only count if you make it sound like a guitar? There's a lot of narrow mindedness in this game and people need to respect other people's ways of making music. Every one is different.

"If everybody looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other!"...sorry that's a preset right - Groove Armada line.

If people spent more time listening to music for what it is rather than judging how it was made - they'd be more satisfied.

Basically - don't invent rules - there aren't any.

The beauty of music is you can do whatever you want, however you want to.

Limitations only limit creativity, so let's have less limitations!
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Dragonbreath » Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:22 pm

I think its all about getting the results you want. If you find a preset that sounds exactly like you want then thats great. Dont let anyone fool you into thinking its "wrong" or cheating. I just think the issue with preset is most of the time they DONT sound like we want and end up using them because we dont know how to get the sound we want.

Sometimes the preset is 80% there and tweaking will get you what you want. Sometimes you have to spend 3 hours tweaking to find what you wanted.

I dont beleive in just write your melody and figure the sounds after. Might work for certain types of music, but the sound that your using has a dramatic effect on how you write your parts. ALot of melodies and part are dependant on the caracter of the sound for you to come up with the right part.

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by beats me » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:22 pm

I often get inspired by presets that become the basis of a song, but the advantage of knowing synthesis is being able to quickly dial in sounds you have in your head layered on top of that. Otherwise you waste a lot of time going through even more presets that aren’t even close to that sound you have in your head.

A compromise might be going through presets and tagging or favoriting the ones you think you would frequently use instead of once again auditioning hundreds of bass (as an example) presets in search of that one that works or is close to the one in your head. It sucks when you have a good backbone of a song but can’t finish it mostly because you waste too much time going through presets to find more elements and then you just lose steam or interest.

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by craftycurate » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:03 pm

Presets are a great starting point, and can provide the seed of inspiration for music making. Some days if I can't get started, I often whizz through a few presets looking for one that sparks something off, such as a bass line or a riff of some kind, and then build something up round it. The preset often gets tweaked in the process.

But presets are not a substitute or an easy route to great music - there will always be a lot of work to do to get it sounding good and sounding like your own.
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by koranek » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:42 pm

If using presets is cheating, then is using other musicians cheating? Is editing a performance cheating? Is using a compressor cheating?

Original music, in its purest form, involves someone making their own instruments and playing their own compositions.

If you haven't hand-wound your own speaker coils, you're cheating.

As said before, not knowing how to modify a preset is limiting, but cheating?

Well, that's just my opinion. And having opinions is kind of cheating.
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Khazul » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:50 pm

Really? this question again?

If you are really being pedantic about it, consider the contribution of you artistic input to a track vs the use of other artistic input (by whatever means; presets, licensed samples, stems, construction kits, or even outright stolen samples or whatever your sources are).

If your track is entirely based upon some crafted preset or construction kit/loops that does beat, arps, pads etc and all you did was push a key, then clearly your input was pointless and you should go back to flipping burgers (though more likely such a pointless personal contribution will probably be more likely to get you a #1 in the dance charts - such is life...:/)

OTOH, fire up a nice synth present (maybe even piano sample set - is that cheating?) and actually play some music rather than just chop together some samples and loops, then I guess you can claim the majority artistic input, but then everyone else will probably think it sucks, especially the chin stroking wannabe DJ/producer crowd ;)
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by c33 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:25 pm

The question might have been silly, but it sparked yet another interesting discussion around here.

I'm currently diving into Alchemy, and I love that it is both infinitely tweakable but also instantly musical. It's great to have so many options, but sometimes something just works and you just need to go with it.
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Limitations can be great for creativity too : )

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by CFM » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:50 pm

Presets are there for something, else why not give you a synth with banks of nothing to fill.

Who cares if it cheating or not - the preset god :?

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by BoddAH » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:17 pm

No it's not. Sound design and composing are two entirely different disciplines and if you don't enjoy one you can focus on the other.

On fact, producing is hardly a single skill. A producer is an orchestrator, a composer, a sound designer, a mixing engineer and sometimes even a mastering engineer.

You can chose to learn all of those skills if you want to have total control over ever single aspect of your music but you don't have to if you have friends to help you out or, indeed, presets.

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by ansolas » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:31 am

Years ago when I was buying new Hardware Synths , the first thing I looked up in the manual was how to Initialize and delete all Presets :)

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by littlepig » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:39 am

Yes, in fact using ready made synths is cheating.

You should be carving your sounds from the fundamental building blocks of 1s and 0s. That is the only way to true artistry :wink:

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Timbeaux » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:20 pm

making music instead of fucking ur girlfriend is cheating... or whas it the other way round? :P

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Nick the Zombie » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:36 pm

Not at all. I'm a huge proponent of learning how to use your synths, but mixing sound design and music composition in the same session is a recipe for never getting any music written. That's where presets come in, whether you made them or whether you got them from somewhere else.

Presets give you inspiration so you can focus on that delicate time where you're transcribing music from your head into the DAW. If you stop to diddle with a synth patch for 45 minutes at a time, it's going to be much harder. Preset away, I say, but don't neglect learning how to make your own sounds. When you're done with the track and some or all of the presets sound perfect as is, then leave them. If you think they could improve, that's where you use your sound design skills to tweak what's there, or make something completely new.

This is not the only approach, but it's the one I use and it works for me. Take it with the appropriately sized grain of salt.
Last edited by Nick the Zombie on Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by beats me » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:15 pm

I greatly admire sound designers in pro studios who the engineer can just go to with “I need a …” and done.

But imagine having that skill but not being able to compose a decent track. :x

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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Nick the Zombie » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:24 pm

beats me wrote:I greatly admire sound designers in pro studios who the engineer can just go to with “I need a …” and done.

But imagine having that skill but not being able to compose a decent track. :x
Exactly. I neglected my composition for a long time in favor of making cool sounds, so now I'm playing catch up with my songwriting. It's been an extremely fun learning experience, but I wish I had been writing a lot more music over the years, too.

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