Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by starthief »

wuff_miggler wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 4:14 pm *Eurorack/Hardware Aquisition VS output - "these synths are all useless, where is your released music" ... vs ... "i just buy stuff and play with it"/"there are adult toys".
Yeah, I'm not sure why people get hung up on that.

Personally, getting into Eurorack made me way more productive. But being "productive" doesn't mean I'm winning at life. And also, knowing what I know now, I could sell off all my Eurorack gear and make music with just software and a couple controllers. But I don't because... it's such a great set of adult toys!

IMHO it makes way more sense for people to get into modular synths than, say, model railroading. As middle class hobbies go, modular isn't as expensive and impractical as a lot of things.

If modular synths were only for "pros" they would cost a lot more, the overall quality and diversity would ironically probably be lower, information and content would be harder to find, and manufacturers would have an even rougher time financially.
wuff_miggler wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 4:14 pm *Using what you have VS buying new things
I have done a lot of churning through gear. I learned a hell of a lot in the process -- about myself and synthesis -- and found it inspiring and fun. If I'd just sat on the first few modules I'd bought, I'd probably know their every quirk but I would have missed out on a lot too. That said, the gear churn got to be more of a habit than a useful thing, and sometimes it led to anxiety and un-fun-ness, and certainly expense. Balance is good.
wuff_miggler wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 4:14 pm*Life documenting types (social media) VS audio only production
Heh, well. I admit, here I am firmly in the music-as-music category. I'm sad people don't listen to albums as much anymore. I grew up with my dad's Isao Tomita and Wendy Carlos 8-track tapes and in a way, I'm still that child. I feel like social media biases people to focus more on gear than artistry (in electronic music -- with guitars/drums I think it focuses more on flashy showoff playing rather than artistry).

I also feel like it misleads people into thinking two or three influencers = an important trend. Rings in a 104HP case surrounded by succulents is quite different than Rings used on albums (except for one Ann Annie album that I kind of liked even though it was that whole plinky gentle ambient thing). But Instagram Rings is what people focused on.

So yeah, I guess I blame a lot of the perception of "extreme consumerism" on social media... hmm.

At the same time... what I said above about hobbyists increasing the visibility and available information? Social media does that too. Gear demos aren't worthless. And there's definitely some art going on in some folks' social media.
cbm wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 7:03 pm Process vs. Product
I'm happy to be mostly living on the process side of this divide, but I have some friends who are way into making records/CDs/videos.
I'm more on the product side I guess... but I love the process of it, and if I didn't love it so much there wouldn't be the product.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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Blairio wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 2:47 pm What is the definition of Extreme Consumerism? It seems a pejorative term. Or is it simply an extension of normal or regular consumerism?
If I learned anything from the 90s, Extreme Consumerism is just normal consumerism but riding a skateboard and wearing sunglasses.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by Spaceman Jacques »

I agree that the title of this thread is pretty ridiculous. I think People WAY overestimate the size of Eurorack as an industry. Even the most seemingly popular brands likely have only a handful of employees. (Case in point: contact Doepfer and you may receive an email from Dieter himself!).

I’m not sure the definition of “extreme consumerism “ but it can be argued that when you own more than one tool for a specific function you become a “collector.” however, say someone with 15 filters could argue that each filter does fulfill a different function in features and character. in the end we’re just weirdos obsessed with experimenting with sound in very specific ways, which requires very specific tools. So it’s natural there would be a lot of focus on the gear.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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Spaceman Jacques wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 11:14 pm
I’m not sure the definition of “extreme consumerism “ but it can be argued that when you own more than one tool for a specific function you become a “collector.” however, say someone with 15 filters could argue that each filter does fulfill a different function in features and character. in the end we’re just weirdos obsessed with experimenting with sound in very specific ways, which requires very specific tools. So it’s natural there would be a lot of focus on the gear.
It's odd, nobody beats up on artists for having a wide palette of colours, or golfers for having more than one club. Why should a synthesist or sound designer not have a wide selection of oscillators and filters?
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by BaloErets »

Pretty wild to see a thread continue this long that originally was posted by a classic troll/shit stirrer but managed to fracture off into some pretty cool conversations and insights.
One day I might get a license plate that reads "BUCHLA STYLE COMPLEX OSCILLATORZ AND LOW PASS GATEZ, YO", but until then, I will honour this thread as one of the only time that someone has used the "R" word against me and I ended up feeling sorry for the guy. His 3 total posts on ModWigs will be a pillar to our community;
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hahahahaha you sound retarded, nobody cares about your girlfriend and the patches you create together

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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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Blairio wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 11:49 pm
Spaceman Jacques wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 11:14 pm
I’m not sure the definition of “extreme consumerism “ but it can be argued that when you own more than one tool for a specific function you become a “collector.” however, say someone with 15 filters could argue that each filter does fulfill a different function in features and character. in the end we’re just weirdos obsessed with experimenting with sound in very specific ways, which requires very specific tools. So it’s natural there would be a lot of focus on the gear.
It's odd, nobody beats up on artists for having a wide palette of colours, or golfers for having more than one club. Why should a synthesist or sound designer not have a wide selection of oscillators and filters?
Yeah that's true.

The funny thing about those comparisons though-- what if the artist had a huge palette of expensive paint, but they only used the paint to mix the colors together without ever creating a painting with it? Or what if a golfer had a bunch of expensive clubs and they'd practice their swing all the time in their backyard, but would never go to the course? I know what would happen-- their friends would razz them, and they'd deserve it! Friends bring levity. I just wish that people had more sense of humor about their eccentricities, and not get so defensive when friends find it odd that you don't go to the golf course with your synth :hmm:

And no, Eurorack is not JUST extreme consumerism. Some people have a healthy relationship with it. Some people don't. And as a recovering Eurorack addict, that shit can really suck, and gear forums are absolutely zero help with all the fetishising and "buy both" mentality.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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SavageMessiah wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 10:39 pm
Blairio wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 2:47 pm What is the definition of Extreme Consumerism? It seems a pejorative term. Or is it simply an extension of normal or regular consumerism?
If I learned anything from the 90s, Extreme Consumerism is just normal consumerism but riding a skateboard and wearing sunglasses.
This post made the thread worth it.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by Spaceman Jacques »

The golf or painting analogies imply that there is a “right” way to enjoy modular. That it is not valid unless you are striving to the end goal of creating a “song”. Perhaps they just like hitting balls with sticks, not really interested in learning the rules of golf? And what’s the difference between painting, and mixing colors around? Tbh sometimes I’m not even interested in music per se and the joy of experimenting with sounds gets lost when trying to apply the rigors of fitting it into a composition. Ultimately, whatever gives you the deepest satisfaction Is your most valid expression. Even if it’s just taking pictures of your rack with plants and shit.

But yeah you gotta have a sense of humor like when my wife asks why I’ve been playing the same note for 4 hours..
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by thevegasnerve »

well I will admit if I am gonna be guilty of consumering, eurorack is a fun place to start. And that’s the thing, it’s a lot of fun. And life isn’t really that fun a lot of the times..
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by DukeOfPrunes »

thevegasnerve wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 7:57 am well I will admit if I am gonna be guilty of consumering, eurorack is a fun place to start. And that’s the thing, it’s a lot of fun. And life isn’t really that fun a lot of the times..
Such a true statment!
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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Spaceman Jacques wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 2:42 am The golf or painting analogies imply that there is a “right” way to enjoy modular. That it is not valid unless you are striving to the end goal of creating a “song”. Perhaps they just like hitting balls with sticks, not really interested in learning the rules of golf? And what’s the difference between painting, and mixing colors around? Tbh sometimes I’m not even interested in music per se and the joy of experimenting with sounds gets lost when trying to apply the rigors of fitting it into a composition. Ultimately, whatever gives you the deepest satisfaction Is your most valid expression. Even if it’s just taking pictures of your rack with plants and shit.

But yeah you gotta have a sense of humor like when my wife asks why I’ve been playing the same note for 4 hours..
The golf and painting analogies were not about the output (producing a painting, hitting a ball round a course) but about the resources consumed in doing both. You can paint with one colour, or hit a golf ball round a course with just a 5 iron, but with a broader set of tools or materials comes (the possibility of) a richer experience.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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jschussler wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 3:20 pm And I don't think I agree with your definition of "extreme consumerism," but I suppose that's part of the point of this thread. I think of extreme consumerism as being a scenario where there's both unreasonable demand and as a result of that demand (plus real or fabricated scarcity) excessively high margins. A scenario where demand is high but margins are low doesn't strike me as fitting the spirit of the phrase.
Profit margins don't really have much to do with the level of consumerism. Lots of extreme consumerist sorts of products tend to have fairly low margins; which is why their producers rely so heavily on high volumes of sales to make their profits (most food products run on fairly low margins, for example).

The definition of "extreme" consumerism, known in philosophical jargon as commodity fetishism, is simply when the emphasis is on consumption itself, not the product being consumed. It's the process of consuming that is the reason for demand-creation via hype, artificial scarcity, the constant turnover of "old and boring" vs "new and improved", and the conversion of durable goods into disposable goods. The most obvious and blatant examples of this are the "fast fashion" industry, and "collecting for collecting's sake" toys like Funko Pops; but it's also clearly evident in tech (especially mobile devices), transportation, and many other industries. There are many psychological tricks involved in the process, such as FOMO, atomization, elitism, tribalism, etc.

Eurorack is kind of on the low end of this commodity fetishism scale by comparison, but is still definitely driven by it to an often annoying extent. The constant flood of "new" module offerings that are typically little more than minor variations on, or combinations of, widely-available circuits and functions, the hype surrounding new releases by certain manufacturers, and the fact that there's a whole industry of people making a living (full or partial) from little more than "reviewing" this flood of new offerings, encouraging further fetishism. The huge turnover rate for modules among many Eurorack users is typical for this sort of fetishized consumerism.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by luchog »

Blairio wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 11:49 pmIt's odd, nobody beats up on artists for having a wide palette of colours, or golfers for having more than one club. Why should a synthesist or sound designer not have a wide selection of oscillators and filters?
It's not about having a wide selection of modules; it's about the turnover, and constant emphasis on having the Shiny New Thing; rather than spending time actually learning the gear that one already has, and using it as a creative tool instead of as a status symbol or "retail therapy".

That said, I've known both artists and golfers who have gotten wildly obsessed with collecting gear and supplies, yet never put them to much use. Like the golfers who keep looking for "just the right club" to "improve my game", instead of spending time on the range practicing with the gear they have to get their swing and follow-through down. Photographers who have to have a half-dozen camera bodies and a half-dozen lenses to "get the right effect", despite always shooting the same thing and never putting any real effort into studying and improving their composition, use of lighting and colour, or printing techniques. Painters who complain the reason they don't improve is that they "just don't have good enough brushes", or "the paint is the wrong consistency," rather than the fact that they rarely ever pick up the brushes, or even a pencil, and simply practice their technique.

It's great to have a wide range of oscillators and filters if you actually use them. But how many people actually do? How many blame their lack of interesting music on their equipment, rather than the amount of time they spend -- or rather, don't spend -- practicing with the gear they have?

I mean, I got sucked into the Eurorack consumerist mindset as much as anyone else, and ended up with a bunch of gear I didn't understand, that didn't work particularly well together, and which ultimately I had no use for. Now I'm getting rid of a lot of it (already sold over half), and starting over building a smaller system with basic functions, and spending the time learning those rather than just adding more and more gear hoping to find the magic button that will make everything sound great.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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luchog wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 10:32 am
jschussler wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 3:20 pm And I don't think I agree with your definition of "extreme consumerism," but I suppose that's part of the point of this thread. I think of extreme consumerism as being a scenario where there's both unreasonable demand and as a result of that demand (plus real or fabricated scarcity) excessively high margins. A scenario where demand is high but margins are low doesn't strike me as fitting the spirit of the phrase.
Profit margins don't really have much to do with the level of consumerism. Lots of extreme consumerist sorts of products tend to have fairly low margins; which is why their producers rely so heavily on high volumes of sales to make their profits (most food products run on fairly low margins, for example).

The definition of "extreme" consumerism, known in philosophical jargon as commodity fetishism, is simply when the emphasis is on consumption itself, not the product being consumed. It's the process of consuming that is the reason for demand-creation via hype, artificial scarcity, the constant turnover of "old and boring" vs "new and improved", and the conversion of durable goods into disposable goods. The most obvious and blatant examples of this are the "fast fashion" industry, and "collecting for collecting's sake" toys like Funko Pops; but it's also clearly evident in tech (especially mobile devices), transportation, and many other industries. There are many psychological tricks involved in the process, such as FOMO, atomization, elitism, tribalism, etc.

Eurorack is kind of on the low end of this commodity fetishism scale by comparison, but is still definitely driven by it to an often annoying extent. The constant flood of "new" module offerings that are typically little more than minor variations on, or combinations of, widely-available circuits and functions, the hype surrounding new releases by certain manufacturers, and the fact that there's a whole industry of people making a living (full or partial) from little more than "reviewing" this flood of new offerings, encouraging further fetishism. The huge turnover rate for modules among many Eurorack users is typical for this sort of fetishized consumerism.
^Yeah, all of this right here.

Adding to that, there’s also the “symbolic exchange” of value—the status of owning the thing. That status can be actual (1,000 likes on IG) or psychological (“Cool I have the same doodad as Richard Devine.”)

All of this becomes more obvious with things like Eurorack and guitar pedals because the items are small and, by unit, fairly inexpensive. But like luchog said, it’s probably on the low end—much closer to a kid collecting drugstore baseball or Magic cards than the kind of commodity fetishism and symbolic exchange you see in, say, the international art market.

Probably the more important aspect of the tendency to fetishize Eurorack acquisition is the psychological notion that owning device A will make me B, with B being better at music, more successful, happier, etc.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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luchog wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 10:32 am The definition of "extreme" consumerism, known in philosophical jargon as commodity fetishism, is simply when the emphasis is on consumption itself, not the product being consumed...
I think you're conflating some different concepts here, which are related but not the same.

Collecting is not inherently "extreme consumerism" but they sometimes go hand in hand. Collecting interesting shells and feathers isn't practicing extreme consumerism. Collecting your favorite band's albums (and some merch) isn't. Having to own all the Beanie Babies is.

Commodity fetishism is originally a Marxist term, having to do with valuing material goods while disregarding labor. In the context of gear and GAS, it's been used to refer to a psuedo-religious belief that owning stuff gives you power, while underemphasizing the human factors (knowledge, technique, talent, practice, etc.)

It's not that the tools don't matter at all, but it's in how we weigh the ability of those tools to make music vs. our own ability to make music.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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starthief wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 1:37 pm
luchog wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 10:32 am The definition of "extreme" consumerism, known in philosophical jargon as commodity fetishism, is simply when the emphasis is on consumption itself, not the product being consumed...
I think you're conflating some different concepts here, which are related but not the same.

Collecting is not inherently "extreme consumerism" but they sometimes go hand in hand. Collecting interesting shells and feathers isn't practicing extreme consumerism. Collecting your favorite band's albums (and some merch) isn't. Having to own all the Beanie Babies is.

Commodity fetishism is originally a Marxist term, having to do with valuing material goods while disregarding labor. In the context of gear and GAS, it's been used to refer to a psuedo-religious belief that owning stuff gives you power, while underemphasizing the human factors (knowledge, technique, talent, practice, etc.)

It's not that the tools don't matter at all, but it's in how we weigh the ability of those tools to make music vs. our own ability to make music.
I don’t think Marx differentiated between commodities produced for the specific purpose of collecting (like Beanie Babies, presumably) vs pieces of plastic with songs on them. In any case in that economic system the value exchange is essentially the same—unlike the act of collecting feathers or shells in the wild.

That said, I don’t think “extreme consumerism” is a defined phrase so any take on it is by definition subjective. The closest defined term is probably hyperconsumerism (consuming for the sake of it)—which is the idea that luchog merged with the concept of commodity fetishism.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by Back Down the Path »

My YouTube feed for the Endorphins Ghost is an example of when the consumerism goes extreme. The all-out blitz is bigger than for some releases by massive manufacturers.

It’s good for Endorphins and it’s good for eurorack, but bad for people who want to be creative but are stuck in the cycle of buying and selling instead.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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GuyaGuy wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 2:08 pm That said, I don’t think “extreme consumerism” is a defined phrase so any take on it is by definition subjective. The closest defined term is probably hyperconsumerism (consuming for the sake of it)—which is the idea that luchog merged with the concept of commodity fetishism.
That's really more to the point :tu:
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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Back Down the Path wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 2:11 pm My YouTube feed for the Endorphins Ghost is an example of when the consumerism goes extreme. The all-out blitz is bigger than for some releases by massive manufacturers.
Sure, but anything involving a certain Youtube personality is just all extreme hype, so not super surprising.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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starthief wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 1:37 pm
luchog wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 10:32 am The definition of "extreme" consumerism, known in philosophical jargon as commodity fetishism, is simply when the emphasis is on consumption itself, not the product being consumed...
I think you're conflating some different concepts here, which are related but not the same.

Collecting is not inherently "extreme consumerism" but they sometimes go hand in hand. Collecting interesting shells and feathers isn't practicing extreme consumerism. Collecting your favorite band's albums (and some merch) isn't. Having to own all the Beanie Babies is.
Except that doesn't follow from what I said. I never said anything about collecting specifically, only collecting for collecting's sake in the context of consumer goods. Collecting non-consumer items like shell or rocks for aesthetic reasons isn't consumption. Collecting music recordings for the purpose of enjoying the music is not inherently fetishism, since the commodity -- records -- is the medium by which the creative endeavour of music is exchanged. Fetishism is when the process of consumption is itself the focus; as in my previously noted Funko Pops, or your example of Beanie Babies. (I'd argue that Beanie Babies at least have some functional purpose beyond mere collecting, so that they're a less stringent example than Pops.)

Collecting, band merch, can be simply a matter of tribal identification, or it can be fetishism, depending on the impetus and nature of the commodity transaction.
Commodity fetishism is originally a Marxist term, having to do with valuing material goods while disregarding labor.
And has evolved considerably since it was coined by Marx; particularly via Situationist philosophy, where commodity fetishism has a key role in spectacularizing culture and mediating human creative interaction via commodified images.
GuyaGuy wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 2:08 pmThat said, I don’t think “extreme consumerism” is a defined phrase so any take on it is by definition subjective. The closest defined term is probably hyperconsumerism (consuming for the sake of it)—which is the idea that luchog merged with the concept of commodity fetishism.
Commodity fetishism is the process by which hyperconsumerism is brought into being, and the images mediating human experience are created. They are essentially all part of the same process of spectacularization.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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I've definitely gotten swept up in the modular hype and spent more on modules than any other music gear in the almost 30 years I've been messing with music. I've always loved synths and had several subtractive analog and digital synths over the years but only after buying a Matriarch (mainly for it's paraphony) did I even get hip to patching and eurorack. Once I got the first batch of modules to pair with the Matriarch, I was instantly hooked on this new (to me) philosophy of music creation. I spent, spent, spent but only after doing massive and obsessive amounts of research here and on YouTube. While that was against the advice of most vets here, I actually (luckily) haven't regretted one purchase I've made yet and have not sold a single module. I've put together a beast of a setup and now have forced myself slow down with the purchases (but am also naturally slowing down due to covering a ton of the "necessary" building blocks of modular). I am now switching to more of a studying mode and pushing to get the most out of what I've built. I can see myself getting really out of control if I dont pump the brakes and I'm also going to totally overwhelm myself. Its a TON to learn. Sometimes I do get this feeling that I'm trying to convince myself that I need more modules to make great new music but its BS. And sometimes I also feel like I'm using learning modular as an advanced form of procrastination (as mentioned by someone else earlier in this thread) because it does require tons of reading, research, and studying to actually wrap your head around it and get good. That in turn leaves much less time for actual music making. Overall, I do think I'm walking a fine line between extreme consumerism and learning new amazing DAWless music creation techniques with really cool niche music gear. I'm actually proud of myself because I watched two videos on the new Ghost today (even after saying I refuse to buy it because of the price) and I was basically daring Mylar and Andrew to convince me I needed it. While it does actually sound fantastic, I'm being disciplined enough to stick to my guns and my $300-350 spending limit on individual modules.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by boramx »

i’ve been on this forum for a long time - and before that i used to read the doepfer yahoo group.

i think my old desk-ish type job and the ennui associated with it got me hooked on synth (and other) forums…an easy distraction and i really wanted to be home playing my synth anyhow.

the result was a LOT of pondering, baseball-card/pokemon jonesing, and fantasies about flipping my modules etc.

i don’t think that a small boutique business is guilty of exploiting human desire in the way that big corporation is….but my experience is:

the less time i read forums and browse gear-related internet, the less i think about it, the more i play, the less money i spend.

broadly speaking- my music and my life around music is much better when i’m away from gear-related media.

it is definitely “consumerist” with a lowercase “c”, for me anyhow.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

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boramx wrote: Fri Oct 14, 2022 12:54 pm the less time i read forums and browse gear-related internet, the less i think about it, the more i play, the less money i spend.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by thevegasnerve »

I find recording music way more exhausting and consuming than browsing at gear. That is likely a big part of my current issue. Work and family grinds me emotionally and I don’t feel a lot of space to explore music. I guess I could try and jam
a little with no expectation. But I do try and convince myself these constant studio redesigns are part of the process. I do understand that things don’t make me a happy person.
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Re: Is Eurorack just extreme consumerism?

Post by zlotan »

This is the best thread ever! It took me 3 days to read😬
As a live performing musician with modular, guitar and else... i would say eurorack is a Consumerism rabbithole! But it also offers possibilities not reached elsewere! (Sorry my horrible english, i am not english native!)
I do record eurorack but often forget to push the red button😶i do not edit my recorded soundsaussages...
It can be time consuming and cost heaps... and yes it is consumerism in my oppinion!
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