Robert Rich Interview – Electronic Artist Talks Synthesizers, Music and Technology

Synthesist Robert Rich is the subject of an interesting new interview, which offers some deep discussion of both his music and his thoughts on music technology.

Rich shares his thoughts on working with synthesizers:

I love the ability for synthesizers to move into the realm of the Surreal, to paint with sonic abstraction, to allow me to compose at a completely sonic level. I dislike their distance from emotional, subconscious muscular expression.

For that reason I prefer to blur the boundaries between acoustic and electronic. I use electronics as a context for more expressive performances on acoustic or electro-acoustic instruments.

I’m not saying that electronic instruments are incapable of emotion, just that I prefer the seamless interaction that I (personally) have when playing an acoustic instrument, when my subconscious intentions migrate from my muscles into the air. When I attempt the same with electronics, my mind usually intervenes. So for me, the perfect balance is to process acoustic sounds and surround them with the abstract elements of electronic processing and synthesizers.

And modular synthesizers:

Modular synths encourage experimentation. I’m far more likely to think “what would happen if I plug this into this?” and I might surprise myself.

Because I’m in the moment, I keep a recording setup handy, and I am far more likely to record my experiments. Everything is more in the moment, more visceral, more live, because there aren’t any stored presets. Once I change some patch chords, I might lose the magic, so as I try to make a sound “better” I focus on the performance aspects and quickly begin to lay the seeds for a full performance.

This sense of immediacy can become an idea machine. Although I might throw away many of these seeds, a few of them grow into compositions or interesting soundscapes. That is a precious outcome.

Rich also shares his thoughts on ambient music:

As for “Ambient Music” – I’m a bit tired of it. I find much of it to be the result of laziness. Personally I would rather immerse myself in Bill Evans or Miles Davis, classical Indian music or Javanese gamelan.

He touches on many other ideas in the interview – see the full interview at Jack Hertz’s synthme blog.

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