18 thoughts on “New Video Features Controllerism Gone Wild

  1. These ‘controllerism’ videos seem to be a bit of hype.

    When I see the word controllerism I think of artists with DIY hacks of commercial midi controllers with reaktor or max patches to suit their music and performance.

    I enjoy that a lot more than yet another mediocre loud cheesy dubstep mashup.

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  2. The first vid only showed some examples of tapping on a table, grid, a keyboard– I didn’t really get much “controllerism” but maybe that is what “controllerism” means: tapping on a grid. Meh. I guess that is (for some) that (sad-) state-of-the-art.

    The second vid (more grid tapping) at least features a piece in 6/8. That’s refreshing.

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  3. That sounds an awful lot like a copy of a copy of a copy. He’s letting the tool define the results too much, because its easy to do. I think its a case of “making” music more than actually playing it. I hear a lot of copycat boom-bap from younger players who sneer at “tradition,” as well as old farts who miss the boat by not taking up at least some of the new tools. There’s merit to both and plenty of it, but letting Marketing lead you around by the nose is not a good plan. If you really want to impress, your music needs to say something more than “I has shiny toys.” Part of the problem is that a lot of people stick to their social group music too much and don’t explore other styles. That leads to inbreeding and a lack of really standout virtuoso moments. So its not that this piece is “bad;” its for sure well-crafted. It just lacks enough counterpoint and small risks to define itself. Its basically a percussion track looking for more involved melody and harmony to give it context. Moving outside just 4/4 would also help. Leonard Bernstein once referred to good music as engaging in “the violation of expectation.” Most dance never challenges my expectations. People should think about coloring outside the lines more often. 😀

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  4. Ah the refreshing cynicism of Synthtopia comments!

    The video production on this was infinitely more impressive than the music production, but it is in its way a great thing. I took this as the long awaited, and worthy, sequel to Aha’s Take On Me. Putting this together must have taken ages, and required a lot more effort and dedication than the QWERTY controllerism demonstrated below it.

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    1. So, hard work and a well executed video constitutes a great thing? That to me is cynical. And the reason why MTV stopped the music bit in the end.

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  5. Controllerism is a great thing when people use it to go beyond what is possible through more “common” performances on an instrument. Programming controllers and daws to do stuff at your command is a feat on its own, but something very different to your “standard” musical genius performance. I guess that to truly understand my point you have to have experienced taming and learning an instrument, and not the other way around. I love controllerism but it is performances like this one that kind of discredits the craft itself. You got to go deeper to know all the thinking, and work that are behind the performance. Once it’s done, yeah, maybe anyone can do it. But if so, why isn’t everyone doing it. It’s because the passion for your work and music is what shows at the end. Anyone can make a beat, a bass line, a riff, whatever. Anyone can punch on pads. But not everyone is going to put the work behind it to make it sound “right”. And controllerism leaves that unattended and hidden in some performances. My first impulse is to diss this work. Knowing how it can be done, but like always, there is the simple way that everybody “knows” how to do this, and then there is the way it is done and created. Controllerism may make things look and be more simple, but yet, they don’t necessarily need to be done that way. I think people who criticize should do it uploading stuff to back up their points, as well founded as they may be. It’s way easier to just type why this is crap, than to actually prove it.

    Having said that, off course I think this played on actual instruments would be way more captivating that what it looks in these videos. And I don’t have anything to upload, so sue me. =P

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  6. I’m impressed by both videos. If you check out his YouTube channel, he’s got other performances of classical music, too.

    The first video has really fantastic visual production – I love how he extends and erases parts of the Launchpad as he’s playing. I’d really like to see a making of video for this.

    Impressive skills on the Launchpad too. The one downside to the controllerist approach that I see is that grid controllers don’t capture velocity, so a piano patch sounds more mechanical played with a grid controller than it does with a piano controller. That’s less an issue when doing beat routines, but when you get into melodic piano style playing, it’s pretty obvious.

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  7. Am I the only who doesn’t enjoy those launchpad flashing dubstep video ?
    Apart from the style, it’s just that you see guys hitting random button but you don’t really get what they’re doing. They look like they are playing along the song but you can’t really say which instruments.
    I don’t really get what’s interesting in those videos.
    The second video is great though, much simpler much better.

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  8. God, the Synthtopia community can be such nay-sayers! Everyone complains about DJs and how “they just push play”, etc, etc, then when someone chops up a song and PERFORMS it on a grid controller apparently that’s still not enough… Would it be more impressive if a whole band performed this on “real” instruments? Maybe. But give the dude a break, he’s only got two hands! And I thought both performances were pretty cool. But I guess if it ain’t some dude wanking off on a modular, it must not be shit. Sheeeshhh…..

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  9. There are TWO distinct aspects of this kind of work:

    1. The PROCESS: i.e., how it is made.

    2. The CONTENT: i.e., what is made, the result

    The process can be boring or interesting, can use new tools, employ different kinds of skills. Compared to a standard keyboard, playing on a grid controller puts the notes in a different geometrical arrangement and removes the velocity sensing. Other than that, it is still fingertips tapping a switch (pretty much like a piano… well sort of). But behind the scenes, there is assigning the sounds & loops to the pads, and other layering tasks, perhaps that is where a person’s creativity can be put to work.

    The content possibilities range from VERY safe, tried-and-true, pavlovian, and crowd-pleasing, all the way to bizarre, odd, unpleasant, jarring, nasty, crowd-hating noise– from simple to complex– from familiar to unfamiliar– and all points in-between. Not all music is “composed” some of it is simply selected from menus of options/loops/sounds, and the “operator” says “yum” or “yuck” as the items are lined up. I’m not judging. Sometimes interesting “happy accidents” make it more fun to listen to.

    When a video is posted with music made in new ways; I look for new ideas and new processes. and I listen for something in the music that has mojo. I suppose everyone’s mojo is different.

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