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THEORY V3.0_________________________________ (APR 2012)

the Midibox SID synthesizer



the Shruti-1 from
Mutable instruments



It's actually been almost 7 (!) years since we've updated our old theory section. A lot of things
happened since 2005 music- and technology-wise - Dubstep came and went, you can produce
tracks on your bloody telephone now - while we came a long way too. So it's time get the concept
up to speed.

Nothing changed with the way we approach Dub and Reggae - to always try to throw something new
in there - but when it comes to technology it's time for an update. Most of all the term "Digital Laptop
Reggae" doesn't really apply anymore since a lot of our music isn't been done with a laptop only since
a while. It's not even digital in many cases, Rootah or Tapes for example are using analogue gear since

One of the key insights of the recent past is that the computer is a great tool when it comes to recording
and editing, but as a sole musical instrument there are better options. No matter how many great virtual
instruments there are around nowadays, the main drawback remains: you can't really lay your hands
onto any of them. When exploring something as complex as a synthesizer just with your mouse you
are bound to stay on the surface of it. This actually very creative process feels not very different from
writing an email or ordering some books online: click, click, click. A REAL synth is another matter, you
dig much deeper. Computers are in no way perfect too, they are usually buggy and happy to give you
computer related problems - drivers are not working, the whole latency issue, viruses - when all you
want to do is making music instead of dealing with computer technician stuff.

That's when we (re-)discovered using hardware gear again, machines that are built for one purpose
only: to make sounds. You just switch them on and they work flawlessly. Obviously a computer is always
the cheaper solution, but luckily in the last years a lot of amazing Do-It-Yourself projects came about via
the net, so anybody who can hold a soldering iron and follow some basic instructions can build their own
music machines for relatively small money (see HERE).

So now we're forcing ourselves to use the computer as little as possible. The idea behind this is to get
out of the laptop comfort zone and learn all about making Dub music with new tools, and to make the
machines interact in a way a computer can't. While working with hardware is nothing new at all, it is
more about re-learning those skills that were absolutely needed until the early 2000s, when a cheap
computer alone finally could be used as an instrument (not counting the Commodore Amiga tracker days).
Skills that somehow got lost in the last decade while holding a mouse in our hands. Most likely the result
of using mostly hardware to make Dub and Reggae won't sound any "better", but hopefully it will sound
a little different and more alive. One thing is for sure: it's a lot more fun. In the end it doesn't matter with
what tools music is being made, all that counts is a good idea. But having fun while doing it is the crucial
motivator, and that is where the machines come into play.

--- disrupt, April 2012