Today we have sound designer Lotuszia here from www.lelotusbleu.fr, a company specializing in creating custom presets and sound banks for soft synths. He’s with us today to share some thoughts on sound design and how it relates to music composition.
ASM: First off, thank you Lotuszia for taking the time to share your insights on sound design with ASM and it’s readers. So let’s go right to the hardest question first. In one sentence, what do the words “Sound Design” mean to you?
Lotuszia: I can only speak of Sound Design as “Creating the most possible expressive instruments”, which is my day job.
ASM: Lately there seems to be a growing amount of music out there that references sound design. There also seems to be a handful of sound designers out there adding elements of music composition to their work and releasing it as music. This being said, what do you consider to be the relationship between sound design and music?
Lotuszia: I’ve never seen “Sound Design” writing a good track alone. I’ve seen composers relying more or less on the “good instrument in the right place” writing good tracks though.
Sound Design can be found at different levels : Most pro composers I know mostly use presets, and employ people like me to take care of possible other aspects of sound design ( ie. mainly adapting presets to the project context, or creating new ones on the fly) At the opposite of what people usually think, a “preset” can be a somewhat complex thing.
The same applies for many composers/producers who cant hire people to help them get the job fixed quickly ( I say quickly because it’s usually the keyword : there IS a budget hiding behind each project ) : They have to make their own sound design themselves ( ie. adapting instruments to context). Some like that a lot. For others it’s a real burden.
This is just an incomplete and limited view of the pro world, and it does not even include all hobbyists musicians, especially all the musicians who don’t work for budgeted projects, but for pleasure. But imho the subdivisions found in the pro world still exist in the amateur world, even if the frontiers and lines are blurred.
ASM: So it sounds like for the most part, sound design is something separate from music composition. At the same time, with all the modern tools, it can be hard to separate the two. Do you have any advice for electronic musicians out there on how to approach this in a productive manner?
Lotuszia: In electronic music things do begin to get very blurred. Though I’ve designed thousands of presets and helped to populate a bunch of VSTIs, I’m also a proud preset w_hore, but fact is that when I find an inspiring preset, I can can play it just like it is and forget about everything else, or adapt it very quickly to project context, because as I’m very used to construct patches, I’ve also become quite efficient in deconstructing them and adapting them in a flash.
I say “in a flash” on purpose because fastness is essential not to loose the focus on the making music process. I’ve seen many students or musicians in my life spending ( Loosing ? ) hours ( days ?? ) to try to adapt their instruments and modify them, and totally loosing the essential focus : Composition (in the widest perception of this term) and joy of music making.
Sound design for the power amateur can mean being efficient at adapting presets to fit their needs. Its what I’d recommend to every musician working in that field.
ASM: So far we’ve been considering sound design and music as separate. But for some composers out there, there really is no differentiation between the two fields. These musicians seem to view sound design and composition as the same. Any thoughts on this?
Lotuszia: In some -very rare- compositions ( Eno always comes first in my mind, or Fripp, but you’ll certainly have your own references etc ), Sound Design and composition are heavily tied. But these are only particular, and quite rare, cases. In many other genres, a GOOD casting of presets, and a GOOD adaptation and use of these is definitely enough. Directions, intentions are also important in the making of music, though happy accidents are always likely to happen.
ASM: I see. So for a musician aiming to compose in this fashion, is there anything for them to look out for? Any traps they might fall into?
Lotuszia: Some musicians just want to make their own presets, because they feel better in this way, or think that by acting this way they completely “own” their music, or sometimes just …. by pure snobbism, reinventing the wheel at each project. Some will come with very original, unusual and inspiring stuff, while some others end up with very usual, basic and blank instruments. But its their pleasure, and well, pleasure is probably the most important thing to preserve when making music.
ASM: Thank you Lotuzia for taking the time to speak with us. I think your insights and advice will be helpful to any electronic musician who reads this. Any last words for someone out there thinking about how sound design might add to their music?
Lotuszia: If you know a bit, or more, about sound design, the better. If you dont, just dont mind, be assured you can make music without any sound design skills at all.
Make sure to check out Lotuszia’s custom synthesizer banks at www.lelotusbleu.fr.