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Viewing topic "The Truth about DAW Sequencing/Recording vs Workstation Sequencing/Recording"

Posted on: August 22, 2019 @ 12:01 PM
Total Posts:  364
Joined  12-17-2013
status: Enthusiast

I thought that by now the Pros and Cons of DAW Sequencing vs on board Synthesizer Workstation Sequencing were well understood and well known, and that one made the decision based off workflow preferences and musical choice.  But I dunno, recent discussions I’ve been having with a few of my Montage owning mates have proven me wrong.  Also some of the recent youtube videos on the merits of using DAWs like Cubase seem to not get it right.  I’m curious what the Motifator community thinks now that the dust on the matter should have already been settled. 

The common arguments for a DAW like Cubase over a music production workstation like Motif, Korg Kronos, or Roland FA, is that the DAW has/is:

1. Bigger Screens to work with
2. Easier integration with VSTs, VSTi’s
3. More Sequencer memory,
4. More tracks to work with
5. Easier integration of Audio
6. Easier Cut, Paste and Move
7. Better for large complex projects

These basic advantages are usually juxtaposed against the limited memory, small screens and inflexibility of the Synthesizer Workstation. They are cited as the obvious reason why the DAW is the way to go. Also the recommended workflow is either record straight to the DAW or import your audio and midi from your Synth Workstation to the DAW and then do all the sequencing in the DAW.

The problem with this point of view is that it quietly and subtly separates the act of sequencing from music creation, music performance, improvisation, sound production, and voice editing. Notice that the advantages 1-7 don’t focus on music, timbre, musical sounds, the act of performing, sound editing, or musical instruments. On the other hand, sequencing on the Synthesizer Workstation has the advantage of the Synthesizer Workstation being/having:

1. Sequencing on the musical instrument that creates the sounds

2. Tight integration between Sequencing, voice and sound editing of the original musical performance

3. Tight integration between Sequencing, musical Performance, musical Improvisation & musical Composition processes.

4. Tight integration between Sequencing and the touch and feel of the musical instrument that produces the sequence and the sounds.

5. Seamless and Transparent integration between the Synth Engine’s parameters/capabilities and the sequencer/sequence. 

6. Easy integration between the current sequence and previously sequenced songs, patterns, ideas, arrangements, and orchestrations stored in the workstation

7. Tight, transparent, and easy interaction between the sequencer and jobs/utilities or capabilities that are unique to synthesizer workstation that the music is being produced on.

The truth is the DAW is not a musical instrument.  VSTs and VSTi’s have a “look and mode of operation” but not the “touch and feel” or intimacy of a physical musical instrument.

The truth of the matter is that often the process of Sequencing cannot be easily separated from the processes of musical performance, musical creation, musical improvisation and the musical instrument where the performance, creation, and improvisation originally occurs.  In other words sequencing is often a musical act or musical gesture. that is often inextricably bound to the instrument that created the musical sequence.

In the same way that you cannot simply “lift” a violin section performance from one orchestra and give it to the violin section of another orchestra and expect the same performance, mood, passion, interpretation, etc.  You cannot lift a sequence from a music production workstation or synthesizer workstation transfer it to a DAW and expect business as usual.

Just to be clear Sequencing/Audio Recording on a Synthesizer workstation can be and often is a musical act or musical gesture that is so intertwined with that Synthesizer that even editing, the sequence or recording requires immediate, transparent, easy and tight integration with the Synthesizer and all of its capabilities.

So to put this whole discussion in perspective, its not really about Sequencing/Audio Recording in DAW+VSTi vs Music Production Synthesizer.  The real discussion is the choice between the pros and cons of sequencing/audio recording on two different instruments and two different classes of instrument.  The DAW+VST+VSTi is its own instrument.  The Synthesizer Workstation is a different instrument.  It is not the case that I can take a sequenced performance from a Motif, Kronos, FA, Montage, etc and just move it into Cubase and continue with my sequence/audio editing as though I were still on those respective instruments because those musical instruments have unique capabilities, personalities, and idiosyncrasies that are not present in Cubase.  This uniqueness is usually intertwined directly with the sequence/recording.  And the same goes the other way.  I cannot create a performance/sequence in my Cubase+VSTi environment and take it to a Motif, Kronos, FA,etc and continue editing as though I were still in Cubase.  They’re all different instruments.

The music production synthesizer exists as a unique and specific union between sequencing, editing , recording capabilities and the synthesizer.  The ploy of any music instrument manufacturer to remove midi/audio sequencing and editing from the workstation synthesizer and to make it the sole domain of the DAW is an attempt to un-invent the music production synthesizer

The whole truth of the matter is The DAW+VST i may complement Synthesizer Workstations it may supplement the Synthesizer Workstations and vice versa.  But neither is a replacement for the other.  And to choose between them is as subjective as deciding between a Steinway grand piano, or a Yamaha grand piano, a Gibson guitar or a Ovation guitar, the Boston Pop Orchestra or the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Coke or Pepsi.

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