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19 September 2014

It's a gas, GAS

Could be you're the type to get hot under the collar at the mention of modulation matrices, convolution reverb or side-chained dynamic equalisation. Does granular synthesis render you agog; do aural exciters excite; might valve compressors make you feel squishy? Then you're like me, a certifiable (not certified, there being no certificate for it) music-tech maniac.

You could take a degree in music technology - m'chum Dave went on from drumming in our band of the '80s, Golgotha, to lecturing glassy-eyed gear fetishists on music tech at Staffordshire Uni - but most maniacs are just happy to lust after kit online. And so very many do, there being what appears a modern-day glut of project-studio pilots.

It's become possible for anyone with a laptop and the right software to self-produce compositions with alacrity, from the truly mellifluous all the way down to simplistic, derivative, dance-style dross by which to saturate SoundCloud. This makes for more music-tech products and, like flatus after a curry night, gear-acquisition syndrome (GAS) now belches forth in profusion from many folk.

More noxious for those serious about forging a career in music is the suffocating cloud of new tuneage rolling across the internet - so dense that nowadays you can't even give songs away. U2's recent, widely derided stunts for the iPhone 6 launch demonstrate that even a supergroup has bother gaining an audience for new stuff.

That said, music-tech manufacturers and developers must surely be cock-a-hoop at the quantity of GAS emanating from ruminant hordes of proto-musos, however much the rest of us turn up our noses at their emissions.

One of mine, yesterday
I'm a journalist. There, I think I managed to slip that one out unobtrusively. A proper journalist, y'know, in that I trained as one, have worked as one professionally, in print, for many years and people often say "are you going to write about me, then?" on first acquaintance. I tell them I don't cover wetware, which is a kind way of saying that I specialise in technology because people are awful. Not all; just the ones who think their lives would make for good stories.

You may have already read my stuff on a website that was until recently called MuzoBlog. I set it up a few years ago to alleviate my own chronic GAS, to keep abreast of an increasing number of music-tech innovations and to indulge the compulsive tattler resident in my sinistral cerebral hemisphere.

It was meant to be a therapeutic thing; a light aside to keep my hand in as a journo while I put more effort into creating music and pulling off the ever trickier task of its marketing. But the sharp rise in the number of newcomers to music production, all with incipient GAS, meant that things became serious pretty sharpish.

Readers had a seemingly insatiable appetite for info and music-tech industry types embraced the way I delivered it. I also found that a lot of readers had quite the appetite for my flavour of journalese and liked the scope of coverage - mainly product reviews.

It's a good feeling to be able to share one's views on a passion, explaining the technical ins and outs of sometimes freakishly complicated music gear, and guiding readers to an informed decision on whether or not to buy. However, all this support and encouragement gave me second thoughts about the jokey name I'd given the publication.

'Muzo', or 'muso', reeks of anorak - certainly not the kind of wetware I'd care to scribble about in shorthand. And then the word 'blog'... Anyone can call him or herself a blogger just by dumping a log on the web. In un-hipspeek, bloggers are essentially diarists, even though the more substantial might be called analysts, pundits or commentators. Yes, I'm a journo-snob and have bother taking 'blogger' seriously. My bad.

So, where once I was happy to blither out a weblog, I found myself with a sturdy organ that was provoking serious response from readers and the industry alike. Time, then, for me to get serious, apply more of the professional skills I'd acquired while working in print and crank up the edification and entertainment ('edifitainment', anyone?).

Oh yeah, and I really had to lose that dumb name, which I couldn't register as a dot-com anyway, hence MuzoBlog-dot-net. And lo! I hit on a renaming solution so obvious, my palm had to be surgically removed from my face...

'FellKlang Musik-Technik'. OK, quite a mouthful. But Klang (German for 'noise/sound') is what you'd expect from a musical Doktor (German for 'doctor'). And I'd better explain that I'm as much of a doctor as Dre, that GaGa is not a member of the aristocracy and Dogg is not a private dick.

Anyway, I couldn't risk appending FellKlang with 'Music Tech' in English - I did not want an uncomfortable conversation with m'chum Andy, who currently heads up a familiarly named music-tech mag of high standing in the UK. His also goes out in print and I envy him that very little. Tough gig, print publishing.

Meantime online, having devised a tidy title and endured the stress of trying to register a nine-letter word across the internet (not easy), I've come up with some places for you to feast on FellKlang. Swing by, check out the mix of hard info and funnies, then follow/Like/bookmark as you prefer...

FellKlang Musik-Technik



If you're a musician, I hope you'll find the FellKlang articles published thus far of good use in music-mangling endeavours. And if you're more of a Fell fan than musician, then I can offer tediously detailed insight into how the modern music artist operates. I'll never be the brightest star in the firmament of musical fame, nor would I want to be, but my musician's story will surely have bloated appendices, albeit with GAS.

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