Probably far more important.
I’ll never forget a particular day from my youth. It was the holiday break and a friend who was a dance major in a distant private college had returned home for the holidays. I was sitting on a sidewalk with her and several of her classmates outside of a bar, listening to them bitch and moan about being artistically misunderstood by their profs and not being inspired by their overpriced education (much of their complaint seemed to center around their choreography being overly formal and composed).
As I started to get bored with this tedium I noticed an empty tin band-aid container sitting in the gutter on top of a pile of gravel. I picked up the container, scooped up a handful of gravel and tossed it inside, and started shaking out a rhythm, quietly at first so as not to interrupt the yammering. It wasn’t long before someone started tapping a stick on their empty beer bottle to accompany me. It wasn’t much longer after that that all 8-10 people were clapping and hooting and shaking and tapping and dancing and singing and laughing. Tedium banished, creativity restored.
When it all died down I suggested to the dancers that they introduce more improvisation to their choreography. Everyone seemed rather happy with the suggestion as a cure for their ills.
The funniest thing about that story is that the only thing that changed was an attitude. It didn’t require new equipment, skills, or technique.
People are pretty key. And I might add that dancing is, if not absolutely necessary for music, certainly potent enough for the way a musical event feels to those involved, not to be dismissed lightly.
So maybe the key (more than instrument design for visual cues, or mutability, etc) if experience with bandmates is so important, is time playing together, but I’ll add to that idea the importance of attitude. That feeling of “try it and see what happens”, and in so doing finding of constraints, together.
If other electronic musicians are like me, I think we avoid this interaction with other musicians out of fear of embarrassment. We’ve chosen especially difficult instruments to master (with an infinite palette of timbres and expressive capability “mastery” may be forever out of reach). There’s a part of me that’s always holding back from putting myself out there to play with others because there’s just one more thing I need to get the hang of…
There must be ways of helping each other feel comfortable with getting started together…