Why is this forum less about music and more about stuff?

Hey all,

It occured to me, as much as I love hanging out here, Lines sometimes feels like a bit of a paradox. There’s much love and compassion here, the beauty in exploring new ways to create music, but the music itself - doesn’t always get all that much attention. Very few specific threads are dedicated to only tracks and many of them are moved into a general thread, except for a few standout releases.

Why is that? It’s not meant to be a provocative question or aimed as critique, it comes from genuine curiosity. But in a place where there’s so much appreciation for the serene and beautiful qualities of a well-designed application or the gear that goes with it, why is the actual music confined to mostly very defined spaces, where posts quickly get lost in the buzz and traffic?

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i have an inexhaustible list of albums made by members here or musicians linked from here I want to listen to, maybe 20 browser tabs open just waiting for hours in the day. it feels more like a common nervous system we all share that doesn’t explicitly need discussion all the time, but still if someone makes an obscure music reference, it’s understood here, even on the highest levels.

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There’s a huge thread called What Are You Listening To. I love exploring that and finding new music.

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From a moderation perspective, we compile standalone release threads into the megathreads if the thread author doesn’t start a conversation around it. Historically when someone just drops a link to something there is near-zero response from the community. The megathreads become a central place to find links to new music etc.

If people want to start a conversation with a musical release as a jumping off point that’s great, and encouraged. The requirement is that the thread author defines some discussion points so the thread has a purpose beyond advertising. For example @glia does a great job of this with his release threads.

I would say there are already plenty of threads talking about the practice of creating music. I would always love to see more, especially where the conversation is not centered around the gear used to do it.

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This is an interesting note. I really think this forum does two things, though I’m admittedly new to all of this:

  1. supplies documentation for Monome devices, which is then distilled and provided. In other words, basically we’re all learning from each other, and it’s collected over time as we discover new things.

  2. There’s a practical side to making this music: we have to set up our gear, then we have to iron out the kinks, and then we make music with it, which is a whole other discussion; some of which I’ve seen on this forum as well.

Definitely not opposed to hearing how people approach composition. It’s something I personally struggle with along with trying to amass a library of sounds that I like that I’ve either made or sampled.

Again, new, but something I’ve noticed while lurking.

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Makes total sense. Though I might point out, being fairly new to this forum, this is the first I hear of it. I like it and think it sounds great, but I don’t think it’s fair to assume everyone understands this, or should be required to.

But then again, I could read the guidelines more thoroughly, so that’s on me, for sure.

I think there’s a middle ground topic here that I actually see discussed a lot that you’re glossing over: approaches to making music. Yes, sometimes that is gear centered (many pieces of gear are prized precisely because they are unique, so if you want to talk about a technique you’re exploring, the gear can become very prominent in those discussions). But I do see a fair amount of discussion of sound design and compositional techniques (found sound/sampling/granular in particular, as this place has an electronic & experimental bent).

I guess what I mean is: you’re totally right, but try to see through the “gear” framing to the “here’s some inspiring techniques to try” framing :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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what’s cool about many contemporary forum platforms is that you can just mute threads and users even so you can have the forum experience you prefer

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Coming from someone who spends an incredible amount of time talking about and agonizing over stuff on many other forums, I find this question slightly amusing. :wink:

But, I think it’s because Lines is multiple things: a melting pot of a specific niche of modular enthusiasts (widening, but still niche) oriented around originally the monome / mannequins stuff (IIRC) - so gear was always a part of it; a discussion of musical ethics, process, and ideology - apart from the music itself, that is; and a watercooler for “houseplant oriented” (I use this term gently and in good humour) chatter amongst like-minded friends. So the music, while an important part of the binder, is here mostly that: binder.

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Easier to consume than to listen. Easier to talk about consumption than talk about listening.

Worse other places than it is here.

rant mode

I’ve posted a lot of questions that are in the uncanny valley of “not quite beginner questions but not quite questions I can find answers to myself,” and am overwhelmingly told to “buy x,” because to a person whose creative practice consists mostly of engaging in the marketplace (not everyone, but some folks around), “creative advice” and “buy x” are equivalent. Of course, the financial viability of such a thing as music technology depends on those people (ever seen a video with a quarter million dollars of gear in it and not a single oscillator in tune?). Quarter million guy is, from a market perspective, worth about 50 of me and, over his lifetime, worth several times more than that. Correspondingly, he has an inflated sense of the value of his market-oriented contributions to discussion. I know that the values of the people who run this forum are not aligned with that guy’s values, and that subtle decisions are always being made to reduce (or at least corral) that type of contribution.

There are several people here who hold first-hand music and music tech knowledge that it is not possible for anyone else to hold. These folks are often beset by QMG’s miriade misunderstandings about music, technology, history, etc, because he outnumbers them, has a bigger system, etc.

The other side of the difficulty, as I’ve seen it, is the gate-keeping that has historically surrounded substantive communication about technical features of music (harmony is the big one here). I wish it were easier to convince new-comers to look into stuff like the harmonic series / intervals, to build a simple, low-to-mid effort foundation for communicating about music. Unfortunately, there’s centuries worth of history to fight against on that front, and I played music for over fifteen years before thinking “yeah, I could learn this stuff” and ended up watching like… Andrew Huang’s 30 minute guide to intervals like “Ohhhhhhhhhhh… this is really simple and I should have studied this before going wild with my piano chops, or building a 6u euro system.” Now I can talk confidently about these issues with friends who have Real Degrees. The issue with discussing them online is that there’s so much gate-keeping that persists from the Real Degrees people, especially if they know that your primary thing is “experimental” or “electronic,” because your language is different from theirs and theirs is The Only One. Several recent disagreements on this very forum have revolved around Educated People trying to Tell You How It Is without realizing quite who they were talking to or respecting the idea that someone else can know something worthwhile without expressing it in quite the same way.

Even here, the process of witnessing truly unique ideas blossom requires, at least in part, a particular vigilance and capacity for digging – that is, you may read a thousand posts and stumble on a single idea that actually flips your thoughts on music upside-down. That’s still a better ratio than any other music tech space I’ve encountered. And, if you’re new to music or music tech, some Very Big Realizations lurk right on the surface here, with things like Cheat Codes, Less Concepts, Technical Maps, or even the existence of Norns/Teletype.

I’d also like to see more discussion on musical process that was less gear-oriented, but that would require the ability to assume a greater shared knowledge base among members – one that was not intrinsically tied to more institutional forms of musical understanding, as that would grant weird license to Those Types.

TLDR: Foster relationships with individuals that are having the kinds of conversations you want to have.

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I really don’t understand the implication you’re trying to make here… can you clarify this, perhaps? This comes across as in-speak to me.

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“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

  • source disputed

Writing about music is hard and subjective. Explaining inspiration or process is often difficult. Writing in itself is an art so there is at least one layer of abstraction to wade through.

Writing about gear is easy comparatively. What a knob does or how a certain circuit works is much more objective.

So there is that. People tend to gravitate to discussions where it is easier to be clearly understood.

I think the bigger reason there is so much “non-music talk” from gear to film to photography is that many people here have overlapping interests that in our daily lives are probably pretty niche. I only know a handful of people in “real life” who know who Brian Eno, J Dilla, Don Buchla and Stan Brakhage are, for instance, while here I bet most people do. If I tried to ask for examples of non-traditional uses of pedal steel guitar to my social circle offline most people would ask me what a steel guitar is. Here I get great ambient and experimental suggestions. It’s nice to discuss “unrelated” topics with people who have a similar shorthand.

You see the same thing with people discussing anime on hip hop forums or radical politics on punk forums or cars on street wear forums. People who have one thing in common usually find other things in common.

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not at all my intent. referencing the people from the end of this paragraph, who have a very closed, institutionally-grounded notion of music-making and degrade those who lack it (not that I don’t think education is valuable, just that lording it over people is Very Bad, and the norm in conversations about “Theory”).

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I wholeheartedly agree that the academic mindset is only one (and a very disconnected, abstracted, even dehumanising) way of looking at the huge picture that is “music” (and the broader “culture”), and that it seems strongly to tend, in our technopolistic society, towards an elitism of now-largely-negative incremental value. To use a bunch of academic words. :joy:

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Ive only very recently joined lines, after having lurked/read on and off for a few years. Blame the pandemic; with gigging off the table, I got tired of listening to myself and it was disquiet that drew me in. Once i registered, i started actually reading the forum that i had previously dipped into on the basis of ‘maybe there is some info on this or that module that i am interested in here’.

And wow.

Maybe im in a honeymoon state, and Im unready to post very much because i dont really get the community norms yet, and am a bit awed by all the talent on display here-

But the attitude here is amazing. And not just compared to other sites like mw or gs or rep or … also compared with the way we deal with each other in green rooms, rehearsal studios, festy tents, etc. Its just kinder, with more listening to understand vs listening to interject. So much more discussion of technique and aesthetic, and so much less trolling and pointscoring. This is really a problem in all the gear sites, and for many people in real life, who seem to think its a winner take all competition.

Id love to see more topics about inspiration, technique, serendipity, frustration, disenchantment, codification, rediscovery, iconoclasm, and letting go. But i get a lot of that already from the margins of whats already here. And a lot more than at other ‘sites’.

The gear is a common reference point around which this community is building a lot more of interest. Im cool with that. More than.

I really like the way you all relate, and the way its moderated.

Yeah i like houseplants too, even if i’m from the last century.

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I’d definitely suggest doing some searching here on those terms you mentioned. There are TONS of buried threads containing mountains of amazing discussions to be surfaced. There’s no taboo here on necrobumping, so go ahead and revive something if it’s of interest to you!

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Thanks for the replies, all. I hope I didn’t offend anyone by asking, I was just curious. I love the diversity of the replies and appreciate the discussion that came out of it.

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If I may add my tuppence to this topic: There are plenty of reasons for the way this forum is, and one of those is user contribution. If there’s a topic you’d love to see discussed, you’re more than welcome to either find an existing thread and revive it or start your own thread if one doesn’t exist yet - and I’m sure many people would join in! The awesome thing about healthy forums is that you really can be the change you want to see in a given community and, if others want that same change, it can blossom and evolve the community in beautiful ways.

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i have the equipment & trade categories muted except for a handful of threads & i try to make a habit of muting threads about objects of no particular interest to me - that’s been helping me stick around here a little more

re: causation i think it’s just easier to talk about/troubleshoot gear rather than have legit art convos so that’s just going to be a natural driver of number of posts

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