As I’m going through all the responses for the Propellerhead Record beta, I couldn’t help but notice this image, taken in Lima, Peru this month. Sure, you can claim that Propellerhead’s software looks too much like analog gear, that racking up lots of instruments and effects together (especially now, with parallel racks in Record) leads to visual clutter. But then, that mish-mash of knobs and colored panels looks, well, a lot like this Lima electronics market.
Interestingly enough, the photographer notes these are all homegrown efforts, unique DIY electronics. A theme that comes up every time I talk to folks in South America is a reminder that they can’t always afford the latest-and-greatest modern tech. And, of course, neither can a lot of us on the other continents — hey, here in the US, we’re paying off loans, debt, and health insurance bills. So I do think the DIY world will continue to spawn things people themselves can use. An oft-overlooked driver of the open source software movement remains the desire to create something for yourself, even in the shadow of titans like Red Hat, IBM, Sun, and Novell, who stand to reap big business rewards. With the interest in these things exploding, as well as indie commercial development, hardware and software alike can be thought of as a virtual analog to this rack of strange Peruvian sonic gear.
It certainly reveals something essential about the drive to decorate your audio creations, and to make them unique. Hardware or software, it’s hard not to look at this and want to go make some crazy noises.