Octatrack vs learning piano

It seems like an odd question on the surface, but I’ve absolutely gone through the same dilemma* in a slightly different form. I too am a hobbyist with limited time and energy, and while I think I’d rather have the end result of completed, purely electronic tracks, I find it much easier to put my time into sitting and practicing guitar, because I find the mechanical elements more satisfying in the moment.

*No answers, sorry


Exactly !

How about Together?

1 Like

Learning piano will feel like work sometimes, but the long-term payoff is huge. OT will probably be more immediately fun.
They use different parts of the brain. You’ll have piano moods and you’ll have OT moods - I do! Do both if you can afford it.


I took piano lessons as a kid. I didn’t exactly hate them, but I didn’t love them either. I discovered electronic music production as an adult, and have been noodling along for a few decades now. If my next residence has room for an 88-key synth, I may pick up a Fantom 08 and then try out some piano lessons.

The OT is easy to learn. Dedicate two hours per weekend to playing with it, and you will be proficient by the end of the month.

1 Like

Yeah, if you can-do both.

I sometimes think the difficulty of the octatrack is a little overplayed (disclaimer time-I’ve not used one…) No doubt it’s a very deep, complex electronic instrument-but I think if you spent a couple of weeks dedicating an hour a day, you’d be churning out some pretty good stuff.

The same amount of time on the piano (presuming no previous knowledge/experience etc) is likely to produce somewhat less spectacular results.

That’s not to say that you won’t be discovering new things on the OT for years to come, but I don’t think that the learning curves between the two are that comparable.

Also-I’ve heard plenty of beautiful melodies coming from an OT-sample in a few pretty piano notes or phrases (whether it is you playing or not!) and then use the OT to sequence, effect, slice and twist them into a moving melody you couldn’t have dreamt of playing….

1 Like

I divide my time between working with grooveboxes, sequencer, etc. and playing keys, violin, etc.

What might help is goal-setting and prioritization with regards to your piano activities. Write them down if you have to. Then eliminate the unrealistic ones - like “Get as good as Lang Lang and take big ticket classical concert piano gigs like him”, eventually whittling your list down to the practical goals.

Over time, I’ve worked out that, I don’t need to be a classical concert pianist, nor do I have be virtuosic rock keyboard player like Jordan Rudess, who at times seems incapable of playing anything that isn’t at blazing speeds. I just need to waste less time stumbling around the keyboard to enter the notes that I want to enter into a sequencer.


Which one can you stick with and which one will inspire you to want to keep making music?

While Piano is the more solid foundation to stand on, you may get bored and stop all together. Slowly stopping practice and moving on.

The Octatrack will give you music you u can listen to and hear your progress sooner. You can still write melody and learn music theory while making music.

What’s your goal?

It’s ultimately about how well you know yourself and which one you’ll enjoy enough to see it through to the next step.


…sounds like, u actually can get into both at the same time…
go for it…

1 Like

Get rid of Internet, you’ll have plenty of time to learn whatever :wink:


They’re both learning music, but one is learning to write and produce and lots of technical machine-based stuff, and the other is learning a performance skill. I think piano is transferrable just as much as learning the production side of things, but if you go the octatrack route, you can’t bust out with Careless Whisper on the piano in the lounge of a hotel as a joke to your friends. :slight_smile:


To be fair, I didn’t read through this but maybe a DN or A4 would be a nice middle ground?

Damn. That was wonderful. I’m 15mins from Kennedy center. Obviously I need to pay more attention to what’s playing there


Yes, I wondered the same thing two years ago: Should I invest in learning piano which means I can’t spend that time with my DN/DT combo?

It felt as too much ambition and too less time to learn all of this.

I was wrong: Some weeks I just play the piano. Some weeks I’m just fiddling knobs to create beats and soundscapes. And now I live-record melodies on the DN with the midi out of my electronic piano.

The piano playing made me a better musician by understanding chords and their relation MUCH better. It helped me a lot in writing melodies and it feels awesome that you can actually PLAY your own music.

So for me I can say that playing a real instrument (including learning some music theory) makes composition on electronic devices much easier and rewarding.


Piano first, then Octatrack. Once you learn music theory, you’ll be able to do sooo sooo much more with Octatrack. Not only chords, scales, but also rhythms, beats, peculiarities, motor skills. Otherwise, you’ll end up like some synthtuber like Mylar Melodies that can only program most boring techno in C Major.

Oh, and there’s no better feeling in life than picking up an immediate action instrument and just getting lost in it for hours. Take a look at these classic synthesizers from the 70s and 80s and how amazing these keyboardists play with them. You can easily get there :wink:

1 Like

Slightly harsh!!!

I agree music theory is important and the piano is a great way to learn it; but there are plenty of talented producers with no formal theory background that make some amazing music (to my ears). And plenty that know the theory inside out but can’t create a thing…


Even if you spend 15 mins a day (learning a new section) on the Octatrack you will make great progress.

I think you are overthinking the Elektron part of this


Nah, man, it has nothing to do with formal education. You can learn music theory on your own and a lot of people learnt it this way. Especially if you have good relative pitch. Heck, some people are even born with absolute pitch.

And once you know how these things work, there’s no way you’re worse than a “beat programmer”.

1 Like

Thanks everyone, I appreciate the responses!

be careful with the piano, the gatekeepers have heard that patch before :laughing: