The Computer Age

Well the wife is gone to a baby shower this weekend and I had the boys all day save for 3 hours when a babysitter gave me a reprieve.  So when she got here I absconded to my studio and laid down synthetic piano tracks.  Speaking of synthetic piano tracks, i find myself making a lot of them and it makes me realize that I MUST get a keyboard.  A real one.  Not a typing keyboard.  Granted, the typing kind can do wonders with Garageband, but I want the real thing.  Previously, I never had a hankering for a keyboard, but I think one of the great things about computer based recording like this is it shows you what is possible with other instruments.  Even the amp and stomp box simulators are great in that they are already helping me understand what types of real stomp boxes I want.  Currently I only own a distortion pedal.  Now I want a delay pedal and a compressor and a phaser and….

I am really enjoying the gigantic screen on my 27″ iMac and i must say that bigger is better when it comes to music programs.  It is a delightful workspace.  Right now i am creating a song that I built off of a riff.  It is a no expectiations kind of song that I am using to test out the program.  I am realizing both my limitations and the programs limitations at the same time.  I feel like at some point down the road I will eat my words about Pro Tools, since I am already noticing some editing weaknesses with Garageband.  When I originally took Pro Tools on I don’t think I was ready to go down this road of learning computer based recording and now I think I am.  If you are going to learn a program you have to use it and use it and use it.  I never did that with Pro Tools.  And when I say “computer based” recording, waht I am speaking of is the workstation moe than anything.  The Boss BR11800 is a computer, but it is controlled by knobs and buttons and sliders, so it is a very tactile experience.  Garageband, on the other hand, exists in the virtual world.  It’s like you are watching television and interacting with it.  There are knobs but they are one dimensional and are controlled by a mouse.  The upside with Garageband or any other such program is that there is so much editing you can do.  The downside is that there is so much editing you can do.

I feel like Garageband is allowing me to create a song in a more freeform way since the songs are more easily built from scratch.  With my Boss, I had to sketch out the whole song before beginning it. With Garageband you can lay down an interesting riff and then just see where it takes you since you can cut and past and loop and do so many other non-linear things.  The flip side is that there are infinite possibilities with Garageband.  Jack White once said something like you should only need four tracks to make a great song.  And at one time I believed him.  But that was back when I was in a wanna be White Stripes 2 piece punk rock band with my wife well before the dawn of the procreation era and the extinction of free time.  Now, with my one little precious hour of me time per night, making music by clicking a mouse and pecking on a keyboard is as punk rock as it’s gonna get.

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