Category Archives: Music

It’s a pity humans don’t come with digital audio inputs…

I’d been having such a good time messing with GarageBand, that I decided to buy Logic Express, which is a watered down version of their professional music production software. It’s a remarkable tool. For about $300 you have what amounts to an unlimited rack of instruments at your disposal, including some really rare models of vintage analog synths. One thing that I find fascinating is the fact that in the case of a software synth (as opposed to a sampler, which plays back recordings of actual instruments) you have the most perfect sound quality possible: 24-bit digital all the way from the initial oscillators of the synth through to mastering. Zero nonlinearities, zero noise. Kind like a CD with ‘DDDD’ (digital creation, recording, mixing and mastering). The only way to get any closer to perfect reproduction would be if somebody finally figures out the encoding format of our auditory neurons, so we could tell our brains which frequencies to hear directly. (‘DDDDD?’)

In preparation for that day, I made a song with Logic that is composed entirely out of tone generating software synthesizers so that I’d be ready with the first four D’s. (Ok, I think the drum instrument may be sampled.) For example, the initial sound you hear is from an FM synthesizer, sort of what you’d get if you could hack into an old DX-7 and pull the bits directly out of it instead of recording from the analog outputs. This is just about as clean and pure a recording as you’re ever going to experience; the sound you’re hearing has never been anything but abstract information until the moment that information is used to control the most versatile musical instrument of all time: the D/A converter in your computer. (I’m certainly betraying the fact that I’m a much better nerd than musician, but that probably wasn’t ever in doubt.)

The mix still needs a little work, but I’m sick of working on it, so here it is. If anybody wants me to post the original Logic file, let me know. I’ve also included a losslessly compressed file (which is much bigger) for those with iTunes, in case you have really good ears. Please drop a comment if there are any problems with the files. It was mixed on headphones, and will sound much better on the same.

All Electric

All Electric (Lossless)

Messing around with GarageBand

I’ve been playing around with GarageBand on Michele’s Mac, and I think I may need to buy a one of the new MacBooks just so I can use this software. It quite literally puts a recording studio in your lap. Here is a riff on Bruce Hornsby, blatently stealing the chords from his song “Country Doctor.”

Country Doctored

Disclaimer: I quantized some of the MIDI, partly because there is a ridiculously large latency in my USB MIDI interface, but also because I play piano like a palsied badger. Other than the quantization help, however, it’s all me playing. I didn’t speed anything up. The beauty of multitracking is that it averages out the mistakes, and often turns them in to “happy accidents,” to quote Bob Ross. It’s amateurish, but what you probably can’t appreciate is how much less it sucks than it really should, given my ability.

If you can’t listen to the file, right click and download it and listen to it in separate software. For some reason the latest version of the QuickTime plugin is choking on this, at least on Windows.