The Joy of Tech

Some of the ideas I’m putting into Tribe of One go back a long way.  One of the ideas I’ve been playing with was something I did on a sequencer back when MIDI interfaces were a big deal and my powerhouse computer had a 486 CPU and a 15″ CRT.  One of the demos currently on my media page actually has a theme that goes back farther than that!

In retrospect, it occurs to me that I’ve actually been wanting to do this solo thing for most of my life.  From the sequencer built into the Roland JX-3P synth I had as a teenager to the Foster X15 four track recorder I got a year or so later to the MIDI rig I mentioned above, I’ve gotten a good bit of gear over the years with the intention of producing musical works independently.  I’m not sure if it was a matter of geography, inability to find folks with a shared musical vision, or just an asocial nature.  Whatever the reason, I’m coming to realize that the fact that I’ve spent relatively little time over my musical life in bands probably isn’t happenstance.

So why has it taken so long to do this project if the seeds were planted some 30 or more years ago?  A lot of the usual reasons: procrastination, insecurity, and that thing called life pulling my time/energy in different directions.  In the process of living my life, my ability to express my musical ideas diminished as I went years and years without doing any writing and hardly laying hands on any instrument.  I also lacked the skills to record and the tools to support my composition and recording workflows. This is where technology came to the rescue.

There are some awesome online resources out there for those wanting to learn about recording.  In the old days, you learned from a friend or mentor who showed you the ropes and taught you the tricks of the trade.  Nowadays, anyone with access to a search engine can find awesome tutorials not just on general recording techniques but for getting the most out of whichever recording tool you prefer. Same goes for songwriting: there are lots of resources available to help the aspiring songwriter polish his craft.

Similarly, the tools at the songwriter’s/recordist’s disposal are way better than ever.  Today, even a prosumer digital audio workstation has capabilities that major studios could only wish for a few decades back.  Digital amplifiers allow for recording raging guitars and thumping basses at whisper volumes: I regularly record while the rest of the family is in bed.  I also don’t have to worry about a barking dog spoiling a take.  Rearranging a song is a piece of cake: cut the chorus in half, add a verse, move the bridge.  Even though my instrumental proficiency has improved in recent years, it’s nice to be able to punch in a fix for a minor error on an otherwise great take.  The transition from tape to digital didn’t just improve signal to noise ratios, it facilitated remote collaboration as FTP of audio files replaced the shipping of magnetic media.

With the support of some amazing technology, I now have the tools at my disposal to fulfill my musical vision.  Now that I’m out of excuses, I need to knuckle down and complete the project.  I’m wrapping up the writing phase and should be ready to start real recording next month.