Monday, April 03, 2006

Computer Software That Can Turn You Into a Songwriter

I happened upon this article in the NY Times today about software that is great for all new musicins out there. Ninjah probably has no use for it, but you never know, it might make you lots of money. The question is, though, if you use this software to write and create a great piece of music that gets some airplay, who earns the cadh?

I'M not a musician, but I recently composed and recorded a song. More than that, in a Paul McCartneyesque fit of post-Beatles hubris, I played all the instruments and produced and engineered the entire thing, even though I have no experience producing and engineering anything more complicated than a Bombay martini.

The title is "Eventide," meant to evoke not some ye olde troubadour's serenade but the trademark I glimpsed on a fearsome-looking piece of sound reinforcement equipment backstage at a Ted Nugent concert. "Eventide" is four blistering minutes and 31 seconds long; it features three electric guitars, electric bass, grand piano, electric piano, two string sections, synthesizer, drums, congas, bongos, tambourine and shaker. I think it's smashing, frankly — the old "Avengers" theme smudged with the dark atmospherics of Sigur Ros.

There's just one thing: I didn't compose "Eventide" any more than Ashlee Simpson sang "Pieces of Me" on "Saturday Night Live." The song sprang from computer-sampled snippets of musical instruments that I stitched together using Apple Computer's GarageBand software. GarageBand is a denatured version of industry-standard recording software that allows amateurs to cobble together a song using nothing but the program's digital instruments. You preview the samples from a Chinese-menu-like array, drag them into a virtual mixing console, push them this way and that, and voilĂ ! The software automatically renders the composition into a tidy audio file that can be posted to Web sites like, which teems with thousands of MP3 files from would-be Coldplays and Alicia Keyses.

Read more of Michael Walker's article in the NY Times here.....

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