Driving (with my girlfriend)
I wrote this song awhile back and just made it up as I went along. It’s your basic 90’s style Pavement rip-off; nothing original here at all, but it kept me entertained for a few hours.
Back before I got Logic, I was recording on Garageband. This was one of the tunes I recorded at that point. Nothing really fancy or complicated. The synth I used was Automat It’s a really great free synth, and the folks who put it together seem really into it.
The guitars were all done with my old tele, my crappy Ibanez bass and Podfarm. A lot of people seem to hate Podfarm for some reason, but I like it. There are some technical aspects of it that drive me nuts on a mac, but I have always found a way around them. Haven’t upgraded to the new version yet as I can’t seem to find a reason. Drums were done with EZDrummer.
I originally gave this song away to anyone who wanted to add something to it. Quite a few people took me up on my offer, and created their own versions of the tune. After a couple were done, I felt really lame that I couldn’t finish my own song, so I ended up writing lyrics and a melody for it.
I wrote it about how my girlfriend and I used to drive around for hours, exploring side streets and greasy spoon diners in out of the way towns. Nicole is now my wife, we don’t thrift shop anymore, and it’s a little hard to do those aimless drives with a 3 year old and a newborn.
here’s some other versions of this tune:
If I have my choice, I really prefer to record music with my computer. I have a kid though (and a job), so sometimes I don’t get to play around with it until late at night when my little girl is asleep. So I have fun with other things. Here are some of the things that I love to kill time with. I am only listing free stuff, as the act of finding good free programs is in itself a fun way to waste time.
The first is a program called DrawIt Lite. You can edit pictures, draw and do graphics with it. Kind of like a cross between Illustrator and Photoshop, although a very limited version of it. But you can actually accomplish a lot with it. I can’t imagine that most people would actually need anything more than this. I did the picture below in like 45 seconds. It could certainly look a lot better, but I haven’t bothered reading the manual; and I just wanted to put a picture up so that you would get the idea. There is a “pro” version, but I went the the free “lite” version. Here’s the link:
Then there is a program called Paintbrush. It’s Open Source, which I think is super cool. You can have a lot of fun drawing things with it. If you have one of those USB tablets, you can sync it up with the thing and get much better results. I don’t have one; I did the drawing below with my finger on the scrolling area of my laptop. Very simple, it was really easy to get started on this app. Here’s the link:
This is silly, but fun to play with. You basically take a picture that’s on your computer, and drag it into the Polaroid camera. You can shake it around and get some weird results. This is a picture of my daughter that I ran through it. Here’s the link:
This one is addictive. Watch the video above to see what you can do with it. You basically just start moving things around and watch what happens. You can get pretty in-depth with it. I can’t wait until my daughter is old to play around with this one. If you search this app on youtube, there are a million videos of what people have done with it. It’s also available for PC, if you swing that way. Here’s a link (highly recommended):
RGB music lab
This is on the geekier side of things, but fun for anyone. Basically you load a picture into it, and then it reads the red, blue and green pixels and converts them into music. The notes are determined by the colors in the picture, and you can determine how loud they get, what instrumentation to use (up to 6 instruments), and what the intervals will be. I love using this and dragging the file into another project on Logic. After I do that, I’ll edit out the crap, and save the good parts. Here’s the link
Here’s a link for an online Theremin. You need to have something like Wiretap Pro, or Soundflower to record the thing, if you want to use it in a music project that you may be working on. I used it in this song I did called Kyoto Glitch. I basically recorded a bunch of the theremin and then manipulated it in Logic, added some glitchy stuff, a toy piano i found online and then played a cello and a kyoto over the top of it. I made the glitchy stuff by running an audio file of a thumb being run over a comb through Supertrigga. Here’s the link for the song:
here’s the link for the Theremin
Pimp Your Mac
You don’t really need any special software for this. Basically you just search around online for icons to replace the ones that come stock with your computer. I got the ones I used from this site:
It’s really easy. Basically you go to the application that you want to change the look of, hold down control and click once. Then you choose: get info. A box will open on the left side of the screen and it will tell you about that application. There is a picture in the top left hand corner of the box, and you just drag the new icon on top of that picture. That’s it, changes automatically. Sometimes you can’t get something to change unless you’re some kind of programming wizard (like the finder, and your trash cans). In that case you can download Litelcon and it will do it for you. you just drag the icons you want to change into it and hit refresh. I’ve changed pretty much everything, apps, folders, drive images. I especially love my trash can, my ichat icon and the icon for itunes. You can do this on PC too, but I don’t know how. Here’s the link for the program I just mentioned:
Is anyone reading this stuff? Leave a comment.
I record a lot of music. Used to be a career choice, but now it’s one of those little things I do to keep sane and blow off some steam. Having a love affair with sound means I am constantly looking for new ways to manipulate it. One of the ways I do it is with plug ins. Not having oodles of cash lying around, I love to search out and try freeware plug ins. It’s astounding to me how many talented people are putting together quality sound tools, and then releasing them for free. You can find effects, instruments, synths, tools, all kinds of stuff. I’m on a mac, but most of these are available for Windows as well. Try some of these out, if you don’t like them: throw them away. They’re free.
I know that you can find anything for free on the internet, but show some class. Don’t steal software. It’s not cool. Someone spent a lot of time putting it together, and if you steal it you’re an ass. If you and all of your buddies download a free version of Logic, eventually Apple will get tired of updating and working out bugs and such. Then I end up getting screwed, even though I have a legitimate copy. Don’t steal software. If you can’t pony up for something, then you don’t want it that badly. Buying your recording software shows a commitment to your craft.
One more thing and the lecture ends: if you download shareware and like it: make sure you send some cash. It’s rude and selfish to just take it, and totally uncalled for. These people are trusting that the people who use their stuff will do the right thing. They really believe that you will. As an example, there is a plug called GleetchLab that is a phenomenal shareware plug. you can do granular effects, spectral filtering, glitchy stuff; it’s really cool. It was a shareware program, and I read an interview with the guy who put it together and he said that 1000’s of people downloaded it and he got like 43 people to actually donate. That’s messed up. He still does it, but now you have to pay. It’s still dirt cheap and you should buy it. Here’s a song I did with it:
I can only tell you how to install a plug in on an intel mac, but if you’re running something else Google it. On a newer mac running Leopard, you need to make sure that the plug ins you get are AU Universal Binary. You can then use them in Garageband or Logic.
Once you find something you want to try, download it. Sometimes they come with an installer. In that case just double-click and do what the installer says. But usually once you download a plug- in, you get a .zip file. On my computer they open automatically; if that doesn’t happen on yours, you should be able to double click the file and it will open. If it doesn’t get stuffit expander.
After opening the file, you will end up with something called a .component
Put the component in:
now you’re done. open up Garageband or Logic and your instrument will be there (or your effect or whatever it is)
Here are some of my favorite freeware plug-ins:
It’s basically like an overdrive, but you don’t generally use it like a distortion pedal. You put it on vocals and drums to warm them up. You can use it to get subtle tube style saturation, or you can go crazy and make a wall of noise. i use this one constantly
This is another plug that makes your fancy ass mac sound more like an old skool recording setup. You have to check out the Neve emulation. I like to put it on a bus and warm up the whole mix.
This is sick. It rearranges audio according to the parameters you set. Makes for really wild, glitchy, messed up sounds. Try putting a drum beat or a vocal through it. I will generally copy a track, run it through Supatrigga, and then edit out and save the really cool bits. it’s not something you want to use for the whole song (or maybe you do).
This is an emulation of the Roland SH-101 synth. Really good for basslines in electronic music, although you can do the usual analog bleeps and bloops if you automate it. TAL makes a whole bunch of really nice free plugs, so be sure and check out the rest of their website. Their Dub Delay is especially nice, as well as their phaser, flanger, Juno emulation, and bitcrusher. The phaser and the flanger don’t show up in Logic for some reason (it won’t validate them), but everything else does.
I’ll post more freebies and shareware as I run across them.
For more freeware instruments and effects, check out these sites:
Another story why you shouldn’t steal software:
I bough a $14 sampler from “Expert Sleepers” . When I got a new Mac, it wasn’t working. I sent an email and the guy who designs the software, spent his time duplicating my set up and figuring out how to make it work. It was a $14 application. You don’t want to steal from someone like that. They also make a lot of really neat toys, that are dirt cheap. Check out Augustus Loop and tell me you don’t feel like Robert Fripp.