There is a certain kind of rut that I get into when trying to make music on a desktop/laptop. It comes from having too many options in my music-making software.
My two primary programs are Ableton Live 9 (gotta upgrade to 10 still) and Reason 10. Within each program are tons of plugins, software synths, samplers, options for routing. And within each of those are the presets.
For example, If I want to make a drum beat using Kong (drum module in Reason), it loads the default kit. Most of the time I don’t want to use it. What happens next is I spend ten minutes finding a preset I like. Then another ten or so minutes tweaking the preset. It’s not particularly complicated. But, it takes time. This is time I could actually be making a new beat. Multiply this by any number of software instruments I want to use and I end up spending a significant portion of my already-limited music making time hunting for sounds.
The easy(ish) answer is that I should take a day to go through the presets of the modules that I use most and segregate, or otherwise highlight, the patches I like best. I can then use those as my starting point for new tracks. But, I suck at planning my music-making time and only think to do this after I am in the middle of a preset-hunting expedition.
This is where less-robust apps on iOS have an advantage. They don’t necessarily have a ton of sounds. Their interfaces are stripped down. I can open them up and start making a loop. If I don’t like the default patch or samples, there aren’t a ton for me to scroll through. Usually there is something I am happy enough with to get going.
I have been trying to spend more time making loops lately. A quick beat in Figure or Korg Gadget on my phone can be a replacement for mindless flipping on Instagram. I am still debating what method is best for sharing. Soundcloud is pretty straightforward and lets me control the CC license. But, Allihoopa is in some ways more integrated into the apps I use.
Here is something I made in Reason and then pushed to Allihoopa. Let’s see how nicely it embeds.
GarageBand hasn’t always been my jam, so to speak. I started my music-production fiddling with a cracked copy of Cool Edit Pro (manually slicing wave files) in college, moving on to actually buying Logic (before Apple bought them), Reason, and eventually Ableton Live.
GarageBand felt like kiddie stuff compared to those programs. Not that I am an all-pro music producer. I don’t know more than I do know in all those programs. But, when there is something that I want to do in one of those program, I can almost always do it. (Except for destructive waveform editing in Ableton. I hate not being able to do that).
But, recently I have been enamored with GarageBand for iOS. Specifically, I am in love the the beat sequencer. Most DAW’s have a form of piano roll grid for entering notes. Some are easier to use than others. GarageBand’s is my new favorite. It is easy to read, doesn’t require much zooming around, and is perfect for touch screens.
Here is a bit I was fiddling with the other day:
At a glance, I can read my beat with no scrolling around or squinting. The interface also has a couple cool features that I haven’t seen in my other programs. First, the velocity and note repeat buttons at the bottom make those particular edits a lot easier and faster to implement. Second, each drum can have its own loop length. In the above example, the bottom row (a rim click) is only three 16th notes long. That cycle repeats independently of the rest of the hits which are a full measure long.
Will I ever write a full song on GarageBand on iOS? In the past I would have said no. But, little features like this make me reconsider that thought.