Monday, July 25, 2005

midi life crisis

I've been playing around with music on the 'puter. Essentially trying to get a bunch of old and new songs out of my head. Baggage disposal. And way fun too.
Anyway, I've got an assorted bunch of hardware and software and a heap of "projects" on the go and/or in my head. Recently I finally and hurriedly "finished" a song and posted it on for review.
Garageband is a great idea. Anyone can put up songs/have a band webpage. There's a pretty serious competition for top spots- won by getting the best reviews- and a lot of good- and not so good- free music.
What you have to do in return for hosting and peer reviews of your music is review other people's songs- reasonably seriously, cut and pasters are anathema and get dumped. After 15 pairs of reviews- and this is a serious commitment if you do it with respect- then you get to post your own mp3.
Which- after a weekend of setting up, mucking around, and not feeling terrific, I did- a song I'd previously recorded, added some guitars, and was secretly pretty pleased with.
That didn't last. Wow did I get some bad reviews! Here's the very first reviewer:
"well, this is super amateurish. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But in this case I think that it is. For one thing, the levels - the mix - is just atrocious. But the biggest flaw here is that the melody is totally uninspired and the pitch is all over the place. I really don't have any idea what you are trying to do here. I mean what are you thinking to accomplish art-wise. Is this to be interpreted as commentary on the medium or something? Because if not, well, this just, taken at face value, is punishingly bad"
and a couple more...
"The song devolves into chaos and confusion. Meaning you had me at the beginning, but then you lost me in a big way."
"This song was different right out of the box, with the opening atonal, rhythmic groove. I didn't like the melody, which mostly existed on sing-song sounding vocals. The song never seemed pull togther into a recognizable meolody to place over a solid rhythm section."
"The chromatic half step thing is very unsettling. I can't just enjoy the music, it this for real? I guees you have to be pretty talented to song such atonal stuff, but I can't say It's fun to listen to..."
I quickly changed the "band" name (it was, I realised somewhat late, suspiciously androgenous) and I did get a few writers who liked it- even got on someone's podcast.
But most people who had some level of musicianship commented on how badly outa tune the singing- and, one noted, the rhythm guitar- were.
And they were right.
I've bought- it hasn't arrived, but I've been playing with a demo- a terrific audio programme called melodyne (I'm getting uno, the baby of the melodyne family). It DOES correct "intonation problems"- amazingly well- and that's not all. It lets you treat audio files almost as if they were midi- you can play with timing, change melodies, create harmonies, really go to town.
But it also reveals with ego-shattering clarity just how outa tune I was.
But just wait for the next one! Now that's bound to be good- and however banal the melody, the vocals are pretty well gauranteed to be "in" that tune.

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