"i made visions on garageband"
March 4, 2013 11:56 AM   Subscribe

"u should prob buy a mic/ interface and u might appreciate some instruments" A brief tutorial on music production by Claire Boucher, aka Grimes.

Previously, and previouslier.
posted by Doleful Creature (94 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite

 
I should point out for those who haven't heard: Visions was well received by music critics all over the place and I think it's really amazing that it was made primarily using Garageband, an entry-level piece of musicmaking software.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2013


Seconding the reviews. Great album, and it was a shame she didn't get a Grammy nod for it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on March 4, 2013


I especially liked this bit from tumblr post:

most pop songs are about 128. the current max martin-y pop is around 135 (beauty and a beat for example). but u can make great dance music at like 116. the slower the tempo, the more percussive stuff u have to play with.

It's so off-the-cuff like "oh! I guess I could make a tutorial on how I do music or something" and then in the midst of the ungrammatical hazily spelled text are these like little brilliant gems of pop music insight that start to explain some of the genius of Grimes.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:07 PM on March 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mostly work and socialize with people who, regardless of their other skills and talents, are excellent writers with a strong grasp of standard English grammar. It's actually a really good and healthy thing for me to be occasionally reminded that "Really good at something" and "really creative in ways I approve of" really doesn't have any necessary correlation with "Formal instructional writing style."

To put it another way: My snobbiness just got a much-needed slap in the face because it's all run-on sentences and "ur" this and no-capital-letters that, but behind all of that writing that makes my English-teacher girlfriend shudder is a musical talent I really enjoy listening to and cannot even approach in my own right.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:11 PM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ableton Live is super not free, but I like this post - a nice, down-to-earth antidote to the gear and software fetishism you find all over the internet, in which you are likely to be castigated about how USB has too much latency to ever be useful for anything or how you can't hope to make anything worth listening to without dropping thousands of dollars on analog synths. I'm as guilty as anyone else of salivating over equipment, but just off the top of my head Burial did a bunch (most?) of his shit by hand in a wave editor, and Khonnor recorded a lot of his material with Fruity Loops and a mic that came with a Learn Japanese DVD-ROM, and now I guess we can add Grimes with Garageband (in the bedroom studio?) to the list. Not that you shouldn't buy whatever if you can spare the money, but it's really easy for the gear-and-process obsession to become yet another excuse not to make music.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:13 PM on March 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


I love Grimes!

I mean...I've been listening to Visions for almost a year now.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:16 PM on March 4, 2013


That's a really weird approach to latency and buffer size, but then I am not Grimes and so I really shouldn't pick nits.
posted by echo target at 12:18 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing: it's an excellent record. Here's the other thing: Grimes leant that laptop to her friend Airick Woodhead, and he, under the name Doldrums, produced another incredible album with it: Lesser Evil. (spotify link... is that allowed?)

Unfortunately Airick somehow destroyed the laptop so we can't put it in a hall of fame or something.

The point is there are some incredibly driven young musicians who are succeeding based on an obsession to create. They use atypical tools, but they know them well enough to produce what's in their minds.
posted by sixohsix at 12:19 PM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


After reading that I learned that "smthn" is an abbreviated "something".

Today, for the first time, I feel over thirty.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:21 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


@echo target: that's a perfectly fine latency trick to do if your laptop is slow. Use a tiny buffer to record vocals so you have low latency, but then raise the buffer when you slap on tons of effects that weigh down the CPU. That late in the process latency is probably less important.
posted by sixohsix at 12:21 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's a really weird approach to latency and buffer size

Wait, really? I thought it was pretty standard to record with a lower buffer size to minimize distracting latency, and then to increase the buffer size when you're actually mixing and trying to get a sense of how the whole mix sounds. (preview: jinx 606)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:22 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's really amazing that it was made primarily using Garageband, an entry-level piece of musicmaking software.

The thing you've got to remember, Garageband is state-of-the-art compared to digital recording systems available 15 years ago. And great albums were made 15 years ago. Great albums have been made on 4-tracks. Music snobbery sucks, so do the emperor's new clothes.
posted by Jimbob at 12:25 PM on March 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think it's really amazing that it was made primarily using Garageband, an entry-level piece of musicmaking software.

I can go one better -- Burial's Untrue was made using Soundforge, which is absolutely bonkers. It's like writing a novel with refrigerator magnets.
posted by empath at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


And, yeah. It's not difficult to imagine making an album with garageband. It has pretty much everything you need, as long as you don't care that much about using state of the art sound engineering techniques.
posted by empath at 12:28 PM on March 4, 2013


Burial did not make an album in Soundforge. It's called "taking the piss" in their parlance.
posted by basicchannel at 12:30 PM on March 4, 2013


Here's Rusko producing dubstep on the crappiest PC I've seen in the last decade.

Here's Venetian Snares showing a song he produced on a "tracker". The tracker is Renoise, which is modern, but I've never seen it used so efficiently.
posted by sixohsix at 12:30 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


errr... insofar as Burial may have edited tracks in Soundforge, the assemblage of the tracks is done elsewhere. Just like how everyone else uses/used Soundforge.
posted by basicchannel at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2013


It's pretty amazing what you can do with just GarageBand. My basic workflow starts on the iPad version, then to Mac Gargeband for fixing timing, changing sounds, effects and mixes. A lot of stuff is finished there. I resort to Logic only in rare instances.
posted by borges at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


That album should come with a warning that the songs will get stuck in your head and play themselves over and over til you're almost insane

(Love her)
posted by moorooka at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid I dreamed about having a portable music studio. Now I'm an adult and have an iPad with GarageBand. I AM LIVING IN MY DREAM WORLD so cool
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Burial may or may not be joking, who knows, but I actually know of at least one other person who composed in Soundforge exactly in the way that Burial describes in the interview, painstakingly cutting and pasting bits of samples together. It's really not that far-fetched. (Wish I could find the forum thread where he talked explicitly about his process, but I think it may have succumbed to net rot... will take a look.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:48 PM on March 4, 2013


I think the odd bit is saying latency=quality. While lower latency will typically demand more from your CPU, it should not actually degrade quality unless your CPU craps out and you get xruns. But that is kind of like saying "speed=noisiness" about a car - those things often go together, but come on. Unless the software is swapping out effects algorithms so they are less demanding / lower quality when your buffer size is low.
posted by idiopath at 12:49 PM on March 4, 2013


So I read Pitchfork, and I am a music snob of the old school—a fact I have just recently come to terms with—which means I hate-read Pitchfork as much as I read it for pleasure and to be informed of new music. Last December, I did my annual ritual of flipping through their top 100 albums and songs of the year so I could ridicule their top choices. Imagine my surprise when I get to their top two songs of the year, Grimes' "Oblivion" and Frank Ocean's "Pyramids", and I love them both! I bought Visions and I have been listening to it almost nonstop for a couple of months now. Grimes is for real.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:49 PM on March 4, 2013


Resident Advisor also had a feature/tutorial on drum programming recently.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 12:51 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


as you don't care that much about using state of the art sound engineering techniques.

Completely agree, but as someone who has been constantly suffereing from GAS since about age 16 it's nice to have reminders like this, that actual good music really is not dependent on your gear.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:54 PM on March 4, 2013


tUnEyards did her first album in audacity on a Dell.

It's crazy the technology changes we've seen. My Dad had a shelf full of lathe cut 78s from his days on the radio when I was a kid. Sadly those all got tossed out in an unfortunate move by one of my cousins...

:-/

I just hate that I get so hung up on the tech side of recording instead of the music making side.
posted by nutate at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm 'n Luv (wit a Stripper) was produced in Garageband as well...
posted by jcruelty at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2013


Thanks for posting. It has gotten me inspired.
posted by josher71 at 12:56 PM on March 4, 2013


I remember the legend of how Bogdan Raczynski assembled much of Samurai Math Beats manually in a Cool Edit Pro multitracker.
posted by Theta States at 12:57 PM on March 4, 2013


Rap is littered with stories of people making masterpieces with almost nothing. One example is when making Enter The 36 Chambers, RZA only had an Ensoniq ASR-10 sampling keyboard with like 1mb of memory, which provided like 5 seconds of samples.One of the features of the ASR-10 was the ability to sample at a lower bitrate, thus allowing longer samples. All of the samples on 36 chambers were in this low bitrate. Between the limited amount of samples he could use, and the low bitrate causing the samples to sound kind of muddy, he created the sound Wu Tang became famous for.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:57 PM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


You can still make a hit techno record today with nothing but an 808 and a 303 and some decent mastering tools.
posted by empath at 12:58 PM on March 4, 2013


The whole attitude of refusing to let music recording technology be the master of creativity and having a laugh is a commendable one - and sometimes it pays off pretty well too. 30 years ago New Order knocked out Blue Monday after gaining proficiency with an Emulator by recording their farts.
posted by rongorongo at 1:05 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aphex Twin wrote his own audio software from scratch while lucid-dreaming (because you can do *anything* while lucid-dreaming), all inside his portable studio which is "portable" because it's built inside a moving tank using spare tank parts. Or so I heard.
posted by shortfuse at 1:10 PM on March 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


I wish I could remember that Brian Eno quote where talks about how a lot of musicians get all caught up in tweaking synths all day but if you just set them in front of a regular piano they'd probably write a damn song for once.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:13 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use Cubase and not even the retail version. Just the copy that came with my Digitech multi-effects pedal. I know just enough to be able to get my ideas down (using ezdrummer and the bass guitar setting on my pedal) and it is more than enough to make me happy. I worked with a songwriter who wrote and recorded some wonderful music. She was/is very talented. She said she couldn't bear to listen to her first two CDs because of the recording quality (they sound great to me). When I listen to my stuff, I love it. I listen to it whenever I can because I'm amazed that such small ideas turned into full-fledged songs. Either I'm easily impressed or she is over-the-top-anal.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:14 PM on March 4, 2013


shortfuse: "Aphex Twin wrote his own audio software from scratch while lucid-dreaming (because you can do *anything* while lucid-dreaming), all inside his portable studio which is "portable" because it's built inside a moving tank using spare tank parts. Or so I heard."

in all fairness, he used supercollider, and the amount of brilliance he displayed was akin to someone hacking up a wordpress site - nothing to scoff at, but not genius level stuff (supercollider : audio :: php : web programming).

empath: "You can still make a hit techno record today with nothing but an 808 and a 303 and some decent mastering tools."

You can still make damned good music with a couple stones, a length of string, and a stick.
posted by idiopath at 1:21 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can still make damned good music with only your mouth, hands and feet.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:23 PM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


the current max martin-y pop is around 135 (beauty and a beat for example). but u can make great dance music at like 116.

I'm sure I read a Max Martin comment on a track his team recently produced for One Direction called 'Rock Me' where he said that if you can slow down an out-and-out pop song lower than 116ish, and it still works, it makes 'the girls go crazy.'
posted by colie at 1:27 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I read a Max Martin comment on a track his team recently produced for One Direction called 'Rock Me' where he said that if you can slow down an out-and-out pop song lower than 116ish, and it still works, it makes 'the girls go crazy.'

So that's what Green Gartside was on about!
posted by Merzbau at 1:34 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


And then there's that Bobby McFerrin song.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:34 PM on March 4, 2013


This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.

I find it interesting that Grimes is presenting this DIY aesthetic but the advice she gives is aimed at making pop records.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:35 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish I could remember that Brian Eno quote where talks about how a lot of musicians get all caught up in tweaking synths all day but if you just set them in front of a regular piano they'd probably write a damn song for once.

I've been writing and recording a lot of low-effort background-music type tracks lately, and even in this soulless stuff, there's something really satisfying about saying, okay, I'm going to jam on the guitar until something sounds right, then I'm going to record it to a click, sequence some drums, lay down 4 or 5 guitar tracks, a bass, add a lead, maybe percussion, mix it, limit it, call it a day and move on.

I've got a set of sounds that "work" together, and I wouldn't say that I'm doing my "best" work, not by a long shot, but being forced to just get on with it by time constraints is actually sort of freeing. I don't have to spend time finding the "right" sound, I just have to find the right music for this sound.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can still make a hit techno record today with nothing but an 808 and a 303 and some decent mastering tools.

So you only need to spend about five thousand dollars on vintage instruments to make a hit techno record? Neat!
posted by item at 1:41 PM on March 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd guess I have about five grand all told in my home studio setup, having acquired many bits of gear from craigslist with a very specific wish list and a lot of homework.

At the point my setup is at now, I'd guess I can produce anything sonically on par with most pro studios. That's a damned cool thing.
posted by stenseng at 1:48 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


*Of course the usual discussions about converter quality, analog summing vs itb, etc. etc. still apply, or don't, depending on perspective...
posted by stenseng at 1:50 PM on March 4, 2013


So you only need to spend about five thousand dollars on vintage instruments to make a hit techno record? Neat!

Or you can do it with the soft synth equivalents which cost nothing.
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I use a 100% hardware setup because after a long day of bullshit the last thing I want to do is come home and stare at a computer some more in order to do my hobby.

That said I need to learn how to use ableton so I can step up my recording game :/
posted by smackwich at 2:38 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to be a Cubase guy, but I've actually taken quite a liking to Mixcraft Pro Studio - it's an oddball in the DAW field, but it's the fastest workflow I've found for "just getting shit recorded."
posted by stenseng at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2013


Just go to step in and say I had no idea who Grimes was before this post, but I like.
posted by Jimbob at 2:45 PM on March 4, 2013


Or you can do it with the soft synth equivalents which cost nothing.

Relevant
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:46 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


They use atypical tools, but they know them well enough to produce what's in their minds.

I vaguely remember an interview with Grimes in one of the previous FPPs that was saying something along the lines of, often I have something in mind when I sit down but it comes out completely "wrong" and then I decide to run with that instead. So it seems like some of her style is probably the result of a lot of experimentation, as opposed to a process of getting the song she's thinking about down on the uh, hard disk. I thought that was cool.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:02 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did not know about Grimes before this post. I thought the "how to make music" link in the FPP was pretty good and enabling and "look just do stuff, you can figure it out, you don't have to spend a lot of money" was really well laid down. I haven't heard any of this music.

But this post at the top of her tumblr is purely, radiantly glorious, and beautifully said.

Absolutely thrilled for the new generation being sick and fucking tired of the racism, the sexism, the system status quo, and being willing to stand up, say so and resist.

Maybe the world really will change. These kids give me so much hope sometimes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:05 PM on March 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


There is also a proliferation of good, less expensive DAW software out there these days - Reaper and Renoise are the two major ones there but there's also energyXT, weird shit like Numerology, ...
posted by en forme de poire at 3:10 PM on March 4, 2013


A brief tutorial on music production by Claire Boucher
Uh, no. that is an unnecessarily verbose tutorial on how to press the record button in Ableton. There is some good advice scattered around there. But the thing is similar to a guide to running a marathon that explains how you should open your eyes and roll out of bed in the morning. Once you are out of bed, the tutorial ends.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:35 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


For something closer to Grimes' style, there's always The KLF's T H E
M A N U A L (HOW TO HAVE A NUMBER ONE THE EASY WAY)
, which actually worked for them when mixed with Doctor Who samples.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:40 PM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love Grimes. Her music is beautiful. Her first album is all Dune references.
posted by feckless at 4:03 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, seanmpuckett, that post is the reason I started following her tumblr. She helped me overcome my embarrassment for loving Mariah Carey's music (first tape I ever bought was a Mariah Carey single):

The first time I heard mariah carey it shattered the fabric of my existence and I started Grimes

And the fact that her debut album is a love letter to Dune is TOTALLY LEGITIMATE and any attempts to dismiss Grimes based on some vague pejorative-hipster bullshit are completely negated by that fact alone.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:11 PM on March 4, 2013


Absolutely thrilled for the new generation being sick and fucking tired of the racism, the sexism, the system status quo, and being willing to stand up, say so and resist.

I love what she wrote as well in regard to racism and sexism. But Beyonce isn't doing anything more daring or more horizon expanding for black women than someone like Tina Turner or Donna Summers did 30 years ago...[and even less when you see how she's part of a very conventional marriage with a really ambitious guy who would probably see the whole of the middle class in NYC pushed out and laid off by Wall Street if it meant making his first Billion and entrenching himself further into very old-style, old-school, old-boys, network type political power IMHO. cf: Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn..]

That just seems like a bit of misplaced hero worship and I really hope Grimes doesn't get too seduced by very conventional singers like Beyonce and retains her very unique and truly amazing visionary approach to things.

b1tr0t: Once you are out of bed, the tutorial ends.

Sometimes even that can be a really helpful thing when it comes from someone you admire. I think it's meant to be less a technical guide than encouragement. I think a lot of creative people get putt off by digital-o-phobia, and anything that dispels that fear of the technology that can be so ruinous to a creative spark can be hugely helpful.

I've seen so many people become untrusting of their own ideas and creativity and their inner spark by becoming waylaid by the digital chasm, and the losing sense that all this computer shit is just a mountain of tools and most of it is garbage, just use what works for you and anything begins to dim your creative handle on your ideas or what you want to do (becoming an end unto itself), don't let that happen.

There are plenty of people who can use Ableton, but few who can use it and retain their sense of creativity and sense of personhood and confidence and be Grimes or the next Grimes...or Guided By Voices or Tame Impala (another home recorder type) or "xyz123" (<--insert your name here).
posted by Skygazer at 4:12 PM on March 4, 2013


IMMHO all this talk of 'atypical tools' is a little too eager to skip over how ridiculously fucking bonkers good the kit you can get for almost nothing is, these days.

Nanostudio, which works on an ipod, has 16 tracks and programmable whatnots and synthesisers and I made this about five minutes after I got it, on the bus.

And that's ignoring the net public good that is kids pirating this shit out of say pro tools and using it to record their crazy madness for the betterment of the world.

Thanks for introducing me to Grimes, that's just lovely stuff. And inspirational, I'm going to record a track this week.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:29 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


And the fact that her debut album is a love letter to Dune is TOTALLY LEGITIMATE and any attempts to dismiss Grimes based on some vague pejorative-hipster bullshit are completely negated by that fact alone.

That's because hipsters are just people you don't like.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:33 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just hate that I get so hung up on the tech side of recording instead of the music making side.

That really is a big danger (though less of a killer than it was a dozen years ago). Which is why it's not a bad idea to keep-it-simple, a simple setup that "just works", that you can roll back to when things get hairy, and just record. You can work and work for hours on this and that fancy-schmancy technical touch and very few people will mention it (including the people you thought might). The more noticeable it is, the more it better have a very good reason for being there. When the technicalities get in the way of the musicality, the result probably won't be happy.

Not to suggest that Grimes didn't hand her finished product to a mastering person. Sounds like it.
posted by Twang at 4:33 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nanostudio, which works on an ipod, has 16 tracks and programmable whatnots and synthesisers and I made this about five minutes after I got it, on the bus.

Yeah I've got to recommend Nanostudio, too. It's simple but great - I often use it to put down rhythms/synths, then export them into Garageband so I can add the live instruments on top. And Nanostudio is available for both iOS and OSX, just like Garageband.
posted by Jimbob at 4:39 PM on March 4, 2013


So is soundcloud just not made to work in firefox or is it just me? I want to hear sebmojos song.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 4:40 PM on March 4, 2013


I record everything on my iPhone's microphone and in-built voice recorder.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:41 PM on March 4, 2013


That's because hipsters are just people you don't like.

Well yeah, but I think it's more than that. There's this implication that so-called hipsters aren't really sincere about the thing they're into, that it's all just affect, or they are just fake-authentic. It's like a Geek Purity test and I think some communities are more prone to it than others.

The thing is that it would be fairly easy --at first glance-- to dismiss an artist like Grimes as just cashing in on the current 80s nostalgia, except that when you get into her music and her art you find that she is totally dorking out and having a blast and the sincerity is real.*

I record everything on my iPhone's microphone and in-built voice recorder.

It works surprisingly well, in my opinion (self-link to MeFiMu).

*Also she un-ironically loves Enya and I un-ironically love Enya so she can do no wrong in my eyes
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:44 PM on March 4, 2013


Man...why is all the best sound studio stuff on the freaking iWhatever all the dang time!? i want to play around with stuff like that on my Galaxy S. C'mon android...
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 4:44 PM on March 4, 2013


@Our Ship Of The Imagination! - Try Audio Evolution Mobile - nice little 4 track DAW app for Android
posted by stenseng at 4:47 PM on March 4, 2013


That's because hipsters are just people you don't like.

Well yeah, but I think it's more than that. There's this implication that so-called hipsters aren't really sincere about the thing they're into, that it's all just affect, or they are just fake-authentic. It's like a Geek Purity test and I think some communities are more prone to it than others.

The thing is that it would be fairly easy --at first glance-- to dismiss an artist like Grimes as just cashing in on the current 80s nostalgia, except that when you get into her music and her art you find that she is totally dorking out and having a blast and the sincerity is real.*


Yeah but Grimes presents herself that way, or at least plays with the fact that people will perceive her that way. I honestly don't think sincerity or authenticity are even relevant concepts for modern musicians. If you want more Grimes, she recently hosted a local music video show, and she discussed JPOP, Psy, Madonna and Nicki Minaj.

The Dune thing goes a long way toward making me like her, though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:48 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man...why is all the best sound studio stuff on the freaking iWhatever all the dang time!?

I vaguely recall forum posts about audio latency issues on Android making it a pain to write this kind of software. More realistically, it's because it's really labor-intensive to write this kind of software, and at least right now, the iStuff provides a market that is more likely to pay real money for apps.
posted by thedaniel at 4:59 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Burial was going for a joke then it's a persistent one:
Wire: What did you think when people were saying that you hadn’t produced it all in Sound Forge, it’s a scam.

Burial: Who?

Wire: People on the internet, saying he can’t possibly have done that whole album in Sound Forge.

Burial: Really? Yeah well I did. I'll leave those people to their internet or whatever. Yeah I wish sometimes that I’d gone to college to learn music production, but other times I’m like ‘no, fuck, I’m happy I didn’t’.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:11 PM on March 4, 2013


I wish I could remember that Brian Eno quote where talks about how a lot of musicians get all caught up in tweaking synths all day but if you just set them in front of a regular piano they'd probably write a damn song for once.

I'm trying to find the Todd Rundgren one where he said he could hit a rock with a stick and attract a crowd.
posted by sourwookie at 5:17 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


thedaniel: "I vaguely recall forum posts about audio latency issues on Android making it a pain to write this kind of software. More realistically, it's because it's really labor-intensive to write this kind of software, and at least right now, the iStuff provides a market that is more likely to pay real money for apps."

Yeah, google totally dropped the ball with how android handles audio. The bug ticket has been open for years on this one. There is no way on Android to do native code that uses audio. It is a fundamental infrastructure design issue, and it would probably be easier to replace android altogether than improve its audio performance.
posted by idiopath at 6:02 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I vaguely recall forum posts about audio latency issues on Android making it a pain to write this kind of software

There is a thing that I have anecdata on, which is that Apple is, and has historically been very good at low-latency audio. My previous Windows/Toshiba laptop was a beefy, high-powered thing. You think I could record audio on it without a half-second latency delay? Or on my wife's Windows desktop? No way, even with that ASIO nonsense going. An exercise in futility. But my Macbook Air does the job brilliantly, and my iPhone 4 is capable of doing multi-track recording without any noticeable latency-delay as well. I think they must just use a better breed of audio hardware.
posted by Jimbob at 6:05 PM on March 4, 2013


Almost all the synth and effects plugins I included in this post on the topic are free. They all work inside of GarageBand - Apple has never really promoted the fact that GarageBand is highly extendable via Audio Units plugins, it's a little buried in the software.

Speaking of Todd, he made an entire album with not a whole lot more than a sampler and his voice.

It's an extremely exciting time to be an audio and synthesis geek.
posted by dbiedny at 6:06 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Todd, he made an entire album with not a whole lot more than a sampler and his voice.

Last time I saw Todd Rundgren it was just him and a guitar playing the blues.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:26 PM on March 4, 2013


Grimes is the fucking shit. Goddamn, Awesome as fuck. Just drag yourself over to Youtube and find some interviews, because my god, awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 6:27 PM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jimbob: "I think they must just use a better breed of audio hardware."

It's about the APIs exposed and the way the kernel schedules processes. For identical hardware usable latency will compare as follows:

Linux < OsX < Windows

(modulo things like poor user configuration (Linux is terrible here because users have so much configuration freedom and usually don't know what they are doing) or bad or nonexistent drivers)

Android is in the mess it is in because it made the decision not to support ALSA (the normal Linux audio driver protocol).

Windows has a crapload of ABI compatibility cruft which makes efficient task scheduling harder to implement. MacOSX prioritizes GUI interactivity, and that steals some percentage of performance that the audio hardware could provide. Old school Linux is like a kit built hotrod - most people aren't going to be able to do much with it and to get the most out of it you need to know a lot more about how it works, but with the right guidance / experience and the right tweaks very little is going to beat its performance. I distro like Ubuntu, unless you open the hood and tweak it oldschool, will be more comparable to Windows, but more because of misconfiguration and bad design rather than backward compatibility issues.
posted by idiopath at 6:28 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The big problem with Linux, however, is the lack of usable bloody audio software.

I know, I know... there's stuff out there. I've tried most of it, and it's all ugly, or incomplete, or buggy as hell, or lacking obvious features, or too low-level, or was lacking basic drivers for, say, my MIDI->USB interface which was pretty much plug-and-play on Windows and Mac. Making music on Windows was efficient and fun. Making music on a Mac is a complete joy (and the fact that Garageband comes free is incredible). Making music on Linux was like sticking a fork in my eye.
posted by Jimbob at 7:02 PM on March 4, 2013


(The best experience I ever had making music on Linux was getting Fruity Loops to half-run in Wine... and it obviously left a lot to be desired...)
posted by Jimbob at 7:04 PM on March 4, 2013


I just hate that I get so hung up on the tech side of recording instead of the music making side.


This is exactly why, despite many exhortations based on either "it will help you booked" or "I really like your taste and think you would be good at it and I'd like to teach you", I have never really gotten into MAKING music, and have stuck with DJing. I know how DAWs work, I know how synths work, I know a fair amount of music theory.... but trying to actually MAKE music always stymies me, because I get into the wrong headspace. Too many possibilities; too many technical things to fuck with. When all I have is some music to mix, I can get into a creative and musical space, rather than a programming space.

I would LOVE to actually create music, and I do intend on taking up one of my friend's offers to teach me, but... I don't have high hopes.
posted by flaterik at 7:22 PM on March 4, 2013


Jimbob, when did you try it last? I've had really good success with Renoise and jackd... my sound card and MIDI controller (both USB) both worked basically out of the box.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:59 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jimbob, when did you try it last?

Last time, probably about 9 months ago. I understand things move fast, though, so I know it's always worth another look. Although I always found anything to do with JACK to be a complete mindfuck. The Linux/Open Source world seems to attract great programmers, as you'd expect. It has more trouble attracting (or integrating) great designers, musicians, audio engineers, the people you need to make something like Garageband. I've always felt Linux faces the same problem in the realm of image software, although at least The Gimp is usable.
posted by Jimbob at 9:37 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


RE recording in linux: Recently I've been using Ardour, which works well enough for my (very basic) needs. I've also had success running Reaper under Wine too; you'll need the Wine ASIO driver for that, and then everything works including MIDI.
posted by destrius at 10:26 PM on March 4, 2013


So is soundcloud just not made to work in firefox or is it just me?
You need the Flash plug-in to use Soundclound. And if you're running Flashblock, Soundcloud won't let you play anything. Go to Add-ons, select Options for Flashblock and add soundcloud.com to the whitelist.
posted by fuzz at 1:56 AM on March 5, 2013


To be fair, tweaking synths all day is kinda of fun. Might need to dig out my Nintendo DS and remember where I put the DS-10 cartridge for the tram ride tomorrow.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:49 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can make great music with your voice and your hands. And Garageband is a perfectly capable piece of software. I’m not talking about this act, but a lot of these kinds of things are really misleading, sometimes purposely, for publicity.

Like the band that put out the press release about how they made their album for $10 or something. Except they didn’t count the tens of thousands of dollars of gear they bought recently. Or the famous band that recorded their album in their "basement", which is bigger and better than many pro studios.

Even when people aren’t fudging the facts or trying to be misleading though, many fans don’t realize that the artist didn’t necessarily record everything on their laptop or small system. If they used samples or loops those elements were already recorded, often with very expensive equipment, they were simply arranged by the artist. There’s nothing wrong with this, but many people don’t understand how that works.

Also, when an act gets signed to a label (or even if they didn’t), the record they made in their bedroom might be mixed by someone else, and then mastered by someone as well.

You can make a great piece of music in your house for very little money these days, and many do. But the story is sometimes exaggerated, by the artist, or by well meaning fans who don’t understand the process.
posted by bongo_x at 10:00 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well said, bongo_x. Not that it really matters in this particular if it's true, I think it's still pretty interesting to hear a bit about Grimes's process. One common thing I have heard from minor successful artists before is "I was just dumb enough to succeed", which sounds like a trite aphorism but there is some truth to the idea of just making shit until it's good.

As always, editing is the key.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:42 AM on March 5, 2013


Also, Mixerman AKA Eric Sarafin, internet famous for his hilarious Mixerman Chronicles (well worth a read if you aren't already familiar,) has a fantastic book on mixing out - Zen and the Art of Mixing.

I just recently bought the ebook version to keep me busy over a week long work trip, and having gotten home and cracking in the studio, it's already improved my work.
posted by stenseng at 11:52 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Based on my own experiences, I would not recommend that particular audio interface (Tascam US-144) on OS X. It worked perfectly on a Windows machine, but on the Mac it would randomly stop to produce sound, and only re-plugging the usb cable would bring it back to life. Tried really hard to make it work reliably, but eventually I just replaced it with an Alesis Multimix 8 which is equally cheap and has worked fine.
posted by ikalliom at 2:13 PM on March 5, 2013


all done in GB using built in mic...

http://ackackack.com/indexm.html
posted by xjudson at 9:08 AM on March 6, 2013


Jimbob: "... I always found anything to do with JACK to be a complete mindfuck. The Linux/Open Source world seems to attract great programmers, as you'd expect. It has more trouble attracting (or integrating) great designers... "

The issue with jack is that whether you use the command line directly or mediate with the qjackctl frontend, it allows combinations of options to be asked for that are actually impossible (impossible for your hardware, or logically impossible). This is a UX issue.

The problem with open source and UX is that for UX to make any sense you need your programmers to be answerable to designs. For programmers to be answerable to designs, you need the kind of discipline which you kind of take for granted in a paid environment, but when the developers are volunteers (and in many cases in the open source audio software world, also amateur programmers with no professional experience), that discipline can be hard to enforce. Furthermore there is no real "UX niche" to fill in most projects, so not only would the programmers be unfamiliar with fulfilling a UX requirement, but the UX person would need to put quite a bit of energy into making their place in the organization exist or get any respect.

tl;dr: in much of the open source world, the inmates are running the UX asylum
posted by idiopath at 11:04 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not that it really matters in this particular if it's true, I think it's still pretty interesting to hear a bit about Grimes's process.
But we don't actually learn anything about her process, beyond the fact that she made an album on garageband, and probably used one of those cheap interfaces.

How did she acquire or create or acquire her sounds?

What, if any, processing did she apply to them?

What compositional techniques and strategies did she use?

Those are the interesting questions because they tend to reveal the hidden features in software like Garageband that tend to be overlooked by all but the most fanatical users. You can take classes or read books to learn the ins and outs of Pro Tools, but it is the kids who spend thousands of hours with Garage Band or MS Paint that discover hidden secrets and create expressive processes.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yay for bedroom pop!
posted by Shasta at 1:06 PM on March 7, 2013


For us poor people wanting to make some beatz, I highly highly recommend Renoise, which can do all the stuff ableton can do, is only about 75 dollars / 58 euros for the full license, and has an actually really enjoyable interface to it. I'm not affiliated with the thing whatsoever; I stumbled onto it while trying to find a DAS that didn't crash my netbook, and renoise turned about to be really fast.
posted by aesacus at 6:04 PM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


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