Sunday, January 20, 2008

SSC #50 Home Recording

    Oliver Wendell Holmes is quoted as having said "Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them!" 
    It is a very rare and strange person who does not enjoy music of some form.  Music speaks to the heart of us.  And for some of us, it speaks FROM the heart of us as well.
    For over 10 years I played guitar.  Not professionally, or even with any degree of regularity.  I did not play the hit songs, I did not play requests.  I tried not to copy, but to create.  I made my own music.  Some liked it, some did not.  Truly, I did not ever care.  It was mine.  It was some part of what makes me unique transformed into sound.  And it made me happy.
    A little over a year ago I had an accident at work.  I accidentally crushed the middle fingertip of my left hand.  The tip of the bone was broken and surgery was necessary to make it usable again. 
    Now, a year later, the tip of my finger is constantly numb.  Pins and needles numb.  I can grip with it, I can work with it, I can even type with it. I just can't play guitar with it.  I probably could learn to use my other fingers differently and work around the injury, and perhaps some day I will.  But for now, it is just too strange, too different, and too depressing.
    I said all of that to say this:  If you are a musician, and you enjoy it, record yourself.  Even if you only play for yourself, in the closet, at night, with the lights turned off... record yourself.  There are songs that I created that I will likely never hear again, except in my head, simply because I didn't feel they were good enough to make a recording of them.  And now I wish I had.
    If you have a computer, recording music can't be much simpler.  There are tons of great professional grade programs out there such as Reason or Cakewalk, shareware applications such as n-Track Studio, and awesome free software such as Audacity.  For Mac users there is Garage Band.  No matter what kind of computer you have, chances are there is a way to record sound.
    Of course results can vary depending on the quality of your equipment, but it is much much less expensive to upgrade a PC-based recording solution than to purchase all analog or solid-state equipment.  And while some may not think much of digitizing their sound, the majority of music these days is listened to in a digital format.  With a decent microphone and a decent $50 soundcard, your PC can outperform equipment costing $1000 or more. 
    Perhaps you've used a 4-track recorder in the past... What would you say to a recorder that is capable of nearly unlimited tracks?
    Depending on the software you use, you can add tracks, use effects, speed up or reverse tracks, and for cutting out the bad parts, you can zoom in so far you can see the individual waves of sound so you will have no trouble finding the place to make your edits.  Or you could just hit record and go.  Most of these type programs have the ability to mix down to MP3, and from there its relatively easy to put on a CD.  You can record something in an afternoon and listen to it in the car that night. 
    It can be easy, or it can be technical.  The rabbit-hole goes deep, but you don't have to follow it all the way through.  Just make sure you have some means to record the songs that come out of you.  They are pieces of yourself that you will miss when they are gone.  Thats all I'm saying.

In response to last week's article about voting machines, Kay Winemiller writes:
"Jeff, this is such an interesting article.  Glad you wrote it.  I work the polls and right now, as you know, the voters have a choice here of which machine they want to vote on.  The first time the Hart machine was used, the company informed our class that the machine will eventually replace the other machine.  Quite a few of the voters refused to use the Hart and raised the question of the accuracy and honesty.  Voicing the same concerns your article points to.  Hopefully, the public takes this seriously.
Very good article.  Keep up the good work."

I intend to Kay, thanks for writing!  I think I know which machine I will be voting on, and I'm glad I still have that option!

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