Music: Light Saturday

an old oak tree with unusual colors

Some mellow guitaring for your Saturday.

Music: Knock Knock

a campfire with colors from purple to red

Who's there? Every 80's synth sound.

Music: Factory Chime

clouds in a glass ball with psychedelic colors

Goofing around with an MPD218 + GarageBand.

Rain Wave

raindrops reflected on a surface with psychedelic colors

New lofi twin peaks-ish track. I guess my blog is my SoundCloud now?

(The sound effects in this track are thanks to cc attribution-licensed sounds I found: Rain Background and Distant Thunder which both appear to be by Mike Koenig but I couldn't find a definitive link. Thanks for making your sounds available!)

Coping with GarageBand

One of the activities I miss most from pre-pandemic times is getting together with friends in a garage and making music. I still get together and play online with friends via JamKazam. We affectionately call it Lag Jam which gives you some indication of the problems with playing live together online.

Part of the process of getting up and running with JamKazam was getting my instruments wired more directly into my computer. A microphone pointed at an amplifier works ok, but once you're running your guitar directly in, the sound improves dramatically. I picked up a Yamaha AG03 USB mixer which lets me plug in a guitar and mic and that's all I need.

Getting the mixer opened up more possibilites than just live jamming. I also got a new Mac Mini not too long after lockdown and started playing around with GarageBand so I could add parts to my own playing. Cringe along with me at an early stab at recording The Girl from Ipanema:

(I was inspired to record it after watching this amazing video: The Girl From Ipanema is a far weirder song than you thought.)

I was lulled into thinking I could record with GarageBand because the interface is simple at first glance:

GarageBand interface showing six instrument tracks

The basic function of selecting a track and pressing record is easy to figure out. However, each button here is hiding a world of knobs, settings, and sounds you can tweak:

GarageBand interface showing the pedal board, loops panel, automation tools, and more

If you search around for GarageBand help online the first thing you'll see at every forum is someone responding to a GarageBand question with "Get a real DAW, newb!" (Digital Audio Workspace). Yes, and: GarageBand is surprisingly configurable once you dig beneath the surface a bit.

Early on I commandeered the family electric piano (my kids have moved on to cellos) and that opened up the world of MIDI instruments in GarageBand. Not only do I have dozens of keyboard sounds to choose from, but it lets me add percussion to recordings like the latin shakers in that early track.

Here's a heavy synth track I put together while I was watching election returns come in:

Some parts of learning to record felt awkward—like playing to a click track to keep things synced. But the part that I really enjoy that is different from playing live is finding sounds that work well together. Anyway, here's Wonderwall (not really, it's a Boards of Canada style track I made after I discovered loops and sound effects exist in GarageBand):

I'm trying to incorporate more guitars with my synths and having fun with lofi-style tracks:

There are good tutorials for GarageBand out there. This one helped me select some good sounds to go together to get a head start: How To Make LoFi Beats In GarageBand. One more, why not?

In conclusion, to sum up, all in all goofing around in GarageBand has been a fun pandemic activity that has given me some new ways to enjoy music. And if that isn't a real DAW, whatever. (Thanks for listening, I don't have a SoundCloud.)
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