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Garage Renovations

Aug 26 2007 Posted by in music | Comments Off on Garage Renovations

The other day, a client asked me the difference between programs like GarageBand versus the software I use for audio production, Mark of the Unicorn Digital Performer . . . To me, this is akin to asking what makes that fancy-lookin’ Rolls-Royce any differnt’n my AMC Pacer, since they both gets ‘ya from Point A to Point B? *shudder* So, without getting into laborious detail and crossing multiple gaps of professional experience, how would you concisely field this question?

The short answer used to be that apps like GarageBand mainly manipulated existing musical clips (“loops”) that you cut’n’pasted together to make a song, while apps like MOTU’s DP, Pro Tools, or Apple’s own Logic were for creating them from scratch.

Not so much anymore. Until recently, GarageBand was primarily targeted to non-musicians. For example, it was perfect for video editors who say, needed a musical cue that was thirteen seconds long in a specific style, changed chords halfway through, ritarded (even if they didn’t know that word) and then had a cymbal crash on the 22nd frame of second nine. But this little beast is getting more professional with each release while still retaining its simplicity for the iLifers. You can’t deny that it’s infinitely more musically-intuitive than the pro apps, which has got even folks like myself changing our tunes about it. Heh, “tune.” The real instruments that you record are editable now, too, from pitch to tempo to timing adjustments to guitar amp simulations, with lots of keyframability. And you can always use MIDI to control its own built-in software instruments, even if they never actually call it MIDI for fear of confusing the accountant at its controls.

Even the pro apps are trying to become all-in-one solutions these days, meeting them halfway with their own integration of soft synths and sample playback engines, in addition to MIDI and multitrack digital audio recording. One of my Pro Tools sessions might use ReWire to bring in percussion, loops, and filter sweeps I animated in Reason, and then apply high-end Waves plug-ins to them. And of course GarageBand doesn’t have anywhere near their pro signal routing, file management, resolution, sound design tools, import/export flexibility, etc., but damn is it a might-fine one-stop sketch pad for demos and arrangements.