I uploaded a song to my soundcloud profile today. It was one that I wrote and recorded for an assignment in my Composition class, and one where I placed a special limitation on myself. Before I went to Selkirk, I had never really recorded using MIDI or virtual instruments, or sample libraries or any similar voodoo. Basically, everything I had ever recorded had come from real instrument or real person, but that all went out the proverbial window at school.
When I started school I bought a cheapy little M-Audio MIDI Controller Keyboard, and I managed to learn how to chicken-peck out a few tunes on it, but the most overwhelming change to get used to was the fact that I now had thousands of sounds at my fingertips in ProTools (the recording software I use). Whereas before I had to choose between playing my guitar or banjo on a track, I had now had to choose whether the song should be played by a Bouzouki, Shennai, or many other strange instruments I had never heard of and couldn’t properly pronounce.
Another issue with MIDI stuff is that it just doesn’t really sound like the real stuff, unless you’re paying through the nose for some top-notch sample libraries that Yo-Yo Ma endorses. In the sample libraries that come with ProTools, most of the orchestral type instruments sound pretty god awful and beyond fake, and it can be frustrating when you know you’ve written something that would sound great being played by real humans with real instruments, but it comes out sounding like one of those annoying birthday cards that play a warbly tune when you open them.
So for this project I decided to return to realism, and use only real life, tangible instruments. As a result, it sounds a little rough and ragged, but I think that’s a quality that I enjoy. I think that MIDI instruments and sample libraries do have their place, but I think I’d like to dabble in some more ‘real’ recording again soon.
Visit my Soundcloud page and have a listen to “Another Day At The Paper Factory”.