Years ago, when I used to write music, I would dig out my old Tascam Four-track machine, dust it off, set up a room full of my low-quality recording equipment, and immerse myself for hours (literally) in running the tape. I do miss those days but these past few weeks, I have been tinkering with an online music site called JamStudio.
I wasn’t prepared to like it. I love music and I love live music, and I love the possibilities of making a mistake and discovering something new. A computer application is not the same, although I am no Luddite (obviously). With three kids and a busy schedule, it is difficult to have my guitar sitting around the house, as in the older days, and the burst of creativity can be a bit more difficult to channel. Still, it is strange not actually PLAYING the instruments. My hands feel empty.
JamStudio has given me another channel for songwriting. As a result, I have written and recorded five new songs in the past three weeks. A few of these are going to my rock band, The Sofa Kings, and a few are just for me. I always keep a few songs just for me.
Here is how I have used the site:
- I paid for the All Access Pass (this is crucial for receiving high quality MP3 mixes of your songs from the site). This may not be a viable long-term effort but for now, I am OK with it.
- The site is incredibly easy to use, although it has limitations. Everything is in four-four and there are limited sounds, but those possibilities get a lot longer with the All Access account.
- For the most part, I have started with the music forming in my head and then worked the lyrics around the music. I flip back and forth on this (lyrics-music, or music-lyrics) when I write, so this is no big deal.
- After working on a variety of sections of a song, I then have JamStudio mix it and email me a link to the MP3 file.
- I move the music into Audacity (free!) and use my Blue Snowball microphone to record. I usually tweek with some compression and a bit of reverb. I can’t do background vocals to save a life, but I wish I could.
- I then share the songs with my band or friends via Box.net.
- Or I use FlickrCC to search for Creative Common photographs and use MS PhotoStory3 to craft a little music video. And then it is upload time into Google Video.
- And now? I don’t know. I may try my hand at setting up an online site at one of the music sellers and see what happens. This will be helpful because The Sofa Kings now has finished our CD and we are looking for a way to sell tracks online. Or I might just create my own website for my own songs.
Here is my latest song, called Tomorrow’s Never Gone, as a political video. It actually started out as a spurned lover song but that didn’t feel right (I am very happy, thank you very much) and then it was about one of the candidates, and then I realized that it needed to be more general in nature:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=671916620548989912" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]
Or you can listen to the MP3 track.
Here is a video tutorial about JamStudio, if you are interested.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/yjriFnE-NYU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Give it a whirl — write a song — get creative.
Peace (in music),