Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity

By Scott Watson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
CREATIVITY WITH MULTITRACK
MUSIC PRODUCTION
APPLICATIONS

OVERVIEW

IN CHAPTER 13 WE DEALT WITH creative activities using waveform audio, concentrating on software applications that use one track of mono (one channel) or stereo (two channels, left and right) audio. This allowed us to focus a bit on acquiring the signal (microphone recording, using an audio interface, etc.), digital audio theory, waveform audio editing, and digital signal processing. In this chapter we turn to multitrack music production (MMP) software, which includes digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as GarageBand (entry level) or ProTools (professional). MMP software allows the user to record and store more than one concurrent stream of waveform audio or MIDI performance data, called tracks. The added capabilities of MIDI recording and editing, described below, greatly expands what can be done with audio tracks alone. Modern DAW software also facilitates working with loops, which are usually one- or two-measure audio or MIDI recordings of rhythm instruments (percussion, bass, guitar, etc.), meant to be repeated again and again to create a groove. All the lessons in the last chapter—and so much more—can be accomplished with MMP software’s increased capabilities.

The availability of multiple audio and MIDI tracks opens up many possibilities for creative content. Students can modify previously created MIDI files to fashion their own arrangements. Audio and MIDI loops can be layered (stacked vertically) and arranged by themselves or along with other recorded content to create original compositions, arrangements, and hybrid remixes and mashups. Students can record their own improvisation in one track along to a previously recorded accompaniment in another track. Students can produce podcasts with separate tracks for voice/narrator(s), sound clips, sound effects, and more. MMP software is the perfect tool for students or entire classes to use when writing and producing songs and raps.

Also note that many MMP programs come with built-in software instruments. GarageBand, for instance, comes with more than 100 sampled or synthesized sounds of all kinds, including keyboards (grand piano, electric piano, etc.), guitars and basses (acoustic guitar, electric lead, fretless bass, etc.), wind

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