SOUNDS AMAZING!; MUSIC LIVE Andrew Cowen Previews the Giant Show at the NEC Which Offers Great New Ideas for Musicians of All Styles and All Levels

By Cowen, Andrew | The Birmingham Post (England), October 30, 1999 | Go to article overview

SOUNDS AMAZING!; MUSIC LIVE Andrew Cowen Previews the Giant Show at the NEC Which Offers Great New Ideas for Musicians of All Styles and All Levels


Cowen, Andrew, The Birmingham Post (England)


Musicians from all over the region will be flocking to the NEC on November 19, 20 and 21 for Music Live '99. Not so much a trade show, more a golden opportunity for musicians to check out the latest gear and trends.

The biggest names in the industry will be there exhibiting everything from drums and guitars to the latest high-tech gadgets and software for the dance and DJ community.

There will be live performances and demonstrations giving you the chance to thoroughly roadtest a product before parting with that hard-earned cash. Workshops, discussions and Q&A sessions make the show a must for musicians of all interests and abilities.

The NEC will be divided into four areas - Mad About Guitars, Mad About Drums, Music Technology Live and Dancetech '99 - meaning the traditional rock musician will find plenty to see and do. But it's the rise of new technology which has had a revolutionary effect on music making.

The unstoppable ascendance of dance music in all its many guises has turned the industry on its head. Dance is more about ideas than technique with samplers being the new electric guitar.

As computers tumble in price and increase in power, it is now possible to create a finished piece of music without even picking up an instrument.

Software sequencers which combine hard disc recording have replaced the familiar reel to reel tape multitrack tape recorder in all but the largest studios. There is now software which caters for all abilities, from the novice to the pro.

Sequencers came of age at the turn of the 1980s with the rise of midi. Midi is the language computers use to talk to synthesisers and samplers. In its simplest form it tells the instruments which note to play, when and for how long. This information is stored in the sequencer, and like text in a word-processor, it can be edited and manipulated to improve the original performance.

Full blown sequencer packages cost several hundred pounds and are essential for anyone serious about creating modern music. There is also a rapidly increasing market for software aimed at the desktop musician with soundcards. These fall into the audio sequencing bracket, allowing the user to combine loops of drums, basslines and synthesiser riffs to create professional-sounding results. Most come with a massive and expandable library of source material and the best allow the user to add his own material.

EJay and Mixman are the most popular, each being very intuitive to use and capable of some astonishing results. You can have a tune on the boil within minutes of booting up the program. As an introduction to the world of high-tech recording they really whet the appetite. If you want to delve further, you really need a dedicated midi and audio sequencer. …

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