I could not have known as a teenager that technology would progress by leaps and bounds, to the point a few decades later, I find myself creating music with a Digital Audio Workstation.
Recording Studio Experience
As a teenager playing drums in local bands, we talked about recording our music in a recording studio.
A few years later as I started to develop a drumming reputation, I had a call from Chad Allen, ( who’s band later became The Guess Who ) asking me if I would play drums on some demo recordings he was doing, in his family’s basement recording studio.
I was happy to, and I learned a lot about the recording process at that time. It was not the creative time that I thought it would be.
Lots of Setup
What surprised me was the large amount of time spent on setting up and testing microphones for each instrument. In the case of drums, there were often a handful of microphones, for recording different drums or cymbals.
The sound engineer kept trying different locations for the microphone and testing the sound for each instrument. It was sit and wait for a couple of hours, and then play for half an hour.
Enter The Digital Audio Workstation – DAW
In 2013, someone mentioned that digital audio workstations (DAWs) were now popular for recording music. I searched the internet and found a number of them. I purchased Mixcraft from Acoustica.com, which they called The Musician’s DAW, for about $150.
It was a digital download, and I had it on my computer in minutes. Many companies will give you a free trial of the product for 30 days. https://acoustica.com/mixcraft/
Learning Something New
Like most things that are new, there is a learning curve to get going on the software, but the more you know the easier it becomes.
A Software Orchestra
Within the software there is a whole orchestra of instruments. There were a number of different electric pianos, organs, and guitar sounds, that allowed you to have the authentic sound you were looking for.
Play Or Type-In The Notes
You can plug in an electric piano, play something, and the software will record it. Or you can type in your own musical notes into the software.
Once saved, those notes can be played with any of the instruments found in Mixcraft. So what starts out as a piano progression, can quickly be changed to various strings, trumpets, horn ensembles, or marimba voicings.
An entire orchestra at your finger tips !
One Track Per Instrument
A song is made of a handful of instruments. When recorded these instruments are usually recorded separately on what is called a sound track. A song can have a only a few tracks or more than a dozen.
You can keep adding instruments and tracks building up the sound till you are happy with it.
Track Grouping or Sub-Group
A drum kit can have a handful of recording tracks, one each for – bass drum, snare drum, tom toms, hihat, ride cymbal, crash cymbal, etc.
The same could be done for other instruments.
The advantage with the sub-group track is that you can control the volume and sound effects of the whole group from the sub-group track.
Loops Library for Non Musicians
Mixcraft has a loops library of 7000 music loops. Music loops are a few bars of music with percussion, sound effects, and music beds that have a whole band. Each of these tracks can be used to create your own music, even if you have no musical ability.
You simply drop and drag the sounds onto the tracks and arrange them to what sounds good to you.
I never thought I would become a sound engineer, but as you start to work with the software, you realize that you are developing sound processing abilities.
Equalizers, compressors, tone boosters, and reverb are just a few of the many effects that can be applied to any recording to enhance it. The right effects can make a huge improvement to the final sound.
I did not know what a plug-in was, but learned that it was a piece of sound software developed by a third party, that could be installed and included with the Mixcraft software, providing additional sound enhancing abilities. They have a number of these plug-ins included in the software.
A One Man Band
I used to have to wait for band mates to call and get together to make music. Now I can make and record music any time I want.
I start with a drum track for the basic beat, add a bass guitar track for some bottom, and then a keyboard. Then I play my ukulele and sing, and it sounds like a four piece band !
With a handful of song tracks I sing, I can now be a one man band to play dances and social events, by putting the tracks, my ukulele and my voice through a small PA system.
Imagine a guy playing ukulele and singing, with sounds of a strong ensemble playing backup on his song, but are no where in sight !
The software has a separate video track that can be used to put pictures or video on. I started using this feature to put family pictures on the timeline, while creating music to play in the background, making a musical movie of sorts.
The software has become the program I use to create my weekly YouTube videos for ukulele tutorials, cover and original songs.
Adding scrolling or stationary text, on top of these pictures allows you to add to the story.
If you have ever thought that you would like to create music or make music videos, then try out a Digital Audio Workstation DAW, and see what you can create.
Check out Tin Man, a cover song I produced using the Mixcraft software.
Check out the Balance In Life album produced with the Mixcraft program.