990 – the wet toe

For the last few nights, as I write these, I’ve had the creeping sense that I’m running out of excuses. The posts have been good at helping me remember my long-lost blogging voice, and hopefully haven’t been utterly dull, but I’m aware that they’re slightly acting as displacement activity. As close friends (or UK-bloggers with long memories) will remember I was never short of a wry observation, but some of the purpose of this activity is to help me create – not observe.

So tonight, once Daisy had been ejected from Netflix and disappeared to bed, I poured a glass of red and fired up the new iMac, ready to get on with making some music. Of my own.

It was just horrible.

Because the iMac is still quite new, I found out tonight that I’ve never actually tried using it before to make music. Firing up a Dubious Brothers set in Mainstage – just to test connections –  mainly highlighted how many Kontakt sample libraries still weren’t installed. And I’m not starting that at 10:15pm.

Bits of the midi setup turn out not to be quite right either – signals not appearing where they did on the older iMac. Which I did manage to fix. And I even got a dual-manual organ preset mapped out so it was running between two separate keyboards, with the faders on one controlling the drawbars so I could shape the sound live – which was fine until I tried to do it for the second set of drawbars and it all turned to shit.

I realise that I haven’t truly decided whether I’m writing in ProTools or Logic. Or jamming about in Mainstage. Logic has the nice drummer things to get you going, and comes with all its own instrument plugins – particularly Sculpture which I love…but it’s really fiddly to record from two keyboards at once. ProTools is proper and serious and austere – and will let me record from multiple sources easily – but is also a completely and utterly blank canvas.

I was also daunted by the sheer number of plugins and sounds I’ve slowly got installed on the damn thing – missing pianos notwithstanding. It was utterly bewildering. And in the case of some of the older plugins, nearly impossible to read on my 5K retina screen. Putting on my glasses to write music has suddenly become a thing.

But there I was, back at a keyboard, making noises.

None of them were worth recording. But I’ll be back again tomorrow night, fixing a few things. And again the night after, so perhaps slowly they will be…

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