Saturday, August 20, 2011

Serious Music (1979-1983)

I have blogged about these individual pieces a lot over the past few years. Some of these compositions I have recorded many times over the last 30 years, with various levels of technology and to varying degrees of success.  Some of them I have just recorded for the first time recently.  So finally, using SoundCloud, I have gathered them together into a "set" that you can listen to without having to press more than one play button.

Please press play when you have 20 minutes to spare.  Headphones are highly recommended.  Comments are welcome.

Catching up with the DAW Wars...and a whole lotta remixing going on

The DAW Wars continue unabated here at Hybernation Music.  I really felt that when I switched to the iMac in the spring of this year, my search for the ultimate DAW (digital audio software) was over.  After years of suffering with the instabilities of Cakewalk Sonar, I felt that once I had switched to the Mac, as I posted here before, Apple Logic Studio seemed to be "the one".  It was stable, intuitive and efficient, and it's 64-bit mode worked better than any DAW had for me before.  I still liked Pro Tools, and when Pro Tools 9 came out I did start using it more, but it's lack of "offline rendering" and it's limited 32-bit memory space can be a big frustration when working with larger projects with many complex virtual instruments.

My only real complaints with Logic have been that sometimes the workflow seems a bit "clunky", and the mixer and arrange windows just aren't are visually appealing as some other programs (it hasn't seen an update in a couple of years, which is part of the problem).  Then when this year's debacle over Apple's Final Cut X revamp hit, it became a little scary to think about totally putting all my eggs in that Apple-cart (to mix a few metaphors).  I feel quite certain that the next release of Logic (probably "Apple Logic X") will be a radical departure, though perhaps not as radical as this video suggests.  Great, just as I am getting comfortable with it!

In the meantime, Steinberg came out with Cubase 6, which finally offers full 64-bit support on Mac OS X.  Though I was impressed with Cubase 5.5 on the PC as I noted in several past posts, when I installed it on the iMac, I was disappointed to learn that is had no 64-bit Mac version.  And, to be honest, it was a little unstable on my iMac.  It just didn't feel as solid as Logic or Pro Tools.  Heck, it didn't feel as solid as Reaper, for that matter.

But after asking around, I decided to download the fully-functional 30 day trial of Cubase 6, which prompted me to go ahead and buy the reasonable priced upgrade this weekend.  Yes, I am impressed.  Very stable and efficient.  I'm going to be working with it.

And speaking of Reaper, that program was just gone "4.0", and it continues to knock my socks off, for the money.  I guess I bought a $60 license back when it went to 3.0, and you get two full version upgrades for that price!  So, my license will continue to be good through all of the 4.x releases.  Sweet.

So, in the last few months, I've been using all of these programs, and below are a few things I have to show for it.  I'll be including screen shots of all these DAW's, so let me start out by showing you what the new Cubase 6 looks like (I've not finished a track yet, so just pictures of this one):

Cubase 6 Tracking Window

Cubase 6 Mixing Window

Here is a new little dance number I came up with that I call "Afrikan Techno".  I did this one in Reaper:
Afrikan Techno (Reaper Mix) by fragileforest

Reaper 4 Tracking Window

Reaper 4 Mixing Window

I did a complete rework of the song "Ancient Violence" (which I blogged about here two years ago).  I did this completely in Pro Tools 9, reworking all of the virtual instruments used.  This was an exercise in "getting rid of Native Instrument Kore 2" in a track which was heavily dependent on that technology.  Kore 2 is being discontinued by this group of professional rip-off artists who call themselves music technologists.  I have a lot invested in their software, but they'll not be getting any more of MY money, I can tell you.  But I digress...anyway, I really like the way the new version of this 20-year-old composition came out.  It has a completely different vibe than the original version:
Ancient Violence (remix) by fragileforest

One of the first tracks I did on Pro Tools 8 a couple of year ago was this one that I call "One Lonely Desert".  I felt the need to remix it on the iMac recently, to take advantage of Pro Tools 9 and some recent plug-ins I am really loving, especially IK Multimedia's Black 76 Limiting Amplifier, which is simply the best track compressor I have ever used!  This remix sounds really superior to the original, I think:
One Lonely Desert by fragileforest

Pro Tools 9 with Tracking and Mixing squeezed together on my 27" monitor

Lastly, I still use Propellerhead's Reason/Record duo some as well.  It's just so quick and immediate (and is hands-down the best at "cross-platform" session compatibility, due to the closed nature of the system.  Something I start on the PC will sound EXACTLY the same and load up with absolutely no issues on the Mac with Reason/Record).  I'm really looking forward to those Swedish folks rolling all these feature into one product with the recently announced Reason 6.  I recently fired up Reason/Record and remixed this piece I call "Piano Idea Two", using the Yamaha C7 grand piano found in the Reason Pianos Refill:
Piano Idea Two by fragileforest
Reason / Record Duo with Tracking, Mixing and "Rack" on one screen