Sometimes the software gets in the way of the creative process

I have a few more days left allocated to writing the fourth and final song for my project, but I’ve been trying to tie up various loose ends in earlier songs.

When I was working on Track 1, way back in weeks 1 and 2, I used a program called Ignite to record my musical ideas into the computer. I’ve been using Ableton Live 9 (Intro) for the following three songs, so it made sense to me that I should go back and set up Track 1 in Ableton Live. While Ignite provides a really simple, intuitive way to record ideas and arrange songs, it doesn’t offer the mixing and mastering capabilities that Ableton has.

I used the following instruments in the song: some electric guitars, a bass, drums and a keyboard. I’m using MIDI for everything except the guitars – that means I tell the computer what notes to play, and the computer plays them for me using a synthesized MIDI instrument instead of a real-life instrument. Different music programs have different instruments, and there are infinite possibilities to choose from! Now, I really liked the sounds of the instruments I’d chosen in Ignite, so I converted each MIDI file into an audio file, which is easily done in Ignite. The software is designed for musicians, not engineers! I then imported the audio files into Ableton Live. I could have exported the MIDI files instead, but then I would have had to pick one of Ableton’s instruments to play back the sound. I only have the Intro version, and it seems that the best sounds have been reserved for the Standard and Suite versions!

For the next songs in my project I had used Ableton Live straight away. However, I ran into trouble writing the MIDI bass parts: the stripped-down Intro version that I have just doesn’t contain any particularly good bass guitar sounds. So, since Ignite comes with a nice set of instruments, I thought I could export the MIDI files from Ableton Live, import them into Ignite, pick a cool sound, and export the audio files to put them back into Ableton Live. But unfortunately Ignite isn’t able to import MIDI files! Alas, if I want to use Ignite’s instruments I’d need to record the music with my MIDI keyboard from scratch. I’m sure it would take no time at all since everything I’ve written is very simple, but it’s still quite frustrating!

In short, Ignite is great for getting started with creating and recording ideas into the computer. It’s very basic, and has a really good range of MIDI sounds to choose from – especially since it’s all free!! It’s also set up so that it’s easy to export everything into another piece of software (eg Ableton Live) to make more complicated adjustments and do the post-production stuff. Ableton Live is amazing both for recording and everything that comes after, but the Intro version I have is a bit disappointing when it comes to the available sounds.

This has been a bit of a dull blog entry. So, if you made it this far, here is the grand unveiling of the tracklisting for my wee EP!*

old dreams

1. i was an entire instant, all to myself, more than i am now
2. time is nonlinear, it slows when i realise
3. those moments i don’t want to be a part of anything
4. daydreams and denial

Really first and fourth songs are the only ones worth listening to. I’m so tempted to discard the third track because it’s such a non-song. But it still has a chance for redemption…

*Subject to change – coming up with titles for instrumental music isn’t easy.

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