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Monday, February 9, 2009

Anniversaganza! Free Music! Wizards!

Well, the Anniversaganzathon is over, and although I didn't get as many submissions as I would've liked, the ones that I did get were pretty awesome. These are songs from regular folks like you or me, readers of The Makeshift Musician who wanted to make something cool. Click on the title of each song to download it. 

First up we have Jettison Joe from California, with the, ahem, creatively titled Makeshift. He says:

"I composed this piece in four or five short sittings at the piano. I recorded it in Garage Band on my Powerbook laptop, which I connect to my Roland FP-7 keyboard with a normal USB cable. The only instrument sound used is Garage Band's default Grand Piano."

It's a very fun piano piece with an absolutely awesome twist about two-thirds the way through the song. It totally changes the feel of the song without changing it's spirit. Very clean overall, the piano sounds great, which shows you that you don't need a studio full of professional equipment to make something sound good. GarageBand is truly a great tool for the Makeshift Musician. Thanks Joe!

Next up is my own piece. It's surf rock mixed with 8-bit chip elements and it's called Mighty Surf Wizard Battle, because wizard battles are totally sweet. I got the 'acoustic' instruments from my Yamaha Motif ES6 and the chip-sounding elements from my Novation XioSynth. I recorded it all in Cubase on a Mac and mastered it in WaveLab on a PC. It started out as a pure rock piece, but, as is the case with most of my songs, it didn't stay that way for long. The chip elements were an experiment, but they sounded cool as a back-and-forth contrast to the acoustic elements so I decided to keep them in. Also, it's quite a process to get an electronic guitar to sound realistic. I hope you enjoy it, dear reader; my credibility as a music writer is at stake. 

Lastly, we have Jim Hickcox Heartbreaker from either Texas or Tennessee (?) with our only song with lyrics, titled Heartbreaker . In his writeup he weaves technical and personal issues into a classic tale of the troubles of a Makeshift Musician:

"When I saw that the Makeshift Musician was looking for submissions for the Anniversaganathon I decided immediately that I would make not only a pop song, but a second (perhaps less poppy) song using only free software. Two songs. That was my goal. Unfortunately, this goal could not have come at a worse time, as I was in the process of moving from Austin, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to my being in process, most of my instruments (including my midi controller) are in a guy's garage in Los Angeles right now (remind me to take care of that, would you?). This leaves me with just what's on my computer and a stunning lack of inspiration.

I have been into pop songs lately, so I wanted to go in that direction, even though I am a rapper by trade. My options for music were as follows: Pd, Max/MSP, Reason, or playing real instruments into either Garageband or Acid. My first attempt was to build a drum machine and synthesizer in Pd. I didn't get very far. It's hard. To just program in one song didn't seem worth it. Perhaps I'll get back to that. My next try was to program some drum beats in Reason, and then use Acid to record me playing an actual piano (the only instrument I have access to at the moment) and put them together. I kept getting pretty insipid results, though. I'm not a piano player, much though I may wish for it. I ended up working almost entirely in Reason. I had a new restriction this way, because I don't have my midi keyboard I could only program melodies in Reason's pattern sequencer, which is fine, but not awesome. Lucky for me, I have a thing for the basic chord playing features on your average fifteen dollar keyboard, so I emulated that. I took the (relatively minimal) track that I made and stuck it in Acid so I could record me singing on it. For whatever reason, I decided to record my singing slow so it would be high-pitched. Sometimes I do that. I also did the opposite, and if you listen closely you can hear what sounds like a retarded bear singing along in the background. I think I needed to do that to fight back against the crispness of the track."

Seriously, this is a hilarious song. Is it just goofy or is it wry satire? It's hard to say, but it's great that he can pull something like this together against difficult odds, some of which he places against himself intentionally. Now I got that chorus stuck in my head. 

Thanks for the submissions, guys. Here's to another awesome year of making music any way we can!

1 comment:

Jim said...

Amazing. All three.
I'm sad not more people sent in work, but what did come out of this was great.

I look forward to many more Makeshift Anniversaganzathongs.