The Logic of Logic II

Every once in a while I just have to stop and be grateful for and appreciate the incredible tools I get to work with creating Inspirational music here in the 21st century.  I’ve been working with a software system for about 15 years now that was first developed by a German company named Emagic in the early 1990s called Logic.  In 2002, Apple, seeing that Emagic’s Logic had probably the most powerful engine of the various DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) systems, bought Logic from Emagic and has produced this industry leading tool ever since.

Coupled with a hot Mac computer and a few other relatively inexpensive pieces of hardware, this software system has taken the place of the entire recording studio of yore amazingly for the price of $499.

For 25 years I owned a major recording studio here in NYC and operated 3 rooms for various recording spending, over time, a couple of million dollars on equipment to keep up with the times and keep the shop running.

Today all that has changed dramatically.  Today I record symphony orchestras in my son’s converted bedroom in my apartment.  Of course I’ve put some serious money into the acoustics of the room including an isolation booth that fits five, but essentially, I’ve got everything I ever had before and more, for infinitely less.

This is one of the few pluses in our rapidly changing music world.  Technology, especially digital technology, has made a tremendous impact on our lives in music.  And fortunately, I’ve had the wherewithal to keep up with the technology and take advantage of its wonders.

My studio, Link Recording Studios, which used to require 4 Mac computers to run it at full capacity, now runs on one dual quad 3.2 processor with 16 GB of ram running at 64 bit.  For those of you who are somewhat computer challenged, that’s not even the hottest new one on the market today, though it certainly is extremely powerful.

I teach Logic and yet I’m still learning it.  The learning curve is steep in that they give you ten different ways to achieve the same task, but after a while you figure our what your favorite two of those ten ways are and choose your methods accordingly.  Logic is logical.  If you’ve worked on other DAW systems you can swing over to Logic and know your way around it in a matter of hours enough to record.

I recently helped a young composer who was doing a movie score for a film house and had only first bought the program 2 months ago.  Though he still has a lot of holes in his knowledge and understanding of the program, he was making music, and good music using sampled and very realistic orchestra.

Every day when I walk into my studio and hit 5 switches to power things up, I breathe a sigh of gratitude for this wondrous time where I can sit by myself and make the music of my dreams in elegant, comfortable surroundings.  The systems of orchestration, mixing and especially editing are so far advanced from just 15 years ago in a tape machine world as to make those past days ancient and archaic.

I remember days of standing at a tape machine editing ¼” tape with pieces of tape taped to the wall, hanging around my shoulders and organized in little batches on my machine while I hand cut and rearranged with tape and editing block.  God help me if I sneezed.  It would take a week to put it all back together.

Today I take mouse in hand, highlight the section of music in the screen of my choosing and simply drag it where it belongs.  If I don’t like what I hear, I simply hit Re-do and try again.  It’s a better world.

In the old days, when it was time to mix a song we would book 24 hours in the studio to mix one song and then an extra 3-4 hours the next morning in addition.  A 24-hour mix is extremely rough on the ears.  By the end of day both producer and engineer are exhausted and brain dead and not at all trusting as to what they are hearing anymore, so the wiser ones would go home, get some sleep and then come back and finish with fresher ears the next morning.

Today, by the time I get to mix day, the song is already 90% mixed and remembered in my computer’s automation.  Every little move and nuance of what I want to hear is recorded and performed by my computer as set up by me previous to the final day.  The final day comes and I spend anywhere from 2-4 hours finishing up.  It’s a better world.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Occasionally, there are technical breakdowns, and they are no fun, but actually running my own studio where I’m the only engineer means far less problems than ever before when several engineers worked the hardware equipment.  Then, I had a regular maintenance man come in every two weeks to fix that which was broken or in the process of breaking.  Today, I am that maintenance man and I’ve learned to only buy software from companies who have great customer service.  9 times out of 10 I’m able to fix problems with a half hour phone call.

It’s a better world.

With all my complaints about the condition of today’s music world, here’s one aspect that really works and is actually miraculous in its results and costs.

Technology has its upside and downside in today’s world.  I could certainly write another couple of posts on how technology has ruined songwriting and record-making today.  But that’s perhaps for another day.  Today, this morning as I look to a weekend of intensive work in my studio on a new CD project, I’m simply grateful for this wonderland of creation and imagination that supports my every musical thought.

I often wish I could take Johann Sebastian Bach on a 3-hour tour of my studio.  He was, in his day, a true technologist.  He would simply gasp in wonder at what was available to him at his fingertips.

And then he would sit down and get to work.

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