I worked on the ICS prep more yesterday. Here’s what I did and what I learned.
Things I Tried
I listened to most of the hundreds of drum loops and picked out my favorites. I also went through all the old Eureka Room and singularity instrument patches and saved those off to folders that I could access easily and without getting distracted by shiny new things.
I tested writing a quick song and quickly ran into some issues, which was good since identifying and ironing out the friction was the point.
In running the tests I wrote some quick bits that I wish I had more time to develop. I realized that this would probably happen during the session. I know the idea is to dig up the raw materials now and then develop them later but there’s something about the moment of inspiration where you have to catch all you can and get it down. It’s like being in one of those gameshow booths where hundred dollar bills blow around and you have to grab them. If you come back later after the show is over and the lights are out, you won’t find much.
So I think tomorrow will be a real balance between cranking out ideas and going deeper with some of the better ideas. If I don’t get to 40 songs, fine. But I should definitely get to 20. That should be cake for me.
Perhaps I can start by chasing anything I want, then if I start fading, try to do six in an hour and see how that goes? Or at any point that I start getting block or too deep, just pull out and then crank out some other stuff.
I came up with some more ideas to increase speed, which are outlined below.
Revisit Songs Later When Stuck or Uninspired.
If there’s something I like but it’s not finished and I don’t have the steam, note it down. Then I can come back later. In fact, anything that starts getting diminishing returns I should just leave and come back to later (if I want).
If you play something using a keyboard that is not quite on the beat, there’s a wonderful feature that helps you put it on the beat without having to play it right. It’s called quantizing. Here’s how you quantize in Garageband.
Select the region. Right mouse click. Select quantize. Then choose the rate you need. I typically use 1/8 or 1/16, and occasionally triplets. Quantizing saves a ton of re-recording for a sloppy player like myself. Unless of course you played it so badly in quantizes to a beat adjacent to your desired beat.
(You an also select the quantize parameter in the region editor if you don’t want to do the Right Click method).
Luckily, Garageband keeps track of how you originally played it and you can get back to it by going into the quantize feature again and choosing “Off”.
Normalize Velocity (Loundess) of Notes
If you are playing on a touch sensitive keyboard, this will effect the volume of each note. If you’re not a pro then you’ll often have unwanted dynamics. One way to fix this is to just make them all the same volume. Here’s two ways to do it:
- Prevent it from happening in the first place by making the keyboard non- or less sensitive.
- Fix it afterward: Select the Region. Open the Editor. Then Command-A to select all the notes in the region. Click “Notes” in the editor. You will see “Velocity”. Here’s the thing that hung me up: You can’t slide it without it popping back to where it was. WTF, right? The solution is supposedly to hold the OPTION key when you slide it. That will force all the notes to change. But that doesn’t work quite right for me either. I had to slide the slider all the way to the max value then release. Then select all the notes again and OPTION drag to the desired volume. This is probably user error but I didn’t dig into it since it was easy enough to work around.
Remember that Real Instruments Take Longer
Guitar and bass songs are taking longer because they are noisier, can’t be quantized (I don’t think?) and need to be plugged in/out. You also want to check the tuning now and then, strings break, etc. If going for speed going all GB instruments is probably the best idea. But I want to do real instruments as well so there will be a mix.
Today I am going to run some more speed tests and work out as many remaining issues as I can.