Front of House
Welcome to The Mix
Last month, THE MIX became the first musicians' magazine in the world to offer a mixed-mode CD and CD-ROM on its front cover. Now we've gone one better. This month's CD-ROM is the first in the history of music-magazine publishing to feature a video product demonstration. The demo is on the PC partition of the CD-ROM. Plug in, play, and enjoy.
If you don't have a CD-ROM drive, or access to one, you may feel tempted to question the significance of this development. But think about it for a moment. The usefulness of an accompanying CD for a magazine like this is already beyond doubt. With a sonic accompaniment, our 'In Session' profiles, 'Control Room' assessments, and 'Sound Advice' tutorials are given an extra dimension. Without it, they'd still be a damn good read. But they'd be missing something.
CD-ROM allows us to go one step further, by integrating video images with soundtracks. Bob Dormon's excellent noise-gating tutorial, 'The Art Of Noise' (see p 154), is accompanied by a fine music demo on the audio part of this month's CD. But I reckon it would be smarter still if we could actually see Bob (no, honestly, it's not that bad) flicking the switches, turning the knobs, and generally making it happen - with the soundtrack evolving accordingly.
We are, I suppose, a little way from doing that. But, like the Brazilian forward line, technology has a habit of moving a pace or two quicker than you think. And we at THE MIX are dedicated to sticking with it all the way until we achieve our goal.
There's a school of thought which suggests that all these technological developments are all very well - but that they're somehow not relevant to the majority of ordinary musicians. Computers are fine for the techno fiends, the theory goes. But guitarists, drummers, singers, and the majority of keyboard players should steer well clear.
I beg to differ. Computer technology is easier than ever to use. And its applications now stretch way beyond the techno ghetto. Why, only last month we featured Gravesend's finest, Geoff Whitehorn - and a madder axeman it would be difficult to find - waxing lyrical about the benefits of hard-disk recording. This month, one of Britain's freshest guitar bands, Strangeways, are similarly effusive in their praise of their Amek Einstein mixing console and its Supertrue mix automation (pi 18).
Both of the above are essentially 'rock' acts. Neither has much time for MIDI sequencing (though Geoff has a surprisingly large MIDI setup). And neither could be described as being slaves to their equipment. But they use the gear, it works for them, and it's no big deal. End of story.
Actually, this is a two-way process. Increasing numbers of bedroom musicians are now being lured out of their houses and on to the stages of pubs, clubs, and festivals. Rather than finding their gear a hindrance, they discover that their use of new technology - from a simple DAT backing-track to a MIDI-to-lighting control system - gives their show a creative edge their competitors lack. And, far from being bewildered by the complexities of the average PA rig, they find that the mixing, miking, and monitoring skills they've acquired at home can all be pressed into use (with some adaptation) in live performance.
You can use new technology to do almost anything you want - as long as your attitude is right. Keep an open mind. Don't dismiss something out of hand, just because it happens to have a disk drive, a mouse, or a TV screen. If you start to feel overawed, relax. Take everything step by step. Read the manuals carefully, and keep them in a safe place.
At the same time, don't dedicate yourself to convention too slavishly. If there's one area where I do have some sympathy with the technology-bashers, it's that of creativity. Yes, all those thousands of Ataris running Cubase have produced dozens of identikit club hits. Yes, there is a desperate shortage of new, original synth sounds. And yes, some of us are still waiting for the bold, new music all these innovations were supposed to have brought us a decade ago or more.
Technology can provide an outlet for your creativity. But it can't replace it. We at THE MIX can do what we can to demystify how all this new gear works. (And, as I said at the beginning, we can even push the boundaries of technology back further in order to get our message across.) The rest is up to you.
Editorial by Dan Goldstein
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