It’s a very good time to be alive if you are into creating and recording music – there’s a very big learning curve, but it’s a lot of fun at every step of the way. What is being done in music software development is now bordering on science fiction, it’s just so cool it’s insane… There are actually some small software developers whose stuff I will buy just because I want to support their work and make sure they stay in business.
I recently bought an upgrade to a program (Superior Drummer 3) that allows you to create drum tracks from what used to be called samples, a term that no longer seems to do justice to the process in question. Let me back up a minute to give this some historical perspective… In 1980, the Linn LM-1 drum machine was released for the price of $4995. It was the first drum machine that used digital samples. These drum sounds were 8-bit and in retrospect, they were cool but sounded nothing like a real drum. It featured 48 kilobytes of ROM – so all of the drum samples fit into 48 KB! At the time it was revolutionary – there had never been anything like it, and the implications were enormous. It’s sound became ubiquitous in 1980’s pop music – for example, all of Prince’s early to late 80’s records used it – but it was everywhere.
So fast forward to 37 years later (as I write this, I realize this sounds like a long time – but trust me, it isn’t. Someday you’ll know what I mean…). For $400, you get a program that was recorded in a world class recording studio (trust me folks – not a lot of those around anymore) over a period of 2 years by George Massenberg, an undeniably legendary recording engineer. The drums take up 230 gigabytes of memory – for comparison, the Linn LM-1 had 48 KB, Superior Drummer has 241,172,480 KB. Oh, did I mention it has an Artificial Intelligence module?
Every aspect of this software is just world class. From the installers to the ergonomic GUI to the sounds to the ease of use. It doesn’t crash and it’s copy protection is virtually transparent. And most importantly, it sounds fucking amazing. As broken as our world sometimes seems to be, if you are into technology and creativity, it is a very good time to be alive indeed.