On a production level, I first used an actual computer to sequence MIDI information somewhere around 1988, if my memory serves. This may have been a Commodore 128, an ‘Amiga’ or other such clunky device (told you ‘if my memory serves‘) and the software package running was called Steinberg Pro 16, an early predecessor of what eventually became ‘Cubase’. Thereafter, that [vague] combination changed to an Atari 1024 running, again Steinberg’s, ‘Pro 24′ sequencer. The then unification of hardware and software sent musical note, modulation, velocity and control information to my banks of synths, sound modules, FX processors and of course the ubiquitous Akai S900/1000 samplers, but of course, (affordable) digital audio stored on a hard disc was a long way off. However, as the 80s breathed its last breath to the sound of a ‘Soul II Soul’ rhythm echoing into the distance, I discovered a software package called ‘C-Lab Notator’.
Still to this day, a simple to understand, incredibly intuitive and logically laid out software package, ‘Notator’ was the first real sign of how things in the future would shape up, leading us to the DAW’s (digital audio workstation‘s) we know and love today. There was a stacked ‘arrange’ pattern to the screen’s left hand side, and each of those patterns could hold up to 16 (centrally placed) tracks of MIDI information addressing one channel and/or piece of kit in the studio. Detailed breakdown of the track contents (what today we’d call a dialogue box) sat sensibly to the right hand side along with a group of transport controls too. Intricate and powerful MIDI editing was possible as was the ability to illustrate sequences in musical staves, which made the ‘real’ musicians very happy indeed.
I have to say, this software was rock solid and hardly ever crashed, and the timing and accuracy of the transmitted sequences would shame some computer software even today. As the early 90s began kicking off, I upgraded to the C-Lab ‘Unitor’ system which incorporated a SMPTE timecode reader – invaluable at the time as I was beginning to get a shed load of 2″, 24 track tapes through the studio door which always demanded synchronisation of the original performances with my new ‘remix’ parts (and I’m sure there’s a full blog post somewhere in me about the trials and tribulations in that department!). Then, however, came ‘Logic’.
The German company C-Lab mutated into ‘Emagic’, and thus was born ‘Logic’. Still running on an Atari as ‘Notator Logic’, the tide was about to turn in what was the supercharged pace of computer/software development during the early 90s. Eventually, I was sat comfortably with my first Apple Mac computer (1993/4) and the first incarnations of ‘Logic Audio’. My machine wasn’t capable of running audio off its hard disc at that time and barely affordable storage was still a little out of reach. It was Logic version 3 that gave the first signs of a fully functional MIDI/audio solution, with version 4 introducing the platinum, gold and silver editions. Sound processing ‘plug-in’s began to appear and by 1996 (and, after the in-flux of monies from the Tinman record) I was able to increase the power of my Apple Mac computer and invest in Logic ’4′. Think about this though for a second – in 1996, I paid almost £350 for a separate, dedicated audio hard drive – it was 3 gigabytes in size. How times have changed.
Moving on then Logic 5 arrived sometime in the very late 90s and with it came not only the processing power and (slightly) more affordable and faster, hard disc space but the Logic plug-in’s themselves had announced their glorious arrival as contenders to actually ‘replace’ the masses of effects processors, and synths I’d relied on on for so long. Everything, it seemed, could quite feasibly be done, ‘in-the-box’. One day then I embarked on a self-imposed production mission to do my next remix session totally within the Logic 5 environment – no hardware samplers, synths, effects or physical mixing desk would be used. Logic 5 had not only flexed its muscles in the sonic department but was also hinting that its automation and mixing possibilities were about to scare the livin’ daylights outta me! It was a memorable day and night for surewhich filled me with excitement levels I’d not experienced for a long time prior. This was amazing, awesome and fabulous and pretty much began a 3 year period of transition to total computer based recording and mixing, bar the odd ‘classic’ synth I refused to let go of (the track that got remixed that glorious day by the way, was my re-interpretation of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love’) PLAY-Dakeyne remix I FEEL LOVE
Fast forward to the 21st century and, well, right now really, I’m happy to be rockin’ an iMac i7 running Apple Logic Studio 9. Sure, I could be/should be running a fully kitted out Mac Pro but quite honestly, my studio sessions are more occasional, chilled and not so ‘conveyor belt’ these days, so the iMac 27″ more than handles the strain. Logic itself is still beyond awesome – add to this the amazing amount of native and third-party plug-ins and virtual instruments and my loyalty remains unswerving despite that Avid temptress Pro Tools shaking her seductive hips at me constantly. Blogging as I do for those good people over at Digital Village (dv247.com), I was happy recently to be invited to record a short series of Apple Logic 9 tutorial videos, which I duly set about and the run of six is below for your delectation and possible enlightenment. These cover individual features in the current version ’9′ and attempt to give easy, follow-along examples of their possible applications. To quote Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s guide..’, “share and enjoy” – bye for now