The New Year is glinting on the horizon like a not-so-miragelike mirage, and the “Best of 2011″ lists are coming fast and furious. Consequently — being the bandwagon-jumpers that we are — we’re back with another edition of “Top Music & Tech Innovations of 2011,” featuring: The Drums, Class Actress, PUJOL, AM and Bosco Delrey.
We hit up the aforementioned five bands — over Twitter DM, mostly — and asked them all to share their favorite music/tech innovations of 2011. This cadre of musicians — more so than our previous two crops — got extra techie, so we suggest taking notes if you’re an aspiring ‘phile.
1). THE DRUMS PLAY THE IPAD
Connor Hanwick: TouchOSC for iPad is an app that I use with my recording software (Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton) to send and receive commands and messages, all made possible by the on-going evolution of Open Sound Control technology. The interface has a bunch of toggles and knobs you can assign to different parameters, with no lagging or delay in response time. I use it as a portable mixing desk, but it can also be used as a synthesizer with an infinite number of choices in sound. It kind of takes a long time to set up, but it really makes recording-on-the-go way easier.
Image courtesy of Facebook, The Drums
2). CLASS ACTRESS SAMPLES
Elizabeth Harper: Our favorite music tech development from 2011 is the release of a software plugin called Geist from Fxpansion. It’s basically sampling software that you can use to chop up sounds and turn them into loops and beats, as well as triggering them with a drum pad or midi synth. It’s similar to some of the other software samplers out there, but it’s basically half the price, so for me it was the best option because it’s still really powerful and versatile. We use it with Pro Tools, which doesn’t really have a strong built-in sampler like Logic does. Mostly we have been dumping sounds from our keyboards into it, so that we can do production while we’re on the road without having to drag our old, cranky synthesizers around.
Image courtesy of Facebook, Class Actress
3). PUJOL DIGS COMMUNICATION ALTERCATION
Daniel Pujol: I think I’m going to have to go with the WAY people used social media and communications technology in 2011 to organize and execute human/collective social realities all over the world. Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook and the all the rest are so engrained in our social infrastructure that now they can be used by us humans to augment or directly affect the social infrastructure we communicate through, as opposed to merely reporting our individual social behavior from ‘material reality.’ It is kind of freaky-deeky but also neato-mosquito, and my favorite innovation of 2011.
Image courtesy of Jonathon Kingsbury
4). AM KEEPS ON (FOUR) TRACK
AM: Sonoma Wire Works 4 Track iPhone app: I used this app to do all the pre-production for the AM & Shawn Lee Celestial Electric album. Shawn would send me drum beats and I would record them onto my phone. I would then start layering parts using the 4-track app. Very raw, one-take stuff since it operates much like a real analog 4-track. It’s not like Pro Tools with millions of options. It forces me to work with limitations and make decisions. So if I make a mistake I have to play through the whole song again! By the time I record the stuff for real I’ve got it down. At some point I might release these demos. It’s cool to hear where the songs start.
Image courtesy of Facebook, AM & Shawn Lee
5). BOSCO DELREY LIKES FOUR-TRACKS, 2
Bosco Delrey: I’m really into the 4-track recorders that are phone apps. Smaller and faster is always a plus, and being able to record while I’m wandering around gets me out of the house a lot more. The other day in Chinatown I followed a parade’s drummer for a few minutes and recorded it. Then I went into a guitar shop and recorded a guitar part, and did the baselines at home. Those apps are definitely nice for touching on some spontaneity.
Image courtesy of Facebook, Bosco Delrey
Header image courtesy of Flickr, Create Digital Media
By Brenna Ehrlich