a day in the life

21 May

This morning, I went to Recording Made Easy, a seminar by Apple held at Guitar Center. I’m always fascinated by the people who attend events I go to. In that room, the majority were middle-aged men. There were one or two guys who were probably around my age in their early to mid-20’s. And I was one of two women in that group. Everyone was talking and asking questions beyond my current level of understanding. The speaker of the session kept using audio engineering jargon that left me wondering what they were talking about. Not to worry though, I got one of my questions answered of what a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is, which is a generic name for a recording software such as GarageBand. I have a lot to learn.

The speaker speeded through GarageBand, then covered a broad range of plug-ins and fancier gear. While all of this was helpful, I was hoping and looking for a very beginner’s course on recording in GarageBand. I know how to press the record button, use a few amps and effects, but there was a lot I wanted to be covered in GarageBand alone. Overall though, this was a good experience for me. I learned something about computers, features I never knew about in GarageBand, a few jargony words, some music history and audio engineering concepts.

In that room, I felt like I was in a group of people I could connect with. The speaker bashed on Rebecca Black and said how he doesn’t listen to the radio. I laughed. We all laughed. I can’t say I’m completely immune from the influences of mainstream radio, but I hardly listen to the radio as well. I constantly listen to my iPod, discover new music through Pandora (not always reliable, but hey I’ve found good stuff), watching movies, artists I like and just where inspiration hits. I’ve never been able to really pinpoint the reason I don’t like radio music. But then as we talked about compression, it made complete sense. The speaker, who works in a studio as an audio engineer talked about compression. Today’s studios and a lot of what is heard on the radio is overly compressed. More compression means less detail and dynamics in the music. What is now considered as good music is loud music. So it’s not just Auto-Tune to blame, but it’s how pop music has set a standard sound for everyone to mimic. Mystery demystified.

Ever since I got an acoustic-electric guitar, I’ve been wanting to upgrade my amp and get some effect pedals. But all of this is a huge investment I can only dream of for now. I haven’t been able to play or research effects all too much besides GarageBand. I have learned today that you can use reverb for everything since sounds in real life such as talking is all reverb.

Right now, I feel like there is boundless material to know about music. There is so much to know and I don’t even know where to begin. Playing instruments is one side, while recording is another flip side to music. And although music has been a part of my entire life, I feel as though I only know a little. But from the exposure I have gained in an hour, I feel like knowing a little goes a long way for someday knowing a lot more. So that’s the end about that for now.

In the afternoon, I went to a music store in search of a cello to rent. I already knew how expensive it could be so I kept my expectations low. I played on a 3/4 size. The store employee said I needed a 7/8 and they didn’t carry that. There were only three cellos 3/4 size. I’m too little for a full size. As a beginner, I was looking for the cheapest option available. But I was disappointed by the sound and sad looking, beat up cello. I decided I would come back later. I didn’t know what to think. I fall in love with my instruments. I didn’t even come close to loving the cellos I played. I was second guessing myself about this whole idea of playing the cello. Should I really learn the cello? Maybe I’ll never be the Yo-Yo Ma in me.

Upon leaving the strings area, I wandered off the deserted store. While there were people in the strings, harp and piano area, nobody was in the other sections of the store. I picked up a tambourine. I’ve never had much interest in percussion or smaller instruments until taking World Music or watching Laura Marling live. Then I walked over to the section of ukuleles. I played on a concert size ukulele. Finally, an instrument I can actually play a few songs with. This store is no Guitar Center, but I did strum on a 12-string guitar for fun. While no one was looking, I wandered off in the brass section. There was this lonely ukulele hanging on the wall. I was about to pick up and play on this ukulele. I paid no attention to the body and instead, looked at the engraved ‘Lanikai’ (before I pick up any guitar or ukulele, I always see which brand I’ll be holding). I stepped a little closer. There was a silver signature and then a signed album jacket held between the strings. Colbie Caillat. I laughed to myself. I almost picked up a uke signed by Colbie Caillat. I’m sure the store would not have been happy with me then and would have probably kicked me out and banned for good. On the drive home, I just had to listen a few of Colbie Caillat’s songs. What an adventurous day.

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