Last week Clinton Kirby of Buffalo Nickel submitted a handful of songs to the iPhone recording project, one of which I immediately took to called “Heavens to Betsy”. Clinton gave me a lot of rope to work with… rope with which I was hoping not to hang myself with. So I worked up a drum arrangement and recorded some guitars and mandolin to demo my ideas for where the song could go. Here’s a rundown of apps I used and how I used them.
I used Nanostudio to create a very simple drum track and recorded some acoustic guitar samples so I could easily scratch out and arrange the song. In the end I followed Clinton’s initial arrangement cause it seemed like an old gospel or folk standard and I didn’t feel like we should deviate from that too much.
Next I loaded up a killer drum track that I created using Sonoma Wireworks’ DrumCore in to FourTrack. I then tracked acoustic guitars and a mandolin part that I had worked out. When I was satisfied with that I made a mix and did and AudioCopy of that mix.
After pasting my backing track in to AmpKit, I then began work on some electric guitar sounds and began overdubbing some overdriven and tremolo’d parts. We ran in to a little snag when we discovered a little bug in AmpKit that cuts the silence off of recorded tracks causing them not to syng up when copied back to FourTrack (this is a bug that they are aware of and have fixed for an upcoming release of AmpKit). The good thing was that I could jump back to FourTrack and record my dry guitar parts over there instead. I then imported them back to AmpKit and re-amped them with the settings I had already created for the song. They synced up just fine after that. I also used AmpKit to record a rudimentary scratch bass part through their Fender Bassman modeled amp.
We’ve disovered a great way to share files between our computers and iPhone apps through Dropbox. We all have the free version of Dropbox installed on our computers and devices and are sharing a common folder with all of the pertinent files. The great thing is that any one of us can navigate to the folder on our phones and import the files directly in to either AmpKit or FourTrack. So our bass player Bill Rester was able to download the backing track I had created and begin working on it without ever connecting to his computer. This has got to be one of the greatest gifts to those working on projects over the internet. Very exciting to be doing things this way.
I would like to point out another problem we ran in to importing files in to FourTrack. When you import a file that has spaces in the filename, FourTrack converts the spaces into percentage signs. We discovered that when you try to pull the files off during wifi sync, the link is broken. The solution to this is to simply rename the file in FourTrack before doing a wifi sync.
So what did Clinton think? He loved the drums and the tremolo guitar and will be taking this to Natalie Long who will be singing on the track. I’m stoked to hear what they do to the track.
I’ll be working on a video talking about some of these thing very soon, but for now, know that we are all excited about the implications of this sort of technology and what it means for collaboration and songwriting. I can’t wait to hear the end result and hope you guys will get something out of this as well. Stay tuned!