Tag Archives: Audio codecs

Pure Web 2.0 – Music Collaboration

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Via one of my musicial heroes,  Thomas Dolby, here’s a great example of how Web 2.0 really works—for musicians.

A very timely piece of software has become available for me to use on my album. It’s called Virtual Glass and it’s a plug-in you download from a web site/service called eSession.com.

The subscription-based eSession site handles all administrative aspects of auditioning, negotiating with, and recording with, a huge number of top professional musicians, all without leaving the comfort of your own home studio (or in my case, DIScomfort as it’s not finished yet!)

It ticks all the Web 2.0 boxes—free for basic services, allows users to find other like-minded users, and enables them to collaborate together online. In fact, I can’t really think of a purer encapsulation of the Web 2.0 vision.

Here’s how Dolby describes using it:

[I]t enables me to do a recording session with, let’s say Kevin Armstrong, who lives in London which is several hours away from me. Kevin has his own studio and uses the same software as me. So we can connect, open the same song, and Kevin can overdub guitar parts. We can discuss them, agree on retakes and so on, while hearing each other in real time. His face and/or his studio appear in a video window on my screen, and we have a ‘talkback’ system. The experience is actually not very different from me being in the control room and Kevin out in a booth. I can hear a low-res version of his part, then once it’s done he just drops the new recording into a bin online, and I update it on my end in hi-res. The software can keep track of the time we spend and even issue an invoice based on a pre-agreed fee.

Then let’s say I really need someone to play a jaw’s harp. I do a search for that keyword in the eSession talent profiles, and find out that Tony Levin as well as being a killer bassist is an ace jaw’s harpist (?!) and right now he’s got a mid-tour day off and he’s sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, Tenessee. I approach him and fix the fee. We can work together using Virtual Glass in real time over ADSL, or he can just work on it in his own time and send me a few takes to peruse offline.

Thomas Dolby’s Blog » Blog Archive » eSession rocks

The Hidden Channel on MP3s

Why don’t MP3 files contain ‘hidden’ channel like DVDs do? Or do they? It would be a great way to cater to the modern remix culture, the podcasting revolution, the audio commentary and soundseeing movement.

I wrote a few months back about podentaries, my ridiculous term for what I later found was already a thriving, if somewhat limited movement. The idea is basically to offer an audio accompaniment to more or less anything, not just confined to washed-up ex-directors pontificating on their old movies (parodied imperfectly by Rob Brydon), but also to music (take it to a Beethoven concert, an alternative to the stodgy guided tour, to TV series).

But surely it’s easy enough to add an extra channel to an MP3 file, that, with some software, can be released and mixed into the original music or sound? This would solve all sorts of problems of synchronization, and allow musicians, commentators or anyone who likes to include their tuppence worth to the recording. (“Now, if you listen carefully in the background a few bars ahead, you can hear me fluffing the first few notes of my ukelele solo”).

Of course, it needn’t stop there. You could capitalize on the already burgeoning Remix Culture by releasing songs that can have their drumtrack, say, removed by listeners to turn it into a bit of chilled out ambient fun, or have the voice track mutable so karaoke enthusiasts could have a go. I’m sure this kind of thing is already available in some format or other. I just haven’t seen any.

In short, when is the MP3 player, the iTunes of our age, going to become a mini mixer so we ordinary folk who might not want to remix from the bottom up can at least redesign songs to our tastes, and, perhaps more interestingly dig into some hidden channels that tell us more about what we’re listening to?

A Way To Record Lectures, Interviews and Stuff To Your PC

I have long been looking for a way to record interviews and whatnot to my computer. Here’s a program that might help: LectureRecorder, from Cyprus-based XemiComputers

 

LectureRecorder “allows you to record lectures and write summaries for them. To make a lecture summary the program provides several rich-text fields: course, subject, date, lecturer, digest and notes. There is also an option to print the summary. “

The built-in audio recorder uses real-time OGG audio compression, includes an editor and records in 8-bit, mono, with sampling rates of 44KHz down to 11KHz. The files can be converted to standard sound files.

The program costs $20. They also do some interesting other, but roughly similar software, such as Minutes of Meeting Recorder. What’s not quite clear in either is whether you can alter playback speed — a must for transcribing — and assign function keys for easily pausing the recording (a great feature of the software that comes with Olympus voice recorders.)