Writing Songs With Less Choice

Modern computing technology has revolutionised the production of music; a laptop running a software DAW can now achieve things that even a multi-million dollar studio couldn’t do twenty years ago. The range of features on a sequencer can be truly daunting, and sometimes this is actually a disadvantage when all you want to do is sit down and write a song…

Computer As Eight-Track

Although many electronic musicians love the complexity and flexibility of software synthesis and sequencing, there are also a huge number of musicians who just want to use their computer as a recording, mixing and editing tool.

The popularity of audio interfaces such as M-Audio’s MBox line demonstrates that there are a lot of musicians who just want to capture their guitar and vocals, relying on traditional songwriting and performance talents rather than technological shimmer. In fact, most of the time, musicians just want to sit down and start hammering out ideas on their instrument of choice, with the minimum of setup fuss.

Transparent Music Technology

With this in mind, Tanager have developed a ‘song development toolkit’ called SoundFrame. This is designed as a pre-DAW program, a stripped down songwriting platform which allows you to record musical ideas quickly and easily, without having to fire up your main sequencer.

A traditional DAW is designed to record and process audio; the idea of SoundFrame is that it focuses on the song itself, in terms of structure, chord progressions, melodies, lyrics and rhythm. The program facilitates the capture of song ideas, which can then be imported as MIDI or audio into your main DAW program for further processing and refinement.

Here are a couple of introductory videos from the Tanager site, which outline the features of the software.

While I haven’t tried this software, and so cannot vouch for its usefulness first-hand, it is certainly an interesting idea with strong potential. Although it may not suit everyone, it could be a useful aid for stimulating creativity or simply throwing a few ideas together quickly. At the moment the program is XP/Vista only, but a Mac OSX version is scheduled for release by the end of the year.


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