FLipping expensive

FL Studio playing a loop, as it is wont to do.

I just bought FL Studio. Nothing makes me feel like I’m getting stuff done more than buying a useful and pricey piece of software that I’ll feel guilty if I don’t use. Following similar distinctly first-world logic, my friend Gavin recently bought a Kindle to make himself read more. This method could be the premise for a whole line of self-help books: Guilt Yourself Into… Greater Productivity! Quitting Smoking! Learning Spanish! (The books would themselves be insanely expensive so you felt you had to make good use of them. That’s the first step, you see.)

So far FL seems like it has everything I want, which is basically just a piano roll with lots of possible voices. I’ve been using the hilariously outdated Magix Midi Studio 2004 for a long time, and I’ll probably still use it for initial arrangements since I’m used to the way it works and can compose fast in it, but the standard midi voices it lets you use are pretty much useless for anything approaching a final mix.

For what seems like forever I’ve been searching for a new sequencer with the simplicity of Magix but with more voices, filters and general options. I’ve downloaded dozens of trial versions and dismissed them all for what would sound like petty reasons. I’ve probably tried FL five times before, but it never clicked until yesterday (when I found the metronome button – badum-tsh). Now I’m excited to use it to add oomph to some mixes.

Sonic Triangle, in and around a tree.

Said mixes are for Project Bubble, which is my codename for the new Sonic Triangle EP, due out some time this summer if we get our act together. Sonic Triangle has existed since 2009-ish, and is made up of my friend Heather (singer), my brother James (person who can actually play instruments) and me (main songwriter and mixer). If you don’t know us, we do slightly weird, slightly noisy, prettily melodic pop songs, which you can hear on our website if you’re into that kind of thing.

If I have one regret about our output so far, it’s that it sounds overly keyboardy. Not just electronic – I don’t have a problem with that – but keyboardy. This is no great surprise since our only real instrument is the keyboard, which James plays very well, but something about building a song out of layers and layers of keyboard just makes it sound unsatisfying to me. I feel like we got away with it on our first EP, but it really bothers me on Morning Star in particular. The bass just doesn’t sound good. It doesn’t overpower you, you don’t feel it in all your nerve endings as the song seems to demand. I still intend to go back and mix it again when I feel I can do it justice.

Hopefully FL will help us add a new kind of awesome to our tracks, but I won’t know for sure until I get to grips with it. I also have a doorstop of a book on audio mixing which I should really read at some point. So don’t say you weren’t warned if I end up blogging about synths and reverb and phase and stuff.

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