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  • Writer's pictureLiza Mulholland

Tackling tech in lockdown.

Big excitement in our house this morning with the arrival of a package! Not for my son (for a change), but for me. I decided a couple of weeks ago to make a small investment in some music tech goodies that would enable me to be more creative from home, and I have to say it feels like Christmas!

The hardware might look quite plain and unassuming but the software that comes with it positively glitters with gizmos and baubles that I cannot wait to get in among! This package will allow me to record music onto my laptop, where I can then mix vocal and instrumental tracks, add effects, use sampled sounds, tweak and edit to the point of finished song or instrumental piece.

The Pro Tools software, combined with good quality microphones, headphones and audio interface (the wee box that processes sound from instruments or vocal mics before sending it into the laptop), have the potential to elevate home recordings to a much better level.

Professional studio engineers of course possess a wealth of skills, qualifications, and experience, as well as even more high quality and sophisticated equipment, and that is why musicians pay to record in studios. And it is undoubtably ideal to be able to concentrate and focus on just performance and not on twiddling knobs and dealing with the other elements of recording.

But many musicians are already recording albums at home with terrific results, including chart toppers, and although a new home-recorded work may be some way off for me, it will be great fun experimenting and trying things out.

Now, anyone who knows me will know I am not the most tech savvy person - it’s usually a case of muddling along with the basics and as long as my computer is working, I’m content. So, though my son may be looking a little sceptical - as if to say ‘Mum, are you really going to get to grips with that?’ - I, ever the optimist, am excited.

If there are upsides to lockdown then along with community spirit, kindness, appreciation of carers, NHS and those who have kept supply chains going, renewed wonder at the natural world and benefits to the environment, must also be added the learning of new skills.

In adapting to innovative ways of working, many are now comfortable doing internet grocery shopping and using Zoom meetings, teachers have mastered Google Classroom, non-computer users have ventured onto Facebook on mobile phones to connect with family and friends.

Thousands are galloping on with Duolingo and online courses, while others are achieving DIY wonders with newly acquired skills in the home and garden, laying patios, tiling, furniture making, mask and gown sewing, baking and much more. Learning to use my new tech package will be my project for the remainder of lockdown. To date, I’ve been using much of my free time to write and I can see it having potential for my written work as well as music. As an enthusiast of audio books, I’m keen to try an audio version of the first book of my folk music series, Inside Folk. And volume 2 when I finish it!

Many of my musician friends have been acquiring incredible online skills, posting stunning videos of split-screen performances with their band, orchestra and choir members from around the country, multi-track acapella app songs and instrumentals with themselves, and loads more.

For me, I’ll be happy to hunker down and pour over Pro Tools. It will be a nice feeling to emerge from days that are largely same-old, same-old, with something new.

(First published by Scottish Provincial Press 24th May 2020)

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