Saturday, March 13, 2010

Recipe - The Amazing New ProTools Plugin!

I have an idea for a new plugin for ProTools and other, ahem, digital audio workstations — you know, the applications that enable people like me to produce records on their computers. Sort of in the way AutoTune or Melodyne adjusts pitch according to the user’s instructions, this plugin, which I might call Recipe, or Ingredients, or Hidey-Ho, would enable the user to transform the sounds of whole completed tracks by entering certain values in little boxes.

Say, for instance, that you wanted to sound like the Rolling Stones of Out of Our Heads. You might add 30 percent Muddy Waters to 30 percent Chuck Berry to 20 percent Motown to 20 percent Otis Redding. Or how about the "Surf Safari"-era Beach Boys? Let’s say 20 percent The Ventures, 25 percent Chuck Berry, and 55 percent The Four Preps. Tom Petty? 45 percent Byrds (themselves, in their classic original incarnation, 50 percent The Beatles, 50 percent Pete Seeger), 45 percent Stones, 10 percent Dylan. Prince? Let’s try 33 percent James Brown, 33 percent Jimi Hendrix, and 33 percent Sly & The Family Stone.

Are you getting the hang of it yet? The early Beatles? Does 15 percent The Marvelettes, 10 percent Chuck Berry, 15 percent Little Richard, 15 percent Buddy Holly, 20 percent the Everly Bros., 15 percent Carl Perkins, and 10 percent Tin Pan Alley sound about right?

Where this is really easy is for slavishly imitative acts, or those just starting out. Motley Crue? 50 percent Kiss and 50 percent Aerosmith. Early Dylan? 100 percent Woody Guthrie. Janis Joplin? 50 percent Ma Rainey and 50 percent Bessie Smith. Where it’s extremely difficult is for one of those acts that’s managed to become much more than the sum of its influences. You could give yourself an aneurysm trying to concoct the recipe for the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles.

In any event, all I need now is a team of brilliant software engineers who are happy to work on spec.

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