The Haves and the Have Nots

Tonight Brangien and I are attending The Have and the Have Nots at the Hugo House. I was lucky enough to help David Nixon work on the tunes for his 3 videos that will show tonight as part of this series. I’m especially excited to see the music paired with the video of which I’ve only caught early glimpses.

David playing banjo somewhere

David’s songs are very personal, wonderfully sad and … short. I love short songs! The 10 songs that comprise the second video section have a total length of 11:30 (one song called “Wealth”clocks in at a whopping 19 seconds!). The theme of haves and have nots got me thinking about how we worked on this music together. Collaborating went something like this: a musical file from David would appear on my computer via the magic of Dropbox. I would open it. There I would always find David’s vocal and maybe some banjo or keyboards tucked into a Garageband session file. I would add some more music to it (drums, piano, bass, guitar, backing vocals), beam it back for David’s review and more music-adding. Then I mixed it all together. Some would call this the role of Producer, but the lines weren’t that distinct in our case. We never played music physically together or talked much about the tunes other than by adding to the composition. I’ve never worked like this before, but I have to say that if this is the future of music making, sign me up! It was fun, creative and had an exciting feeling similar to writing and receiving hand written letters back in the olden days.

There was a time when the only people who could record were the haves (those with money or a label interested in buying studio and producer time) or those who excelled at recording technology (people smart enough to figure out multi-tracking with tape or, eventually, software that was always just a little too complicated for the likes of me). Then the future arrived in the form of Garageband: a simple way for smart-but-not-overwhelmingly-technically-savvy musicians to record their ideas. In the last year or so I became aware of services like Dropbox and SugarSync that allow us to send these ideas back and forth with ease. The have nots have officially dropped the “not.”

I never imagined writing tunes with so little physical musical interaction or direct communication, but the experiment worked in this case. David’s tunes are fantastic (and, yes, they’re lovingly sad). Congrats, Mr. Nixon, you’ve made some great music. And thank you to the people that created Garageband. I know you’re probably referred to as a “product team” and have meetings about features and market share and such … but you should know that there are many formerly “have nots” out here in the world who love the simple tools you’ve created that allow us to have music.

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