NAMM 2017 – Singing in the Rain
I’ve just returned from a productive and invigorating edition of the NAMM 2017 show. For me, NAMM serves two functions. On the one hand is the business end of it. It is my annual opportunity to meet with colleagues and friends, visit with audio plug-in developers I deal with doing my Groove3 videos throughout the year, and get the scoop on new and upcoming releases and developments in our little corner of the world.
On the other hand, I also look to it as an opportunity to recharge my creative batteries.
On two levels:
First, musically. I often hear some GREAT music at the NAMM show – usually in the form of product demos. This year I got to hear Billy Cobham playing on a set of Roland TD 50 electronic drums, some incredible keyboard players demonstrating Keyscape, and many excellent small groups performing at various booths. They all blew away those who were there. All were very inspiring musically.
And secondly, I get inspiration from creative software presentations. I spend most of my professional time presenting/teaching various pieces of software throughout the year in the course of putting together my groove3 videos. And so I appreciate and value seeing talented product presenters. I often leave NAMM inspired with new ideas on how to present certain topics in my videos, based on the many stimulating, creative, and unique demos I see throughout the show.
Singing in the Rain
But this year, perhaps the apex and conflation of creative stimulus happened on my flight home. Anaheim is usually a sunny warm and inviting climate; a welcome antidote to those of us coming from winter conditions. This year there were torrential rains throughout the weekend. The weather was cold, wet, and gloomy. Looking at the in-flight movies available, lo and behold, I saw one of my all time favorites, “Singing in the Rain”. Not having seen it in many years, I had been wanting to re-watch it for a while now. This seemed an oddly appropriate (and slightly ironic) occasion. As I got drawn in, and it was washing over me, I was struck by the parallels to the whole NAMM 2017 experience I had just finished. It is a fantastic film that works on many levels. But at the core of the narrative arc, is the notion of the convergence of technology and creativity. The story is set in 1920s Hollywood, and talking films are just emerging. One of the silent film stars is cursed with not only an awful sounding voice and terrible diction but a losing personality as well. At first, there is an apprehension of the new recording technology. Once it is embraced, there is palpable excitement and creativity as to how it will be used and implemented. And as is almost always the case with new technology, unintended uses are created out of necessity and imagination.
To deal with this character’s sonic flaws, they come up with the idea of replacing and synchronizing her voice with someone else’s. They came up with the idea of what we now think of as sound replacement or ADR (automatic dialogue replacement). At the heart of this great story is how they used technology for their own creative purposes. They took what was there, and through their eagerness, excitement, and imagination invented new ways of using it.
Logic Pro X 10.3
And isn’t that what NAMM is all about? Developers pushing boundaries, presenting their visions of ways to re-work or make better what came before them. And isn’t that what we, as artists, mixers, and engineers strive to do? Improve upon what came before us. Find new ways of expressing ourselves and our creativity either through our instruments or through the technology we use. I felt so inspired watching this great film, and thinking about all that I had seen over the weekend, that I was inspired to play, and explore some of the new features in Logic Pro X 10.3 in creative and unusual ways.
Here is what I came up with.