We overheard one of the best tech conversations ever from two guys who were cleaning our carpet. They debated the merits of just about every new gadget out there, and then went on to music creation. One of them was an amateur music producer, so we listened carefully when he said he uses “Ableton” music software. We immediately tried the 30-day free trial version from Ableton.com. (We didn’t have to give them our credit card number.)
You can create a musical score made up of the kind of music and sound effects you hear in adventure games and save it to any application you wish, even making weird sounds for your cellphone. This is free for the month of February from Syrinscape.com if you feel like trying out their new beta version (pre-market release) of the Syrinscape Fantasy Player.
Midomi.com listens while you sing or hum a tune and then tells you the name of it. Sometimes. It never did recognize our rendition of La Bamba, but was quick to get the Zulu folk song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” (Bob says the really tough question of the week is … “What was the song on the flip side of that 45-rpm record when it first came out?”)
“JamStik” looks like half a guitar. Okay, maybe a quarter. Actually, it looks like a fat fret stem, the part where you put you fingers down to shorten the strings. It costs $299 and works with your iPad, iPhone or Mac. The sound is interesting but not like a real guitar. Still, that’s okay, a lot of electronic instruments have their own sound, and sometimes we like it that way.
– At YouTube.com, search on “Evolution of Music.” It starts in the 11th century and moves through the 16th century on to the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and today. We noticed that almost half of the four minutes involves music from the 1990s on. This video has been viewed more than 44 million times.
A reader wanted to divide long audio tracks into segments for public talks. We suggested he try Audacity, a free program. It’s been downloaded over a million times. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
The reader got a virus, possibly from downloading it at a non-official site, but it’s hard to be sure. When he told us that, we tried downloading it ourselves, and, whaddaya know, our computer started acting up too. This was a new thing: we had downloaded Audacity twice before, both times on a computer using Windows 7, and never had any problems with it. This time we downloaded it to Windows 8, and had lots of problems. Things change.
If you Google “How to Turn a Casette Tape into MP3s,” (or click here), you’ll get a CNET article that walks you through every step. We found it after a reader asked, but we bet lot of people have old tapes they’d like to preserve and play on a computer, phone, tablet or digital player.
“The Singing Machine Mobile” is an iPhone/iPad app for karaoke singing. There are 14 free songs to sing along with, with the lyrics showing up on your screen. We tried “America the Beautiful” and a few Beach Boys hits. For Android users, there’s the “Sing! Karaoke” app by Smule.