We media miners enjoy reading on the iPad, and even a small smartphone display can be okay in a pinch. Actually, the bright screen is very welcome down in the pits. But there's still nothing like the old combustible media known as paper. You don't have to boot up a book, and you can write notes on its pages without defacing your tech toys. So we're starting this month's Media Mine by digging up some hard copy.
Making the Scene: Nashville: How to Live, Network, and Succeed in Music City (halleonard.com) is a guide for transplants written by a transplant, New York-native Liam Sullivan, a drummer who's gigged and worked in various industry jobs since moving to country music's epicenter. Not only does it cover such basics as where to live, eat, shop, and work, but it's a good reminder that there's more to Nashville's diverse music scene than three chords and broken heart.
Ken Scott's fine memoir Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust: Off the- record with The Beatles, Bowie, Elton, and So Much More (alfred.com) is both entertaining and instructive. Co-written with Bobby Owinski, the body of the book focuses on Scott's working relationships as engineer and producer for some of the greatest artists of the last 40-odd years, but there are also a few sidebars that get into more technical detail. If nothing else, the book reminds us how important capturing a performance is to the success of any song-worth contemplating in our digitized world where production sometimes chases perfection at the expense of personality.
That said, technology is our friend, right? Or at least our "frenemy." (Be careful, it's listening!) Either way, it's here to stay. IK Multimedia makes high-tech software and apps designed to behave like old-school gear, and they do it quite elegantly. We tested a few of the company's latest iOS apps, including AmpliTube Fender, which offers a collection of Fender amps and cabinets, along with effects, a built-in recorder, a song player (for practice), MIDI control, the ability to share your work via FTP or Soundcloud, and other useful utilities. Because the company's iRig hardware provides I/O though one jack (through the mic/headphones plug), it can also work with the latest Retina display MacBook Pros, which lack separate jacks for input and output (ikmultimedia. com). Of course, not every app (or computer program) is as straightforward as a virtual guitar amp, which is why we've been checking out Mac Pro Video's online tutorials. They cover a range of applications and can be streamed or downloaded on Macs and iOS devices. Tutorials are presented by experts and cover such topics as plug-ins and host applicaitons like Pro Tools, Logic, Reason, Sonar, Cubase, Sibelius, and more, as well as lessons in specific production techniques like Dubstep Sound Design. Subscriptions can be monthly or annual (macprovideo.com).