Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 1945

I spent quite a while today getting re-acquainted with Pro Tools. I used to use this software frequently and knew it well. Not anymore. It's been several years since I've had a need to create or edit audio files. There was a time when I was always thinking about music. I wrote songs, played in a band, and knew my way around a recording studio pretty well. Once upon a time, I even took an audio engineering course and learned to run a 48-track SSL console. I've still got a lot of audio gear to remind me of those days, but I've forgotten virtually everything. Use it or lose it, as they say.

Maybe if I was more familiar with Pro Tools. I might start writing songs again, I thought to myself this morning. It's possible. I suspect it's the other way around though. If I started writing songs again, I might have a need to use Pro Tools. I still hate to forget things though, so I played around for hours with the software and was somewhat amazed at all it could do. Without an active project to throw myself into, what I rediscovered today will probably stay in my brain for about a month. Then I'll have to re-learn it all over again if I ever have the need.

It's hard to believe that I used to be able to program simple games in FORTH, create and render three-dimensional objects using Maya, and do architectural drawings using AutoCad. I had working versions of all these programs running on my Mac at some point, but it eventually became pointless to dabble with these complex applications. Unless you did computer animation for a living, you never really understood Maya. Unless you were an architect or engineer, there was little reason to master the complexities of AutoCad. Even veteran programmers didn't know what to make of FORTH, but to this day it is the only programming language that ever made sense to me. I suspect that the odd language appealed to me because the variables and basic operators were defined as words. A programming language based on creating things using words seemed magic to me at the time.  I even went to FORTH user groups for a while.

I get nostalgic when I try to re-learn something. I spent the entire afternoon playing with a little two track audio file, re-learning how to route compressors, equalizers, and other effects processors through the send and return buss. I was going to try working with a MIDI synthesizer, but then I remembered that all the synthesizers were in the storage warehouse. Since I have forgotten even more about playing the piano than about playing the guitar, I doubt that those synthesizers would have done me much good anyway.

I am curious about almost everything, but since I had no desire to become a full-time computer animation expert, multi-track recording engineer, or even a practicing architect, many of the skills I learned over the years just withered away. It was just too difficult to keep learning a lot of complex things you never used. I always returned to writing because there was no software involved. In a pinch, a yellow pad of paper and a #2 pencil will do just fine.

I'll probably be writing something for someone tomorrow. With all that has died on the vine over the years, I guess I should be glad that there is still one thing I do that people seem to need.

Valli is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day