I am writing this article on my new MacBook Pro. Or should I say ProBook Mac? It's Hewlett Packard's play on words, not mine. Okay let's just call it a functional OSX laptop running on an HP ProBook 4530. What makes this functional laptop different is that it is a tool which fulfils many of the purposes my old MacBook Pro couldn't and cost a fraction of the price.
As a musician one of the problems I encounter (because of the way I work) is that my tools are spread across a variety of operating systems and as a consequence a number of different computers. I use a Mac as my main platform for one simple reason, Logic doesn't run on anything else.
Back in 1993, Notator Logic seemed like a natural transition from C-Lab's pattern based Notator. While I used Notator primarily for pattern based music, I had just started working with a band as a programmer and they were more song based. I found myself programming traditional arrangements instead of dance grooves and loops and naturally gravitating towards something more linear and track based which worked like tape. I also needed a way to capture the singer's voice because there were way too many takes to simply throw into an Akai sampler.
We were on a world tour and had to stay out of the UK for tax reasons, so I set up a recording studio in a huge hotel suite in Paris. I based the whole set up around an Atari Falcon, a future ex-wife and a couple of pop stars, then settled into an extraordinarily deep bath to read the incredibly thick user manual for Logic. We laid down some tracks for an album, recording takes directly to hard disk. It worked really well as a writing tool and much of the material we recorded made it to the record. Sadly Atari's obsolescence in 1994 meant I either had a very expensive door stop and another steep learning curve to follow (something I always enjoy), or I had to follow Gerhard Lengeling and Chris Adam across platforms and buy a Mac.
Compared to the Atari, there was something extraordinarily beautiful about the form factor of the Apple Quadra 800 whose icons I now obsessed over. I initially chose computers as a sequencing tool because they could be used for other things. Using an Atari ST instead of a hardware sequencer meant I was able to design the record cover for my band and even pepper our songs with synthesised speech.
Liberating data from the Atari was quite another thing, in fact it proved to be mainly impossible. I had to edit a byte on the boot track of each floppy to turn it into a PC disk, then mount it on the Mac using a special program called Here & Now. Larger audio files simply had to be recorded across using my new Digidesign Sound Tools audio interface and then backed up to DAT. Importing anything from Notator into Logic proved to be convoluted, so keeping two computers and not transferring everything seemed more viable. I could live with that, two platforms. So I integrated them in a way which justified their existence. At least the Atari could manage my TX7 library.
Then in 1995 I got a phone call from the guitarist of the band I worked with in Paris asking me to program some beats. He also asked me to engineer on some demo sessions in his house. The singer specifically wanted me to be able to manipulate audio in the same way I had done with his voice in our hotel in 1993. I felt I needed a system which would chase two inch tape, so I bought Pro Tools 2. The sales guy told me about a new Power Macintosh which looked identical to my Quadra but also had AV. Emagic added support for AV in an upgrade, the theory being that I would be able to stretch the machine to record additional tracks. But what I noticed was, I now essentially had three platforms, Atari, Macintosh and Power Macintosh. Some of the programs I had run on the Quadra simply wouldn't work on the Power PC because it couldn't emulate some of the 680x0 architecture or code.
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