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The first recording – “Look at the Sky” with a bit of Bach

Everyone has to start somewhere, with something, when they start making music. Me too. When I began fiddling around with this, I had no idea what would happen down the line. I just had a …feeling…that I could make something. So, one day, I played around on GarageBand, which is possibly the most user-friendly bit of DAW out there. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) And I put in a few notes, and that’s how it started.

That first song is called Look at the Sky. At that time, I still had a stunning amount of learning to do and I cannot tell you want a royal pain in the patootie the whole thing was. It gave me headaches and sleepless nights.

As “The Reverend Eli Jenkins” exclaims in Dylan Thomas’s play for voices, Under Milk Wood:

“Bach! Bach! I’m a Martyr to Music!”

(You have to say this in a welsh accent)

Ironically, Look at the Sky may have been the first song I recorded but it is one of my favourites, because it’s got a simple melody that I think sounds nice.

I completed the first version on May 20, 2020, and, 14 shudderingly awful versions later, saved the final version on Feb. 19, 2021. The mixed and mastered recording was finished on Apr. 1, 2021 – almost a year after I started working on it.

Why was it so delayed?

I think it was a slow process because of how it began. On May 19, 2019, Google published a Doodle to celebrate J.S. Bach. It was a tiny little app that allowed anyone to type notes into 2 bars on a score sheet, for which their AI engine would create a counterpoint melody in the style of Bach. It’s still there, and you can still do it, today, using Google Chrome. (Don’t tell me you aren’t tempted!)

Millions of people put in their notes and uploaded them to the AI database. So did I, when I discovered it a year after the launch. And so I found out that (ah-ah!!) this is how you can create music electronically – with a MIDI file and a DAW! (Not by playing my ancient piano and trying to record it on a cheap ‘n’ nasty mic. Do you know that piano keys make an audible *clack* noise when you play?! Awful.)

Here is that very MIDI file: Those basic notes you can hear again after the Intro, in the first Verse section of Look at the Sky. Amazing, isn’t it, what an AI can do?

But, alas, one Bach Google Doodle MIDI does not a song make. I had to add all the other instruments, and the rest of the score for all the parts. And I had to rewrite it to fit it to a beat, and I’m afraid the Bach-like counterpoint sounded quite…off-key at times. And all that took the better part of a year.

However, I am 100% certain that there is nothing out there that sounds like this, because nobody but me could have created this particular song from that particular little MIDI file!

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