Virtual Instruments

In the process of producing the Christmas song I'm recording this year I finally jumped into the world of VSTi's, or Virtual Studio Technology instruments. For a long time, I shied away from the idea of using MIDI for anything other than transmitting notes or other data because the first thing that comes to mind when I think of MIDI as a music format is the cheesy (albeit awesome and nostalgia-inducing) background music from Chip's Challenge back in the day, or the floppy disk full of movie themes in MIDI format I got from my friend Alex in grade school. Fun, but not really what you want for serious music.

Turns out things have changed a little bit since 1993.

After getting over my irrational fear and nerding out over how cool technology is, I programmed my arrangement of verse one of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel into Finale NotePad, along with a final chorus arrangement I plan to use. I saved this as a .mid file and loaded it into Pianissimo, a VSTi/virtual instrument I just discovered today. It normally costs about $70 but comes with a 14-day free trial. As soon as the first note played it was abundantly clear that virtual instruments are not at all what they were 20 years ago. This should have been obvious without even hearing the instrument, but sometimes I'm just a grumpy old man like that.

I may end up just doing an instrumental version of the song as the official end of my December Project, depending on how competent my voice feels tomorrow and on how much time I have between finishing my secret other projects (just a few more days until the reveal!) and enjoying my time off from work (rest is important!) At any rate, I am very much looking forward to sharing the final results with you!

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