As I’ve written before, the past 25 years have seen a quiet revolution in home music recording, that’s right in line with the growth of other “Army of Davids” technologies that dramatically empower individuals. In 1982, the breakthrough product that made home recording possible was the cassette four-track recorder. These weren’t one half of the eight-track deck that you had in your ’77 Chevy Vega; they used an ordinary stereo audio cassette, but played that cassette in only one direction, so that there were now four individual, synchronized tracks to record on. You could put a drum machine (another newly designed product) on one track, a bass guitar on another, an electric guitar on the third and a vocal on the fourth, and voila! Instant DIY song. (Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album was home-brewed using a cassette four-track machine.)
But most musicians wanted to do more than that–and these days, companies such as Boston-based Cakewalk offer products that give the average home musician as many tracks as his PC’s memory and hard drive will hold. Not to mention PC-based software synthesizers that are also infinitely more flexible than their 1980s counterparts. George Martin and Quincy Jones cost a lot more to hire, but the same basic technology they use in their recording studios is increasingly accessible to those recording home.
Having launched in 1987, Cakewalk are currently celebrating their 20th year of business, and my interview with Greg Hendershott, Cakewalk’s CEO, is an attempt to bridge the gap between those early days and now. Ideally, it will make a good overview to those new to PC-based recording, but dying to dip their toes into the water. It’s 20 minutes long, 18.7 MB in size, and can be downloaded here, or via our Apple i-Tunes page. (No iPod required; virtually any PC can download and play an MP3.)