Computer Music – An Ode to XP

So here I sit, void of Windows, well not quite.

I still have a media pc and a laptop running Windows 8.1 – um.

And I have an almost ancient machine running XP.

Each have their purpose.

Well the machine running XP certainly does.

But first let’s go back in time, I feel it necessary to unburden myself of a few things.

My entry into Computer Music was not smooth.

By trade I am a guitarist and have played in bands since the age of 15, I now teach guitar and have been using PCs for around 12 years to produce music. I would consider myself very computer literate – I have built or upgraded many machines, I have also fixed a fair few. I have installed a lot of operating systems.

I am what most people would call a nerd, a super geek if you will – they would not be wrong.

My first encounters with computer though was not plain sailing.

In fact I grew to hate computers.

Here a few episodes that left me cold.

Commodore 64 – Being from a relatively poor household we could not afford a computer, the only experience I had would be to go round to a friends house and play games on his Commodore 64.

If you’ve ever sat there waiting with baited breath whilst a rickety piece of plastic attempts to draw information from a rickety looking cassette you’ll understand the two possible disappointments that were inevitable.

1. The game fails to load – yup after what feels like 8 hours of screeching and held breath the game does not appear and you have to start all over again.

2. The game loads and you then have to sit there and watch your friend play because after all it’s his game and you should be grateful to just be there.

Let’s just say, I wasn’t hooked.

The Aquarius – Whilst computers moved on and everyone and his dog upgraded to either an Amiga or Atari ST I was presented with something called an Aquarius – a budget based PC that from what I can tell could only be bought in a supermarket called ‘ASDA’ – junk would be too kind a word – it was the death knell.

The Atari ST – Friends and family owned these aplenty, and I think at some point we got one or at least my younger brother did. I by this time had absolutely no interest, music, bands, beer and girls(in that order) had entered the mix.

Computers were in effect dead to me, consoles also. I saw them as soul sucking, time wasting, reductive brain drains.

Also I had no time – none my knew interests were far more involving – I had hit the ground running and had no time to sit staring at a screen.

Then college came along, I had been bribed to go and do a music course by my parents. I went, I needed something to do. The place I went to had a small studio. It had a mixing desk, Fostex 8 track, a Kawai K1 and a Korg M1 and an Atari ST.

I gave it the evils for months, I blanked it, nope not interested.

Then it happened, I saw someone using a notation program, I drew in, hanging at their shoulder, staring at the screen and listening to the results. Dammit I want a go.

It was my fiend and his commodore 64 all over again – you can look but you can’t touch.

So I watched and I learnt then one day I got my go.

I booked the room out for an early start and got in their, I was in a flurry of creativity – I could read music and I understood notation to a point where I could exactly what I hand in my head into these machines – I was GOD goodgodammit.

Then it happened – it stopped – it wouldn’t work – what, eh???

What’s happened, noooooooo.

The door opened and my friend walked in, saw my distress and came over.

‘Chill out man’, – I hate that phrase by the way.

‘It’s crashed’, 

‘Just reload it’

….’Er what?’

‘Just reload it’

…..’reload what’

‘Your saved music, you did save it?’



And so it ended in a few short hours.

And so did my use of computers.

That is until I saw Cool Edit.

Now I had started to play around with PCs at this point, mainly because of my parents and family friends who had bought themselves these new shiny toys.

I am an obsessive personality and can be tenacious when I know something should work. I had installed Win 3.1 enough times for my parents to hate it with a passion and when they upgraded to Win 95 my hate was still there – it was quite simply a ball ache that had no discernible use to me.

That was until I saw Cool Edit.

This was at a time when audio cards, dual processors, cd burners and hard drives were either in their infancy or things of the future – things that we would take for granted – mp3s were difficult to encode but even so.

I had by now inherited my parents PC and it could just about handle the 4 tracks that Cool Edit would allow – four tracks – and you could bounce, without degradation – albeit having to wait but it was definitely a step up from my cassette four track.

I was hooked – as time went I upgraded my pc, I got better sound cards, cool edit evolved and then…

I recorded an album -a full album.

At this point I had a 1ghz PC with 2gb memory, a copy of Audition and a copy of Fruity Loops – and I had XP.

It wasn’t easy but it offered me the opportunity to do things that a studio would not – time.

I got my hands dirty and it happened.

I realised I was a nerd – a nerd without concern for being a nerd.

I could realise my music in ways previously unavailable.

The advances in a short amount of time brought on an ability to do all kinds of music.

I upgraded my sound cards, my DAW(Sonar), my plugins, memory etc.

And I was happy with XP.

But the advances still came on, and they came on strong, technology was rampant.

It chewing up everything, more power, we need more power they screamed and so did I.

From my place in the peanut gallery I screamed my lungs out.



That was the death knell for poor old XP.

64bit killed it dead, with microsoft coldly looking on.

Dark eyed and murderous they launched XP 64bit with one hand on a secreted blade to stab it to death. That blade had a name, it’s name was ‘Vista’.

XP 64bit would have been the dogs, given time.

I honestly believe that.

Alas it was not, time moves on and XP64bit is a forgotten bastard son.

I miss XP.

Can you tell?

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