For obvious, million-dollar reasons, most of the attention given to music on the Internet has centred around distribution and how people are finding new ways to get hold of their favourite songs for free and without hassle. Little buzz There is surprisingly little buzz about music actually being created online. Artists like the Beastie Boys have used the Web to help bring fans into the mix superficially, allowing them a vote in picking an opening act or the track listing for a greatest hits collection. Others, in a bit of a twist on Napster's tactics, have given fans the chance to "create" their own CD of available tracks in whatever sequence they choose.
Considerably more interesting, though, is the idea of using technology and the Web itself to make music from scratch.
One of the best online music-making sites is www.clockdin.com, run by Toronto-based programmer/musician Gord High. The sleekly designed site uses Flash technology to "break songs down into their components," as High himself says.
There are drum patterns, bass loops, lengthy, elliptical guitar lines and dozens of different squeals and squeaks to choose from. With the sounds on your screen, you create your own complex mix, creating mini-songs out of High's sonic arsenal.
High puts up new sounds regularly -- June's batch of bleeps and blips just appeared on the site -- and for talentless music fans who wish they could hook up loops like Mannie Fresh and DJ Premier, it's relentlessly addictive.
It also could be a nifty interactive tool for bands who aren't too precious about the mix on their album. After unleashing their idea of the ideal mix, bands could turn over the master tape to their fans and give them the opportunity to bring up the guitar and erase those annoying vocals at last.
Classic mix Similar but less complex than Clockdin is the previously previewed but still classic home mixing site located at http://turntables.de/scratchit8.htm. As with High's site, sounds are provided -- as well as a light show and a peculiar pair of giant dancing shoes -- and visitors can use two turntables, a mixer and a human beatbox to scratch like DJ Craze. It can consume your life.
SITE OF THE WEEK
Questions about whether gardening is cool with the youth are answered by this nifty plant-centric quarterly that promises "secrets of the plant kingdom revealed." There are gardening diaries, photos, a glossary, a seed trade and a plant forum where you can get advice and tips on why those woolly lamb's ears you planted ended up black and feeling like sandpaper. Guys with a plant fetish are apparently also welcome.