Think of UJAM’s instruments as virtual players. If you choose to use their library of styles they can be given information about the key and the chord sequence and can be used to offer up suggestions in terms of exactly what gets played. Much like a real player. If you want to control exactly what gets played you can take direct control over exactly what gets played, it’s up to you.
The possibility of creating an entire arrangement using UJAM’s instruments is intriguing, are they just songwriting tools, destined to be replaced with real instruments later in the production or are they production ready? Are them good enough to make it on to the record?
This collaboration between singer songwriter Mara Kim and UJAM’s Peter Gorges is an interesting investigation into exactly what can be achieved using the UJAM instruments to turn a simple keyboard and vocal demo into a finished production by adding drums, guitars and bass to this ballad.
Here’s the original demo, the demo vocal was used throughout the production, though the keyboards were replaced.
The thing I found most interesting was seeing someone else using these instruments, it’s the little things which make the difference. Here’s MELLOW providing the fluid basslines which have an improvised feel. Note the use of slides and dead notes which really add a convincing realism.
SOLID is my favourite drum VI, I gave it an Expert’s Choice Award when I reviewed it. The thing I like about it is that it sounds great but it doesn’t give me too many choices. That gets in the way of actually producing music. The drums here are simple but that what I usually want from a drummer, the patterns in many VIs are too busy when you actually start using them in context. In this case the part is played in note for note giving maximum control over the arrangement.
AMBER has a really tough job. There’s a reason there aren’t many virtual acoustic guitar instruments, it’s really hard to do well. Listen to the opening chords in this performance. Would you question whether that was a real player?
I think fingerstyle nylon guitars are are easier than steel strung to get right in a VI but not much. What I like about this performance using SILK is the dynamics, the bass notes are soft but the rest is stronger, and the swing in the pattern, this doesn’t sound like an arpeggiator running guitar samples (thankfully!)
This is a really interesting project and if you want to see what the UJAM instruments can achieve then head over to the blog post in the UJAM website where you can find out much more about how and why Peter used the instruments in the way he did.