Ewan Mackay

My Creative Kit: What I Use in My Practice

Creative Kit (image)
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In this article I want to address and list what I use as part of my creative practice, from technology, applications and internet tools. First, some context may be useful. My practice is not particularly power hungry. I create my scores using music notation software, I produce videos using a video editor and I conduct video calls and remote rehearsals via the Google suite of apps. This list may be a surprise for those tech nuts in the music world, however, my shift to the more economical side of music production was brought about my necessity and budget. Now 6 months on – at the time of writing, I have become incredibly comfortable in working with this new economical set up. Clearly, it is not for those who require a ton of power, such as film scoring or production, using VST instruments, plugins, etc. Fortunately, as a concert composer of new music and a creative mentor, the new tech I use has moulded itself around my practice quite nicely. No, it’s not a world-class set up, but it does the job. My choices obviously aren’t for everyone either, however, I do hope it shows that you can create, or revamp your setup for very little investment if you are thoughtful of your needs and practicalities. 

 

Technology:

  • Huawei P Smart 2019
  • HP Stream 14-inch, 64GB EMMC*
  • Beats Solo HD
  • Ubuntu 20.04, Linux
  • WD My Passport External Hard Drive, 1TB (x2)
  • Samsung HD Handheld Camera 
  • Panasonic Lumix DMZ-F18 (out of production)
  • Focusrite 18i8 (via connector captured on Mobile, then imported to DAW)
  • XLR cables (x2)
  • Rode T5
  • Behringer C4 (matched pair with bar)
  • Behringer Dynamic 
  • Audio Technica Dynamic
*The HP laptop is not the fastest or most powerful machine, being a notebook, however, upon installing Ubuntu and configuring it to my specifications, it is capable of handling anything I throw at it on a regular basis. However, it is likely I will move to something a little more powerful. Running on Linux OS, it does not run the vast majority of Windows applications, therefore, I was forced to seek alternatives. To my complete surprise, the alternatives found in Musescore (moved to from Sibelius 6) and Flowblade have been brilliant alternatives. They are not without their flaws (which goes to the whole of the Linux OS), but for free applications which are continually developed, they offer everything I need and more. Similarly, there were issues in connecting my Focusrite 18i8 due to driver incompatibility. This forced me to find a solution, which was found in purchasing a USB to USB C adapter enabling the interface to connect to a basic recording application on my Mobile. 
 
 

Applications: 

  • Musescore 3
  • Google (most used Gmail, Drive Docs, Meets, Sheets)
  • Canva
  • Flowblade
  • Audacity
 
 As you can see this is a pretty minimal and inexpensive set up. Importantly, I use each piece of tech regularly, and am free and open source applications (FOS) or internet applications to run my practice. I will continue to add any new additions to the list as and when they come along. I hope this is inspiring to you if you are looking to work on a budget. 

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