From the programmer: a letter to SlowGold users.Hello.
My name is Tom Swirly and I'm the programmer behind SlowGold 8. I'd like to tell you a little about how this program came to be, a little about what it does, and a little about our plans for the future.
I first came into contact with Warren Sirota, the founder of World Wide Woodshed, almost 20 years ago, when I bought a piece of music software from him, but we didn't actually meet till over a decade later, when we were brought into contact because we were both live looping musicians.
I've always wanted to work on music programming for myself since I wrote my first computer music program on a PDP-11 in 1981. In 2009, I quit after five years of writing software at Google, and struck out on my own.
At first, I concentrated on making music programming toys for my live show, but one day I started chatting to Warren, who told me he had a popular music practice program named SlowGold, but that he was unable to release a new version due to unbreakable personal commitments elsewhere.
I loved the idea - "Let me at it!", I cried. As I tell people, "I liked the program so much, I bought (half) the company" (parodying the memorable commercial from the 80s).
Developing The Software
I thought I'd be done in a couple of months... but nothing's as easy as it sounds.
I wanted it to run on the Macintosh as well as Windows, and one of our vendors had moved into a different business. I also wanted to write a high-performance program, a solid design that I could use as a basis for further music tools.
I soon realized that I could not possibly accomplish these goals without rewriting the program from the ground up. (For fellow geeks, I'm using C++, a tricky language, but one that I'm very familiar with, and one that lets you get the highest possible performance.)
Almost two years later, it's polished, tested and ready to go, for both Mac and Windows.
Designed For Musicians, By Musicians
Both Warren and myself are active, practicing musicians, we are instrumentalists, not just knob-twiddlers (no disrespect intended to them but players have a whole different set of problems).
When I was programming, I always had my instrument at hand, and many of the features are aimed squarely at the practicing musician.
For example, every command in the program can be assigned to any MIDI command, perhaps a program change from your MIDI keyboard or MIDI footpedal (we recommend the Softstep by our friend Keith McMillen, and he doesn't even know I'm endorsing him, we just love the product).
If you don't have a convenient MIDI controller, commands can be assigned to keys on your computer's keyboard (and the program comes with a pretty useful set of assignments).
For example, when I practice, I have one key assigned to "Loop This Segment", and another assigned to "Transform".
I play along with the song normally until I come to a section that I have trouble with, and then I press "Loop This Segment" and just loop the part I have trouble with.
If I still have trouble, I turn on "Transform", which slows the segment down to half speed.
It's really intuitive and it's a really fast way to learn difficult riffs or solos.
1. SlowGold 8
We haven't quite finished with SlowGold 8 yet.
While we've tested it quite thoroughly, there are no doubt bugs we haven't caught - and there are also some useful features and little clean-ups that didn't make it into the release and we'll be bringing to you as free upgrades in the next few months (don't forget to register your program to get notifications of new versions).
2. SlowGold 9
We're already hard at work on the design of SlowGold 9, which we intend to have out by early 2013.
Let me reassure you that we will not try to make you pay for marginal upgrades which need a microscope to be visible. SlowGold 9 will keep the musicality and simplicity of SlowGold 8, but add new powerful tools which will radically expand what you can accomplish and improve your practice experience.
3. And more?
We are planning to write and release other music technology tools in the next couple of years.
These will be quite different from SlowGold (which will continue to be our only music practice tool software) but we expect them to be even more useful, and we hope that if you liked SlowGold you will also like these affordable, powerful, unique tools.
Thank you for your support!
Here's to the release of SlowGold 8, long-delayed though it is - we couldn't have done it without you!
We hope you will find it worth the wait and we thank you for your continued support.