Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ignite Your Music

Ignte_AxiomAIRMini32I’m always looking for something to help me manage my music creative workflow better. Today I found a new product called Ignite that suggests that they are in tune with the music creative process as opposed to the music capture process i.e a recording based one which is what every other DAW is about i.e. that I know of.

Here’s a feature run down which can be found on their site:

    • Creative Workflow
      • Capture your ideas quickly and make music – without getting bogged down with technical jargon and complicated steps.
      • Individual musical ideas are captured as phrases and are placed in the Arranger. The Arranger is an organic “stage” where you can organize your music ideas and phrases in whatever way make sense to you.
      • Clips can be any length, and don’t have to be aligned into a pre-determined structure (such as tracks and lanes). Multiple clips can be played back together, or even grouped to create more complex phrases and song sections.
    • Instant M-Audio Keyboard Integration
      • Ignite will instantly recognize any current generation M-Audio keyboard controller once it is connected to your computer.
      • Key parameters will be automatically assigned, or mapped, to the front panel controllers. The on-screen image labels the controllers with their current parameters, providing visual reminders.
    • Superior AIR Instrument Sounds
      • Included with Ignite are over 275 remarkable instrument sounds developed by AIR Music Technology. This international team also created the acclaimed Hybrid, Strike, Transfer, Structure, and Velvet instruments for Pro Tools – the industry-standard professional music and audio workstation.
      • Instruments include keyboards, drums, percussion, basses, guitars, synths, strings, brass, and woodwinds.
    • Creative Kick-starters
      • Smart MIDI technology provides both a Chord Player and a Phrase Player.
      • The Chord Player plays a chord pattern using either simple or advanced voicings.
      • The Phrase Player can be used to deliver a single-voice melodic phrase, or even a drum pattern depending on the instrument selected.
      • The arpeggiator plays notes individually, either as a musical flourish or in a rhythmic pattern.
    • Collaborate, Send, and Share
      • Share your musical ideas and songs with other musicians through SoundCloud.
      • Export WAV, MP3 and MIDI files, and import them into any DAW recording software – including Pro Tools.

Reddi , Tube Based Recording

reddiRecording acoustic instruments in the home studio is hard. Most can’t afford to have an acoustically isolated and controlled room at home. Room noise becomes a real problem and noise gates are not a silver bullet.

My current approach is to use a Godin Nylon which has a piezo pickup. The Godin Nylon has an acoustic chamber but its not the full size body that standard classical guitars are spec-ed to. The Godin Nylon actually sounds great when amplified and it sounds reasoanble when recorded directly i.e. given some good sound engineering. However, its not quite there to my ears. So part of my recording strategy is to employ the services of a little red magic box called the Reddi.

The Reddi is a tube based direct box that goes a long ways to provide that more personal , real warmth that one can get from a tube mic but of course without the room noise.

A blurb from their site:

A bold statement, yes, but one of many just like it said of The A-Design’s Audio REDDI all-tube DI by an ever increasing number of professional bassists and recording professionals (see below). Designed and built by former career studio bassists, the REDDI has been hailed by engineer and bassist alike as the best-sounding DI around. Inspired by the glorious sound of the Ampeg B-15 tube bass amp, its 6N1-P tube-driven amplifier feeds signal directly into a hefty custom output transformer, which is key to providing a harmonically rich tone. Its wide-bandwidth design from 20Hz to 60kHz reduces in-band phase shift, which results in greater detail and realism in the audible spectrum. Another big plus of its wide-bandwidth design is the prevention of LF phase shifts by maintaining a linear response extending below the audible bass range, which is the secret to achieving a big, full sound.

Read more here.


Carcassi E Minor Arp Study # 2

carcassi e minor arp last 4 barsHere’s my second deliverable on this.

The technique emphasis for this study is the use of the i  finger to accentuate the melody note.

I was having an issue with transitioning through second to last two bars. I didn’t have the angle of the left hand quite right leading to my ring finger blocking the top B string but now that’s good. Still needs some polish but its getting there.

As far as to the engineering, still have not settled on what is the best mix of recording setup and channel inserts.

carcassi e minor arp 5

boxart.midisupertracksTalking about loops Band in the Box is probably fair to say loops on steroids. I’ll be interested to see how the Logic’s Chord track compares. I’m guessing BIAB will leave them in the dust but I might be wrong. PGMusic has been doing this for years and every year they add a ton of new features. One of the most interesting advents this year is the concept of Midi Supertracks which are basically live played but midi captured tracks. Computing power and midi technology have come along to the extent that one can with midi capture the slightest performance nuances. The advantage is that you have an output that you can tweak immensely and pair up with some increidible instrument samples. PGMusic’s blurb does a better job of describing them. Read and listen to a audio sample.


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Loop Based Composition

loop_composingWhen I first encountered the concept of music loops many moons ago when the only real player was ACID I didn’t quite get what to do with them. Sure auditioning them , stringing them together was fun. Jamming to them was somewhat fun but what else? I got the concept of drum files. Those substituted the very expensive drum machines I had collected through my years. Drum loops made sense. Everybody needs a drummer and drum parts let’s face for the most part are the same per genre. However the notion of using other types of loops to create my material just didn’t make sense. I mean no matter if they were royalty free , it still felt like stealing and at the very least terribly un-original. Of course , again I was filtering through my own lenses.

Loops do have a place in music creation e.g. music for commercials i.e otherwise known as jingles, loops for film scoring etc. For original works loops can have a place as well . They can indeed be your muse , that source of inspiration which sparks your next great tune. Sometimes you just need something to rattle your brain. They are particularly helpful if you are trying to force yourself to write in a particular vibe or genre.

Apple’s Logic Pro comes with a ton of loops. Today I decided that I was going to attempt my luck at a laid back bossa feel. I simply took the first of every bossa thing Logic had for me i.e. drums, bass, piano and guitar. All of these loops are in this case midi based and all using the internal Logic instruments.

That results in this:

Expectation of Performance

Performance ReminderI used to have this bad attitude that if I knew that I could handle something technically that it wasn’t worth working on. I also deluded myself into thinking that I needed to have an absolute commitment to original expression and thus time spent on “covers’ was not worthwhile.

Ok. I now think that to be a bit stupid. I have stagnated aspects of my musical self because of what must be a bit of arrogance I guess. Honestly , part of it I think is that I just don’t ever think I have enough time

Having the technical chops is a different aspect of musicianship than that which entails having such command of a piece of repertoire to which you can bring your full capabilities of self expression.

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Taking Notes on Your Music

Growly NotesPart of keeping it together and on the road to accomplishing your music goals is organization. Staying organized saves time and really every second away from actively pushing for your music objectives is just time lost. In the past I have used different mechanism to keep my music “Notebooks” from personal wiki systems , to the very awesome OneNote on Windows and now on the Mac to Growly Notes.

So Growly Notes allows me to first thing in my practice session open my notebooks. From their I can go to the repertoire I’m working or whatever other objective I have. Once there I have collected ,for example in the case of repertoire, sheet music , audio and video files, and most usually I have a Transcribe file associated so that I can use that valuable tool. The objects in Growly Notes are actionable i.e. you can click on them which will open the associated appls. In the case of audio it will actually provide you with a transport bar for immediate playback. That’s the same for video files.

I can also keep mental notes there for me such as “bar 14 -16: tough transition needs more work” etc.

All of this saves you precious time and it very importantly keeps you focused.