MIDI FAQ for beginners

07 Hardware SynthesizerMIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a language by which computers, virtual instruments, and hardware samplers/synthesizers can communicate. There are a lot of unfamiliar terms and concepts in the MIDI world, so let’s take a look at a few questions that I typically hear from first time users. Read more.

Virtual synths and the art of imperfection

QuadCurve EQSynthesizers are musical instruments. You wouldn’t mic a drum set by taking the first mic you found and pointing it the general direction of the drummer. A little extra effort spent on avoiding unnatural sounds when mixing synths with acoustic instruments, improving expressiveness, and tightening timing inconsistencies can help you get the most out of your virtual synths. Read More.

This is the Remix – Eight Tips on Reinventing Your Music

Justin Lassen“It’s a mistake to remix from a stereo master,” says expert remixer Justin Lassen. “If the track is already mastered and has its dynamics already defined, there’s only so much a remixer can do. If you are going to remix, import the stems from the original session, mute everything, bring in elements one at a time, and figure out a game plan as to how you’re going to tell the story of the remix. Read more.

Last Day in Gear Heaven – NAMM Blog, Day 3
“When Worlds Collide”

More than ever, the NAMM show is becoming a mash up of the analog world – with its historic musical precedents made up of strings, reeds, mallets, speakers, mics and the best traditional music making elements – with the increasingly digital music world, where speed, portability, and innovation rule. When it comes to acoustic instruments and music making, there really are no new products, simply refinements and leaps ahead that improve existing tools and techniques. Read more…

Another Day in Gear Heaven – NAMM Blog, Day 2
“Show Me How It Works”

Yesterday, I ran into a friend who suggested I check out a soft synth program from Spectrasonics called Omnisphere 1.5, and I caught the tail end of a demo by keyboardist Jordan Rudess that day, but just what the Omnisphere program could do was still a bit murky to me. So today, I trekked back to the Spectrasonics’ booth and got a full 20-minute demo from the company’s founder, Eric Persing. Rarely have I seen a company’s found having as much fun with his creation as Eric did. Read more…

One Day in Gear Heaven – NAMM Blog, Day 1

Today was my first day at the 2011 Winter NAMM Convention, a gathering of more than 80,000 people involved in the music products industry. Everything from harmonicas to the latest recording hardware and software is on display from more than 1,300 companies, often demoed by the engineers and techs that invented them. This will be the first of three postings about what I discovered at this year’s show. Read more…

Putting Apple’s GarageBand to the Test

GarageBand is a music creation software application that is part of Apple’s iLife suite (GarageBand, iMovie and iPhoto) and ships on all new Macintosh computers. For this column, I jumped into learning how well GarageBand might work as a musical sketchpad to rough out a basic song demo. I enlisted the help of two friends, vocalist Josh Washington and songwriter/percussionist Dan Faughnder, for the home sessions. In the process, we recorded live vocals and electric guitar to go along with the software-based instruments and loops found in the program’s library. We wondered just how good a song demo could be created in a couple of hours by GarageBand rookies. Read more…

The Desktop Studio: The Internet as a Resource

The Internet offers a direct link between your desktop studio and the software and hardware vendors who power it.

Manufacturers’ websites offer a wealth of information about upcoming releases, bug fixes, tips, and more. I make it a habit to log on to key sites about once a week. On more than one occasion, I’ve found an update online that hadn’t yet been announced in the press. Read more…

Creating a Lead Sheet

Lead Sheet SoftwareThere’s some great software on the market that makes it easy to transcribe your music. We compare two programs and give you our take on ease and performance.

For a songwriter getting ready to work with a back up band or go into the studio with session musicians, having an accurate lead sheet of your songs is a great way to save time and money. Read more…