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Purging Plosives in your vocals.

From Darren Burgos at MacPro Video.

 “Plosives”  can make or break the recording. Even with a pop filter, they still have a tendency to sneak their way in! There's a letter in the alphabet that puts fear in the hearts of home recording engineers ...P! The other is B to a lesser extent. 

In this article, I'll show you two ways to remove them without simply stripping away the lows with a high pass filter. I've included a vocal sample so you can experiment with it, or just load up a track you know that has them. If you'll be listening to these samples through an iPad or mobile phone speaker, you most likely will not hear the difference between the samples. Plosives are almost always in the low frequency range, and most of these devices built-in speakers can't replicate frequencies low enough. Use headphones.

Darren uses these two methods to clean up loud pops.

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Using Automation Patterns in Your Songs With Logic Pro

Here's a handy trick to create cool effects in Logic. It's by Darren burgos over at MacPro Video. This article talks about creating patterns with automation and then using them on instruments as effects. It a pretty complex set up, but looks like a lot of fun to play around with. Darren says...

"When I’m producing, I’ll often pull from a small library of shapes I’ve made and saved into a Logic Project. I can easily copy these pre-made patterns into my existing songs because they’ve been saved inside a standard region. This also makes it easy to stretch or compress the automation ...but we’ll cover that in just a bit!"

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7 Ways To Stimulate Your Capacity For Creativity

 

Google's creative office space in Zurich, Switzerland seems very stimulating.

I pulled this list from an article on Fast Company online. It was written by Don Peppers, the author of Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage

In it Don writes:

"If you want to generate more innovative ideas, then you should purposely expose your mind to radically different facts and unusual, often conflicting concepts."

This is great advice for musicians stuck in a creative rut. Try some of the Don's ideas on the list and let me know if they worked for you by commenting below.

  • Move to a different apartment, or a different office location, or a different job. Change your environment, for no reason other than to make the change.
  • Drive a different route to work or school, or to church, or to the club. Take a long cut, on purpose.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day for two or three weeks with a language course from Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone in order to learn how to ask directions and order food in a new language.
  • Brainstorm different ways to use a common tool (like a hammer, or a Phillips screwdriver).
  • Go on a physical-fitness campaign. Work out until you break a sweat at least one time every day. Seriously. Every single day.
  • Memorize something useless but ambitious, like pi to 100 digits, or the names of all the major chess openings, or all the U.S. vice presidents and the presidents they served.
  • Meet one new person a day for a whole month. Talk to them, converse with them, get to know them. Talk with each of them frequently in subsequent days. You can easily do this online.

You can read the entire article over at Fast Company magazine.

The basics of time and tempo for musicians.

I came across this great series over at GuitarWorld.com by Mark Bacino from Intro.Verse.Chorus. In the article below he talks about how tempo is so rudimentary that it is often overlooked, yet it's an essential part of setting up every song.

As a music creator I (try to) use a metronome on every project I produce. Some are harder than others because many young musicians aren't formally trained so using one is not standard practice (pun intended). When I do use one my metronome of choice is the one included with the iPhone and iPad app, Guitar Toolkit.  The app has a lot of features for guitar players, but the metronome itself is very easy to use and it's tap friendly.

 

 

Songcraft: It’s About Time

by Mark Bacino

As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child.

The hard, cold facts are these: Perform a great song too fast and you’ve lost the race. Play a great song too slow and the only animal left in the barn when you finish will be the turtle you rode in on. Your audience may never intellectualize your tempo miscalculations, but they will certainly feel them and sense something’s "off."

Recording

Before you begin to record those new songs with your band, have all your tunes' tempos decided upon and documented via the BPM (beats per minute) standard of tempo measurement.

This is great advice. Along with figuring out the tempo there are three other bits of advice I have for you. They are:

  1. Rehearse
  2. Rehearse 
  3. Rehearse. 

Rehearse these set tempos constantly. They should be second nature to the entire band because once recorded and your fans have a feel for them they will expect them come showtime.

Another tempo-finding hack I’ve employed goes like this: Think about your new song and try to recall a favorite tune from another artist that might have a similar vibe or feel. Dig out that artist’s track and try and figure out what tempo their song lives at. You can do this by using the "Tap" function in your DAW or app.

Live

The same thoughts apply. Before leaving that dingy rehearsal room and stepping on stage, try and get your tempos in place. If your drummer is tempo-challenged (and a bunch of good drummers are, believe it or not), they make a lot of tempo-keeping gear for live application that can be used as an on-the-fly reference. If you can, use these tools. They will stop you from playing that 45-minute set in 15 (Been there, done that).

For more on the subject of tempo see Mark's article at GuitarWorld.com.

A brief history of sheet music.

I read this article on a new music learning service/site called Chromatik. It tell of the advent of sheet music and how music in the days when Tin Pan Alley thrived was all about the song and not so much about the performance. I think you'll find it interesting.

A brief history of sheet music.The advent of sheet music as a viable business didn’t really take on until 1880 with the rise of Tin Pan Alley. Originally Tin Pan Alley only referred to a specific building on W. 28th and 5th Ave. in New York City, but eventually it came to represent an entire period of popular music dominated by music publishers and songwriters.

Since the early Renaissance-era manuscripts of monophonic chants, sheet music has been around in one form or another. As the printing press made waves in the 15th century people sought to print music, but it was not easy at first. The first recorded printed book to include music, the “Mainz psalter,” (~1457) had to have the musical notation hand-written in. Yet as technology advanced throughout the centuries and songwriters eventually came together into a de facto publishing house, Tin Pan Alley came to represent an industry that was growing exponentially. Within the first ten years of the 20th century songwriters and publishers were churning out upwards of 25,000 popular songs per year, the highest production of popular music ever.

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“All music is used to make money”

Singer/Songwriter Ralph Murphy shares his insight and experiences from his 30+ years of being in the music "business". This is a fantastic lecture that took place at Layola University. He stresses over and over about how this is a business.

He also stresses that all artists need to know how to craft a song so that it appeals to your audience/fans. If you can keep you fans entertained and wanting more then you will remain in the business and potentially make a pretty good living. If you neglect the basics of songwriting you will more than likely not be in the business for very long.

Below are a couple of gems I picker out as points to remember for up and coming artists like yourselves.

"What brings you to a song 100% of the time is melody. What keeps you there is lyric."

"For you artist or singer songwriter a song is not a song, a song is a linear lyrical conversation between you and every single person in that room."

"Music is the underpinning of society."

"The three things you ask yourself when you're finished with your work are, what's in it for the listener? What's in it for the listener? What's in it for the listener? If there's nothing in it for the listener you're wasting your time."

 

What made your favorite record memorable?

This is a great question by Steve Guttenberg, CNET Blog Network author. He  asked...

What's the best-sounding record you ever heard?

This might be a tough question for a lot of people: defining what good sound is, and separating sound from music isn't easy.

It might be impossible to distill it to just one album or song. We tend to like the sound of music we like, and conflate good sound with good music.

That's understandable, but when the sound jumps out and draws your attention, take, for example, the sound of Jimi Hendrix's feedback. It was Hendrix's distortion, not his songs, that forever changed the sound of electric guitars.

Paul McCartney said it was the sound of the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" album that inspired the Beatles to radically change their sound and make "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

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