Saturday, October 31, 2015

Let's Learn Garageband 10! Episode 9: Happy Halloween 2015

For this song, I wanted to try re-creating an acoustic guitar strum with a virtual instrument on my midi keyboard. I think it turned out pretty well. I also wanted to find a way to incorporate drums into my Halloween song without it feeling like rock music. Let me know whether you think that turned out well/poorly. The only thing on this song that is not a software instrument is the evil laugh, which I had a lot of fun recording.

I also allowed myself to mess around with editing a bit on this song. I didn't repeat takes over and over, searching for the perfect one. Instead, I took a few takes and then comped together a workable track out of the different body parts and limbs of the various tracks. I guess this song is sort of an ode to Frankenstein. Too bad I didn't realize that until I'd already posted it to youtube with the pictures. Ah well.

I hope you enjoy. Happy Halloween, everyone.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let's Learn Garageband 10! Episode 8: Transformers Theme

I recorded the guitar for this song a long time ago (at least two years). For some reason I got in a Transformy mood and thought I'd finally put it out there. So, I added a little mystery space synth to set the mood before the guitar comes in.

This week I learned how to increase the overall volume of the master track in Garageband 10. You do it in the EQ. There is a tiny little dot on the side of the Master EQ that will add gain to the master, increasing the volume of everything. The two problems I run into with this approach to mastering are:

(1) I either get digital clipping, which sounds HORRIBLE and makes the song sound like garbled machine noise, or

(2) I get a lot of background noise, most typically in the form of air flow picked up from the mic during recording.

I learned a while back that there are ideal volume settings for gainstaging--which takes place at that earliest stage of recording--where you want to find the optimal level of input volume from the microphone. Some argue that it is -12db through -6db (that range), and at least one other guy argues that it is -18db (Graham Cochrane at The Recording Revolution). This Transformers Theme was recorded long before I knew that.

The main problem I currently have with Garageband is that there is no metering of value in the program. I have a meter, and it will show clipping, but it doesn't provide numbers for me to see where exactly I'm at. Each DAW is different, so I can't just trust that if I'm at 2/3 of the meter I'm in that sweet spot. So, for everything Garageband does well, I adore the program. However, for it's inability to provide meaningful metering during the recording process, I get frustrated.

Anyway, here is this week's song:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Zelda Main Theme on Classical Guitar

Many of you now know, I'm a sucker for old school video game music. Hearing that music instantly takes me back to those wonderful days of playing NES as a child, the sense of wonder and exploration of fantastic worlds, the sense of trepidation heading into the bosses' lairs, and the sense of anxiety and fear knowing my very sanity lay in the balance if I couldn't figure out how to beat freaking Castlevania.

I am also a sucker for classical guitar, so when someone combines classical guitar with my favorite old school video game music... the rapture. Today I stumbled upon this little gem and thought I'd share with you all. This guy's name is Jonas Lefvert, and he plays a mean Zelda Main Theme.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Let's Learn Garageband 10! Episode 7: The House of Grey

It's getting a little Halloweeney around here lately. For this week I was mostly just playing around with spooky sounds in Garageband. It was less focused on any technical aspects of recording. I had a lot of fun putting this one together, though. I stayed up a little too late one night, recording electric guitar parts, dozing off while recording a super way-too-long track. The next day I sat down and listened through that track and was surprised to find a couple of great gems I came up with in my half sleep. So this gave me a chance to practice editing in Garageband a little bit, too.

I gotta say, sometimes I really miss ProTools. Garageband allows you to do some amazing things, but it is definitely not full-featured. I miss ProTools most when it comes time to edit and mix.

Anyway, enjoy a little taste of Halloween.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Super Guitar Bros.

For anyone who is a fan of music, soundtracks, video games, and guitar...

I stumbled upon these guys a few years back. They play video game music (focused on older games mostly) as a guitar duo. Up until now I've only known about their youtube videos. However, today I discovered that they also have an album, so I thought I'd show some love and share that album with you all. Also, when you have some time, it's worth going through their youtube playlist to watch them play the songs.

So now, for your auditory pleasure, I present: Super Guitar Bros.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Let's Learn Garageband 10! Episode 6: The Tea Garden

My major focus for this song was to better understand the quantization feature in Garageband. It's a handy little thing, where, after you record an instrument track, you click a few buttons and BANG: all of your timing errors are corrected for you by the magic of the machine. It basically goes through the whole track, finding any moments where your timing was off (be it early or late), and then it snaps those poorly timed notes to the closest designated unit of music time (be it whole notes, quarter notes, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, or even 1/64). So, I wanted to create a song that had a number of different instrument tracks with different note values. After I played the parts on my little keyboard, I entered quantization mode, and the computer fixed my errors.

It's a pretty amazing technology, but I have been scared off from it in the past (mainly out of fear that my songs would start sounding too robotic and lose the human imperfections that made them actually mine). However, my view on quantization definitely changed after working with it this week. It won't solve all of the problems, it just saves time fixing most of the ones that are slightly off. Then you can spend your time more productively on the real problem notes that just aren't working.

So, with that explanation, enjoy this week's nugget: The Tea Garden.