Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shared Lunch

Sometimes I find a nice spot to have my lunch.
Sometimes I even manage to find someone to share my lunch with. Today I found Englebert the duck. He said that he liked jam donuts and would I like to swap a few bites for a couple of photo's. I said that that was a good swap.
Englebert did a few dramatic poses and I fed him donuts. We were both happy.
When we'd finished I went back to my truck and Englebert went back to doing The Times crossword.
What a nice fellow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

'Militia White' & Beaterator

The first thing I did was to add some drums. This is done in the Drum Crafter and is really simple. Press Triangle to load a sound and you get a menu to choose from, preview the sounds until you find one you like and hit X to load. It does take a second or two to preview a sound but once it's loaded playback is instant. Other reviews have criticised this delay but no-one said you were getting Cubase and a dual core processor. Adding other drum or percussion sounds is a matter of following the same process and each sound gets it's own track.
The drum pattern is only a bar long but because you can clone and edit any drum track it's less of a problem than you'd think. You can change each drum's velocity so adding expression is simple too.

After making a few drum loops I added my chords. With my iPhone beside me I added the chords from PianoStudio note by note to the Melody Crafter. Here you can create loops up to eight bars long which is about as much as you'll need. Note lengths and velocities can be changed so sustained chords aren't a problem. I used a sample from the sample library which is the same process as adding drum sounds. Interestingly you have an ADSR envelope on samples which works very well.

Once the chords were in I created a bassline. I used the onboard synth for this. There are a few presets but I opted for 'default' and made my own sound. If you're used to 3xosc synths then this is a breeze. If you're not then choose a preset and mess around. It's a great little synth, the only downside is it's mono but with any 3xosc synth you can build a chord like note through detuning and this goes up or down two octaves plus it has a fine detune for fattening up the whole sound.

Once I had my loops made I used the Studio mode to get a feel for the track by adding and removing playing loops. I could have recorded this but I like things in a particular way so I...

...opted to use the Song Crafter. Here you can add loops and watch the track being built. Any loop can be edited from here and because you can have four different loops per track you can mix and match to add variation. It's much the same process as any bit of music software I've used so was easy to finish the track. Each individual track can have two effects and you add them here as well as the master track reverb. You can also have keyframed effects on any effect and I used keyframing to create a fade on the master track.

I've only really scratched the surface here. I haven't mentioned sound sampling. I have a 1st gen PSP with a GoCam camera and Beaterator lets me use the camera's mic to sample in sounds. There's also a very respectable sound editor so adding and using your own sounds in a Beaterator track gives you limitless possibilities.
To find out more visit the Beaterator site.
As a final note. If you don't have a PSP then don't fret. Beaterator should be out on the iPhone by the end of the year. If it's the same as the PSP version you're in for a whole lot of fun.

'Militia White' How To

Here's a rundown of how I made the 'Militia White' track below.

All my tracks these days tend to start in an iPhone app called iShred.

It's a guitar app and it makes putting chords together really easy. It's a lot of fun and is so easy to play with that all my efforts are put into getting a track started rather than messing about with settings.
Once the chords are in place I transfer them over to PianoStudio.

It's another iPhone app and because it shows you the notes in each chord being played it makes moving them to my new mobile studio a breeze.

My new mobile studio is called Beaterator and it runs on my Sony PSP.
The software is tied in with Timberland which is great for attracting attention but won't attract many musicians who may well think its a game and not a music production tool. That assumption would be very wrong. What you get on that little UMD is well worth the £23 price tag as you'll find out in the next post.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

This is the new AmpUT track.
It's called 'Militia White' and will appear on the 'Militia Immaculate' album.
You heard it here first.

Good Weekend, Bad Weekend

It started well.
The folks at the Apple store replaced my iPhone. Then it all went wrong. Numerous reboots and retries over the next 24 hours saw me lose faith in Apple making anything work properly on Windows.
Anyway, it's done now. Since then I've had success with my music on Ukulele and PSP and I'm blogging from a pub.
Can't be bad.

Hell Of A Time

Here's a picture of my sanity machine.
As far as tech goes the last 48 hours have been pure hell.
My iPhone died, the replacement wouldn't talk to iTunes on my Vista machine and the whole update process has taken over 24 hours. That in itself is a small miracle because I managed to get the update in by sheer chance. I still don't trust my iPhone.
On the other hand my Ukulele now stays in tune as the strings have bedded in and I learned 'Eleanor Rigby' by some band called the Beatles, you may have heard of them.
All that remains is to transfer the novel to my WP and that's all the techie stuff done. I can then get back to Beaterator and actually lay my loop blocks into a song. Once that's done I'll get it online and you'll get to hear it here first. It won't be long now, maybe a day or so.
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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wot No Picture?

That's right. No Picture.
Because while trying to update my iPhone the newly installed iTunes managed to kill my iPhone.
So now I have no camera or music apps or phone or bugger all really. I have to take a trip down to the Apple store tomorrow and get them to help me fix it.
That's going to be a pain in the rear because there will be lots of people who probably all have the same idea as me.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Time And It's Uses

My iPhone.
That's what I want to talk about. On one hand it's a very useful tool, both in my day to day life and my creative endeavours. On the other hand it's a crazy addiction that acts as a plug hole for pouring time into.
If I so wish I can write a whole tune or a book on this device or I can stare aimlessly at peoples comments on their and other peoples lives hoping that something they might say moves me enough to comment myself.
At any point in the day I can take pictures for myself or for other people to see. I can educate myself by listening to audiocasts about subjects I know nothing about. I can know what is happening anywhere in the world and in most cases know how it looks and sounds. In fact I with millions of other people are now the most informed group ever to have existed.
Strangely, as time goes on, I really think that I should select more carefully what I wish to know and from whom I source that information.
Media overload is no good for me or anyone else.