Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TAB #4

It's not good news.
As much as I wanted to include the PSP and Beaterator in this process I'm afraid it was just not meant to be. The problem is that Beaterator is fantastic at what it does but it requires time and a little dedication to make a track. It's just in its nature that you tweak as you go along. It's made be a whole process and therefore fairly deep in places. What I need right now is a unit that will help me get my ideas down fast but with the ability to tweak later. That unit is the QY100. I have the option to tweak the life out of the QY once the basics are complete and to tweak still further on the RM1x.
While I've been getting into track building on both units I've got to know them quite well. The QY is what I need for building ideas quickly and the PSP should be a constant companion in my shoulder bag for building tracks on a slow burn basis.
So it's on with the project and a track restart. I'll also have to find some time to finish the new track I started in Beaterator.
Two projects, twice the fun.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

TAB #3

It's been a night of experimentation.
Sometimes I need to mess about with kit to get a better idea of what is possible. It also helps me to be better acquainted with my hardware. Tonight has been one of those nights. Because of the way the QY handles MIDI I needed to have a play with setting up voices and rhythms. The conclusion I have arrived at is that I need to get a working MIDI file off the PSP to see what it does inside the QY. If it works the same way as the Chordbot MIDI file I may have to eliminate that bit of kit from the process which would be a shame. Having said that, the more I play with the QY the more I get enticed to start writing the track on that. It's a great little machine and the temptation to complete the track using that and then MIDI overdub sounds from the RM1x into the Tascam is almost overwhelming.
At some point over the weekend I'll do a little file transfer and make a decision.
Everything could change.

Monday, March 14, 2011

TAB #2

This is my chord choice.
I will be moving these into Beaterator and working on an arrangement. This might take a while because even though I have the chords I am writing a track from scratch. The move to my PSP is for two reasons. Firstly I've used and like using Beaterator. Secondly the PSP is a mobile platform so I can take my composition with me. That's going to be an essential property because the process of writing the song is going to take a while.
If you want to use the chords and start your own track (using the same chords but not structure) you can download the .mid file that Chordbot produced. You'll find the link below.

Chordbot MIDI file.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Track Anatomy Blog (TAB #1)

Part One

Every song needs some form of inspiration. You need to start somewhere, you need an idea of or from something.
I took my inspiration from my favourite composer Debussy. I like his composition 'La Mer' so I decided to use the same key C#. This was a good starting place but I wanted a little variation. I consulted an iPhone app called Scales & Modes. I picked the Dorian mode because although it is one of the major modes it is considered minor because of the flattened 3rd.
I still wanted to tweak so I opened an app called Octavian and dialled in a C#m Dorian scale. This gives me the following notes:
C# D# E F# G# A# B
I'll let you work out the chords but the ones I am going to use will only use these notes.
The next stage is to create a chord structure upon which I will create a track.

Next: Chord Structure

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Step By Step

I've decided on a new work flow.
Although it sounds like an overly complex way of making music it means that I will get maximum enjoyment out of the various bits of music tech that I own. So here goes, my new approach.
1. I'll use iPhone apps including my newly purchased Octavian to choose a key and a mode for the new track.
2. Writing in key I'll use Chordbot to structure my chord sequence and email out the resulting MIDI file.
3. Import the file into Beaterator on the PS3 and build a complete track and export another MIDI file.
4. Import that file into the QY100 and assign Yamaha XG voices and export an XG MIDI file.
5. Import the XG file into the RM1x and assign different voices and play with parameters to get a finished track.
6. Record this track onto my Tascam 4 track and add other live instruments via processing with the QY100 or the Pod XT Live.
7. Mix to digital from the Tascam to the Zoom H4 and import the wav file into my DAW for mastering.
So that's it. I'm going to post each stage and any MIDI files I create on this blog so that you can build a track in parallel if you want to. This is going to be the anatomy of a track and you're welcome to join in.
I hope you will.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Green & Machine

It's time to break out the melodica.
My soprano melodica is my favourite instrument. It has a sound which is somewhere in the region of awkward and cheap. It's an acquired taste.
Where there is magic is the processed sound. By adding chorus or flanger or reverb the sound seems to sit much more comfortably in a composition. How many times have you heard a melodica with tons of delay added in a reggae track? Works doesn't it.
I'm hoping to create something along the lines of trip hop and cool jazz. I like cool jazz's chords and modes but I like the electronic richness of trip hop. I'll be running a mic through the vocal processing capabilities of the QY100 and I'll shape the melodica's sound that way. The QY100 can handle the rest of the sequencing. Hopefully I'll then MIDI the QY to the RM1x for some extra punch and record everything on the fourtrack which can also handle any overdubs.
Now that I've got my SmartMedia card I can take some time making and saving building blocks. I want this to be right.
Let the work begin.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Modern Times

There is one thing I avoid doing.
I avoid plugging my iPhone into my PC because the two of them just don't get on. Recently I've had apps crashing after being updated so I thought id better get my iPhone in good working order. I installed iTunes onto my netbook and the update went like a dream. I now have an up-to-date phone. I also have some very up-to-date apps as there are some updates which are iOS specific and only installed after the update.
I also got a couple of apps back that I'd previously bought but which wouldn't install on a lower OS. All in all I'm very happy and promise to keep my phone in good condition.
It's well worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Question Everything. Twice.

I have so far resisted posting this little tale but it has reached a conclusion so here goes.
A couple of weeks ago I received a tax bill for the princely sum of £1446.08. It was from the tax year 07-08 so a while ago. For that year I had been paying my taxes through PAYE so I wondered how I had managed to underpay that amount of money. At the time I was working two jobs and there seemed to be some kind of tax conflict there. After receiving the first letter from the tax office I called them and they informed me that my second employer had given me my tax allowance as well as my first. Whoops! It seemed I'd had the money but someone, somewhere had messed up. I was led to believe it was the company I still work for as they were my second employer.
What the person on the other end of the phone had neglected to tell me was that they had mixed up my first and second employers. On the phone tonight after a little direct questioning I found that small but very relevant fact out. I had given them the correct information but they'd mixed things up. When the tax office checked they realised their mistake and wrote off the offending sum.
The moral of this story is to check and then check again. What at first seems straight forward may not be that simple at all.
I'm now in the wonderful position of not being £120 a month worse off.
In other good news today my black Fedora turned up and it fits. Pictures soon no doubt.
Right, time to celebrate a little.