Tons of electronic gizmos made for musicians, from interfaces to effects, use external power supplies—those cube-like enclosures that plug into the wall or power strip and then deliver electricity to the device via a cord and a plug.
We have to put up with the external versions, because internal power supplies are both more expensive (meaning more expensive for the maker to implement, who would then pass the expense on to you, the consumer) and bulkier (meaning some smaller effects would have to be made larger). So external power supplies, like death and taxes, are unavoidable facts of life.
Many guitarists, from Eddie Van Halen to Adrian Belew, are masters at dipping and raising their volume pot as the play lead lines, which buries, or masks, the notes’ attack, resulting in a violin-like articulation.
In this technique, the lowered-and-raised volume control allows only the sustained portion of the struck note to come through, along with a slight swell.
Key Signatures and the Circle of Fifths! No, it’s not the title of a long-lost Harry Potter novel. But it is a sort of treasure map and decoder ring designed to help you figure out one of the most basic and important elements in music: how keys relate to each other. The circle of fifths neatly shows how key signatures reflect this relationship, and understanding its function is the first step in learning theory. The concept of the circle of fifths is sort of the grand plan that puts all the key signatures in a pattern.
Bryan Beller is a diverse and prolific bass player, having performed and recorded with Dethklok, Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, Dweezil Zappa, and many more
Ask accomplished musicians what the essence of good musicianship is, and they will uniformly answer “good ears.” It all starts with being able to hear and understand music. What you play from there is a direct result what’s happening inside your head.
But what is it to have a good musical ear? And how do you improve it? Are there ear pushups?
Transcribing is an essential skill for a guitarist trying to amass as much information and knowledge as possible. Most people do it slowly and with much deliberation, but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, transcribing can be fun and easy, especially if you get big assist from software. Software-based audio recorder-editors have essentially replaced the more cumbersome hardware tool-of-choice of yore, the multi-speed tape deck.
The Blues Guitar Handbook is appropriately named if only for its format: a 256-page instruction book that includes text, music, tab, chord and neck diagrams, and an accompanying audio CD, all in a spiral binding—which allows it to lay open and flat on a table or music stand. It is designed to be read, and used, by players.
Even if you import all your beats from groove libraries, or have a friend who programs them for you (don’t we wish!), you can benefit by breaking down all basic beats—from hip-hop to swing to country to insane death metal—and plotting them on a simple drum-machine-style grid. Many drum programs still work using a grid, and the operation is simple, intuitive, and fast: click on a grid square with your mouse (or a keystroke) to add a drum hit, click it again to delete it.
By Ronan Chris Murphy
The concept was born from a joke made during an intense week of pre-production for the first full length album by the Italian rock band, Riaffiora—an idea that would eventually have us singing at midnight in the piazzas of Venice, recording a pipe organ in an ancient church, recording guitars in the loggia of the Palazzo Ducale, using a 600 year old palazzo as a reverb chamber and more
So that’s why they’re called “dead” lines . . .
By Phil O’Keefe
You know the deal: There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done as deadlines hang over you like a Sword of Damocles, and you draw ever-closer to impending doom (or a ticked-off client — basically the same thing). What do you do? First, don’t panic: That only makes things worse. Instead, plan your course of action.
Figure 1: When you're on a tight deadline, wasted time is the enemy - and efficient use of the available time is cruci
Add a New Sound and Performance Element to Your Guitar through an Auxiliary Amp that Generates Feedback
by Jon Chappell
Every guitarist knows what it’s like to stand facing a stack of speakers with the guitar and amp turned up to feedback levels. It’s not only louder than heck, it increases the sustain of the notes themselves. It almost feels like the feedback is pushing you along, at times seeming to take over and make its own sound. Well, as far as the strings are concerned, it is.
When most people think of shortcuts and keystroke equivalents for mouse moves, they probably picture a piece of notepad paper taped up on a wall or on the side of a computer monitor. At least that's what mine looks like. Courteous manufacturers sometimes include a laminate fold-out which you can keep tucked under your keyboard. So imagine my surprise when I picked up Jose "Chilitos" Valenzuela's The Complete Pro Tools Shortcuts (2nd Edition) -- a 265-page book stuffed to the margins with shorcuts! The table of contents itself is 18 pages!
We’ve seen a lot of live music apps for the iPad, including interfaces and signal processors from IK Multimedia, Apogee, and Peavey, plus recording software such as this spring’s release of GarageBand for the iPad. But beyond a couple pick-a-lick apps, there hasn’t been a really substantial instructional work that uses the tablet platform to its fullest potential.
Here’s a situation that you could conceivably experience sometime in your life as a composer or arranger: You write a song for a friend’s wedding, crafting a beautiful piece containing a stately melody and majestic chords. A movie producer at the ceremony hears it and wants to use it for the final scene in a Hollywood romantic comedy (which always end in weddings). Lucky you! But then the producer throws you a curveball: he loves the melody and harmony, all right, but it’s “too serious.” He wants it “jazzy.” What does that mean? What do you do to music to make music “jazzy”?
Ground loops produce that noisy, low-pitched dirt that plagues your audio signals. You find them whenever your audio hookups start to get complicated—such as multiple pieces of plugged in gear all linked by audio cables. You’re even more vulnerable if these multiple units are is plugged into different wall outlets around your studio. But ground can happen in a setup as simple as your laptop computer and powered speakers. More than a few people have reported that their AC-powered multimedia speakers buzz when the computer is plugged in, but are quiet as mice when the computer is unplugged and running on its internal battery.
While there’s something incredibly cool about the sound of a great guitar plugged straight into a great amp, you can get a lot of other useful tonal colors with some good effects pedals — and if you own a bunch of pedals, you need a nice pedal board. I got a lot of great tips and ideas from the folks on the Harmony Central Effects forum; I’d like to share a few of them with you, and walk you through how I built my pedal boards.
I’ve always felt that getting a good sound isn’t just about plug-ins, tweaking, or editing: It’s best to start at the source. By that, I mean:
Setting levels can be one of the most basic, and yet one of the most important aspects of dialing in a mix. There are several different approaches you can take, and no real "right or wrong" to setting levels, but here are some tips and suggestions to help get you going.
The art of sound recording and reproduction, whose fundamentals had remained essentially unchanged for decades, has undergone a fundamental re-shaping thanks to low-cost digital technology. Yet while digital audio has become part of our lives, some people are still unclear about the fundamentals—but we’ll take care of that in this article.
Cubase allows creating an Arrangement Track, which lets you define specific parts of the project (e.g., verse, chorus, fill, etc.). You can then assemble these parts into a Playlist, and play the parts back in a different order. For example, you might want to insert an additional fill, or change where a verse occurs. This allows you to experiment with the order of different parts of the project to create new arrangements.
It seems like there are never enough ports of any kind—and with more and more devices connecting via USB, you can often use up the half-dozen or so USB ports found on a typical computer in short order. Keyboard, mouse, dongles, USB memory sticks for system speedup or backup, printer, USB mics, hard drives, interfaces . . . what's a modern musician to do?
A recent New York Times issue devoted its entire Sunday Magazine to "Technology in the Classroom". One article was a photo essay of the history of gizmos and artifacts meant to facilitate learning, including the hand-held slate (those little personal-size chalkboards that look eerily like the new Kindle), pencil and paper, mimeograph machines, laptops, SmartBoards, and the iPad—the last of which is predicted to supplant the bloated and ruinously expensive paper-bound textbook model. (And about time!)
My name is Phil O'Keefe. I am an Associate Editor here at Harmony Central, but more importantly, like many of you, I have a real love for the art and science of recording. As a musician, engineer and producer, I spend countless hours trying to wax the perfect track in my studio.
The world would be a lot simpler if there was only one filter type...but a lot more boring! Different filter types give different responses that can change signals in multiple ways; the same type of filter that removes AC hum from a signal isn’t necessarily the best choice for removing high-frequency hiss from a signal. So, let’s take a look at different filter types and various filter parameters. Note: To enlarge any of these images, simply click on the image.
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) functions let you modify a signal in multiple ways, using digital technology. DSP can be done in hardware or software, but we’ll concentrate on the type of processes you’ll find in software digital audio editors (and increasingly, in digital audio workstations and sequencers).
Recently there has been an explosion of inexpensive high-quality portable recorders from virtually every manufacturer with a hand in the hardware recording arena. Just to name a few, Tascam, Edirol, Sanyo, Yamaha, Sony, Zoom, and Line 6 each have great-sounding units that record at mp3 and CD quality (or better), with very good-sounding onboard mics. All have features galore, including metronomes, in some cases.
When you’re working with VST instruments in a DAW environment, you don’t need to freeze, capture, or render them to audio files first before bouncing your mix to disc. The sounds are converted from a live trigger to a wave file during the bouncing process. This is one of the great things about VST: the MIDI instruments can remain in their current state and yet still wind up as audio on a bounced mix, without having to go through this extra conversion step.
Sidechaining - the process of controlling one signal with another - has been around for years. A couple classic examples are using a kick drum to gate a bass part, or doing de-essing. But you can also use sidechaining to trigger some wild, dance floor-friendly pumping drum effects . . . read on for the details.
Dynamics processors (compressors, expanders, and gates) are an essential part of today's recording and live sound world. Over the years, certain features have become standardized to the point where you'll find similar functionality, and as a result, similar parameters for controlling the processor. Let's look at these parameters, and what they do.
Meters, whether analog or digital, are a window into whether your signal levels are adjusted optimally for maximum headroom and minimum distortion. But compared to analog meters, digital meters have some major differences you need to take into account when recording.
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