Thursday, March 26, 2009

Internet Is Back


Well, the move went well. The good folks at Time Warner have come by and turned the internet back on. And I I've moved from Pink Floyd to Tool, not a long journey through the lexicon of recorded music, but there we are.

We've got all the furniture assembled, and in the meantime we're just unpacking things and setting up. I expect to have to studio fully operational again this weekend and hopefully start in on some new tunes.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Pink Floyd and Boxes


The move is coming along, the studio is entirely dismantled and strewn between 2 different apartments, and there is no new music. That being said, I don't have much else to say, but I am listening to some crazy crazy Pink Floyd and suggest you do the same.

The big moving day is tomorrow, so the next post will likely come from the new apartment.

Till Later,

Monday, March 16, 2009


Hey Guys,

Just a quick note to celebrate the shipping of PitchFactor. I'm excited because I think this is a great pedal that does a lot of things that nothing else does. Anyway, they're shipping out the door so if you've ordered one expect to be getting it in the next couple of weeks.

Eventide PitchFactor


Braunschweig Piano

I just recently bought a new piano sample set from Imperfect Samples called the Braunschweig Upright Piano. It's a 5 GB collection that samples each note of this particular upright piano at 8 different velocity layers. I picked it up because I realized that all the different piano sounds I have at my disposal are sample sets of these giant concert pianos in even larger rooms and that doesn't always give you the most intimate feel. So many of my fond memories of piano involve a crappy upright in a tiny music room somewhere, and I thought something that captured that essence would be cool. Plus, it's cheap and the demo's sound good.

Anyway, since I downloaded it I've been really eager to check it out, but since I'm in the middle of moving I haven't gotten a chance to hook it up to a midi controller yet and play it. But I in my impatience I did try the next best thing, which is to drop it into a song for which I'd already recorded a midi performance, replacing the piano that was in there. That got me thinking that I might as well try a selection of piano sample sets that I have at my disposal and post them up for everyone to hear.

So without further avail here are a selection of piano sample set sounds. I'm just using what I got here, but if there are any others you think I should check out, let me know. The meatiest part is at about 1:58 if you feel like jumping right in.

Reason Factory Soundbank Piano (this is the one that the song was written with):

Reason Orkester Soundbank Piano:

Logic Pro Factory Soundbank Steinway:

Imperfect Samples Braunschweig Upright:

Sonic Couture Bowed Piano (This one is very cool, check out the haunting demos at the Sonic Couture website):

I really like the Reason Orkester Piano, though it may have a bit of an edge since these tracks came from a mix that used it. I also may just like it because I've been listening to it in the piece for a while. On the other hand the Braunschweig has a really cool sound to it too. I don't know if it fit's this song as well as the grand, but I'm excited to try it for a more intimate rock style production. I think it's interesting that you can hear the uprights smaller soundboard give out on the lower notes, it's rare that you get the experience of a grand and an upright next to each other to compare. The only other things to say are, the Sonic Couture Bowed Piano has really awesome haunting sounds, but sounds so different from a piano that it really doesn't fit in this production. And finally, the stock Logic piano's suck.

Anyway, here's the working mix of the track in question with all the other instruments, if you're interested.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Goodnight by Nyquist Serum

80's Teen Monster Movie Soundtrack?
I had written the chorus to the following song based on a fat synth sound that I was hammering chords on (chorus comes in at about :43). The guitar melody on top of the chorus was added as an overdub later, perhaps as a vocal melody idea. I didn't spend much time developing the verses, although I did like the sort of 80's teen monster movie soundtrack quality to them. Especially the second verse when that synth line comes in. Remember Vamp, starring Grace Jones? Can you hear that in there?

Chord Progression
A few months later I woke up in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep so I ended up playing piano for a while. Eventually I started playing the following chord progression, which I really liked. It had a circular quality that takes you on a little ride and then brings you back home. I was thinking that this chord progression would be its own song, but the next day when I played it on fuzzed out guitar I began to think it should be the verse to the above song. It's strange that I had already named the song "Goodnight," and months later revisited it during a bout with insomnia.

So now that I had a verse chord progression that I was happy with, I was able to come up with a melody pretty quickly. The melody plays on the offbeats to the chords; I wanted it to move the song along and be rhythmic.

Lyrics + Gasping For Air
At this point I started writing lyrics. I tossed around a few themes and decided to make the song be about a stalker. But I wanted to keep it vague enough for different interpretations. Also at this point I ditched the guitar chords and replaced them with single lines as more of a riff. The sound of the guitar is from a fuzz pedal I built called the Red Bastard. The 9v battery was dying, which gives the guitar that sort of gasping for air kind of sound.

Gluing it with Static
With the verse guitar chords replaced with riffs I had to come up with a bass line that filled in the gaps, both rhythmic and chord-wise. In the verses the bass is funky and sporadic, but in the chorus it's driving 8th notes.
A recurring theme in my efforts to create music is that just when I'm really getting into something I have equipment failure. There was no exception here; while I was recording the vocals my audio interface died. It had 8 channels, and by the end there was only one channel that still worked, and it added noise! You can hear some static/buzzing sounds- those were added to the recorded audio by the interface. When I pasted different parts around right before and after the choruses the static/buzzing almost sounded deliberate, and now I've grown fond of it. Maybe when I produce this song for real I'll try to recreate that...

So, which do you like better, the original demo or the later one? Do you like where the song is going? It still needs work, like the bridge for instance, but it's come a long way. Thanks for checking it out so far.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm Back

Well it's been 3 weeks since I last posted, but what a couple weeks it's been. The short story is, PitchFactor is about to ship, I have a beautiful new apartment in Hell's Kitchen into which I'll be moving next weekend, and I've completed a milestone for a research project I'm working on. The downside is no new music over the last couple of weeks.

The upside is that our new place uptown has a dedicated room for my studio/office so I'll be able to set everything up and finally mix a lot of stuff that I've worked on over the last couple of years. How's that for making economic lemonade?

Lesson: if you live in NYC, look for a new apartment right now, there are deals to be had.

Also, as I mentioned earlier in this post, PitchFactor has been out of my hands for about a week now for final testing and ramping up production and should be shipping out the door in the next couple of days. I think this is the most fun product I've ever worked on and the range of sounds you can get out of it is pretty ridiculous. I'm obviously biased, but if you're interested in these sort of things, check this one out.

Finally, I do have an update to that orchestral piece I was working on a couple of weeks ago. This is actually old progress but I never got a chance to post it, so here it is.

I decided to slow this track down a bit. I don't know if I like it more or less at 130 bpm than at 138 which is where it was previously, but it seemed like it was rushing before. Aside from that I've been spending time writing individual parts for each piece of the orchestra. One of the brilliant things about orchestra's is that instead of having 1, or even 3 or 4 musicians playing a piece by strumming or hammering out chords you have many musicians each playing there part. I think that leads to a much more linear than global sound. Instead of having a particular chord structure you have several sets of melody and harmonies that change over time. For me, this is a very different way of composing music than coming up with a series of chords on piano or guitar. Or different even than just placing chords on a piano roll which is what I tend to do with soft synths and samplers.

Creating an orchestra is a way for me to get out of the vertical space of chords into the horizontal space of melodies and harmonies.

I still want to do more of that with this track and hopefully expand it beyond it's current 2:13, but I've been having fun personalizing the individual parts so far.

Till Next Time,