Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Better Note Copying

Here's an easy way to compose music with an important hint: 
      You can't just "copy and paste" music notes and 
sound professional.  You must adjust the volume of EACH note to match the accent  it should have, depending on its place within a measure.  
 Easy composition method:  

1.   First play any MIDI instrument using the controller keyboard.  GarageBand calls MIDI instruments "Software Instrument",  as opposed to "Real Instrument" like guitar you play into the system.
2.  Pull up the Score panel and listen to your recording.  Adjust any existing notes if needed. See earlier blogs about fixing muddy sounds (adjust note length in Piano Roll panel) and trills, for example.
3.  Quantize (make the notes land exactly on their correct beat);  See earlier blogs for easy hints.

4.  Start copying and pasting and adjusting on the music staff to create added music notes you like. 
Knowing the scale, or the notes in a specific chord, can provide a guideline, but I've found that "breaking the rules" creates some fascinating music lines!  The key is the end of the above sentence -- paste notes and move them to the place on the score line where you like the sound!
5.  AS  YOU  COPY-AND-PASTE NOTES   you need to watch and adjust the following things about "velocity" (loudness of the note).  WHY?  Because you are ALSO copying the characteristics (attributes) of that note, including LENGTH (earlier blogs) and LOUDNESS (velocity).

A.  Be sure the note's velocity is approximately the same as notes around it, like 65 if other notes are in the 60s. 
B.  If it is the first count in a measure (first note usually), it needs to be a somewhat louder than the next notes for "accent on count 1."
C.  If this note is the 3rd count in a 4/4 time measure, it needs to be a bit louder than the 4th count (but not as much as count 1 usually, depending on the feel you're going for).
D.  Hint 5C fits for the 4th count in a 6/8 measure.
QUICK ACCENT CHART:  (drum books explain more)

The less common time signatures -- also fun to play with, though!
2/2  TIME =  LOUD  MEDIUM -- sometimes even played so every note is pounding
            This is a combo of 3/4 and 4/4;  you can shift the other way by making MEDIUM later.

Much joy to you experimenting with composing music right into your computer without playing every note on a controller-keyboard!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne;  all rights reserved

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cheap (and FREE) Studio Programs are GREAT!

I keep hearing sarcastic remarks about how GarageBand and some of the other cheap or even FREE studio programs are weak.
How they can't do much.
How the really expensive programs are so much better.

OK.  Anyone knows there are huge programs that can do more, do better, do faster.
But -- Suppose you don't have the $$$ for them.
Suppose you don't have hours to LEARN them?
Because the more simple studio programs like GarageBand are EASY to learn!
I usually need someone to show me how to use new computer programs --
But I learned GB even without reading any online instructions.

Simple programs are often intuitive -- "point and shoot."
Have you ever tried searching through dozens of menus and dropdown boxes in ProLogic
      before you found out how to turn off SNAP TO GRID?  It's one menu level down in GB.

The greatest advantage of cheap and free studio programs is this:
You can save HUNDREDS of dollars creating your own simple music tracks in your home studio, and save HOURS of time taking your project to a professional studio.

Check out my website
for an example.  I've created, copyrighted, and 
published over 250 songs on the Web  in just under 3 years.  Over 80 songs per year.  
And I am assuredly not rich.

I just take my piano tracks -- already quantized by me instead of during expensive studio time -- 
and all other music tracks to be mastered at one of my two professional studios.  I lay professional vocal and bass and guitar tracks there,  and Claxton Wilson does live drums (and slap bass) for me in one studio while Johnny Kyle does lead guitar for me in another studio.

But I've saved thousands of dollars and weeks of studio time by using GarageBand.   Anyone can.
Perhaps you too can find the joy of GOING SIMPLE  to have fun creating your own music!
Much joy to you in music!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne;  all rights reserved.
WEBSITE -- If slow loading, hit X to stop, then the Reload button 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Avoid 4 Handed Drummers :)

Since few drummers have 4 hands, this could be a quite useful hint!  Thanks to home studio programs with loops, we  can record drums even if we can't play drums.  But it's very helpful to know at least a LITTLE about "real drumming" when you create your music tracks. One of my 2 recording studios'  producer happens to be an excellent drummer -- and he would have shaken his chair with laughter if I hadn't caught this mistake in my home studio right before sending out my tracks:
1.   I had found a really driving Paradiddle drum loop (fast beats that alternate left and right stick drumming often on a snare drum).
2.   But even with compression, the drum track was not "thick" enough for the music -- I needed more presence.
3.   So I found a perfect group of loops that added depth from hits on toms.

     The beat was full, fit the music, gave it character....
     And then as I was doing my final review, I suddenly realized:

Paradiddles take     two hands.   
The drum loops I was using were quickly going from tom to tom --   two more hands. 
So unless I could find a 4 handed drummer for this song, I'd be out of luck.

But I WAS in luck -->  Claxton never got to crack up laughing at me for needing a 4 handed drummer!   Hint summary:  
        Analyze your loops to make sure they're possible  
in real life.  Although I'm sure real drummers would enjoy the humor 
of your "drumming"  more if you don't!
Much HUMOR in your music mistakes.... have fun with laughing at yourself!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne;  all rights reserved

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fast New Instrument Sounds

Here's a quick fun hint if you don't have many instrument sounds in your program.  For example, GarageBand installs with only about 8 piano sounds, including wimpy plain Piano,  a deep Grand Piano on Stage, and a swirling piano.  Pretty limiting even though of course you can edit the sound effects for each of the programmed instruments for a track.

A fast way to get pre-programmed effects:
1.    Go into your loops library to look for loops for that instrument (such as bass guitar).
2.    Find a MIDI loop whose sound you like.
3.    Import that loop into your Song Project.  It DOES NOT MATTER what the notes are.
4.    Grab the end of the loop region and extend it out about 8 measures, to give you space.
5.    SOLO this track.
6.    Skip the loop's notes and put your playhead in any measure after it.
7.    Using the Metronome, play the introduction to your song.  A few measures are fine.
8.    Quantize your introduction (including 1 measure before it).  The first note -- no matter what it is -- should be quantized to 1/4 note.  (See earlier blogs.)
9.     Click on the region if it is not already highlighted (Green in GarageBand).  Then click on the region if it is not also highlighted.
10.   Place the playhead just in front of the first note of your introduction's first measure.
11.   Select Edit --  Split.
12.   DELETE the first part of the track -- with the original loop.
13.   Slide your introduction's region into place.

You can now record anything with the new instrument sound that the original loop had.
Much joy to you looking for NEW sounds!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne;  all rights reserved 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Handling Long Texture Notes

What do you do when your background texture gorgeously grows in sound as the note continues -- but your chord is changing.  And the new chord clashes with the texture?   

1.  Find a  common note between the two chords.
Easy example:  F  to D.  Both  chords contain A, so use that note for the long texture.
2.  Find a  color chord that shares a note between the two chords.
Harder examples:  Em  to D.  The Em7 chord's D note gives a nice sound to a texture and rolls right into the new D chord.   Bm  to C.  The Cmaj7 chord with its top  B note is extremely useful for blending from one chord into another in any progression.  This is one perfect place to use it.
Hardest example:  C  to D.  I was using a swirl type background for a slow, somber song, beginning with a C chord.  But the next chord was a D,  and the extended C texture note in the background gave an unwelcome clash.  Since the song had a minor feel,  I pretended the C chord was its minor -- A minor -- and used an  A  for the texture.  The sound built up into the D chord with no clashing.

Sometimes studio recording programs have awkward problems that need a workaround.  (That's the basis for this blog!)  Often I comment to my computer, "I  AM going to win, so you may as well do what I want."  There's a sense of satisfaction when we figure out the workarounds. 
May you have much joy doing so especially in your world of music!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne; all rights reserved

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fast Timing Fixes for 8-note Chords and Triplets

Most people wouldn't notice that little "hiccup" in your timing of triplets or shuffle beat. Here's an easy hint I also use for pounding-out chords for heavy rock.... The pounding that hits notes together is far more forceful,  and even quiet jazz shuffles are painful to people who do notice the timing problems.

As true for all hints on this blog,  the below steps assume a GarageBand menu -- but the technique works for ProTools and ProLogic and other studio programs.

Step 1.  Do  NOT (do not do not!) "quantize" your song the usual way.  (See earlier blogs for other how-to-fix  timing hints.) 
2.  Go to Control.  Un-check  "Snap to Grid".
3.  Pull up the Notation View (snowflake, bottom left) as Piano Roll.
4.  Place your playhead (red line) at the very front of the MIDI bars for your chord to quantize.  They will not be together.  (That's why the timing needs fixing!)  So decide which of the notes is where you want the chord to hit;  usually at least 2 begin together, which is why you like the chord enough to keep it:)
5.  Put your cursor below the bottom-most note and, holding the mouse button or pad, go straight up to mark every note in that chord.  All should be highlighted (selected).
6.  KEEPING the playhead there on top of the front of at lease one highlighted note,  go to the left menu and select "Auto Align to"  as "1/8 Note".

Now you will see that your MIDI bars for each chord note has moved -- and perhaps a lot.  No matter. 
7.  Click and hold on one of the still-highlighted notes.  (The whole chord set should stay highlighted.)
8.  Slide that note until its very beginning is right where the playhead is.  Your chord is now aligned with "comfortable" timing.
9.  As always,  the final step after timing moves like this is to return to CONTROL and turn "Snap to Grid"  back on.
Much joy to you in creating your own personally enjoyable music timing!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne; all rights reserved

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick Fixes for Slight Timing Problems

This Recording Hint reminds me of the Volcano Cake that I made for my child's birthday some years back.... everyone thought the lumps of red frosting on top of the piled up chocolate cake crumbles was a fantastic creative idea. In actuality, the cake fell apart when I took it out of the pan.... Sometimes our greatest creations start with mistakes. So here's a fun idea for fixing one kind:

Most of us have done it... feeling very pleased with a song recording, only to realize several months later that our timing "slipped" in a few places. Especially with vocals, where we focus so much on clearly singing the words (enunciating) that we might not notice that we're a tad off beat.

What to do? Trying to patch vocals later is very hard... must match the mic settings and your tone. Plus there's $$$ issues for recording the fix. It's quite tempting to say "Maybe no one will notice."

But here's a quick fix to try. It did "miracles" for my early 2010 song "Creator Joy" when I planned 3 distinct tempos within the song to match the mood.... but ended up with probably 7 or 8 tempos!

Just add a "flexible" background.... I used a Whirly Piano instrument background track for my song:
1. I doubled the instrument's pre-set reverb setting,
2. plus added more echo. These 2 changes really made the notes ring out long enough to distract from timing issues. Sure, musicians might notice. But the extra track also makes your timing appear intentional!
3. Pull in your FULL song track that you already have, into the project. Solo that track with your new track that you will create.
4. After selecting your background instrument, create the notes to play against the FULL mix. Then the only mixing needed is balancing the new track with the mix you already liked.
5. If your original notes are mid-range, play the flexible instrument at a higher note range. And in reverse, for "contrary motion."  Mid-range and higher usually stays out of the sonic range of existing bass and piano tracks.
6. Save, and Turn OFF "Control -- Snap to Grid".
7. Then play the FULL plus NEW track together with the MIDI track in your Notation view. As you hear new track notes come in a bit sooner or later than the original music, just stop the recording, shift the MIDI note a bit (extending length if needed), and try again.

The hardest part of this hint is that it's so much fun to do that you just might end up needing more time so you can add some other instruments and texture tracks!....
Much joy to you, enjoying even old mistakes for the game they can provide!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne, all rights reserved

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fix Lagging Synth Instruments

When you press the controller key for some MIDI (synth) instruments -- like bass, horns, and especially violin -- the notes often seem to be lagging.  Even after you have Quantized every note on the track (see previous blogs).  
HERE's WHY and a super-easy HOW TO FIX not only for Garageband but for any home recording studio.
WHY:   Some MIDI instruments have a "faster attack" than others. That's a fancy way of saying when you hit the controller key for a flute or oboe or guitar,   hey it's right there.  BUT MIDI instruments like organ  &  horns & strings & even synth textures are designed like the ACTUAL INSTRUMENT plays --- to "build into" the sound.  Thus, the note is quieter when it first hits and "solid" a fraction later.  Most people will never notice.  But if you are bugged by this LAGGING,  I can from my experience share a proven method for an
Reminder -- also in a previous blog It's easier to make changes if all regions have been joined.  Otherwise you will need to do these steps for every region on the track.
1.  Quantize the notes as described in previous blogs, such as August 2011.
2.  Save your project.  (a "duh" I know... but "how to" instructions should include everything!)
3.  Turn OFF   "SNAP TO GRID" (under CONTROL in GarageBand).
4.  Go into the Notation View (snowflake at bottom left in GB) and select "PIANO ROLL."
5.  Highlight at least one music note, then select all notes (Control-A).
6.  Decide on ANY single note that is Count 1 in a measure.  If that note is not "bumped" right up to the measure line, re-check your quantizing.
7.  With all notes still selected on the track, CLICK AND HOLD on the note from Step 6.  Very slowly move the note a SPECK to the left.  A fraction, a bit, a hiccup  to the left... whatever wording you'd like!  Now the "quiet" part of the note does come "early" -- but what you hear is the solid hit right on the measure bar.

8.  Turn ON   "SNAP TO GRID" and
MUCH JOY TO YOU as you continue to develop your song -- with MIDI instruments that no longer sound lagging!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne;  all rights reserved

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Easy Fixes to SHUFFLE timing

Here's an easy way to fix the little "hiccups" in timing for the shuffle song you've played.
Obviously you can't "quantize" songs written as shuffles (see previous blogs). ... If you do, then all your great swing time will become a straight 1-2-3-4.

Shuffle timing is 1__e and _ah 2__e and _ah
(see... it's even hard to just type). Here are some easy SHUFFLE TIMING tricks I've learned and used in songs on my websites DianaDeeOsborneSongs.com (index site to the main site:) and DiDoReflections.com.

Menus below are for GarageBand, but the process works in any studio program:

You want your bass line to be steady. Most of that can be quantized easily... Techniques are in an earlier blog but the basic process is this:
1. Go to your piano (or rhythm instrument) track's Notation panel that shows the SCORE (traditional notes).
2. Highlight ONLY the quarter notes in the bass clef, working no more than 2 measures at a time. Select Align to >> 1/4 note.
3. Listen to those measures focusing on only those low notes to be sure you didn't lose an important swing time you really wanted to keep.
4. Now listen to the higher notes. When you hear a slight "off-ness", put the playhead (red marker line) there.
5. Go to the Piano Roll view and look at the high MIDI notes. You most likely want to quantize the notes at count 1 and 3 to be 1/4 notes. Try to see if that aligns them with the bass notes without losing the swing.
6. Go to Control and turn OFF "Snap to Grid." Here's the harder but almost final step:

7. Listen to the swing notes in between (counts 2 and 4). Where needed, do this:
A. Put the playhead exactly where the notes begin (front of the MIDI bar for the note).
B. Highlight these higher notes and Align to 1/8 notes. This gives the set an exact "hit" together.
C.If needed,  put the column of aligned notes back where the playhead is.
D. Finally, gradually slide the column of swing notes to the exact place where you want them. Often this is just before count 1 or 3 begins (the measure bar).

8.The Best SWING feel comes from a strong Count 1 and an almost-as-strong Count 3. So if you're aiming for the best, this tedious task will get you closer:  For each of the BASS's set of 4 MIDI quarter-notes in a measure for 4/4 swing,  ensure that the Velocity for each is set with numbers like this example:
70  60  65  60
ALWAYS A FINAL STEP: Go to Control and turn back ON "Snap to Grid." You'll save a lot of later time if you try moving or pasting notes before remembering this step!
Much joy to you as you swing your music!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Super-QUICK Preview for GARAGEBand Projects

Have you ever had a really long GARAGEBAND project with so many tracks that it takes a few moments to load even on a super-fast computer?

Here's a fast way to remember what your project sounds like WITHOUT opening the .BAND file or looking for the matching .MP3 (and hoping it hadn't changed since your last file-save):

I have about 230 songs on my websites, and about 80 Draft BAND files for future songs, some with only 2 tracks some with about 10. I couldn't remember if I had added Claxton's scripture reading for Prayer Without Asking MP3 track from his studio's ProTools project to my GarageBand project. But I didn't want to bother loading the BAND file to check.

So I decided to see if Quick Look shows the picture like GB's iLIFE preview window....

In Finder,
1. single click to highlight the .BAND file name,
2. right click on it,
3. select Quick Look --- and

Not only will you see what your .BAND file window looks like (the iLIFE preview),
but Quick Look will PLAY your project.... even a huge project with many tracks.
THERE'S ONE CONDITION --- You must have had "bounced" the project (In GarageBand: "Send Song to iTunes") in order to hear the associated .MP3 file when you click on Quick Look.
This is far faster than waiting to open the project! Cool!
May you find MUCH joy in using and finding shortcuts to efficiently record your music!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne
www.DiDoReflections.com (Die to Self, Do for Christ,
Reflect God, all with the help of the Holy Spirit)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Deliberate MIDI Mistakes

DELIBERATE MISTAKES? SURELY NOT! you might protest....
But in truth, sometimes you will get your best sound by choosing to NOT let a note hit exactly upon the beat. The best example is Violins:

In my 13 August 2011 blog, I told how to get "realistic" violins -- even if you have a production program like GarageBand that does not have instruments which automatically swell and reduce volume to sound like the natural instrument. Here is an easy next-step for you:

Often a violin will slightly "slide" into a count, like a quick 1/16th grace note. I call this a "flexible" instrument.... not a "clean hit" for your note like sax or piano have, where grace notes are 1/8ths. (You don't need to know the math, by the way!).

To get this slide-in realistic effect:
1. Record your violin as usual. I recommend one violin line per GarageBand (etc) recording track so you can control volumes easier if there's a second "counterpoint" violin. NEXT BLOG will tell how to easily record two lines and then split them into two tracks.
2. Select all notes: Go into the MIDI view for your track. Put cursor on any note(s), then use Apple-all to
3. In the left column, select AUTO ALIGN TO and the drop-down box choice of 1/8th note. This is better described in my blogs for July 27 and 28 in 2011.... if you want more of a "perfect" timing.
4. Go to Control and the DE-select "Snap to Grid".
5. Still in MIDI view for your track, press the space bar to start playing your music. You can play all tracks, or mute some so that you can better hear the Violin (or other instrument) your are editing. As the music plays, just stop it when you hear a place where the "correct" violin seems to be heard too soon. Slide the MIDI note slightly to the left, deliberately off the beat. Then check....
Sometimes this works, sometimes the original might seem better. Either way -- Much joy to you in the fun of having full control over your music's sound!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne

Thursday, May 31, 2012

DianaDee Osborne Library Building in GarageBand etc

Have you created a great MIDI track with a repeating section of notes?
You can get multi-use out of all your work AND make future song development faster by saving that section to the Loop Library. Other sites give you technical instructions... This one offers quick hints. My examples are 2 piano circus beats: (1) a 16-beat section with rather steady beat in A minor and (2) a 16-beat section with 'fancy' grace notes and runs in C major.
NOTE: When later using loops, plan to copy-and-paste each loop region rather than drag it "loopstyle"... a future blog will describe the advantage. For now, just note that this method is required for odd loops described in Step 1.
Loops do NOT have to be 2, 4, or 8 measures as usual. You can build into your loop with a grace note or glissando in the first measure that will slide into an additional 4 measures. THEN when you later import the loop from the library, you just copy-and-paste those introductory odd notes into the last measure before your loop, delete that first measure IN your loop, and slide the loop up against the previous measure.
2. Obviously you would quantize your loop measures before building the actual loop (see earlier hints on making this easier).
3. SAVE YOUR PROJECT before moving on! Step 7 can be "dangerous"!
4. In your original (source) track, split at the beginning of measure you want to create as a loop and and the beginning of the measure AFTER the loop-to-be.
5. Create a DUPLICATE track, and copy the newly split region (the loop-to-be) onto the duplicate track. **Be sure it begins at measure (or whatever your program's name for Project Count 1).
6. Re-join the track you split in Step 4.
HINTS you might NOT FIND ELSEWHERE..... and they are really useful.
7. CHANGE YOUR PROJECT KEY to the key of your loop. This is DANGEROUS -- it will change EVERY other track also.... However it's the only way for the Loop Library to record the actual key of your loop. Example: In your project of G major, your loop often will be in E minor (the minor for that key); your loop will save as G major if you skip this Step (7).
8. Check the LENGTH of every MIDI note VISUALLY. Using the Piano Roll view, ensure that NO NOTES OVERLAP into the next note... REASON: (a) Over-long notes: Even if the next note is quantized, it often cannot be heard until the previous note ends. (b) Over-short notes may be what you DO want for staccato (choppy) sound, but check in step 9. (c) Consistent length in a chord: If 2 notes are long, are you getting the full sound you want from the shortest note? OR, if 2 of the 3 notes are short, is the longest note obnoxious? :)
9. Check the LENGTH of every MIDI note by LISTENING to the SOLO track. Can you hear every note you want to hear?
10. Check the Velocity (loudness) of each note by clicking on it and ensuring it is about the same as surrounding notes (unless planned otherwise, of course).
ADDING your region loop to the Loop Library.
Just follow the program's instructions. In Garageband:
1. Highlight the region you want to loop.
2. Go to Edit >Add to Loop Library.
Type in a name for your loop.... LOOP NAMING HINTS are in another blog.
3-B. Select the Instrument Description. Suggestion: for MIDI drums, use the Kits category so you can always quickly find them at the top level of Kits in the Loop Library.
3-C. IMPORTANT: SET YOUR LOOP TO Scale-Any. That puts it at the top level under your instrument...It will show up whatever your project's key. You might also want Genre-None.
4. Enter your computer password when asked.... and the loop should show up immediately in your loop library, showing the key you selected. It will also show 16 beats for 4 measures, or a time for odd-measures-loops. You don't care about the tempo... that's just a guideline for design, since MIDI notes will adapt to the tempo of any project when you import them.
5. MUTE the loop track
if you want to save it for future changes..... like a QUICK change to another key for another loop.
7. PLAY your project to check that it's still ok.. and Save if so. If there's any problem, just use File> Revert to Saved Project. And that's it! Another loop for faster song development in the future!
May you absolutely love working to create new music for The World!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fixing MIDI Notes that Sound "Off Key"

The Recording Problem:
It's hard to believe but yes--- a MIDI note that is exactly right, "on key", CAN sound off-key. Here is why, and here are two easy ways to fix the problem quickly.
The WHY:
Think about how a guitar string sounds when plucked: If the string is perfectly tuned, it sounds perfect when you first pluck it and a tuner confirms that the note is on key. However, within seconds, the tuner needle indicates that the note is going off-key. The same happens with wind instruments: As sax and flute players --or a singer's vocal cords-- lose air, the sustained note becomes weaker and begins to drift off key.
----- Likewise, a MIDI note can have an apparent (not scientifically real) change to the human ear that "sounds off." There's some biological reason that doesn't matter.... You can fix it :)
How to fix your MIDI note:
Let us assume your track is for flute or sax.... these lead instruments often have a sustained note that sounds great at first but quickly irritates.
1. Easiest fix: Lower the volume of that single sustained note to be below the shorter notes before and after it. This creates a blend so that the human ear doesn't notice that specific sustain so much.
2. Professional fix: Pull up your Volume control and add 1 automation volume point at the beginning of the long-sustained note, and 2 points at the end. Slightly lower the 2nd point (the 3rd point puts the volume back before the next note).
3. Really professional fix: Get a recording program with instruments that can re-create the natural wavering of wind instruments.

This blog is for the home studio preparation of music to be published or taken to a professional studio, so Fix #3 is more expensive than most of us can do. Fixes 2 and 3 provide a very nice alternative. Much joy to you in finding work-arounds to fix those tiny little glitches most people wouldn't have noticed... and Congratulations on your music skills in hearing when a MIDI note sounds a bit "off"!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bad Moods To Great Songs

Have you ever had "one of those days"?
Since you're reading this, you're human. Since you're human, yup you've had one of 'em. We all do.

Once I went to the glass recycling truck-container in our area, and two women were there with a huge box of glass items. Each took turns flinging a bottle or jar as hard as she could against the interior metal wall of the container. The resulting crash was pretty impressive after each throw.

And I often laughingly think of that, whenever I sit with either my guitar or keyboard on a bad day and start pounding out "whatever" music.... no special place that I'm going, just as the women weren't aiming at a specific spot with their glass. Since I'm pounding random chord progressions, there's no "right" or "wrong." I can just enjoy the impressive crashing music that comes after each hit.

When you're having a really bad day, try this! 
Even better, RECORD it - WITH a slow metronome setting--
1. Create a project titled something like "Untitled 4-4 Em" (In minor keys, EVERY one of the 12 scale notes works Except the 3rd - which turns it to major. And 4-4 time gives you lots of pounding drum loop possibilities if you don't go add your own live track.)
2. Play anything with the metronome set to something like 70... if you're not "right on" this won't matter, but the "fence" will help you create some pretty dramatic music after Step 4.
3. After you've pounded out a recording, hit the stop button. Then hit Record again and do another region on the same track. And repeat. If desired, duplicate this track and mute this one, then repeat step 3 on a new track.

Later when you've mellowed out a bit,
4. Go into the Notation View, highlight one or more music notes, then do a Select-All, and quantize all notes to 1/8th notes.  (See previous blogs for method tricks, if needed.)
5- This isn't really a step:   
 **DO NOT** go to fix the "odd" notes. Listen on different days to the results -- you may find that you love the weird timings, the unintended 'grace' notes.

6. Later you can decide which recorded regions you don't really like, and delete them.
7. And for those you do like, you can play a C "instrument" against the track in MIDI; I like flute, which I might later change to tenor sax for more drama.
8. If you want to add a melody, just play "anything" and later you can change the MIDI notes to fit the lyrics you decided upon. Both flute and a single clean guitar MIDI tracks give a nice melody contrast to the pounding supporting music.

9. Most of all, remember: It's called "PLAY music"!

Much joy to you in pounding out those Bad Mood Days. You just might get some fantastic songs out of your Play:_
©2012 DianaDee Osborne

Sunday, February 19, 2012

TEMPO -- Odd or Even Number?

The previous music hint recommended using an ODD tempo number, such as
113 bpm (beats per minute)
during the draft stage of your music creation, and an EVEN tempo (114 bpm) after you have decided the music's most effective speed / tempo.

Have you ever wondered why most music has an even-numbered tempo? The answer goes back to the "old" days, long before drum machines and fantastic music creation tools like keyboards and controllers and music software programs like GarageBand or ProTools or ProLogic or....

Musicians used to need an actual mechanical METRONOME to ensure their time was steady on the beat. And the "hand" of the metronome had notches to mark the tempo, with tiny spaces between numbers at the tip where the pendulum movement would be moving SLOW, and increasingly larger spaces marked on the pendulum as the weight piece was moved downward on its arm.

For easier reading with a wider spread of tempo ranges, metronomes used even numbers. THUS, much music today is written the same, with an even TEMPO number, even though our music tools now can easily handle 100+ "notches" upward as we increase tempo bit by bit. Today's music tools have another advantage over the old fashioned tick-tick-tick-ticK-tiCK-tICK-TICKING Driving-Us-Crazy ticking metronomes....

No longer do we have to resist the urge to throw the thing across the room after repeated failures preparing for our music teacher's slowly ticking lesson time....
Much Joy (and PEACE!) in music memories and growing for you!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne, all rights reserved

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Music Sheets: Knowing Your Tempo

After you have created your music project, whether in GarageBand or another program, you might choose a music format that was NOT built from that project's software. For example, the
described at www.DianaDeeOsborneSongs.com Resources tab for Music Method
tells you how to easily put your music into a written form for yourself and other musicians without the "foreign language" of symbols like ♬ or ♮ or ♭ or ♪ .

How do you ensure your music sheet has the correct music tempo for that project?
Try this trick that works well: In your program -- such as GarageBand -- use an odd-number tempo while you are still in draft stage, and are not yet quite settled on how fast you want your music to go. On your music sheet, include information such as TEMPO: 113 bpm (odd number).
After you decide what tempo you want -- because a difference even of only 8 beats per minute can turn a dragging piece into a more popping one --
1. Ensure that the GarageBand/program tempo is an EVEN number, and
2. Mark the music sheet to match, such as TEMPO: 114 bpm
3. Make the font for the music sheet's number BOLD.
Afterwards, you will always know when looking at your music sheet that you have verified the tempo and do not need to return to the program to ensure your sheet is correct.

Much joy in Music Writing to you! Creating something that has never before existed in the universe.... something uniquely out of YOUR mind only, that no one else would have thought of in the exact creative form you did..... music is such a joy! And remember --
YOUR music is NEVER wrong!
If you have clashing notes (as I OFTEN do in my 200+ songs, see DianaDeeOsborneSongs.com), they are still right if YOU say so! That's your creative mind at work!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne, all rights reserved

Sunday, January 8, 2012

DisguIsing the Off-Key Vocal Note

So the vocal line is great except for one tiny little EAR-catching off-key note! What do you do in GarageBand without a fancy ($$) program that does pitch correct?
DISGUISE the note.
You probably have several instruments playing simulataneously with the vocal track.
1. Pick the single-note instrument, such as flute or sax. Piano with all its notes is ok but not as effective in catching the listener's attention.
2. Go to that instrument's notes that surround the slightly-off vocal note.
3. Ensure that the instrument's track at that point does NOT include the correct vocal note! If it does, that will only serve as a measure to the listener that yes- the vocal note IS wrong.
4. Create harmony notes at this area with the instrument track. Notes can go above and/or below the vocal note. "Busy" (like 1/8th notes) can be a friend, but it's probably not needed.
5. Adjust the volume of the instrument's notes so that they stand "above" the vocal in the surrounding area somewhat -- not enough to be really noticeable, but enough to detract attention from the vocal.
6. If still needed, open the volume track, open the audio region to be 'wide', and reduce the volume of the offensive note:)
And of course, if all else fails.... call the vocalist in to re-sing the piece, or learn to just enjoy the fact that music is to be fun, not always perfect!
Much joy to you in the pleasures of sometimes-imperfect music...:)
©2018, 2012 DianaDee Osborne, all rights reserved

Updated version published 8 May 2018

Monday, January 2, 2012

Get Out the Buzz! Easy MIDI Hint

This is one of my final Quality Check steps to get a better sound from MIDI instruments.
1. Go into the SCORE section of the music.
2. Select a short section. Working about 4 measures at a time, click ABOVE the first music note, then hold the mouse button as you drag the cursor down to the lowest note and then to the right-most bottom of the 4th or so measure.
3. Look at then length of the notes -- especially the last note in a measure.
THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT FOR SAX, HORN, and other "harsh" loud instruments.
4. If you see a note that has extended past the measure line, click on it and shorten its length.
5. A previous blog Hint provided more details about "quantizing" (the timing) and ensuring all notes are short enough to not "bleed" or extend into the next note -- the next note will not be heard if the earlier note lasts too long.
This simple step gets rid of a lot of buzz -- especially for loud songs like rock and funk.
6. If a review shows a specific measure where buzzing still happens, check each individual track that is playing at that point. Most likely, you hit the controller keyboard a little harder for a note and need to lower its Velocity (also in the music notation section; if in the MIDI view, loud notes will be in a brighter green in GarageBand).

Much joy in music to you!
©2018, 2012 DianaDee Osborne

An updated version published 1 May 2018