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