I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that my first book, Avid Pro Tools Basics, (part of Flametree Publishing’s Everyday Guides Made Easy series) is now available from all good online bookstores, and even a few disreputable ones, along with the odd high street bookshop. An indispensable 128-page guide to getting up and running with Avid’s iconic hard disk recording, production and mixing software, this is the book that should be in the box when you order the software. Except it doesn’t really come in a box any more, but you know what I mean.
So, if you’ve recently bought Pro Tools, or are considering it as your next studio purchase, why not pick up a copy of this too? I worked really hard to make it accessible and informative for everyone from total beginners to seasoned veterans, and there’s lots of nice pictures in it as well. Even if you have no interest in Pro Tools, why not buy a copy anyway and read it to your kids at bedtime? They’ll be snoring their heads off before you’ve done three pages! £7.99 of anyone’s money well spent I reckon!
Apple’s latest desktop operating system, OS X 10.11 (also known as El Capitan) was officially launched a couple of days ago, bringing exciting new features such as the new system-wide San Francisco font, full screen split view and Safari 9. However, us music types would be well advised to avoid upgrading for the moment, as it would appear that this particular upgrade is causing more than the usual number of compatibility issues for third-party audio plug-in developers.
Reports are flying all over the web that plug-ins from heavyweight manufacturers such as Native Instruments, Arturia, and Waves are failing validation when used with Logic Pro X on El Capitan, with Waves advising users not to upgrade until compatibility can be confirmed. Hopefully this should take days rather than weeks, but if you run any non-Apple plugins on your system, make sure you check compatibility before you take the plunge.
Hot off the press, here’s the August 2014 issue of Computer Music, and nestling within its info-packed pages you’ll find 8 of them containing things I wrote! My ‘Pitch n Glide’ feature is a useful 5-pager extolling the virtues of performance-enhancing techniques such as portamento and pitch bend, with a dash of vibrato. You’ll find out how to program synth parts that exploit your synth’s portamento feature to the fullest, how to reinstate vibrato to your controller’s modulation wheel, how to draw and edit pitch bend curves and even how to program a Dolby THX-style polyphonic glide. You’ll find the piece on page 67.
Elsewhere, in the issue I have a single-page review of Mozaic Beats’ AutoTheory, an innovative plug-in that remaps the MIDI input from your controller to predetermined keys and scales, making it easier to program parts that conform musically to your project. You can find out what I thought of it on page 104.
Finally, as always, there’s my music theory Easy Guide on page 74, and this month we’re dealing with the scary-sounding contrapuntal motion. Actually not scary at all, my 12-step walkthrough with accompanying video breaks down contrapuntal motion into its four basic types, with examples to illustrate each type. I then go on to demonstrate how you can use contrary motion in your productions. Well worth a look, along with all the other great stuff in the mag, including a huge cover feature all about reverb, CM 206 is available now! On reflection, it could be the best issue yet!
The Imagine bookazines are always great value for money, packing a wealth of information into substantial volumes that really shine a spotlight onto the inner secrets of Apple’s iDevices. I’m pleased to announce that iPad Tips, Tricks, Apps & Hacks Volume 9, on sale from today, is no exception. All in all, I wrote 20 pages of material for this volume, in the shape of 10 double-page tutorial spreads. Subjects I contributed include how to use your iPad to:
– Get the latest sports news wherever you are
– Learn how to speak a new language
– Discover and collect tasty recipes
– Learn basic coding skills in just 60 minutes
– Read the night sky like an expert astronomer
– Manage all your bills and budgets
– Store and share your files on the go
– Scan and share PDFs with others
– Access a Mac computer from your iPad
– Protect your device and its data
So if you feel like unlocking the full potential of your iPad, iPad Air or iPad Mini, why not grab a copy?
Three issues ago, in iCreate 131, I demonstrated how to use the piano-roll editor to tweak your MIDI parts in GarageBand for Mac. This month, in issue 134, it’s the turn of the iPad version which, although it looks similar to the desktop version, operates quite differently owing to the uniqueness of the iPad’s touchscreen interface. My double-page guide shows exactly how to get to grips with cutting, moving, deleting and quantising MIDI on the iPad.
The Mac version of GarageBand also gets some attention from me this issue, with a feature highlighting my top ten tips for recording live instruments into GarageBand. So, if you’re wondering how to get great vocal and guitar sounds in your GarageBand tracks, look no further than iCreate 134 – it’s in the shops now!
When writing music, getting the right notes in the right places is obviously important. But have you ever considered how equally crucial it is to nail the placement of the spaces in between the notes? Often, what you don’t play can be as important as what you do play, so in this month’s music theory Easy Guide, featured on page 74 of the July 2014 issue of Computer Music magazine, I take a look at how to use rests to change up rhythmic parts in your productions. As usual, there’s a 12-step walkthrough packed with info and real-world examples, all accompanied by a video. So if you fancy a decent rest, don’t sit around, pick up CM205 today!
iCreate 133 has broken cover and made a run for it across the shelves of your local magazinical emporium, and with all the good stuff packed into it this month, I’m surprised it can even move at all! Not one, not two, but three contributions from me in this month’s issue – two GarageBand tutorials and one Logic Pro X piece.
The first of my two GarageBand tutorials demonstrates how to use the app’s built-in tools to combat some of the noise issues that can crop up in a live recording scenario, such as low recording levels, bad gain structure, dodgy cables and noisy guitar amps. Elsewhere, my ‘Create Virtual Harmonies’ piece illustrates a useful technique for crafting backing vocal harmony parts out of unused lead vocal takes without the use of expensive third-party pitch correction plug-ins.
Lastly, I reveal an effective workflow for Logic Pro X users who want to get to grips with the process of sampling using Logic’s built-in EXS24 sampler, either by recording the source audio themselves, or by using pre-recorded material that already exists on their hard drive.
So if you want to learn about any of that stuff, might I suggest getting to know issue 133 a little better?
Like really tight jeans, key changes can be quite difficult things to pull off if you’re not sure what you’re doing. While it won’t do anything to help you get your trousers off, my 12-step Easy Guide with accompanying video, found on page 74 of the June 2014 issue of Computer Music, does explain the basic theory behind key changes. I then go on to show some real-world examples, breaking them down to illustrate how they’re constructed.
So if you’ve ever wondered how to achieve the leap from one key to another without making virtual question marks appear above your listeners’ heads, check out Computer Music 204. It’s also got a lot of other good stuff, written by other people, in it too.
Did you know you could transform any piece of audio into an iPhone ringtone using GarageBand? No? Well, not only is it possible, the software even has an item in the Share menu devoted to that very task, and in iCreate issue 132, out on the shelves this week, I show you exactly how to do it. So, if you want to be the guy who has all eyes swivel towards you as the muffled theme from SpongeBob Squarepants emerges from your trouser pocket in that really important meeting, get hold of iCreate 132 now!
Cadences? What might those be? I hear you ask. Well, I reply, if you really want to know, you need to check out my Easy Guide to Cadences found on page 74 of the May 2014 issue of Computer Music magazine, out this week! Find out the four different types of cadence, what they are, how they’re used and behold some practical examples of their usage in modern music production. Aside from the usual 12-step walkthrough, there is, of course, an accompanying video. Oh, and there’s also a lot of other great stuff in there from the CM team, that I didn’t write! Check it out!
GarageBand’s piano-roll editor is the stuff of legend, having first been discovered by Jeremiah Oakenthorpe of Texas in 1902. Ok, I made that up, but the piano-roll editor is far and away the easiest way to edit notes in any audio application, not just GarageBand. My two-page tutorial in issue 131 of iCreate comprises a whistle-stop tour of all the basic features of the editor, and uses a practical example to illustrate exactly what can be done with it. So if you feel like learning how to edit yourself some MIDI, why not check it out?
Another month, another issue of Computer Music and another Easy Guide from me! This month, the music theory adventure continues with an introduction to augmented and diminished chords. What are they? Why are they here? What can you do with them? These and other equally baffling questions are all answered across the double page spread (with accompanying video of course) starting on page 74 of the April 2014 issue.
Get it while it’s hot (or even when it’s not!)
iCreate issue 130 explodes onto the scene this week, and in something of a departure in subject matter for me, I’ve written a two-page guide on using the markers in iMovie X to polish up a project that uses audio material from different sources. Starting on page 30, this nine-step walkthrough details how to use the marker system to add a synchronised soundtrack, help control the volume level of your audio using volume curves and fades, and line up your video clips with audio cues and soundtrack regions.
My self-imposed long Xmas break means that, while I’m now much more rested, I have fewer pieces around on the shelves at the moment. Most notably, my regular Easy Guide music theory column focusses on Arpeggios in the March 2014 issue of Computer Music. They may have had their ups and downs in the past (see what I did there?), but arpeggios are still a well-established and valid musical tool when it comes to modern productions. My 12-step guide with accompanying video takes you through the basic principles and showcases several examples of arpeggios in use. You can find it on page 74.
In an issue that marks an important milestone for the mag, Computer Music’s 200th issue hits the shelves this week. To mark the occasion, the guys at CM have put together a huge guide made up of 200 production tips in all kinds of categories, from Ableton programming to Mastering. As part of this enormous and incredibly useful feature, you’ll find my 10 vocal production tips on page 44.
Elsewhere in the issue, this month’s music theory Easy Guide is concerned with Extensions, and not the kind you put in your hair either. No, this double-page walkthrough with accompanying video takes you through the process of constructing and using extended chords, breaking out from the limits of triads and cutting loose with more complex and ‘grown-up’ chords, such as 7ths, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths. You’ll find it in its more-or-less normal spot on page 76.
Meanwhile, MeldaProductions’ MVintage Rotary Leslie speaker emulation plug-in gets a thorough workout on page 94. Why not get hold of a copy of this milestone mag to find out whether it got me in a spin or not?
iCreate 128, which hits the shelves this week, contains just one tutorial from me – a two-page guide to using the Flex Pitch feature in Logic Pro X. Found on page 56, I use the common example of fixing the pitch of a dodgy vocal to illustrate how this clever addition to Apple’s pro audio workstation can do wonders for the intonation of your recordings. So if you’re twitchy about things being pitchy, get hold of a copy from your favourite magazinical distributor!
The January 2014 issue of Computer Music, out this week, not only highlights a new year, but also a new music theory Easy Guide from me!
Found on page 74, this month’s Easy Guide is all about triplets. Restraining myself here from making any number of possible jokes about multiple births, my 12-step walkthrough and accompanying video explain exactly what triplets are and how they can be used in a modern musical production context. So if you fancy learning how to effectively squeeze three notes in where there used to be two, give CM199 a whirl!
iCreate issue 127 hit the stores this week, and it contains two useful GarageBand tutorials from me! Vocoding in GarageBand details a technique for getting an authentic, 80’s-sounding vocoded vocal effect, something that most people assume can’t be pulled off in GarageBand thanks to its limited, busless audio routing architecture. This piece proves that it can be done, thanks to one key third-party plug-in that, due to its own quirky structure, is crucial to the success of the process.
Elsewhere in the mag, you’ll find my step-by-step guide to Magic GarageBand, the automated ‘band-in-a-box’ feature that conjures up a stageful of virtual musicians to accompany you in one of a selection of different musical genres. So hotfoot it down to your local store for a copy, if you fancy it!
In the December 2013 issue of Computer Music, which is hot off the press and available now, you’ll find two contributions from me. Starting on page 63, my 5-page CM Guide to Automation highlights some of the more interesting things you can do with parameter automation in your DAW. From programming basic linear ramps and parabolic curves to sending ‘spot’ FX and crafting evolving synth sounds, automation is the key to a dynamic mix, and this piece walks you through exactly how to use it in your productions.
Elsewhere, on page 76, you’ll find my regular music theory Easy Guide, and this month we’re all about how to construct and use the Melodic Minor scale. Of course, as well as the usual audio examples and MIDI files, you’ll find video walkthroughs for both pieces on the cover DVD or downloadable from the CM vault if you’ve gone for the digital edition of the mag.
The November 2013 issue of Computer Music is now with us, and in a bumper issue for me this month, I have a total contribution of 10 pages in there. Starting with the huge ‘Clean Up Your Recordings’ cover feature beginning on page 34, it’s an info-packed guide dedicated to rescue remedies; procedures to turn to when things haven’t gone so well at the recording stage and you find yourself needing to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, so to speak. I contributed six pages to this feature, complete with video, detailing how to smooth out harsh guitars with EQ, create double-tracked parts from a single take, fix snare resonance and hi-hat bleed on drum tracks, and replace dodgy drum sounds with high-quality samples.
Elsewhere in the issue, my regular music theory Easy Guide deals with ornaments this month, and we’re not talking about the antique Belgian ceramic cats on your mantelpiece either. To find out what I’m on about, turn to page 74 or watch the accompanying video (on the cover DVD or downloadable from the CM vault), in which all is explained.
Finally, I round off the issue with a double-page review of the remarkable KMI QuNexus USB MIDI controller. An intriguing, rubbery keyboard with all manner of tricks up its tiny sleeves, you can read what I thought of it on page 90.
Loads of other good stuff this issue as always, so check it out today!