iCreate 133 – GarageBand: Reduce Hiss on Live Recordings, Create Virtual Harmonies, Logic Pro X: Sample with EXS24

iCreate 133 – GarageBand: Reduce Hiss on Live Recordings, Create Virtual Harmonies, Logic Pro X: Sample with EXS24

iCreate 133 Digital Cover 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?

Computer Music 203 – Easy Guide: Cadences

Computer Music 203 – Easy Guide: Cadences

CM203 Cover Wide 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!

iCreate 131 – Editing MIDI in GarageBand’s Piano Roll

iCreate 131 – Editing MIDI in GarageBand’s Piano Roll

iCreate 131 Digital CoverGarageBand’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?

Computer Music 202 – Easy Guide: Augmented & Diminished Chords

Computer Music 202 – Easy Guide: Augmented & Diminished Chords

CM202 Cover Wide 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 128 – Logic Pro X Flex Pitch

iCreate 128 – Logic Pro X Flex Pitch

iCreate 128 Digital CoveriCreate 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!

Computer Music 199 – Easy Guide: Triplets

Computer Music 199 – Easy Guide: Triplets

CM199 Cover 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 127 – Vocoding in GarageBand, Magic GarageBand

iCreate 127 – Vocoding in GarageBand, Magic GarageBand

iCreate 127 Cover 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!

Computer Music 198 – Easy Guide: Melodic Minor Scale, Automation Masterclass

Computer Music 198 – Easy Guide: Melodic Minor Scale, Automation Masterclass


CM198 Cover
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.

iCreate 126  – GarageBand Vs Logic Pro X Feature Tutorial

iCreate 126 – GarageBand Vs Logic Pro X Feature Tutorial

iCreate 126 Cover 500It hardly seems credible that a whole month has gone by since the last issue of iCreate hit the shelves, but it has. I ramped things up a little this month with a 5-page contribution to issue 126, which is out now. In a feature tutorial starting on page 44, I take a close comparative look at GarageBand and Logic Pro X, weighing up the pros and cons of each to try and help you decide which of them you should be using to create your music projects. Comparisons are made in the areas of plug-in compatibility, sophistication of automation systems and overall ease of use when recording, mixing and editing.
So if you think you might want to make the leap from GB to LPX, this might just help sway your decision one way or the other. Check it out at all good newsagents from today!

iCreate 125 –  Working with Drummer and Drum Kit Designer in Logic Pro X

iCreate 125 – Working with Drummer and Drum Kit Designer in Logic Pro X

iCreate 125 Cover 500In the current issue of iCreate, which you can now find in all good newsagents, you’ll find two double-page tutorials from me on the new drum-related features in Apple’s Logic Pro X. Starting on page 58, I show you how to give your Logic projects some stick with the awesome new Drummer track. This amazing feature gets your groove going in the simplest way possible and sounds incredible. My step by step guide demonstrates how to create a Drummer track, switch between genres and drummer personalities, customise the grooves, alter the kit pieces played and fine-tune details such as fills, swing feel, ghost snares and hi-hat openness. You can get incredibly real-sounding drum tracks in no time with this feature, especially if you follow the simple instructions in this guide.
Following on from this, on page 60, I give a step-by-step introduction to the Drum Kit Designer plug-in, which plays the sounds used by the Drummer track. Here you can customise the sound of the kit by swapping kit pieces such as kick, snares, toms and cymbals, change the pitch and damping of each kit piece, and delve into deeper levels of control by invoking the ‘Producer‘ kits.
So in this issue, it’s all about the beats for me, so why not beat a path down to the shops and pick up a copy? They won’t stick around for ever…

MacUser Vol.29 No.10 – Blue Spark Digital Mic Review

MacUser Vol.29 No.10 – Blue Spark Digital Mic Review

MacUser 2910 Cover 500The September 2013 issue of MacUser magazine is now on sale, and one of its super high-quality, glossy pages contains my review of the Blue Spark Digital USB microphone. This clever piece of kit can be connected either to a computer via a standard USB cable or to an iOS device using a 30-pin connector, so you can use it to record to a desktop, laptop, iPhone or iPad.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve had issues with Blue in the past, so this was an interesting one. You can find out exactly what I thought of the mic on page 98.

iCreate 124 – Logic Pro X Review, GarageBand Compressor Guide

iCreate 124 – Logic Pro X Review, GarageBand Compressor Guide

iCreate 124 Cover 500Another new, tall issue of iCreate muscles its substantial way onto the shelves this week, and I have good reason to celebrate this, as I’m back up to two contributions this month.
Keeping up with what seems to be a bit of a recurring theme for me at the moment, I’ve got a two-page guide to the compressor in GarageBand starting on page 50, in which I attempt to de-mystify once again the way a compressor works, why it’s so useful and how it has the power to make almost every track in your project sound better.

Elsewhere, having struck while the iron was hot and purchased Logic Pro X on the day it was launched, I managed to get reviews of it into two magazines – iCreate 124 being one of them. You’ll find what I thought of it on page 100, in a thorough, two-page scrutiny of the newest version of Apple’s flagship DAW.

Also, as a sideline in the news section this month, I get to contribute a couple of quotes to the item on the launch of Logic Pro X, complete with namecheck, which is a bonus!
If you want to see my soundbites, check out page 9.

Computer Music 195 – DAW to DAW, Syncopation, Logic Pro X Review

Computer Music 195 – DAW to DAW, Syncopation, Logic Pro X Review

CM195 Cover 500Computer Music Issue 195 is now available, and this month I’ve contributed three items – my  regular Easy Guide column, a feature tutorial and a review.
First up, if you’ve ever tried to export a project from one system on one computer and open it successfully on another, you’ll know how tricky it can be. So, on page 55 you’ll find my DAW to DAW feature, a handy five-page guide to transferring projects between different platforms. Encompassing MIDI files, effect and instrument presets, project files and the creation of stems, it takes in file transfer options like Dropbox before showing how to import a set of stems originating from Logic Pro X into a Cubase project.
Elsewhere, Apple’s announcement of Logic Pro X was one of July’s big news items, sending magazine editors and freelancers alike scurrying to shoehorn coverage of the app in before their deadlines. I was lucky enough to snag the official CM review, which starts on page 88 and continues for 3 pages of in-depth examination and honest critique.
Meanwhile, my regular Easy Guide column takes a more rhythmic approach this month, examining the basics of syncopation and what it means to today’s electronic musician. You can find the column in its regular slot on page 70, and the accompanying video can be found on the cover DVD for the print edition, or downloaded from the CM vault for digital editions.
So, with the usual shedload of other good stuff to be found in this issue, it makes for a cracking holiday read. Speaking of which, I’m just off on mine, so have a great summer everyone!

Computer Music 194 – Beats Cover Feature, Easy Guide to Suspensions, eaReckon CM COMP-87 & CM-EQUA 87

Computer Music 194 – Beats Cover Feature, Easy Guide to Suspensions, eaReckon CM COMP-87 & CM-EQUA 87

CM194 Cover 500I’m very happy to announce that the September 2013 issue of Computer Music is now available, containing my humongous Beats cover feature. Starting on page 30, it’s a 14-page juggernaut covering the basics of how to program drums in a number of genres, including house, drum n bass, dubstep, trap, hip hop and RnB. It also delves into sourcing the right sounds for each genre, and I show you how to program beats using both MIDI and audio region-based techniques. It’s a proper mine of information, and on top of all this, there are no less than 10 videos to accompany the walkthroughs, and the usual array of audio examples and MIDI files too.
Elsewhere in the issue, on page 68 you’ll find the third instalment of my music theory Easy Guide column – this month you get two pages exploring suspensions and suspended chords, and there’s a video to accompany the 12-step walkthrough featured in this piece as well.
Continuing on the video theme (it’s small wonder that I got RSI last month – Repetitive Screencast Injury!) I got to contribute this month’s DVD tutorial feature on the marvellous free plug-in that’s being given away with the issue – the eaReckon CM-COMP 87 virtual analog compressor. Over 18 steps I take you through all the parameters and controls, demonstrating how to use the unit in a number of real-world scenarios, and you can see it all happening as there’s an accompanying video for this too!
Last but not least, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of way, I’ve also managed to shoehorn in this month’s Quick Guide feature on pages 16 and 17. This month it’s all about eaReckon as I take you on a tour of the front panel of the CM-EQUA 87 parametric equalizer that comes free every month as part of the CM plug-ins collection.
So, as you can see, I’ve been a busy boy this month, with a total of 21 pages and 12 video tutorials in this one issue – my single largest contribution yet (I think)!

iCreate 122 – Mixing from Stems in GarageBand

iCreate 122 – Mixing from Stems in GarageBand

iCreate 122 Cover 500The latest issue of iCreate is now taking up an even more sizeable chunk of newsagent shelf real-estate than usual this month, as they’ve made it taller! I’d like to think it’s so that they can fit in even more of my stuff, but sadly that seems not to be the case – there’s only one tutorial from me in there this month, but it’s a good one!
In a two-page guide starting on page 52, you’ll find my tutorial on how to remix using stems in GarageBand. I start by explaining exactly what stems are, then go on to demonstrate the easiest way to get tracks from other musicians into your GarageBand projects, for the purposes of remixing, collaborating and suchlike.

This is the way the pros do it, so for an easy and pretty-much foolproof way to transfer projects between your GarageBand rig and other musicians, get hold of a copy today!

Computer Music 193 – Vocals Cover Feature, Harmonisation, Zebra CM and Nektar P1 Review

Computer Music 193 – Vocals Cover Feature, Harmonisation, Zebra CM and Nektar P1 Review

CM193 Cover 500The August 2013 issue of Computer Music is out now, and in a packed issue for me this month, I’ve written the cover feature guide about how to get great vocals by various different means, and what to do with them once you’ve got them to make them sound epic. Spanning a whopping total of 13 pages, it covers:

• Tweaking vocal samples to fit your track
• Recording vocalists
• Using online vocal session services
• Using vocal compression and effects for a professional sound
• Comping a perfect vocal from multiple takes
• Beefing up backing vocals
• Arranging ad-libs using a sampler
• And loads more…

All this is, of course, accompanied by the usual throng of videos, audio examples and step-by-step walkthroughs to guide you through the processes involved. The feature starts on page 32, and I’m really proud of it. A lot of work went into it, and the CM team have made it look fantastic, so many thanks to Lee, James and everybody involved.

This issue also marks the 2nd instalment of the ‘Dave Clews Easy Guide’ music theory column. This month I attempt to de-mystify basic harmonisation – in other words, I show you an easy way to find the chords that work best with any given melody, using a twelve-step guide and, of course, a video too. You’ll find the column on page 72.

Elsewhere in the issue, on page 102, you get to read what I thought of the Nektar Panorama P1 control surface with deep integration with Reason and Cubase. The verdict might not be what you’d think!

Finally, if you turn to page 16, you’ll find my 4-page, in-depth guide to all the features and controls of the brilliant u-He ZebraCM synth that comes free with the mag every month as part of the 30-strong CM Plug-ins suite. This synth really is amazing considering that it’s a giveaway – this alone is well worth picking up any single copy of the mag, packing a sonic punch that you would have had to shell out hundreds of pounds for not even five years ago.

So if all that isn’t reason enough to head into Smith’s for a copy, or download the digital version via Newsstand or Zinio, I don’t know what is!

iCreate 121 – Custom GarageBand Instruments & Cubasis for iOS

iCreate 121 – Custom GarageBand Instruments & Cubasis for iOS

iCreate 121 Cover 500Another issue of iCreate can only mean one thing – another couple of tutorials from me! This month, we’re delving into one of GarageBand’s lesser-known abilities – creating your own custom sample-based instruments. Not a widely publicised feature this, but actually incredibly useful once you know how to pull it off, given GarageBand’s lack of any real sample playback capability – it’s a nifty trick that allows you to reconfigure an existing instrument as a basic sample player, and you can use it to construct anything from your own drum and percussion kits to custom pitched instruments. You’ll find the tutorial on page 56.
Elsewhere, Steinberg have been busy working on a version of Cubase for your iPad. Cubasis is a remarkably solid port of their flagship DAW to the iOS platform, and works in a very similar way to the desktop version. My two-page guide starting on page 92 takes you through some of its more advanced features accessed via the inspector panel, following on from the more basic exploration in the previous issue.

iCreate 120 – Compose Movie Scores & Piano Roll Editing

iCreate 120 – Compose Movie Scores & Piano Roll Editing

120 iCreateI’ve been so busy working on new projects lately that issue 120 of iCreate magazine almost slipped under my ‘published stuff’ radar! In a distinctly GarageBand-focussed issue, there are two tutorials from me this month – on page 56 is a simple two-page guide to composing a movie score in GarageBand to use in your iMovie projects, while over the page on page 58 I take you through the basics of editing MIDI regions in the app’s piano roll editor. All good useful stuff, I hope! So if you want to broaden your GarageBand horizons, grab a copy quick while you still can!

Computer Music 191 – Classic Keys Cover Feature (with Video) plus KR-Delay CM & VPS Philta CM

Computer Music 191 – Classic Keys Cover Feature (with Video) plus KR-Delay CM & VPS Philta CM

CM191 Cover 500

Huge excitement today as my massive, 13-page ‘Classic Keys’ cover feature hits the shelves at last on the front of Computer Music’s June 2013 issue. Beginning on page 32, it’s all about how to get the best from today’s finest virtual keyboard instruments and create convincing piano, electric piano and organ parts using your computer.

Covering:
• How real pianos, electric pianos and tonewheel organs work.
• How to recreate certain playing styles in a MIDI sequencer
• Programming dance piano chords
• Programming convincing sustain pedal performance data
• Using drawbars on a virtual Hammond B3
• How to choose the best virtual piano, Rhodes & organ plug-ins
And much more besides.

Every walkthrough guide also has an accompanying video on the cover DVD (or downloadable from the website via the digital editions). I’ve been dying to see this in print since I wrote it back in January, so if you want to get sounds like the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Smith, Billy Joel, Supertramp and other classic keyboard wizards into your tunes, grab a copy and check it out!

As a bonus, elsewhere in the issue, starting on page 16 I also take the helm of the regular ‘cm plug-ins Quick Guide‘ slot. Two pages each cover how to navigate your way around the front panels of KResearch’s KR-Delay CM stereo delay unit and Vengeance-Sound’s Philta CM superb dual filter plug-in. Both these special edition plug-ins are only available with the magazine, along with an ever-growing stable of other high-quality virtual instruments and effects.

17 pages in one issue – I think that might be a new personal best…… at least until next month’s issue!

MacUser Vol. 29 No.5 – Computer-Generated Vocals in GarageBand

MacUser Vol. 29 No.5 – Computer-Generated Vocals in GarageBand

MacUser 2905 Cover 500One Thursday night back in 1978, when I was 10 and first really getting into music, I witnessed a band on Top of the Pops called ELO playing a song called Mr Blue Sky. The middle 8 came in with its vocoded vocal and my pre-adolescent mind was instantly blown. Vocoders have been one of my favourite things on the planet ever since, and it’s long been a mild frustration of mine that GarageBand, a piece of software that I know and love well through my monthly iCreate tutorials, has not had the ability to produce a decent vocoded vocal. So, I made it my personal mission to try and perfect a technique that would not only make this possible, but that would produce great-sounding and properly useful results.
Yes, in the May 2013 issue of the new-look, bigger, monthly MacUser magazine, I take up six whole pages of the posh, shiny new paper with a step-by-step guide to producing coherent, computer-generated vocals in GarageBand without a vocalist or microphone anywhere in sight. It’s all thanks to one particular freeware third-party plug-in that happens to function in such a way that GarageBand’s lack of signal routing options no longer poses a problem to cash-strapped would-be vocoderists.
Beginning on page 78, this colourful and informative guide takes you through the entire process from scratch, starting by generating the source vocal as spoken text and ending up with a finished lead or backing vocal generated entirely within your Mac.
So if you’re a GB user who fancies a bit of vocoding fun (and it’s great fun, trust me!), get your May 2013 copy of MacUser today!