Every now and then I have to jump into Pro Tools. Usually it’s when I’m asked to remix a rock band or doing a music for a commercial. Qwikn is a tool that’s going to help me for sure. It’s a floating window that helps you remember keyboard shortcuts. You can also reverse look-up a shortcut say for example you forget what command-z will do. You can also store keyboard shortcuts as “Qwikie’s”.
“You no longer have to leave your DAW and open a PDF or web browser to search for a keyboard shortcut — you know, the one you should be using but were too lazy to find and remember! Qwikn does this all for you, allowing you to remain focused on more important things — like making music.” – qwikn.com
I’m a strong believer that knowing keyboard shortcuts equates to real studio power. As I say often, the quicker you get from inspiration to final arrangement the better.
Growing up I thought Willie Nelson was an old fluffy duffy singer. The only song I knew he did was “On the Road Again”. When I aged to the point of understanding life a bit more I discovered an album Willie recorded called “Teatro”. Produced by Daniel Lanois with many of the songs backed up by Emmylou Harris this album is one of my all time favorites. The song that made me played it a hundred times in a row is called “I Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye”. It’s a heart breaking tune that tells a story of a man’s last encounter with a woman he loved. If you never had your heart smashed into a million pieces well then you probably won’t get this song at all. Nevertheless, you should enjoy the great studio work here.
This is one of those albums that every single song adds to the album’s worth. I bet if you listen to this a few times you will think of Willie in a different light. The lyrics, slide guitar and Emmylou’s voice are so wonderfully haunting. Take a listen:
The hardware unit you see above is a synth pad beautifier. It’s a fully analog string ensemble effect unit using a “bucket-brigade device” chorus. I’m in love with the BBD in my Vermona DRM1 MKIII so anytime I see hardware with BBD on it I look closer. If you want to see the synth that inspired this sound and many a New Wave acts check out the Arp Solina String Ensemble. The video below gets you an idea of the sound but take a listen to some high quality samples over at Matrixsynth: click here
With some proper mixing and finesse you can get software plug-ins to sound close but alas it’s not the same. I think it depends how key your lead synth pad with this effect is to your song. I want to note that I do really like GForce software’s VSM: click here
I know this is dumb but for some reason I felt like telling you about it. There is a new and completely strange iPhone app called Sounds of Pain. Here’s part of the the developer’s description: “Need to express a slight pain or minor displeasure? Tap one of the top three rows. In slightly more pain? Tap one of the middle three rows. Experiencing pain the likes of which you have never known before? Tap one of the bottom three rows.”. So you get 54 pain sounds of which you can tap to play a single sound or drag your finger to play multiple sounds. You can also shake the iPhone for a random sound.
So what pains you in the studio? Headaches from reading tiny eq numbers in Pro-Tools? Back pain from sitting for 12 hours straight? Frustration pains from Cubase crashing? Ear pain from forgetting to disarm monitoring before turning your speakers back on? Girl friend pain for forgetting she’s more important than your Moog?
By the way, see the photo on top? The one with the guy and all those prescriptions. He actually takes all those pills! For the story: click here
I started a new job and the training sessions are filled with a lot of information including some math. Because it’s not a classroom or seminar setting I’m sticking with pen and paper. In a situation like a new job I don’t really feel like standing out too much. I can take notes pretty quickly and when I get home I check my scribbles and type everything important into Google Docs.
It got me thinking that in 2009 there must be a better way. With a quick search I came across the “Livescribe Pulse Smartpen“. It’s not so simple to explain but in general it records audio as you write and later you can click on your writing and it will be the audio that it recorded at that moment in time. Later, you can sync it to your computer where it does some OCR ala Evernote style. After I Twittered a “Wow this is cool!” and a link, a friend Chuck in Berlin said he owned one and loved it.
So as with all things I want I scoot over to YouTube to see a few videos of people using whatever said item is. The first video that came up was the one above. Things get awesome at 1:27 in… I didn’t know Livescribe could teach and talk to you let alone be a freakin Piano, drum machine, vibraphone, steel drum, fiddle and translator!
Tell me you didn’t grin just a little bit while you watched that video above?
Let’s say you want a giant modular synthesizer. You know the one with all the knobs and wires hanging off it. But alas you don’t have big bucks. But everyone can scrounge up $120 a month right? Well if you can handle that then you can get yourself Synthesizer.com modular. It will take you some time to build up a slick sounding beast as Roger Arrick’s Texas company sends you a new module each month. However, the installment plan could part of the fun. An advantage of getting a module a month is you’re likely to focus a full 30 days on each new piece of your sound puzzle. Down the road be sure to add a Q119 Sequential Controller Sequencer to your system!
I really love my Voice of Saturn Synth and Sequencer. Recently Curious Inventor added a Modulator module and now a cool Filter with a metal Joystick (yeah!).
“This unit has a joystick or Voltage Controlled low-pass filter. It accepts two inputs that are summed and also voltage controllable (or knob). The joystick is modular, and can be patched to control or attenuate other equipment.” – curiousinventor.com
All these modules are adding up to a unique and inexpensive modular synth. If your looking for a unique home-brew synth you may also want to check out the Mochika2 or the Sound Lab Mini-Synth. The new VOS Filter will cost you $80 in parts or $230 built.
New drum machine alert! Wait even better: New ANALOG drum machine alert! MFB in Berlin named after the man behind these toys Manfred Fricke has announced an update to the nice sounding MFB-502. I have friends with the 502 and it’s been on my “gonna grab” list. These machines are not kick drum monsters like a Jomox but they have gorgeous analog snares and hats. There’s rarely a reason to touch the eq after recording these drum machine into your DAW. The best part here? The new MFB-522 is 280€. 16 fach Step Sequencer included!
I love tools that trigger inspiration. Regardless of whether it’s software, hardware or a broken heart it doesn’t matter. A quick moment of “AH HA!” usually can take you to 90% on your way to a finished song. I’ve been eying the Axis keyboard from C-Thru Music for some time. It’s an Harmonic Table keyboard, midi controller. There is a new 49 key version will cost you a bit less than $500. I can’t help thinking Harmonic Tables will be great when touch screens become the norm on laptops.
“C-Thru Music has lent me this keyboard, called the AXIS, for a few months, and I am rearranging the keys for the Bohlen-Pierce Scale, a macrotuning based on a 3/1 frequency ratio, divided by 13 equal steps. See http://www.ziaspace.com/elaine/BP for research on the BP Scale.
This particular AXIS toured with the Lionel Richie Band on loan, went to me, and in two weeks I will be flying to Boston to give this AXIS to the Berklee College of Music, Synthesis Department – namely to Dr. Boulanger who will use it for his classes and for the new microtonal club.” – miselaineeous
It was sunny and warm in New York the past two days. I hiked at Tallman Park and then walked the Pier at Piermont which shoot outs about half way into the Hudson River. I’m one of the few people happy to see our economy tank hard beacuse it’s pushing green tech. The song “Electricity” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark was recorded in 1978 but every one should put it on their iPod, walk outside and stare at some trees and give it a listen:
Our one source of energy
The ultimate discovery
Electric blue for me
Never more to be free
Nuclear and HEP
Carbon fuels from the sea
Our one source of energy
All we need to live today
A gift for man to throw away
The chance to change
has nearly gone
The alternative is only one
The final source of energy
E . . .
This song ties into a new job I hope to be starting soon. It’s time to sign up and help nature. We are not going to make it into outer space so soon so we need this air here breathable. By the way there is one very easy thing you can do today to help the environment: click here