Sounds from a life in Rockland County.

Ma's House in Palisades

As some follows of Wire to the Ear know I moved from Berlin, Germany back to New York about three months ago. I bought an apartment in the city that needs a complete renovation. Not only do I have a new apartment to renovate I also bought a two car garage I am turning into what I hope will be an amazing studio. Because the apartment needs a complete gut my wife and I have been staying in the upstairs apartment in my mother’s house in Rockland County. Rockland is a typical New York suburb just about 20 minutes north of the city. It’s actually quite nice and I am very familiar with the area because I grew up here. The photo above is Ma’s house.

When I was in College at Suny Purchase I took a class called Social Sciences in the Arts. I never forgot a lesson the professor thought was important. The basic gist was that no artist made any art without an audience in mind. This ties into my Rockland chat above because I’ve been doodling a lot music wise on my laptop over the past three months and realize I am making tunes for my mother and Doug (her husband). Little diddy’s about the car they own, a song about the fact that my mother is top sales lady at her office and a song about Milo their dog. Milo is incredible cute (see photo below) but without a doubt is the boss here. He has these treats called “Dingos” which he demands often. When I say he demands them I mean it. A few of us will be in the kitchen talking and he will walk in, bark and growl loudly until someone gives him a Dingo. So without further ado here’s the song I did called “Milo the Bad Dog”:

Milo the Bad Dog

Please keep in mind this is no way an official song or anything that I will ever release for sale. It’s just a fun blip that took about 40 minutes last night. I used the few simple plug-ins I have on my laptop and I sang in the bedroom using the Macbook Pro’s built-in mic. The drums are an Ableton Impluse with D16 Devastor on them. The synths are an old ReFx Vanguard and Fabfilter Twin.

Today when I got back from the gym the birds in the driveway were extra loud so I took a photo of the tree they were all in and recorded 30 seconds of audio for you. I used the Griffin iTalk app on my iPhone. You can hear the birds and cars going by on Route 340.

Birds in the Trees

Something tells me when my apartment is ready I’m going to miss suburban life.

Related post: Recordings from my day yesterday.

Restricting polyphony has it’s uses.

Native Instruments - Massive

Here’s a quick beginner tip thats important for everyone making music with computers. Polyphony is when two or more notes are being played at the same time. An instrument capable of doing this is called polyphonic. This is opposed to an instrument which can only play one note at a time (monophonic) such as a Moog Voyager. While it may seem strange to limit the amount of voices in your synth there are a few good reasons to do it.

For one, roaring prog rock keyboard solos rely on each note getting the full ear’s attention. Taking a keyboard into mono makes sure that when each new note is hit the last one stops playing completely. If your using a software synthesizer another good reason to limit polyphony is to save CPU power. Each note you play at the same time is practically another complete instance of the plug-in running. Be aware that each note of sound with a long decay such as pads or strings continues to register until every piece of the sound completely fades out. Some plug-ins let you set the polyphony globally and others save the amount of voices within each preset.

Impulse - hi-hat cut off

Drum machines also use this trick to have the closed hi-hat cut off the open hat. In Ableton’s Impulse plug-in, put your open hi-hat in the last drum slot and the closed hat one slot to the left of it. Now click the Link button at the bottom left of the plug-in. Depending on what I am looking for stylistically I will leave Link on or off. Of course you can even Automate the Link button!

The verse chorus succession in Ableton Live.

Here’s a video of what I am working on in the studio today. This time I have not written the lyrics in advance so I have it saved as the generic name “new_neu”. I created a vintage analog TR-808 drum kit by dragging the song “Is There an Exit?” by Absolute Body Control into the arrangement view in Ableton Live. I then isolated drum sounds and dragged them into empty slots of the Impulse drum plug-in. I erased the original song, hit tab to enter session view and created some new drum patterns. I don’t always lift Continue reading →