Has anyone had a problem with the Play button (and spacebar) not working?
I quadrupled a trumpet part, and the "Play" function stopped working.
I closed the score, re-opened it, and it's still not working.
I deleted one of the quadrupled trumpet voices, and it's still not working.
Anyone have any idea how to fix this?
Have never had an issue like that. The only similar situation I can think of is that sometimes I am in Score Setup and I forget, and so some functionality doesn't work that I was expecting. Takes me a few seconds to realize that I have to exit Score Setup.
macOS Big Sur 11.1 with small AOC monitor for additional display
2 - 500 gb + 1 tb external SSD for sample libraries
M Audio AirHub audio interface
Nektar Panorama P1 control surface
Nektar Impact 49-key MIDI keyboard
Focal CMS40 near-field monitors
JBL LSR310S subwoofer
Notion 6 + Studio One 5 Pro
jasonchildress wroteHas anyone had a problem with the Play button (and spacebar) not working?
NOTION can become confused, and these are two of the most common scenarios:
(1) Running in 32-bit mode and you add too many VSTi virtual instruments or VST effects plug-ins. This also can happen in 64-bit mode . . .
(2) Doing ReWire and you do something that confuses the ReWire infrastructure, which could be something you do in NOTION or in the DAW application or some other application which is participating in the ReWire session . . .
(1) Copy the offending score to a few different folders, so you have copies of it in its original state . . .
(2) Restart your Mac Pro . . .
(3) Start NOTION; and open a different score. See if the Play button works. You also can try this with a new, blank score to which you add a Piano and some notes for the Piano. If it plays, then this tends to suggest that you have too much stuff in the score that is not working . . .
(4) If you are running in 32-bit mode, then exit NOTION and set it to run in 64-bit mode, which you do by right-clicking on "Notion.app" and then unchecking the "Open in 32-bit mode" option. After doing this, start NOTION; open the score that was not working; and see if it starts working. If it plays, then you can remove a few of the VSTi virtual instruments or VST effects plug-ins. Once that is done, save the NOTION score via "Save As . . . "; exit NOTION; and then set it back to run in 32-bit mode. If you were using VSTi virtual instruments and VST effects plug-ins that only run in 32-bit mode, this will not be much help, since none of them will load in 64-bit mode, but if you are using the native NOTION 4 sounds and VSTi virtual instruments and VST effects plug-ins that run in either 32-bit mode or 64-bit mode, then it might work. Just be careful to do a "Save As . . . " rather than a "Save" . . .
(5) If you already are running NOTION in 64-bit mode, then open the original score and do a "Save As . . . "; exit NOTION; start NOTION; and see if it works with the copy of the score you created via "Save As . . . ", since this might solve the problem . . .
(6) if you are using VST effects plug-ins, then either (a) disable them or (b) remove them. Do a "Save As . . . ", and then see if you can play the score . . .
(7) Remove the NOTION reverb and see if it frees enough resources to make a difference . . .
I have NOTION 4 and NOTION 5 on the Mac Pro (Early 2008) here in the sound isolation studio, and occasionally they crash when I start them. When this happens, I keep starting NOTION until it runs, and then everything is fine . . .
I had NOTION 3, as well, but it does not run in Yosemite, so I deleted it . . .
The general rule for the 32-bit version of NOTION is that 50 VSTi virtual instruments is the upper limit, but this is reduced if you have VST effects plug-ins . . .
I create songs in layers, and I use a set of synchronized NOTION scores that have from 10 to 20 VSTi virtual instruments, depending on how "heavy" the VSTi virtual instruments and their specific sampled sound libraries happen to be, where for example there are a few "heavy" instruments in MachFive 3 (MOTU) that map to the lower limit for VSTi virtual instruments in a single NOTION score, and this is running in 64-bit mode . . .
There also are a few VST effects plug-ins that are "heavy", and the same rule applies, but as a general rule I avoid using VST effects plug-ins in NOTION, since I to the effects plug-ins work in the DAW application once I have recorded the NOTION generated audio as soundbites in the DAW application in a ReWire session . . .
I never lost any NOTION scores, but there were a few times in NOTION 3 (which only runs in 32-bit mode) when NOTION 3 crashed and kept on crashing every time I opened a score that was too big, but after doing this several times eventually the score would load and then I would delete whatever I added that pushed it over the limit. This was the way I determined that the upper limit is 50 VSTi virtual instruments when running in 32-bit mode for NOTION 3, but it works the same way with the 32-bit versions of NOTION 4 and NOTION 5 . . .
There are strategies for having more than 50 instruments when you are using VSTi virtual instruments exclusively, and the best strategy is to use a MULTI, where for example you can load 16 instruments in a Kontakt 5 MULTI and then use one instance of Kontakt 5 to be the "engine" for 16 instruments . . .
This also works in NOTION 3, as you can see in the following YouTube music video where there are four instances of Miroslav Philharmonik (IK Multimedia) providing 64 instruments and choral voices in a NOTION 3 score. This also works with five instances of Miroslav Philharmonik and maps to 80 instruments, where the key is that while there are a lot of instruments, there are only five instances of Miroslav Philharmonik, each of which provides 16 instruments in what IK Multimedia at the time called a "COMBI". Now, with the release of SampleTank 3, IK Multimedia changed the terminology to use "MULTI" like everyone else . . .
Doing everything in 64-bit mode is significantly better, but there continue to be limits to what one can do in a single NOTION score . . .
However, this is true of everything one does on a computer, where sooner or later you discover that you want to do more than the computer can handle, at which time you start devising a strategy to do more than the computer can handle, which for music is where the technique of creating songs in layers works nicely . . .
The layering technique started soon after Edison recording machines became available and one could record one track onto a rotating "wax" cylinder . . .
Someone connected a few dots and realized that it was possible to record on one cylinder and the to play what was recorded on one machine while playing or singing along with it and recording the combined sounds to a new single-track "wax" cylinder . . .
This is what happened when the media changed to wire and later to magnetic tape, and it continues to work nicely at the dawn of the early-21st century for digital music production on a computer . . .
I have songs that span 10 to 20 NOTION scores--all synchronized--and this maps to several hundred instruments, but 10 to 20 at a time, since having from 10 to 20 instruments per NOTION score keeps everything within bounds . . .
When I do this, I also consolidate tracks in the DAW application, since I like to restrict the DAW application to 50 tracks, which makes it easier to produce, mix,, and master. There are limits to the number of tracks a DAW application can handle, too . . .
Another key aspect of the strategy is to make a lot of copies of everything as the song progresses, since I do not like to redo work that I already have done, so I do a lot of backups . . .
The most important thing to do when something like this happens is to make a few copies of the offending score . . .
Then you can restart the Mac Pro, which might resolve the problem at least long enough to do a "Save As . . . " and to remove a few instruments or effects plug-ins . . .
In some instances, NOTION will ask if you want to restore a score, but I usually disallow restoring scores, since in some respects by the time something causes NOTION to become confused, I am not so certain that restoring a score does anything other than ensuring you score is gone . . .
I prefer to make copies via Finder and then to experiment with one of the copies . . .
If you are running Time Machine, then this is another way to revert to an earlier version of the score, but I do not run Time Machine, because it can interfere with real-time digital music processing. Instead, I do a lot of "Save" and "Save As . . . " steps . . .
Let me know if any of this resolves the problem . . .
Lots of FUN!
Last edited by Surf.Whammy on Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Thanks, Michael. That wasn't it in this case, but I'll keep that information in mind as well.
Surf Whammy: thank you again for your uber-helpful response.
Some time after posting my question, I managed to solve the problem by doing a version of your #5 suggestion: I "saved as," then systematically began cutting and pasting one stave at a time from the old score into the new one, hoping to find the "offending" stave.
Sure enough, it turned out to be the Trumpet Section stave--and when I copied it into the new score, the Play button began working again.
After that, everything was fine for a while, until the same problem happened later on, this time in a Flute stave.
By this time you had posted your suggestions, and I was in the process of going through them one by one when I happened to notice that above the "offending" measure (that is, the measure where an addition had caused the Play button to stop working) there was a crescendo hairpin hanging. (I had, of course, deleted the contents of the measure itself, but the hairpin "lingered" behind.)
On a hunch, I deleted the hairpin, and lo! the Play button began working again.
The Play button apparently stopped working in response to some perceived "overload", first in the Trumpet Section and later in the Flute. When I supplanted the offending measure the first time, it seemed to solve the problem. The second time, I deleted the measure's contents but failed to erase the hairpin--and that omission kept the Play button from working until I spotted and deleted it.
Perhaps these notes might be added to your list of possible fixes, if only as footnotes.
And Whammy: thanks again. What with the scanty sighting of mods or admins on this message board, you are a valuable problem-solver for us Notion users. Don't you ever leave this forum, you hear me??
Glad to help, and thanks for the kind words!
Since this type of problem occurs and nearly always can be corrected in one way or another, these are the things to do first:
(1) Copy the offending score to a few different folders, so you have copies of it in its original state . . .
(2) Restart or reboot your computer . . .
It also is important to do frequent saves and every so often to do a "Save As . . . " to create a version at key work steps, where you can append a suffix like "-PT-n" or "-Vn" to the file name, where "n" is a sequential integer. Another possibility is to append the date in YYMMDD format, which preserves the sequence in an order that sorts nicely in Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) . . .
Regarding the suggestion of adding your discovery to the list, (a) I think this makes sense and (b) it introduces yet another possible source of what one might call "overwhelmment", if one were coining new words . . .
[NOTE: As much as I would like to take credit for coining the word "overwhelmment", I am not the first person to use this word. A bit of quick research reveals that it was used in 1918 in a course of lectures entitled "The Crest-Wave of Evolution" given to graduates by Kenneth Morris at the Raja-Yoga College in Point Loma, California--an enclave which apparently was dedicated to the furtherance of Theosophy and was located just a short distance from what at the time was the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society in Pasadena, California. It is useful to observe that the Theosophists have a Lodge; and, as all "by ear" musicians know, any group that has a Lodge cannot be all bad, especially if they have dances; hire musical groups; pay the prevailing performance wage; and provide the musicians and singers with food and happy beverages, gratis of course. In those organizations which allow left-leaning members, all they need to do is to expel their left-leaning members and then they are all right . . . ]
"But thither the Macedonians refused to follow their king; and I suppose he wept rather over their insubordination, than for any overwhelmment with a sense of terrene limits."
"The Crest-Wave of Evolution" by Kenneth Morris (Project Gutenberg)
The Raja Yoga Academy and the Temple of Peace, c. 1915
To be specific, intuitively I would not consider the possibility of having too many articulations, dynamics, and techniques as a cause of overwhelmment, since I vigorously avoid using articulations,, dynamics, and techniques; but it makes sense, because everything requires resources, including articulations, dynamics, and techniques . . .
It certainly can be a combination of things, and this appears to be an instance of combined overwhelmment where the solution is to expel a few members of the woodwind and horn sections, which since many woodwind and horn players are quite adamant about wanting to play songs in keys that require flats always is a worthy goal, which is fabulous . . .
Surf Whammy, there are so many interesting things in this post (as is the case with most of your posts) that I must force myself, in the interest of time, to comment on only one:
Surf.Whammy wroteTo be specific, intuitively I would not consider the possibility of having too many articulations, dynamics, and techniques as a cause of overwhelmment, since I vigorously avoid using articulations,, dynamics, and techniques . . .
Is this because the style of music you compose doesn't require such nuances?
Do you compose any other style besides rock? (That is, if "rock" is the correct term...I've only heard one or two of your songs.)
jasonchildress wroteSurf.Whammy wroteTo be specific, intuitively I would not consider the possibility of having too many articulations, dynamics, and techniques as a cause of overwhelmment, since I vigorously avoid using articulations,, dynamics, and techniques . . .
There are three primary reasons for avoiding articulations, dynamics, and techniques in music notation in NOTION when one is using virtrual instruments (native or VSTi virtual instruments) to generate audio, which is contrasted to using NOTION as an engraving application where the goal is to produce printed music:
(1) It takes too much time with no comparable benefits . . .
(2) It shifts the focus from composing to producing but provides only minimal producing benefits . . .
(3) By design, it usually forces computed emulations . . .
At present, I focus on Pop and other modern musical genres where one of the primary goals is to be able to hear the music (instruments and singing), and for all practical purposes this removes dynamics from the equation, since dynamics as they are defined and used in music notation are anathema to producing, mixing, and mastering . . .
Dynamics in music notation work when they are printed on paper and then interpreted by musicians and singers under the direction and guidance of a conductor, but this does not translate one-to-one to the digital music production universe, hence serves no useful purpose and just wastes otherwise valuable time. Additionally, it is extraordinarily cumbersome . . .
Explained another way, composers use dynamics in an effort to be producers, which is fine in the aforementioned scenario where there is a conductor and real musicians and singers, all of whom refer to the sheet music as the definitive source document; but this is not the reality in the digital music production universe, where the producer is the source of all knowledge in the known universe and ultimately determines the rules and makes all the decisions . . .
More to the point, everything in the producer's universe is controlled by knobs, and there are no knobs in music notation, although in some respects crescendi and dimuendi are similar to knobs, and there are a few other music notation terms and marks that tell the musicians, singers, and conductor to do knob-like actions, but it is awkward and ill-defined at best . . .
In the producer's universe, knobs are used to control various aspects of the mixing board and signal processors (a.k.a., "effects plug-ins"); and none of these things has a one-to-one mapping with music notation articulations, dynamics, and techniques . . .
It also is important to understand that causing an instrument or vocal part to be heard in the digital music production universe requires using a distinctly different set of techniques than are provided in music notation articulations, dynamics, and techniques, where for reference these are two different uses of the work "techniques", where the usage with respect to producing is the common usage, while the usage referring to music notation is focused on what one might call "playing styles" which are not described and defined as articulations and dynamics . . .
A skilled conductor can cause specific instruments and singers to be heard clearly, as can a composer, but doing this involves using a different set of techniques, where "techniques" is used in the common way it is used in the producer's universe. As an example, if the conductor wants to shift focus to a specific instrument or singer, then the conductor might move his open hands downward while looking at the other instruments and singers in a type of "Shush!" or "Softly!" hand gesture . . .
Using the same example, in the producer's universe one way this is done is by using a technique called "ducking", which is done automagically one the side-chained compressors are correctly configured (which involves doing a bit of routing and knob turning) . . .
This YouTube video tutorial for Pro-C (FabFilter Software Instruments) is an excellent source of information that will make it easier to understand what I am explaining regarding the way everything works from the producer's perspective, which includes audio engineering and mastering, of course, where the producer is at the top of the hierarchy . . .
[NOTE: This YouTube video tutorial runs for approximately 10 minutes, and it covers enough of the important aspects to be a definitive general guide, as well as an excellent example of the way music is tailored in the digital music production universe. If this is new information and a different perspective, then watching the YouTube video tutorial several times will be helpful. In some respects, the primary reason for including this YouTube video tutorial in this post is to provide an example of "ducking", but there is much more to what one can do than just "ducking", and this is the secondary reason for including the YouTube video tutorial. For reference, I understand all the various terminology and can follow it, but I use a subset of the cornucopia of techniques and do not claim to understand every aspect of the even more advanced techniques explained in the additional YouTube video tutorials for Pro-C which are found at the second link (see below), hence for me it is an ongoing discovering and learning effort, but some of the techniques are so advanced that they border on being a bit absurd, really, since I prefer to keep everything as simple as possible and resort to using highly complex techniques only when there appears to be no other way to achieve the same desired goal . . . ]
Video Tutorials (FabFilter Software Instruments)
In other words, after watching the "Expert Mode" Pro-C YouTube video tutorial, I think it should be obvious that there are two very different languages and sets of tools:
(1) Music notation, including articulation, dynamic, and techniques marks, annotations, and instructions . . .
(2) Mixing boards and signal processors . . .
The first language and set of tools is excellent for composing music and providing conducting, playing, and singing guidance and instructions; but it is sorely inadequate for describing and defining what needs to happen in the digital music production universe ruled by a producer and implemented by audio engineers and mastering engineers, because there is no one-to-one mapping . . .
For reference, this applies to all musical genres when they are recorded and then heard as audio played by a high fidelity music playing system; and no matter how it is done, the producer, audio engineers, and mastering engineers are at the top of the pyramid, because they are the people who rule the production of the actual media, which is a fact important fact to understand . . .
Am I suggesting that articulations, dynamics, and techniques are irrelevant in the digital music production universe?
Articulations, dynamics, and techniques are highly relevant, but there is a correct way to engage them in the digital music production universe; and for the most part doing it with music notation is not the correct way, because it does not translate very well unless one happens to be recording a real orchestra and real singers who are being conducted by a real conductor, all of whom are performing what has been printed or transcribed to sheet music, which includes whatever annotations the composer, conductor, musicians, and singers decided to make on the sheet music . . .
However, there is yet another somewhat subtle aspect to this, which is "subtle" only in the sense that it is not so well known or generally considered . . .
Specifically, I am referring to the way sampled sounds are created and used, where the simple version is that a musician or singer plays or sings a series of individual notes in a particular articulation, dynamic, and technique, where each note is recorded and then digitized, with the result being a set of sampled sounds or sampled notes . . .
Consider that a pianist plays a series of individual quarter notes staccato forte without the sustain or any other foot pedal being pressed . . .
What you have then is a set of sample sounds played in the staccato articulation with a forte dynamic and no foot pedals . . .
If this is the set of sampled sounds assigned to the Piano staff in NOTION, then what happens if you add a pianissimo dynamic mark?
The sampled notes were not played pianissimo, but you decided that you want them to be pianissimo, so what happens is that NOTION does a bit of computing and changes the MIDI volume and perhaps the MIDI velocity to what generally maps to "pianissimo" based on popular consensus, whatever that might be . . .
So, instead of the audio generated by NOTION during the "pianissmo" section being the raw audio that was recorded and digitized, it now is an emulation based on an algorithm, which might be wonderful, except that it is not the way a pianist would play the notes with a pianissimo dynamic . . .
Something similar happens with articulations and techniques when the set of samples was not played in the specific articulation or technique, where again the computer computes an emulation based on an algorithm . . .
Consider Miroslav Philharmonik (IK Multimedia) for a moment . . .
I like the French Horn, and having nothing better to do one day I decided to count all the various sets of sampled sounds for French Horn in Miroslav Philharmonik, which included solo French Horn and various French Horn ensembles, all spanning a virtual festival of articulations, dynamics, and techniques . . .
Observing that the graphic user interface (GUI) for Miroslav Philharmonik makes it very difficult to step through its cornucopia of drop-down lists, mostly because the available display area is about the size of a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, after an hour or so I stopped counting, at which time I had counted over 150 different types of French Horn sets of sampled notes, and based on this as well as how far I estimated I had traversed the lists, I think there are over 200 different variations of French Horn articulations, dynamics, and techniques (or "playing styles", if you prefer) . . .
Hence, if I want a French horn played in a specific articulation, dynamic, and technique, then I use the set of sampled notes where the French Horn player actually played the French Horn the way I want it to be played for the relevant section of the French Horn part; and by doing it this way, the resulting audio is the nearest possible audio to what would be recorded if I hired the French Horn player and recorded the French Horn player playing the notes here in the sound isolation studio, because by doing it this way I have minimized the emulating that NOTION does, especially if I peg the volume sliders to 0 dB; leave the panning at full-width; and disable or remove the native NOTION reverb . . .
[NOTE: It also is important to understand that there are two general types of sampled sound libraries, where one type samples only some of the notes, typically every other note, while the other is chromatic and samples every note. When a sample sound library is not chromatically sampled, the "in-between" or non-sampled notes are emulated by an algorithm which among other things is doing a a bit of logarithmic interpolation, which can have a rather dramatic affect depending on the particular key signature one decides to use. This also affects the way computed articulations, dynamics, and techniques sound, where for example a non-chromatic set of samples where the singer is singing with vibrato will have a different speed or rate of vibrato for the computed notes, depending on whether a lower actually sampled note is used to create a higher note or a higher actually sampled note is used to create a lower note, where going from low to high to do the note emulation the vibrato rate is increased arbitrarily, while going from a higher note to a lower note to emulate the lower note maps to a decrease in the otherwise constant vibrato rate that a skilled singer can maintain over a range of notes. This is the case for all motion-based techniques, including for example the classic Fender tremolo effect which varies the amplitude but not the frequency or pitch. For reference, vibrato is a motion-based technique that varies the frequency or pitch while generally keeping volume level constant . . . ]
Another useful bit of information is that the native NOTION orchestral sounds are professionally produced using players from the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) recorded at Abbey Road Studios in England and then digitized using high-quality equipment by skilled producers, audio engineers, and mastering engineers . . .
Yet, one occasionally reads posts that appear to suggest that the native NOTION sounds are "bad" and sound like a "1960s Farfisa Compact Organ" or something similar . . .
This is an easily achieved goal, and there is nothing particularly "bad" about the sound of a 1960s Farfisa Compact Organ--which among other things was central to hit songs by Question Mark & The Mysterians, as well as Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs--but when this happens it is a clue that the "composer" either (a) slept through producing, audio engineering, and mastering classes or (b) has no idea how to do producing, audio engineering, and mastering . . .
In turn, this lead to one of the most common mistakes that composers, musicians, and singers make, which is to presume that because they are proficient in composing, playing, or singing, this somehow automagically makes them proficient in producing, mixing, and mastering . . .
For reference, I know this to be a fact, because I made this presumption for quite a while until in the quest to determine why my songs sounded terrible I had exhausted nearly every possibility except two:
[NOTE: The annoying aspect of this is that I already knew about both of these, but had been avoiding the second one in an effort to save money. The first one was more a matter of focus and perspective, or lack of attention, really . . . ]
(1) Discovering what George Martin and the various audio engineers and mastering engineers did for the Beatles . . .
(2) Using a calibrated full-range studio monitor system . . .
When you do everything yourself, you need to be able to wear different hats or to perform different roles, and I had not taken the time to get a "producer hat", but once I realized this was a problem, I discovered a way to become Pretend George Martin, and one of the first things I did as Pretend George Martin was to tell the lead singer in my musical group to start practicing singing, since while he is a reasonably good singer, this is not so obvious when he sings a song a grand total of one time, which then is the recorded version . . .
George Harrison, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney were and are very skilled vocalists, but this was not the case before George Martin became their producer and started providing a bit of much needed guidance and training. They developed into a billion dollar choir but only after they had a choirmaster, which is one of the hats that George Martin wore in his role as producer . . .
[NOTE: Even though Galeazzo Frudua sings each vocal part separately in the YouTube vocal tutorial, it is useful to understand that he is running his voice through a rather elaborate set of signal processors, which includes a reverberation unit and a delay unit with delays in the range between the minimal Haas Effect and Doubling. There also is a tiny bit of Slapback Echo. You can hear the difference by comparing (a) when Galeazzo is talking and sings a bit, which is dry and (b) when he is singing all the parts. On the individual parts there is only reverberation. As it applies to this post, I think this makes it obvious that providing articulation, dynamic, and technique (or "singing style", if you prefer) notations on sheet music might be helpful in a Post-It® sense but serves no useful purpose in terms of producing. However, it can be useful during the arranging phase, which is yet another "hat" or role in the grand scheme of everything . . . ]
This is my perspective, and it is based on what I think are the factual realities of digital music production, at least here in the sound isolation studio . . .
It works for me, and the overall quality of the audio for my songs improved dramatically once I discovered these and other related rules and started following them ruthlessly . . .
Producing, mixing, and mastering are a set of activities and skills that are distinctly different from composing, playing, and singing, where arranging is an activity that I include generally as part of producing, but arranging also is part of composing . . .
All these roles have a bit of overlap, but (a) each of them maps to a distinct set of rules and skills and (b) each of them is important in the Gestalt, but here in the sound isolation the producer is the one who controls the production of Gestalt that becomes the audio for the song that people hear . . .
The best way to understand my perspective when wearing the "producer hat" is that using articulations, dynamics, and technique marks in music notation is like covering it with a virtual festival of smiley faces or taking otherwise eloquent words and formatting them in the style of a ransom note using a virtual festival of fonts and colors . . .
It not only (a) serves no useful purpose but also (b) makes it unnecessarily difficult to work with the audio . . .
In other words, when I am wearing the "producer hat", I want to be able to work with the raw audio without having it adjusted or modified based on computer algorithms . . .
For example, if I need a solo Violin played forte legato, then I want the corresponding set of sampled notes where the Violin was played forte legato. If this is not possible, then I do a bit of experimenting with the goal being to discover another way to create the sound or at least something that is sufficiently similar . . .
Explained another way, it depends on the focus:
(1) Providing sheet music for real musicians, real singers, and a real conductor to perform, where this is the engraving focus . . .
(2) Providing raw audio for producing, where this is the producing focus . . .
When the focus is on engraving, then it makes sense to provide detailed articulations, dynamics, and techniques; but when the focus is on producing, I think it is best to leave the raw audio as sonically neutral as possible, and in NOTION this is done by avoiding using articulations, dynamics, and techniques, where instead one uses specific sets of samples where the notes are recorded and subsequently digitized based on real performances by musician and singers playing and singing in the specific articulations, dynamics, and techniques . . .
jasonchildress wroteDo you compose any other style besides rock? (That is, if "rock" is the correct term...I've only heard one or two of your songs.)
At present, I am focusing on Pop songs, but I do songs in other genres . . .
This is the first complete basic rhythm section I did in NOTION, and it is a Flamenco song in a custom style that is based on Bulería for the verse and chorus but has a custom 36-beat rhythm pattern that I call "Surrealería" during the interlude, where for the YouTube music video I am planning to do an interpretive dance and mime reenactment of the Mayan story of "The Creation of the World" while (a) wearing ballet tights, an impressive codpiece, fluffy bunny slippers and a Venetian mask and (b) juggling unshucked ears of corn, which is fabulous . . .
[NOTE: In fact, doing this song was the reason I got NOTION 3 and the various IK Multimedia virtual instruments. Specifically, while I play drums reasonably well, I realized (a) that doing Flamenco rhythm patterns on the drumkit was beyond my current skills and (b) that the song needed strings and horns, hence the quest to determine how to do this in the virtual universe of digital music production, which is coming along nicely . . . ]
These are the lyrics . . .
"Maríta de la Luna y Pablito el Petardo (No Es Tanto Lo Que Es Como Lo Que No Es)" (The Surf Whammys)
Surf Whammy, your latest "book" is every bit as chock-full of fascinating and useful information as all the rest of 'em (which is really saying something), and I continue to be impressed by your prolificity and general level of erudition. (I don't mind saying I've long suspected you to be something of a genius--a rather eccentric genius, perhaps, which is the best kind--and this forum is fortunate to have you. For my part, I regard you as a teacher of exceptional quality, and I always pay close attention to your advice.)
The timeliness of this particular batch of advice is fortuitous, as I happen to have reached the point in my own development as a composer when orchestration and arrangement (two areas I've been focusing on heretofore) now give way, in terms of priorities, to one of the main areas you're discussing here, e.g. the need to learn, grow, and develop as a "producer".
I've been touching on this very topic with a number of other virtual composers of late, most of whom are of the opinion that I should begin incorporating a DAW into my work. Only one person (Kurt Landre, another knowledgeable and instructive member of this forum) opines that I should stay with Notion...and my respect for his opinion has convinced me that, for my present project at least, I will try to squeeze the most out of the program, and not yet fully "cross over" into the realm of DAWs.
But your comments about the insufficiency of Notion for certain things have struck a chord in my consideration, and I will give careful thought to all you're saying here as I go forward.
Your input is invariably fabulous . . .
jasonchildress wroteI've been touching on this very topic with a number of other virtual composers of late, most of whom are of the opinion that I should begin incorporating a DAW into my work. Only one person (Kurt Landre, another knowledgeable and instructive member of this forum) opines that I should stay with Notion...and my respect for his opinion has convinced me that, for my present project at least, I will try to squeeze the most out of the program, and not yet fully "cross over" into the realm of DAWs.
This is good practical advice, and I think it makes sense . . .
If you have never run sound for a musical group or worked in a recording studio, then it will take a while to make sense of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) application from the perspectives of producing, mixing, and mastering, where to be as precise as possible, mastering usually is a separate activity done with some type of mastering application, but I usually skip that step and do everything with the DAW application . . .
The standard way of doing everything is based on a DAW application being used to produce and mix, where its output is bounced to disk and then the resulting audio file becomes the input to mastering software, where an example of one type of mastering software is T-RackS, but there is more to it than what T-RackS does, since songs need some additional information to follow the generally accepted rules in the digital universe, where for example one needs to have an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) for each song recording you decide to release, where the ISRC identifies the recording and is embedded in the digital master of the recording . . .
[NOTE: There is a FREE version of T-RackS CS, and it has an equalizer and a metering section. The metering section is very helpful, since it provides visual information about the music. I use some of the T-RackS CS effects plug-ins but not all of them. The smart way to purchase is to wait until IK Multimedia has a discount sale on bundles, which they do every once in a while. Overall, I use perhaps 5 to 10 of the effects plug-ins at different times, but usually only one or two at a time . . . ]
T-RackS CS (IK Multimedia)
International Standard Recording Code ~ Wikipedia
In some respects, the ISRC is something one includes when affiliated with a music rights organization like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC; and the ISRC identifies digital recordings and is included in all the copies, but it is global in the sense that it identifies the recording rather than each copy, where for example if you have a song named "My Song" and record it for digital release, then part of the process involves assigning an ISRC to the recording. Each copy made from the master then has the ISRC. If you sell a million copies of the recording, then each copy has the same ISRC . . .
The Red Book standard recommends the encoding of ISRCs onto CDs.
There is a bunch of stuff like the ISRC, and ensuring it is included where it needs to be included is part of mastering, although technically it is more of a manufacturing step, but so what . . .
The term "mastering" generally refers to the step where songs that already are produced and mixed are fine-tuned for release; and the focus is different from producing and mixing, but I combine all three until I decide to release a song for sale, in which case I do the ISRC, BMI, and other stuff . . .
Another way to view mastering is that it is what you do for the master stereo output track, where among other things you want to ensure that the volume level is good and the overall sound is good . . .
Most of the time, I just put a Brickwall Limiter with a minimal setting on the master stereo output track, where the goal is to ensure that any volume spikes are controlled; but there are other types of signal processors that are used on the master stereo output track, where another example is Saturn (FabFilter Software Instruments), which has various settings and controls for mastering, although it also has other uses . . .
T-RackS Brickwall Limiter (IK Multimedia)
Saturn (FabFilter Software Instruments)
If there is a single most important rule for mastering, it is the rule that less is better, which is another way to state that making tiny adjustments is best, where the better the mix, the less work is required when mastering which is where having a calibrated full-range studio monitor system becomes very important, since it is the only way to be certain that what you are hearing is accurate . . .
As should be obvious after watching the two videos (see above), one can focus on a single processor for several months before understanding what it does and how to use it in an intuitive way without needing to do a lot of thinking, which is one of the strategies I use . . .
Signal processors in the digital music production universe where everything is done on a computer are called "effects plug-ins", and in a sense they are like spices . . .
The strategy I use is to focus on one spice until it makes sense, and then when I have a good intuitive sense of what it does, I switch focus to using it in combination with other spices, although not too many at one time . . .
You can do the same thing with effects plug-ins, and as it relates to NOTION, when you are working with the NOTION Mixer, you are doing a combination of producing and mixing . . .
There is a virtual festival of rules, and some of them are well documented, but a lot of rules need to be discovered by reading about producing and mixing and by listening to music, of course . . .
T-RackS has "mastering suites", which are sets of various effects plug-ins that are preconfigured for specific mastering activities, which is interesting, but once I started using a calibrated full-range studio monitor system when mixing, I discovered that for the most part I only need to use the brickwall limiter on the master stereo output track, and then only as a final arbiter for the output volume level, perhaps with a tiny bit of compressing . . .
As it developed here in the sound isolation studio, the calibrated full-range studio monitor system was the last large investment, but in retrospect it should have been one of the first, although by trying everything else first I learned a lot of useful information that I might not have learned any other way . . .
The thing that made me a bit crazy for about five years was discovering how to get good levels for Pop songs, which is starting to make sense now, although there are a few more techniques that I am exploring, where at present I am focusing on making sense of what I call "partitioning" and "slicing", which intuitively appear to be the only ways to achieve a few important goals . . .
"Partitioning" is the technique where you create a separate space for an instrument or voice and generally keep everything else out of that space. This requires using a brickwall equalizer, hence the "partitioning" aspect, where the basic strategy is that you constrain the instrument or voice to a specific frequency range by excluding anything below or above the specific frequency range, where the "brick wall" aspect is a metaphor for blocking everything below or above the specific frequency range in the way that a brick wall forms a barrier through which nothing passes . . .
"Slicing" is similar but it isolates instruments and voices by allowing them only at very specific times--"in" for a few milliseconds or seconds and then "out"---hence is more of an arranging activity, although there are effects plug-ins that do primitive slicing, although more as a special effect . . .
SL-20 Slicer (BOSS)
There is more to the concept of "slicing" as I use it than simply using a noise gate or effects pedal like the BOSS SL-20 Slicer effects pedal . . .
The arranging aspect is focused on something I noticed while studying live performance videos of Rolling Stones songs, where the fascinating aspect is that the guitar players (Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood) and drummer (Charlie Watts) play in what one might call "spurts", which probably is a technique they learned in the recording studio . . .
[NOTE: If you watch Charlie Watts closely when the camera is on him during the verses, you will observe that he isolates his snare drum rimshots, which looks awkward but makes sense when you consider it from the perspective of being heard, hence the connection to the concept of "slicing" as an arranging technique. It obviously is an odd way to play a snare drum rimshot, but it makes sense when you listen to the music, because what happens is that for a brief instant in time, it moves to the forefront, hence is heard. He does not play snare drum rimshots this way all the time, but when he wants them to be heard distinctly, this is the way it does it. The guitar players do something similar in short bursts of phrases for a measure or two and then nothing for a while, and they alternate doing this with the result that it is very orthogonal. George Harrison and John Lennon did the same thing, and it works . . . ]
"Ducking" is another way to partition and slice, and it is one of the keys to the puzzle; but "ducking" is done automagically using carefully configured signal processors, where I think that Pro-C (FabFilter Software Instruments) is the best effects plug-in for this particular technique . . .
The fascinating aspect of "ducking" is that when it is done correctly to move singing to the forefront, it does not appear that the instruments actually are playing at a lower volume level, which makes "ducking" a very useful auditory illusion. When the singer is singing, "ducking" puts primary focus on the singer, but when the singer pauses or stops singing the primary focus shifts smoothly to the instruments and by doing it this way it it becomes possible to control focus while maintaining the auditory illusion of steady dynamics . . .
When you work with the NOTION Mixer, you are doing producing and mixing activities; and you can use VST effect plug-ins, although it is best to keep the total number of VST effects plug-ins as minimal as possible . . .
As explained (see above), it can take a few months of experimenting with a single effects plug-in to develop a keen intuitive sense of what it does and how to use it productively, which nearly always maps to as minimal and gracious a setting as possible . . .
IK Multimedia has "vintage" effects plug-ins that are modeled very precisely by taking elaborate measurements of real vintage signal processors, and these are the ones I use. There are a handful of them that I like, and I nearly always use one of them on each track, where the choice of which "vintage" signal processor depends primarily on the specific instrument . . .
Curiously, the "vintage" signal processors for the most part originally were designed for use in radio and television broadcasting to ensure that the audio being broadcast satisfied very specific Federal Communication Commission (FCC) broadcast rules, but audio engineers and producers noticed that the signal processors had various characteristics which one might describe as being "melodic", although "melodic" is not a technical term . . .
In this way, these signal processors came to be used in recording studios as effects units where the goals are to enhance instruments and singing, hence the selection of which "vintage" signal processor to use depends on the type of enhancing one wants to do . . .
I also use CSR Classik Studio Reverb (IK Multimedia), but I use it sparingly, because reverberation units tend to add significant blur if not used correctly, which basically defeats the goal of being able to hear everything clearly and distinctly . . .
The classic vocal sound of the late-1950s and early-1960s was created by a combination of condenser microphones, compressor-limiters, and reverberation units, which is a producing and audio engineering activity but also involved the singers discovering how to "work" the condenser microphones and signal processors. For reference, the signal processors used vacuum tubes, so there also is an aspect of vacuum tube blur in the equation . . .
[NOTE: Depending on how softly or loudly the singer sings, this effectively controls the level of compressing and limiting, which in turn controls how much reverberation is used; and if you listen to these types of songs over and over, you can develop a sense of they way the singers effectively control the signal processors. The producers and audio engineers primarily focus on configuring everything so that the desired "sweet spots" exist and produce results that enhance the singing in a carefully controlled way. One perspective on this is that it is easiest to for producers and audio engineers to do their work when the singer can sing (a) on pitch, (b) on tempo), and (c) with steady intuitively controlled dynamics, because this is what makes signal processors "happy"; and when signal processors are "happy", you can do some amazing things with them. Nobody actually sounds like this when they are singing, which provides the clue that producers and audio engineers create auditory illusions that are larger than life or however one wants to describe it. One of the most important aspects of using reverberation is that it requires sonic space to be effective, which in a practical way maps to providing enough sonic space for the reverberation to be perceived, even if it measured in fractions of a second where nothing else is happening, typically at the end of a phrase so that the "tail" of the reverberation can be perceived distinctly, which is easy to hear in the Bobby Darin song, where in addition to the pauses in the singing, pay attention to the drums and bass, as well as the way the song is arranged to provide spaces where nothing is happening, which is done by design and is part of this style or producing . . . ]
I use Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments) for custom advanced echoes, and I consider it to be the best echo unit currently available on this planet . . .
For the most part, I use reverberation on snare drum rimshots, some types of lead guitar, and vocals. Occasionally, I add perhaps 5 to 10 percent of a plate reverb to the stereo master output track, but it depends . . .
[NOTE: The various FabFilter Software Instruments video tutorials and marketing blurbs tend to focus on mangling and destroying sounds, which I suppose is done in an effort to appeal to younger folks, but the useful information is there, although not always so obviously . . . ]
Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments)
Lots of FUN!
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