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I have been working on a book about digital music production for the past year or so, and at present it's around 450 pages . . . :)

THOUGHTS

For the most part there are two chapters that need to be written, and one of them is focused on ReWire (Propellerhead Software), which took a while since (a) I needed to decide on the best strategy for doing ReWire and (b) this wandered into making sense of ReWire MIDI with NOTION and Studio One Professional . . .

After doing a bit of experimenting, I have decided that the "ReWire MIDI" strategy is the most practical, and after doing several songs this way over the past few months, I have all the informaton needed to write the chapter . . . :+1

The other chapter is the one where everything in the preceding chapters is brought together to explain the practical aspects of digital music production, which specifically is creating songs . . .

The difficult aspect of the chapter on creating songs in the digital music production universe is devising a way to explain how to compose a song primarily from the perspective of music rather than lyrics, although lyrics certainly are important . . .

A key part of this perspective is marketing, since (a) I plan to sell the book for $50 (US) and (b) this tends to focus the market on people who have $50 and are fine with spending it on a book that provides at least one useful bit of information . . .

This might appear to be an absurd marketing and writing strategy, but from my experience as a software engineer it's not the least bit absurd to spend $50 on a technical book that provides enough information to solve a gnarly problem . . .

When I first decided to develop Rack Extensions for Reason, I was dumbfounded by what colloquially is called "Lollipop Land", where for reference (a) one digital sample looks like a Tootsie Pop when diagrammed and (b) at standard CD audio quality there are exactly 44,100 lollipops per second--something I have explained from a high-level in a few of my other posts . . .

This made absolutely no sense to me--and it continues to be a bit of a mystery--but it's starting to make sense, which is fantastic . . .

It's like understanding chemistry, atoms, and molecules but then discovering quantum physics where everything is (a) patently strange, (b) extraordinarily minuscule, and (c) there's a lot more of it . . .

The first major bit of progress occurred when someone asked a question in the Rack Extension Developer Forum about a book that explains at least some of the digital stuff; and the responses to the question included some technical book suggestions, a few of which I purchased . . .

In particular, the $50 (US) technical book that mapped to a big leap in my understanding had a small chapter which explained how to create a simple digital delay, as well as a few other surprising techniques; and from my perspective (a) it mapped to making progress and (b) it was well worth $50 for what actually were about 10 pages of diagrams and wisdom embedded in the chapter along with a lot of complex mathematics and circuit diagrams . . .

The book is "Designing Audio Effect Plug-ins in C++" (Will Pirkle), and "Chapter 7: Delay Effects and Circular Buffers" is the chapter that provided the necessary clues, where to be specific there were a few diagrams and pages in the chapter that explained a lot of things . . .

Basically, it works like a 1960's EchoPlex magnetic tape echo unit, but instead of recording audio on a loop of magnetic tape, you make a copy of the lollipops as they arrive and then after whatever delay makes sense for what you want to occur, you mix (a) the already-arrived and copied lollipops with (b) the newly arriving lollipops; and this is how you create a simple delay unit in "Lollipop Land" . .

IK Multimedia has a digital emulation of an EchoPlex in T-RackS 5, and it's an add-on product . . .

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The easiest way to make sense of digital delay is to go to YouTube and find a song you like . . .

Then open a second tab and load it with the same song . . .

[NOTE: It's easier to open each instance of YouTube in a separate window, so you can see the times for each one; but you also can do it "by ear" . . . ]

Then start playing the song in the first tab; and a second or so later start playing the song in the second tab. . .

What happens is that this creates simple echoes . . .

For a complete song with a lot of instruments and singing, it works best if the delay is small; but for a single instrument or singer, longer delays work nicely . . .

Great! :+1

About a week or two ago, I had the idea of explaining how to compose a song based on the combination of (a) Joseph Schillinger's System of Musical Composition (SoMC), where everything is explained using numbers and algorithms in a rather complex "music algebra" and (b) the concept of painting a picture by numbers, which is something that was popular a long time ago and might still be popular, although perhaps not . . .

The paint by numbers product was a kit that had a canvas with a sketch where the different parts of the painting were assigned numbers that matched the numbers on small samples of paint; and the general idea was that you painted each section or part of the painting using the correct number of paint; and when you painted all the sections, the result was a complete painting . . .

After pondering this idea for a while, I realized it is very consistent with a major part of the strategy I use when composing and recording a song . . .

Since I do everything myself, I do one thing (instrument or voice) at a time; and I have a general set of steps, which begins with what I call the "basic rhythm section" . . .

I have other strategies, so it depends on the way a song develops, which might start with a pattern of rhythm guitar chords or a melody or a drumkit part or a set of lyrics or anything else; but overall there is a specific set of steps no matter how it's done . . .

Joseph Schillinger's SoMC is explained in great detail in two volumes that total approximately 1,500 pages and can take years or decades to master, which can be daunting; but the fascinating aspect of SoMC is that there are different ways to use it; and one way is to study the diagrams and to play the music notation examples with NOTION . . .

[NOTE: There is plenty of descriptive and perhaps philosophical text, and a good bit of it makes sense without needing to wander into the vastly complex "music algebra" . . . ]

You don't need to understand all of it for it to be useful . . .

Joseph Schillinger was a mathematician, physicist, and musician; and for the most part his theory is that everything is based on numbers, geometry, algebra, and lots of other stuff, including psychology, metaphysics, neurology, and acoustic physics . . .

From a practical perspective, I understand nearly nothing about the music algebra used in SoMC, but it doesn't matter . . .

The key bit of information is that you can start with a simple set of numbers, for example {1,3,5,6}, and then use this set of numbers in various ways to compose a song . . .

The numbers can be beats played on a drumkit, and they can be used to create a pitch-scale . . .

For example, if the numbers are notes in a diatonic scale, there will be seven of them; but (a) it's flexible and (b) you can change the rules as you desire, either using geometry or "by ear" . . .

This is one way to use the set of numbers to create a scale:

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{1,3,5,6} = {A, C, E, F#}

If you need more notes in the scale, you can use geometry to extend the set; and this is explained in SoMC by diagramming the basic set and then performing various geometric transforms, which I call "flipping", where you create more notes by "flipping" horizontally or vertically, where for example a simple horizontal "flip" produces the new set {1,3,5,6,6,5,3,1}, but you also can flip vertically and lots of other ways . . .

[NOTE: Horizontal flipping creates sequences of already-defined notes, but vertical flipping creates new notes that are added to the evolving scale of pitches, which makes sense when you study the geometric diagrams a while and recognize the various flips . . . ]

This is the way the first part of the melody for "Over the Rainbow" (Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg) looks when diagrammed in the SoMC geometric style . . .

[NOTE: The y-axis is pitch, and the x-axis is duration. It might be in a different key, but from the perspective of geometry it doesn't matter so much. I added pitch names for the notes, but numbers work just as well. If this were a house, then Judy Garland is singing the first floor. The bass is the foundation or perhaps basement; and the strings and woodwinds are the second floor, attic, and roof. SoMC has rules and suggestions for all the parts, as well as the way everything fits to create a Gestalt. It's stylized, since I did it from memory, but it's close enough to get the concept. It's easy to see how some of the subpatterns are repeated but at different vertical heights and so forth. The duration of notes is flexible, and it's obvious that Judy Garland did her own musical styling of the melody, which (a) is something skilled singers do and (b) tends to keep arrangers gainfully employed . . . ]

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George Gershwin, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman were SoMC students, and what now is the Berklee College of Music originally was focused on SoMC when it started as the Schillinger House . . .

Lawrence Berk's notes on SoMC are available at the Berklee College of Music website, and you can view them in book format . . .

BCA-007: Lawrence Berk papers on the Schillinger System (Berklee College of Music)

In the geometric diagramming style, rather than focusing on diatonic scales, each half-step is represented; hence it's a matter of twelves (chromatic) rather than sevens (diatonic); but it's flexible and can be whatever you want it to be . . .

The classic example of {1,4,5} here in the sound isolation studio is "Louie Louie" (The Kingsmen), where these are numbers used in a variant of Nashville Number System; and if the song is played in the key of "A", then the chords are {A, D, E} . . .

[NOTE: In the same way that SoMC can be simple, the Nashville Number System can be simple; and since I learned it when I was playing electric bass, I focused on the numbers without all the extra stuff, much of which I continue not to understand in an immediately conscious way. If a rhythm guitar chord sounds better when it's minor, sixth, seventh, ninth, or whatever, then I play it that way without giving much conscious attention to all the "music theory" stuff. Here in the sound isolation studio everything mostly is "by ear", although in one way or another I understand the complex stuff but without being overwhelmed by it. If a note sounds better with a flat or sharp, then I specify a flat or sharp, although mostly I prefer sharps to flats, which is fine except when there is a horn section, since they prefer flats . . . :P ]

Nashville Number System (Wikipedia)

These are major chords, and on electric guitar they are Barre chords, but the electric piano chords are upside-down, inverted, or whatever it's called . . .

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PAINTING A SONG BY NUMBERS

When I started composing this song, I had nearly no idea about it other than {1,3,5,6} and the general view that it should be in the key of "A"--except that I do everything on soprano treble staves, since (a) it's what I learned when I was in a liturgical boys choir and (b) it's the only thing that makes intuitive sense to me . . .

I also do not specify a key; so everything is in whatever "no key specified" happens to be . . .

[NOTE: Until a few months ago I avoided the black keys on grand piano whenever possible; but after the bit of information that Irving Berlin composed and played everything in F# (all the black keys and two white keys) made it into my immediate consciousness, I now am experimenting with F# on grand piano, which is remarkably easy for composing, since everything sounds good in one way or another. In fact, it's so easy that this should be the way people begin learning how to play grand piano. For reference, Irving Berlin had a transposing piano where the keyboard could be moved to the left or right to change the audible key. If the key for a potential singer was better in G, then he would shift the keyboard with a mechanical lever a half-step to the right, at which time he would still be playing in F# but the notes would be in G . . . ]

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Here in the sound isolation studio there are 12 notes and 10 octaves, two of which mostly exist to annoy cats and dogs . . .

In NOTION, you can do everything with treble staves using the transpose functionality in Score Setup, where you can specify that Middle C is played one or two octaves lower or higher than notated, which for electric bass is two octaves lower but for electric guitar is one octave lower . . .

{A, D, E} on electric bass is lowest (two octaves lower than notated); but on rhythm guitar its low (one octave lower than notated) . . .

This keeps everything simple, and from my perspective they are the same notes, except that on electric bass they a lower than on electric guitar . . .

[NOTE: I like Scientific Pitch Notation, but why do I need to append numbers after the names of notes? It's helpful when I am explaining something and need to be as precise as possible, but for what I need to do most of the time it's unnecessary. I know the notes that are correct for electric bass, and I know the notes that are correct for lead guitar, which in the "by ear" strategy is all I need to know. My perspective is that a lot of music theory and everything associated with it intentionally was made as abstruse as possible to discourage people from becoming composers, musicians, and singers. Most of it is just a bunch of gobbledygook. Yet, it's useful at times to know a bit of music theory, so it's all good. More occasionally than not, I use a bit of music theory to make decisions and to determine easily what needs to happen; but it's more of a "can't avoid using it" type of thing. If it's useful, then use it . . . ]

Scientific Pitch Notation (Wikipedia)

I started with a pair of kick drums and used "1" for the beats, where it alternates back-and-forth from the Left Kick Drum to the Right Kick Drum, which adds a bit of motion . . .

Then I created three snare drums (Far-Left, Center, Far-Right), followed by creating three hi-hats (Far-Left, Center, Right); and I added a Höfner Beatle Bass from SampleTank 2 (a personal legacy favorite) . . .

Lastly, I added two electric rhythm guitars (Far-Left, Far-Right) playing chords and phrases based on {1,3,5,6}, except that the far-right rhythm guitar has a flat on its high note, which is fine with me because I like the way it sounds, even though I have no immediately conscious idea why it's flatted or how it became flatted . . .

The center snare drum is doing a three-pattern, and the other two snare drums play before and after it by an eighth . . .

The Höfner Beatle Bass is playing notes from the {1,3,5,6} set over two or so octaves . . .

[NOTE: As best as I can determine, the {5,6} aspect of the rhythm pattern derives from everything except the Center Snare Drum being "regular" or "4/4". This makes sense when you listen to the song and focus on the three-beat of the Center Snare Drum. What happens is that it is what one might call "on the beat" for a while but then becomes "off the beat". The electric guitars repeat on a two-measure pattern . . . ]

There are lots of ways to do this, so this is one of a virtual festival of ways to have FUN with {1,3,5,6} . . .

[NOTE: The one-measure Intro mostly was done "by ear", and described in words it's a "bwang" type of thing, which I think is funny. The NOTION score is all ReWire MIDI staves, but I gave them meaningful names. The actual VSTi virtual instruments are hosted in the Studio One Professional ".song" for this project. There is a Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments) echo unit on the far-right rhythm guitar, and there is a good bit of producing done with effects plug-ins, which I will show in a follow-up YouTube video . . . ]

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Since I have never heard this song until a few hours ago, what I usually do at this point in the development is listen to this "basic rhythm section" for a while until I am familiar with it sufficiently to start hearing more instruments in my mind . . .

This is the "by ear" aspect, and after listening to it over and over--which is the way I learn the song--more instrumentation begins appearing, at which time I do the music notation for whatever it might be, which includes selecting different instruments and sounds . . .

At present, it's very repetitive, which is fine with me . . .

In terms of "ABBA", it's all "A", but one of the great aspects of NOTION is that it's easy to copy and paste, followed by selecting a set of measures and transposing them to do a "B" part . . .

Then it's "AB", and at some point a chorus, bridge, and interlude appear . . .

When you compose a song this way, there is a bit of serendipity once there are enough instruments; and what happens is that the various instruments interact in ways that create sounds that are not mapped to any of the individual instruments . . .

This is the reason it's important to listen to a song over and over as it develops, because after a while you begin hearing extra bits and pieces that were not so obvious initially . . .

For example, there are times when it sounds like a person or perhaps several of the musicians are saying or hollering something between the notated bits; and this provides clues to what you can add later . . .

In SoMC, this is an aspect that Joseph Schillinger calls "spiralicity" or something involving a spiral, where the general concept is that like a seashell, a song has a logical kernal or core from which everything else evolves according to the rules of geometry, design, and so forth . . .

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Lots of FUN! :)
Last edited by Surf.Whammy on Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:04 am, edited 3 times in total.

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:11 am
This is the Studio One Professional ".song" in the project that corresponds to the NOTION video in my previous post to this topic . . . :)

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THOUGHTS

In the next version of the basic rhythm section, I sequenced the 9-measure sections using the set {1,3,5,6}, where the third is minor . . .

I use the Transpose Tool in NOTION to do this, and it's an easy way to do it . . .

The Intro measure for each section is updated both in the primary drumkit rhythms and in the electric bass and rhythm guitars . . .

After listening to the song a while, I decided to update the Center Snare Drum pattern so that every other quarter note now is replaced by a pair of eighth notes . . .

The echo unit for the Far-Right Rhythm Guitar is updated and is based on the "Thin Air" preset in Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments), which is an easy way to do more elaborate strumming without actually needing to do it via music notation . . .

Using echo units is part of my strategy for creating guitar rigs that do most of the work, where the idea is based on ergonomics and optimizing the efficiency of motions, with this being part of what I call the "Wall of Guitars" concept . . .

Otherwise, performing the song would require a virtual festival of guitar players, which is neither practical nor realistically possible . . .

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[NOTE: This is the NOTION score for "SoMC ~ PT1.2", and it only has ReWire MIDI staves. The virtual instruments are hosted in the corresponding Studio One Professional ".song" for the project. At present, I am using SampleTank 3 (IK Multimedia) VSTi virtual instruments, and all of them are "legacy" instruments from SampleTank 2 and the various instrument collections current at the time. I imported them into SampleTank 3, and as a general rule I prefer the "legacy" instruments. Due to the way I have the various sampled-sound libraries organized on the Mac Pro (Early 2008) here in the sound isolation studio, as well as the various effects plug-ins I use, its not practical to provide the Studio One Professional ".song", but so what. The primary focus is on the NOTION score; and the practical aspect of everything else is that it's a matter or arranging, orchestrating, and producing, which really is another topic . . . ]

"SoMC ~ PT1" NOTION Score

THE YOUTH OF TODAY

Until about five or so years ago, I thought that I had at least a few clues about "modern music", but in retrospect it was a delusion . . . :P

Mostly, when I listen to FM radio, it's the local iHeart station, which tends to play what I consider to be Metal music, and once a week at night they have a program that focuses on the more extreme forms of Metal . . .

My current favorite Metal group is Metallica, but I like all types of music, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous!

Going back 10 years, one of my strategies was to find a song I liked and then to do a parody of it where the "parody" when completed had nothing to do with the song that inspired the parody--other than the tempo and perhaps a bit of sarcastic humor . . .

This continues to be one of my strategies, but now it's a bit different in the sense that I have stopped imagining that I have the ability to be the musical voice of the "Youth of Today", which is fine with me . . .

Some of the songs that are popular with young folks today are a bit disturbing, but there are a few that I like . . .

This set of songs started nearly 20 years ago with "Youth Of The Nation" (P.O.D.), which for reference has stellar reverberation and echoes . . .

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Around the same time, this song appeared . . .

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These songs are getting airtime now . . .

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So what?

Great question! :+1

From the perspective of arranging, orchestrating, and producing, it's useful to get a sense of current songs for whatever genre interests you when using the Paint a Song with Numbers strategy . . .

Sometimes, everything about a song appears at the same time, but when you are starting with what essentially is a blank slate, I think it makes a bit of sense to survey the landscape, since you might find a few ideas . . .

When you listen to "SoMC ~ PT1.2" and then listen to these songs, it's an obvious non-sequitur; but remember that "SoMC ~ PT1.2" is the second iteration of the basic rhythm section, which maps to its being an early sketch in the Paint a Song with Numbers strategy . . .

My perspective on this is that currently popular songs (a) are heavily produced and (b) have virtual festivals of buzzes, sparkles, and whatever else helps to keep the listeners attention focused, which is based on the apparent reality that the attention spans of the Youth of Today are measured in seconds, which one might suppose is the direct consequence of rapid communication technology and overwhelming information, which is fine with me, even though philosophically some of it is a bit disturbing . . .

It's not my fault! :ugeek:

VOCAL SCALES

One of my ongoing projects is to identify the specific vocal scales and modes for what I consider to be currently popular Metal and related songs . . .

Initially, this was vastly subtle, and I don't think it's something a lot of folks consider from the perspective of mathematics and geometry . . .

So this is another aspect I am pondering as part of creating this song . . .

Whether it fits with the set {1,3,5,6} is undetermined, but overall it doesn't matter, because one of the SoMC rules is that you don't have to follow the rules when it makes sense to do things which initially appear to violate the rules . . .

In other words, it's flexible . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:39 am
I slept on it for a while and sua sponte decided to add a Cyclop (Sugar Bytes) instrument . . . :)

THOUGHTS

In the previous post, I presented my hypothesis that "modern music" for the Youth of Today needs to have plenty of buzzing, sparkling, and everything else that captures and maintains the attention of listeners . . .

When it comes to buzzing, nothing beats Cyclop (Sugar Bytes) . . .

Cyclop (Sugar Bytes)

Cyclop is billed by Sugar Bytes as a "Twisted Bass Synthesizer"--which it is--but it also does midrange and high-frequency notes . . .

I use it primarily for textures, and since it's very complex (as you can observe in the YouTube video for the new version of "SoMC"), rather than try to make sense of how it works, I use presets . . .

There are a lot of presets, so I use the same strategy as with everything else, which is to cycle through the presets until I find one I like . . .

After doing this over and over for different songs, I develop a mind map of the presets, which sooner or later saves time and, one might expect, eventually will make all the complex parameters intuitive . . .

This is an important aspect of using virtual instruments and effects plug-ins that have advanced and typically complex capabilities like Cyclop and Timeless 2 . . .

It might be nice to suggest that I understand every aspect of Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments)--my favorite echo unit--and Cyclop, but I don't understand a lot of the specifics . . .

[NOTE: FabFilter Software Instruments bills Timeless 2 as the "Ultimate Sound Mangler", which I suppose is a European thing. It certainly can mangle sounds, but I use it as an echo unit. It's German, as is Cyclop, and it's virtually mind-boggling. It's the most advanced echo unit available on this planet . . . ]

Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments)

I understand more about Timeless 2 than Cyclop, but overall not so much . . .

Yet, I have a deep and rich understanding and intuitive sense of echo units; so my strategy is to find a preset that is similar to what I want to happen, at which time I adjust everything to fine-tune it; but with Cyclop thee are so many presets that it's just a matter of cycling through them until I find the right one . . .

Back to the song, there are two key phrases: (1) the Höfner Beatle Bass line when it toggles back-and-forth on the subset {1.3} where the third is minor and (2) the two note phrase in the Far-Left Rhythm Guitar, which is the subset {6,1}; so this is what the new Cyclop instrument is playing . . .

Since Cyclop does fantastic glissandi and wobbles, I also used it to add texture to the Intro measure for each section, which is done with deep bass notes and glissandi and makes the transitions from section to section smoother rhythmically and tonally . . .

[NOTE: The Cyclop preset is "Bubbler" and the texture designer goes by the moniker "ABSTRACTCATS". Curiously this is the same texture designer I used for the synthesized cat purring that I added to my singing in the verses of the fast part of "Sweet Hour of Prayer" . . . ]

Project: "Sweet Hour of Prayer" (PreSonus NOTION Forum)

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There was a bit of serendipity involved in deciding sua sponte to add the Cyclop instrument, but mostly it is the way the "Bubbler" preset behaves differently with deep bass notes, midrange notes, and high-frequency notes . . .

[NOTE: The treble staff for the "Bubbler Cyclop" is configured to play its notes two octaves lower than notated. As I explained previously, when I do everything with treble staves it's easier to manage notes, since while a note might be lower or higher than notated, they all are notes I recognize intuitively, which maps to not needing to remember that bass staff notes are some interval lower than treble staff notes, which as i recall probably is a whole step. I know treble clef intimately, but with bass clef I have to stop and do a mental algorithm; because for example what looks like an "A" on bass clef actually is "C", and this makes absolutely no intuitive sense to me. In fact, I think it's both stupid and confusing to have a virtual festival of clefs. It's like a bunch of music bureaucrats got together centuries ago and had a team meeting where the goal was to make something already complex even more complex, with one of the objectives being to ensure that none of the various sections of a symphonic orchestra could read the sheet music of the other sections. Explained another way, it's the music notation version of the Tower of Babel . . . ]

Initially, I thought it would require two Cyclop instruments; but with the "Bubbler" preset, it does both things . . .

This new version primarily is focused on orchestrating, but there is a bit of arranging, as well . . .

The way it works here in the sound isolation studio is that after listening to each iteration of a song, it becomes clearer with respect to the instruments, melody, counterpoint, harmony, and so forth; and I think it's obvious that adding the Cyclop instrument changed the mood of the song . . .

On a related note, I think it's accurate to suggest that George Gershwin composed, arranged, and orchestrated a good bit of "Rhapsody in Blue" using the set {1,2,3,5}, which in "A" looks like this . . .

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There's a bit more to it, but this is the way I put it into SoMC perspective . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:36 pm
As a bit of follow-up on George Gershwin, who was a student of Joseph Schillinger and understood SoMC, this is another example of the way George Gershwin used SoMC in his compositions . . . :)

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THOUGHTS

When I first transcribed the key phrase, I used the set of numbers that mapped to "G" being "1"; but after thinking about it a while, I started thinking that "C" might be"1", so I changed the numbers . . .

Whether "C" is "1" is another matter, but it is both enlightening and amusing . . .

Done this way, the set is {1,2,3,4,5,6} . . . :+1

Once you know a little bit about Joseph Schillinger's System of Musical Composition and George Gershwin being his student for a while, it's obvious that "I Got Rhythm" is a perhaps not so subtle tribute to his mentor . . .

SoMC is based on numbers, and the two-volume set is divided into 12 books, each of which has quite a few chapters . . .

The first book is "Theory of Rhythm", hence rhythm is the first aspect of music explained in SoMC, and it's the foundation for everything else . . .

Explained another way, SoMC is all about rhythm, which initially is mapped to timing and duration but quickly is followed by pitch-scales, melodies, harmonies, counterpoint, chords, and so forth . . .

In the same way there is a music algebra for rhythm, there is a music algebra for pitch . . .

Everything ultimately is mapped to music notation, but along the way it is geometric and mathematical . . .

One perspective on this is that the percussion side of rhythm is a drumkit with an assortment of 12 drums, cymbals, and Latin percussion instruments, which is something I realized when I began assembling my first drumkit around a decade ago--an effort which took about a year; a good bit of research; and eventually mapped to the "Really Bigger Drumkit", which for reference is even bigger than the "Really Big Drumkit" and is so much bigger that I made 22" custom drumsticks to play it, with these being made from 5/8" oak dowels, as you can see in the photo . . .

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The Really Bigger Drumkit

I had tinkered with drumkits for decades and continue to tap rhythms with whatever is readily available, as I have done since I was a child when, after seeing a drummer, I had the idea to use pots and pans as drums . . .

Once I had my own drums and cymbals, which at first was a Ringo Starr (Beatles) type of drumkit, I realized that drums need to be tuned; and this led to discovering the "Drum Tuning Bible" (Prof. Sound), where the melodic aspects of tuning drums are explained in great detail . . .

"Drum Tuning Bible" (J. Scott Johnson [a.k.a., Prof. Sound]) ~ PDF (20 pages)

Twenty pages might not appear to be a lot of detail, but (a) it covers everything and (b) the tuning techniques work wonderfully . . .

The second book in the first volume of SoMC is "Theory of Pitch-Scales", and it applies essentially the same type of rhythm music algebra to pitch-scales; so instead of banging on melodic drums, cymbals, and Latin percussion instruments, you bang on the keys of a piano . . .

Connect a few dots and here in the sound isolation studio this is how I play grand piano, which is patently strange but productive . . .

Perhaps in a later post, I will describe my ongoing effort to teach myself how to play grand piano using the technique I call "Directed Dreaming", where the general idea is to harness the power of the unconscious mind ("id" in Freudian terminology) to skip decades of piano lessons and actually playing a grand piano . . .

The succinct version is that I made what I consider to be good progress for about 20 years; and then I made a lot of progress based on two things, both which I map to epiphanies: (1) overcoming my innate fear of being musically spontaneous on grand piano and lead guitar and (2) deciding that the keys on a grand piano are like drums, cymbals, and Latin percussion instruments . . .

Whether "innate fear of being spontaneous" is the best way to describe the dilemma is another matter; but for me it was the fear of being teleported along with my Stratocaster, Marshall stack, and guitar pedal rig by the Aliens From Outer Space onto a concert stage where Elvis Presley was performing a song, at which time the spotlight moves to me and Elvis says, "TCB", which in Elvis terminology maps to telling me to play a lead guitar solo, which is fine, except that it's a song I never have heard and I have nothing preplanned or precomposed for a lead guitar solo . . .

What do you do when that happens? :roll:

Basically, there are two options: (a) have a panic attack and wet your pants or (b) start playing notes spontaneously with everything controlled by your unconscious mind and hope that you don't make a total fool of yourself . . . :P

Once you discover how to suspend conscious judgment for a while, this becomes easy to do . . .

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For reference, electric bass was the first instrument here in the sound isolation studio to receive this enlightenment; and the way I describe it is that I switched from (a) playing bass notes to (b) playing bass textures, which you can hear in "Starlight" . . .

This introduces a key aspect of the Paint a Song with Numbers strategy, which is that if you do everything by yourself, then whether you realize it initially in an immediately conscious way, it will make sense because your unconscious mind already knows a lot more stuff than you imagine or realize . . .

It might take a while to compose, arrange, orchestrate, and produce a song; but if you can listen to music and determine when notes sound "good" rather than "bad", then there you are, which is the "by ear" aspect of the strategy . . .

The first song you do this way might take a year, but the second song will take perhaps half a year, and so forth until it takes a few months, which maps to a musical group like the Beatles doing a song in a week or so, based on being four musicians who also sing, George Martin, Geoff Emerick, and all the folks at Abbey Road Studios, which in total is probably at least ten people . . .

Do the arithmetic . . .

Switching to SoMC geometric manipulations, this is one way to do a series of "flips" on the set {1,3,5,6}, which as you can see creates a scale, which when linearized is {A, C, D#, E, F#, G#} and is enough notes to have a bit of FUN . . .

Image

From the perspective of Paint a Song with Numbers, it doesn't matter whether this particular set of notes is good, bad, or indifferent . . .

It doesn't matter, because the set is created logically, mathematically, and geometrically, which makes it consistent at a higher level . . .

We started painting the song with four notes using the set {1,3,5,6}, but now via a series of "flips" we have six notes, which is the set {1,3,4,5,6,7}, where in both sets it's not necessary to indicate minor, major, augmented, and so forth, although by using minus and plus signs, this is possible. . .

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{1,3-,5,6}
{1,3-,4+,5,6,7}

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I suppose that knowing whether a specific note is flat, natural, or sharp is useful information, but for what?

The goal is to wade through all this stuff by keeping everything as simple as possible . . .

The "C" is minor, flat, or perhaps is an augmented "B" . . .

According the the generally accepted rules of music theory, it can be a lot of other things, as well; but does this get us any nearer to completing the song?

Maybe, but probably not . . .

Lots of FUN! :)
Last edited by Surf.Whammy on Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:20 pm
As you might know, I have been having a bit of FUN with the Key of "F#", which is all the black keys on a grand piano plus two easily found white keys (according to the rules here in the sound isolation studio); and I did an experiment a few days ago and discovered the "I Got Rhythm" (music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin) is interesting in whatever key this happens to be . . . :)

THOUGHTS

[NOTE: Whether what I call the Key of "F#" is what I think it probably is, overall is another matter; because calling it Key of "F#" makes sense to me. It worked nicely for Irving Berlin, and the more FUN I have with the Key of "F#", the more amazing the strategy becomes--to the point that, in some respects, I have become Pretend Irving Berlin with respect to being to play spontaneously melodies and chords that all sound good. In fact, I am starting to think that if I have a bit more FUN with Key of "F#", then in a few months I could at least in theory and perhaps in practice get a job playing piano in a lounge. All the black keys sound good and they are a pentatonic scale; there are only two white keys per octave, and they are easy to remember; and if you zone-out and forget what you are doing, just play some black keys until you zone-in . . . :P ]

Toward the ongoing goal of being unencumbered by knowledge, the general rule here in the sound isolation studio is that a song generally is in the key of its first observed melody note, which explained another way maps to the key being whatever I think the primary or "root" electric bass note happens to be--but there is an important caveat to this rule, which is that everything is in the key with only white keys, with this being perhaps "C" Major, "A" Minor, or any of the seven modern modes {Ionic, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian} that begins on a white key and is played only with white keys on a grand piano, where for example the key might be "D" Dorian or perhaps "E" Phrygian . . .

While this likely makes little sense in the grand scheme of everything, it's a shortcut that avoids a lot of complex stuff which at present serves no useful purpose here in the sound isolation studio . . .

Yet, when augmented with the "by ear" strategy, it provides a bit of enlightenment in various ways . . .

QUESTION: Do you need to know the specific key of a song to compose it?

ANSWER: Not really!

However, there are a few things you need to know, although not necessarily in terms of numbers and pitches; and two of them are intuitive--if not genetic--which makes them "by ear" phenomena:

(1) You need to be able to determine the primary, "root", or "anchor" bass note for a song . . .

(2) You need to be able to determine the resolving or "tag" bass note for a song . . .

In other words, when actually playing the song on a bass instrument, you need to know "1" and "5"; and knowing "4" is a bonus . . .

If you know "1" and "5", then you can play a slow and syrupy bass line; but if these key numbers elude your conscious awareness, then the best strategy is to play rapidly as many notes as possible based on the rules that (a) if you play enough notes rapidly, then at least a few of them will sound "good" and (b) the more "good" notes you identify, the more likely a pattern will emerge which sooner or later will make it easy to identify "1" and "5" . . . .

With these rules in mind, this is the way I diagrammed the primary part of the melody for "I Got Rhythm":

Image

"G#" Minor has the correct sharps, B is natural, but it also needs a natural F; so it might work, but not really . . .

Doing a bit more research, the correct key is "F#" Major, which it has the natural B and natural F, except the "natural F" is called "E#", which is stupid because there is no black key for "E", but so what . . .

[NOTE: Upon realizing how confusing to me this is, if there were a horn section, then they would have a team meeting and decide that (a) "E#" needs to be called "F" and (b) since "F" is not flatted then (c) the key for the song needs to be changed so that "E" is "F♭", at which time I switch to Barre chords and ignore the strange, bizarre, and annoying rules devised by the horn section. I can remember one name for one thing; but when the same thing has many names, it becomes too complex for no logical reason. I can handle the general concept of flats, because in the same way that one is exposed to measles; becomes infected; recovers; and then has immunity to measles, I have been exposed to a horn section, and now I am "immuned" . . . :P ]

The new rule here in the sound isolation studio is that when all the black keys on a grand piano sound "good", the key is "F#" . . .

Code: Select all
(1.1) white keys on grand piano sound "good" = Key of "C" or something*

(1.2) black keys on grand piano sound "good" = Key of "F#" or something*

[NOTE:  *Regardless, everything is in the Key of "C", even when it's in the Key of "F#". 
There are 12 notes and 10 octaves, two of which are provided primarily to annoy cats and dogs . . . ]

Toward the goal of creating an SoMC mnemonic, I modified the lyrics for "I Got Rhythm" . . .

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Code: Select all
I got rhythm
I got pitch-scales
I got music
Who could ask for anything else!

I got words and
I got themes and
I got lyrics
Who could ask for anything else!

I got choruses
I got bridges
I got harmonies
I got counterpoint

I got drums and
I got bass and
I got chords and
Who could ask for anything else!
Who could ask for anything else!

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
User avatar
by Surf.Whammy on Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:22 pm
I added the new notes in the extended pitch-scale set . . . :)

THOUGHTS

This song started with a four-number set, {1,3-,5,6}, and by doing a series of geometric "flips" I extended it to a six-number set {1,3-,4+,5,6,7}, as explained in the previous post to this topic . . .

Code: Select all
{1,3-,4+,5,6,7} = {A, C, D#, E, F#, G#}

I used the Twin 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments) synthesizer to begin adding a melody, and after a bit of experimenting I decided on a set of notes and cadences . . .

In SoMC, there is a virtual festival of music algebra techniques and algorithms one can use to construct a melody, but (a) it's vastly complex and (b) I don't understand it; so the strategy I use involves listening to the song and then using the new pitch-scale set to identify relevant notes . . .

It's a strategy based on the combination of (a) SoMC and (b) "by ear" . . .

From this perspective, the kernel of SoMC is rhythm and pitch-scales, both of which are based on numbers and geometry, which can be expressed via a special type of music algebra, but so what . . .

There is an interesting and often amusing way to get a sense of SoMC rhythms, which is done with a small group of people; and when I have an actual musical group, I devote a bit of attention to having everyone do this exercise in various combinations and permutations, where for four people it's like this:

(1) the first person claps on every beat (1-1-1 . . . 1-1}

(2) the second person claps on every other beat (2-2-2 . . . 2-2)

(3) the third person claps on every third beat (3-3-3 . . . 3-3)

(4) the fourth person claps on every fifth beat (5-5-5 . . . 5-5)

You can do this with different sets of numbers, and for the SoMC example song in this topic, the set of numbers is {1,3,5,6}; hence one person claps every "1"; a second person claps on every "3"; a third person claps on every "5"; and the fourth person claps on every "6" . . .

Each unique set of numbers creates a new rhythm pattern; and the general rule is that using SoMC music algebra, all rhythms in all genres of music--past, present, and future--can be constructed using the set of single-digit, positive integers {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9} . . .

What happens in the aforementioned, first rhythmic clapping exercise is that some of the time two or more people clap at the same time; and the general rule in SoMC is that when everyone claps at the same time, this determines the end of a measure . . .

This is an unique way to determine the correct number of beats per measure, and for the most part it provides the clue that nearly no classical or modern music uses the correct number of beats per measure, but so what . . .

In some instances when one is using the larger, positive integers in the set of single-digits, the number of beats per measure can be in the hundreds, which is not so practical for standard music notation; and this is one of the reasons I tend to do everything in 4/4 or 5/4 time even though it might be in some other meter . . .

These two rhythm exercise might appear to be simple; but the hilarious aspect is that even when the group of people are highly proficient musicians and singers, one of them inevitably will lose focus for a moment and start listening to the other claps, at which time they will forget to count their claps, which then confuses everyone else except perhaps the person clapping on "1" . . .

The type of musical instrument the musician plays makes no difference; and while one might imagine that a drummer certainly would never become confused, this is not the case--unless the drummer is in what I call "machine mode", hence is highly focused on the specific pattern . . .

At present, I have not devised a similar set of exercises for pitch-scale sets, but one way to get a sense of how everything interacts is to do what Irving Berlin did, which specifically is to play everything in F#, which generally is easy to do because it's all the black keys and the "B" and "F" white keys . . .

Similarly, you can play only the white keys, which is what I think most folks do initially . . .

If you play only the white keys for a while (several months, at least) and switch to playing everything in F# for a similar amount of time, then I think everything moves to a higher level, because this provides quite a few thematic opportunities and, if nothing else, covers all the keys (white keys and black keys) . . .

Continuing with the new version, as you recall, I used the NOTION Transpose Tool to do the interval changes for each section, which is easy to do . . .

These are nine-measure sections (1-measure Intro plus 8-measure Verse); so I started with the first section; copied and pasted it to the end of the first section; and then transposed it by a minor third; and so forth to construct the {1,3-,5,6} structure of sections . . .

This is fine, except that it introduces flats rather than sharps into the music notation; and the result is that you have a mixture of flats and sharps, which is confusing . . .

When the original four-number set was expanded to a six-number set, it became useful--but not technically necessary--to make everything consistent, which in this instance mapped to replacing the flatted notes with either (a) sharped notes or (b) enharmonic natural notes . . .

This included changing any notes that were not in the extended set to a note that is in the extended set, where for example "B" is not in the original or extended pitch-scale set, so anytime there was a "B", I changed it to another note, based primarily on the "by ear" strategy . . .

For example, "B" could be {A|C|D#}, since these are the nearest notes in the extended set of six notes or intervals . . .

In some instances, I had to modify rhythm guitar chords and the electric bass lines, which I did "by ear" but nevertheless within the constraints of the extended set . . .

Early in the process, I discovered the Intro line, which appeared due to the "D#" being added to the pitch-scale set; and I like it very much and plan to use in an Interlude or something . . .

Image

I used glissandi on the Cyclop (Sugar Bytes) bass synthesizer; so it was logical to use glissandi on the Twin 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments) synthesizers, which in this instance were set to the "Lame Talker BM" preset . . .

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Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Sun Feb 17, 2019 7:21 pm
The song is becoming clearer now . . . :)

THOUGHTS

As the song emerges from its cocoon, the overall structure is become clearer, which here in the sound isolation studio maps to music notation appearing . . .

As a hint of things to come, I plan to add a bit of Realivox Blue (Realitone) singing "ya-ya-ya-ya-ya" in the obvious places, where another hint is observed by listening to the C. Synth glissandi in the verses . . .

But first I am focusing on what colloquially I am calling the "D# Theme", which is shown in music notation in the previous post . . .

Toward this goal, I added two measures to the Intro for each section; and I increased the "wet" volume level in the Timeless 2 (FabFilter Software Instruments) echo units for the L. Synth and R. Synth, which at present only play the "D# Theme" . . .

On a related note based on a few of the current hit songs I referenced in previous posts to this topic and on similar observations in other current hit songs, I think one might suggest reasonably that the so-called "Youth of Today" enjoy being surprised, which specifically refers to the strategy of starting a song with a slow part and then rather dramatically going berserk . . . :P

Mostly, I think it's a matter of angst attributed to constant information overload, which works for me . . .

At present, I have not decided on the lyrics for "SoMC", but I think adding Realivox Blue will provide a few clues, even if it's only "ya-ya-ya-ya-ya" . . .

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I like the motion in this version--which is best enjoyed when listening with studio quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506 (a personal favorite)--and I think the new Intro and "D# Theme" provide clues to the Interlude . . .

The newly added pair of Intro measures are what I call "transition" measures, and they make it easy to do segues . . .

When a song is at this step in development, it essentially composes itself if you listen to it over and over . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
User avatar
by Surf.Whammy on Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:07 am
I added Realivox Blue (Realitone) singing background harmonies . . . :)

THOUGHTS

It took about six hours to find a set of notes and phrases that work, which is fine with me . . .

I started with a simple melody in one voice, but it didn't sound right for the song; so I switched to two-part harmonies, which work nicely . . .

Then I worked on the producing side, which also took awhile . . .

After trying various echo units, I decided that ReelADT (Waves) works better; and for reference, it's patterned after the Automatic Double Tracking (ADT) device used by the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios . . .

There are two compressor-limiters from T-RackS 5 (IK Multimedia)--White 2A and Black 76--and there is deep and rich reverb provided by T-RackS 5 CSR Hall Reverb . . .

With respect to the Paint a Song with Numbers strategy, the key bits of information for the Realivox Blue harmonies are (a) that the notes are in the set {1,3-,4+,5,6 7} or (A, C, D#, E, F#, G#} and (b) that finding a general harmony theme and a set of harmony pairs within the number or pitch-scale constraint was what took a while . . .

Determining the pitch-scale notes was easy, since this is clearly defined; but selecting phrases and harmony pairs was done "by ear", which usually takes more time and includes checking everything to ensure it's consistent with the pitch-scale set, timing, and interactions with already existing instruments . . .

From this perspective, numbers provide a starting point and define the foundational rules for beginning the composition . . .

Generally, there are two ways to get started with numbers:

(1) select an essentially random subset of numbers, which in this example is the subset {1,3,5,6} and via geometric transforms is extended to {1,3-,4+,5,6,7}, with this being further defined by indicating whether each number is flat, natural, or sharp . . .

(2) start with a primitive or simple phrase, and then identify the corresponding basic pitch-scale set

Once you have determined (1) or (2), in some respects the song is defined; but the way it evolves will change over time as you make additional decisions; so especially with (1), you don't know how the song is going to sound initially, because the first of the two ways is based on having no clues, at all . . .

Explained another way, in (1) the numbers are the first clue, and they provide guides or a roadmap for what happens next . . .

As you can observe from the current version of the song, the direction, theme, and other aspects of the song emerge and become more obvious as the song develops . . .

Especially in the first strategy, it's important along the way to focus on working within the constraints of the rhythm and pitch-scale sets, even when the result is a bit of a surprise, which is the case because everything will be consistent and logical when you focus on the number set . . .

At one step or another, it might not make so much sense in terms of being what you expected; but it doesn't matter, because it's consistent and logical, hence will make sense sooner or later . . .

"SoMC" is a new song here in the sound isolation studio, and while I have thoughts regarding what to add next, at least consciously I have no clear idea what the song will be when it's finished, which is fine and actually is an important aspect of the strategy, which specifically is to avoid being too judgmental, even though the "by ear" part of the strategy is entirely judgmental . . .

On the good side, this song is unlikely to be as strange as "Lolita Ya Ya" (Nelson Riddle) . . . :P

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Now that I think about it, the motion aspect of what I am calling the "SoMC" song reminds me of my favorite Kylie Minogue song . . .

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It's a surreal, ethereal sound, and you have to respect the "la-la-la-la-la" and "ya-ya-ya-ya-ya" . . . :+1

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I want to add more electric guitars; but since there already are 16 instruments in the Studio One Professional ".song", I need to record the generated audio and do submixes, which I will use in a new "song" to replace the Instrument Tracks, thereby making space available for another set of Instrument Tracks . . .

For reference, Realivox Blue is hosted in NOTION, which is easier when I am configuring and experimenting with Realivox Blue. Later, I will move it to Studio One Professional, but for now it's easier to work with Realivox Blue in NOTION . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. The first version of the YouTube video had an obvious delay in the Realivox Blue track, which was caused by the Studio One Professional ".song" having too much stuff, which I expected but not quite so soon . . .

To correct this, I recorded the audio generated by Realivox Blue to an Audio Track and then muted the corresponding Instrument Track . . .

Following this, I recorded a new video, which now is the one for this post (see above) . . .

For reference, I usually consolidate a set of Instrument Tracks when the number of virtual instruments hosted in Studio One Professional is around 12, but this time I tried to get a few more virtual instruments before consolidating . . .

The "consolidating" step involves recording the audio generated by the Instrument Tracks to corresponding Audio Tracks, which I then submix to groups . . .

Audio Tracks have low overhead, but part of the reason to do submixes is to reduce visual clutter on the Mixing Board; so for example, instead of having individual tracks for each drum, cymbal, and Latin percussion instrument, I group them based on a few rules . . .

There are two kick drums, so I group them into one track; there are three snare drums, and I group them into one track; and so forth based on what I might need to adjust later when I switch to producing mode . . .

This is an important management activity, because in the next iteration there will be 12 or so new Instrument Tracks plus the submixed Audio Tracks and a matching set of new Audio Tracks for audio generated by the new Instrument Tracks . . .

Explained another way, it's not practical to have a virtual festival of Instrument Tracks and Audio Tracks, which is the case for a variety of reasons but primarily (a) keeping the processing speed peppy and (b) keeping the Mixing Board organized rather than cluttered with too much stuff . . .

I do everything here in the sound isolation studio on a 2.8-GHz 8-core Mac Pro (Early 2008), and it's likely that some of the processing speed constraints are due to its being 10 years-old, but it's fine so long as I consolidate each set of 12 or so Instrument Tracks, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :ugeek:

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
User avatar
by Surf.Whammy on Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:47 am
I consolidated the Instrument Tracks . . . :)

THOUGHTS

Consolidating the Instrument Tracks is a process where the audio generated by each virtual instrument is recorded to a corresponding Audio Track . . .

When that is done, I create buses for the subgroups and export them as stems . . .

Then I create a new ".song" and import the stems, at which time the new ".song" only has Audio Tracks; and in this instance there are just a handful of Audio Tracks, as you can see in the YouTube video . . .

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The current plan is to add some electric guitars and perhaps some Latin percussion instruments . . .

The electric guitars will be doing accents and sparkles, where for reference "sparkles" are phrases that I put into motion on the "Rainbow Panning Arc", which for example maps to notes that alternate from far-left to far-right or perhaps move from one side to another ("flying guitars") . . .

Image

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
User avatar
by Surf.Whammy on Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:46 am
I added three lead guitars playing a combination of "sparkled" phrases and sustained chords with ping-pong echoes . . . :)

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THOUGHTS

The lead guitars increase spatial motion, which is best enjoyed when listening with studio quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506 (a personal favorite) . . .

Connecting a few dots from earlier observations about the so-called "Youth of Today"--who appear to enjoy being entertained by dramatic surprises--it occurs to me that shouting, screaming, or otherwise making a dramatic statement during the four-bar Intro for each section has what one might call "surprise potential" . . .

"Let's Dance" (David Bowie) comes to mind in this regard . . .

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I like everything about "Let's Dance" . . .

It has intriguing Latin percussion instrumentation and syncopation, echoes, stellar lead guitar, and a bit of screaming . . .

I "borrow" a lot of ideas from "Let's Dance", and it's a virtual festival of musical inspiration here in the sound isolation studio . . .

For some mostly unknown reason, the songs I have done recently are what I consider to be very difficult puzzles, which I suggest based on the nearly mind-boggling constraints imposed by the music and structures . . .

At a high-level, one of the goals always is to have a simple and logical pattern of verses, choruses, bridges, interludes, and segues; but, for example, it took a while to discover the pattern for "Surf Zot", including the lyrics (which as best as I can determine nearly nobody understands until I explain everything, which is fine with me since it's a political allegory) . . .

[CLUE: The key to making sense of the lyrics is determining who "Rita Rage" is . . . ]

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"SoMC" is equally difficult, which in part is due to the pitch-scale set; but with the addition of the three lead guitars it's coalescing and the pattern is becoming clearer . . .

In some respects, "Lets Dance" provides clues to the puzzle--musically and lyrically, although on the lyrical side more in terms of suggesting a style rather than actual words and phrases . . .

Whatever it is, I think it needs to be (a) extraordinarily stupid and (b) overly dramatic with a good bit of frivolous angst . . . :P

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
User avatar
by Surf.Whammy on Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:43 am
I switched to arranging, producing, and mixing mode for a while . . . :)

THOUGHTS

In this version of "SoMC", I added a double-eighth note chord accent to the Center Lead Strat part; changed the left and right lead guitars to Telecasters with tremolo and rotary loudspeakers; and added a pair of maracas (Left, Right) . . .

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The double-eighth note chord accent for the Center Lead Strat is very important; and it provides what I call a "rhythm guitar kicker", which clarifies the start of the verse measures for each section and is a combination of arranging, composing, and producing . . .

Image

Maracas are my primary "go to" Latin percussion instrument when I am in producing mode and want to add clarity to a complex set of instruments--which intuitively makes no sense but works wonderfully . . .

I "sparkle" the maracas, which maps to having one pair at far-left and one pair at far-right that I alternate in various rhythmic patterns; but sometimes I add a third pair at top-center . . .

One way to understand this technique is that maracas are percussive and produce a distinct type of noise, which probably is white noise or pink noise . . .

Intuitively, you might wonder, "How can adding noise make instruments more distinct?"; and the answer is that when you discover the correct way to alternate from one side to another, the noise made by the maracas acts as a "listen over here" type of aural cue . . .

Explained another way, it says, "There's something important happening on this side, so shift your attention to this side for a moment" . . .

From this perspective, it's a producing technique . . . :+1

DRUMMERS AND RHYTHM GUITAR PLAYERS

Here in the sound isolation studio there are three great rhythm guitar players: John Lennon (Beatles), Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), and Don Wilson (The Ventures) . . .

In the early-1960s, two significant events occurred that changed drums and rhythm guitar . . .

For drums, the key song was "Walk Don't Run", which signaled a dramatic change in the way drumkits were played, especially with respect to snare drum rimshots, beats, and drum rolls . . .

Ringo Starr completed the transformation by doing what I call "straight" or "hard" drum rolls and focusing on hi-hats and snare drum rimshots, among other things . . .

For rhythm guitar, the key song also was "Walk Don't Run" with Don Wilson playing what I call "explosive" rhythm guitar chords . . .

[NOTE: This is monaural, and it's the correct version for the time. There was simulated stereo, but radios and jukeboxes were monaural; so if you want to understand songs from this era, you need to listen to the monaural recordings, which is especially the case for early Elvis Presley songs; and it's important to understand that songs were recorded with all the musicians and singers playing and singing the songs in real-time with no overdubbing. They played and sang the song together as a group rather than individually, one part at a time . . . ]

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John Lennon played "explosive" rhythm guitar chords and moved it to a higher level by playing more complex chords, although more "complex" in the sense of using what at the time I considered to be "a lot of chords" instead of the usual A-D-E and C-Am-F-G chords . . .

As a generality, one might suggest accurately that every garage band song at the time could be played with A-D-E and C-Am-F-G in one key or another, but the Beatles changed this and moved Barre chords to the forefront . . .

Today, the perspective is along the lines of "What song doesn't have a billion chords?", but it wasn't that way when the Beatles appeared . . .

I suppose for what at the time were grown-up professional guitar players, it wasn't a big deal; but for teenage guitar and bass players in garage bands, it was a bit of a panic attack that among other things mapped to rushing to music stores to find sheet music to Beatles songs and chord books . . .

[NOTE: Watch the way John Lennon strums the rhythm guitar chords. It's fascinating, and it's very rhythmic. The intriguing aspect occurs when he intentionally does not do a strum and instead gestures with his hand to keep time--doing what one might call a "non-strum"--which is done in part to create a bit of momentary space. At the time there were no stage monitors, so another thing you can observe is Lennon and McCartney doing gestures to help Ringo Starr know key beats and so forth. In particular, this is something Lennon did. It's easy to miss the "no-strum" hand gesture signal, but it occurs at approximately 1:25 in the YouTube video, at the end of the lead guitar solo and among other things is a "conducting" gesture to indicate that the chorus begins . . . ]

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Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:25 am
After pondering the song for a few weeks, I decided to add a middle section, which at present I am calling an "Interlude", even though it's not so ethereal as most interludes tend to be . . . :)

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THOUGHTS

Apparently, the Aliens From Outer Space are beaming me complex songs, which is fine with me . . .

I did a bit of cutting, copying, inserting, and pasting in both the Studio One Professional and NOTION projects, which included saving intermediate versions (hence "PT4.2" rather than just "PT4"), which took about an hour . . .

[NOTE: Since I am using the same NOTION score--although cloned and revised--I deleted the music notation for the instruments in the interlude. I am using the same staves. This way the already recorded audio plays without the notes for the new Instrument Tracks being played at the same time, which makes sense when you think about it . . . ]

Then I worked on the drumkit pattern; added a bass line; and added a simple rhythm guitar playing chords and a phrase, all of which took a few hours and is repetitive so I can listen to it over and over, which is the way I get ideas for more stuff (arranging, orchestrating, producing, and so forth) . . .

The bass line in the interlude is consistent with the pitch scale; but there is a natural G in the rhythm guitar chord, since I think it sounds better than G# . . .

SoMC rules are flexible, and it's mostly a matter of how everything sounds together . . .

On a related note, I am developing a few ideas for a music video; and among other things this probably maps to learning how to twirl a baton and moonwalk . . . :P

Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. Previously when I recorded the audio generated by the first two sets of Instrument Tracks and then imported the Audio Clips to a new Studio One Professional ".song", the tempo in Studio One Professional changed to 120 BPM, but the tempo for the Audio Clips is correct at its notated tempo in NOTION, which is 156 BPM . . . :roll:

I am not certain how this happened, but it works for the music notation in the interlude section; so it's all good, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :+1

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by Surf.Whammy on Mon May 06, 2019 5:22 am
I purchased Whoosh FX (UVI) just in time to get the discounted initial release price and had a bit of FUN with it . . . :)

THOUGHTS

Based on the name, I thought it might be an effects plug-in, but it's actually an instrument, which makes more sense when you think about it . . .

It's played with music notation in NOTION, and in my current strategy I have the music notation on a ReWire MIDI staff, and the actual instrument is hosted in the corresponding Studio One Professional ".song", which works nicely . . .

I fiddled with it for about 30 minutes and added a "Pass-By" whoosh to "SoMC" . . .

[NOTE: The notes for the Whoosh FX instrument appear two beats later, which is due to the way I bounced the audio for earlier tracks. The tempo is 156 BPM, but when I imported the bounced audio into a new Studio One Professional ".song" the tempo changed to 120 BPM in Studio One even though the tempo is correct for the already recorded audio. More curiously, the tempo is correct for the Instrument Tracks that have not been recorded. I think I know how this happened, but I'm not certain. My best guess is that when I bounced the tracks I selected the option to include the tempo. It's also possible that the song now is 120 BPM, which is fine with me, since I like the tempo. Stuff like this happens here in the sound isolation studio, and it might be the work of the Aliens From Outer Space . . . :P ]

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The specific whoosh sounds a bit like a hi-hat but with motion, and it's very rhythmic . . .

I tried a few of the factory presets and decided on this one since it enhances the drumkit . . .

In the verses, it appears in just a few places; but in the currently repetitive middle part it appears once every measure on the first beat . . .

I like it, and soon I will be the King of Whoosh . . . :P

Lots of FUN! :)

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by thomasbaxter on Sat May 25, 2019 10:35 am
Re: pricing.
The old fake books that big bands used were printed in cheap spiral-bound copies and sold for hundreds of dollars sometimes, because you were paying to get past the copyright. You may know of "A Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization," which all the great jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s read and raved over. I always thought it was a stroke of genius that it was sold the same way: cheap copies for hundreds of dollars.
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by Surf.Whammy on Thu May 30, 2019 9:23 am
thomasbaxter wroteRe: pricing.
The old fake books that big bands used were printed in cheap spiral-bound copies and sold for hundreds of dollars sometimes, because you were paying to get past the copyright. You may know of "A Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization," which all the great jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s read and raved over. I always thought it was a stroke of genius that it was sold the same way: cheap copies for hundreds of dollars.


When setting the price for technical books, I think it makes sense to use what I call the "one valuable bit of information" strategy, which in practice is based on the perspective that providing a logical solution for a typically difficult technical problem is valuable . . . :)

THOUGHTS

In the 1990s, I wrote and published two books on Visual Basic programming, and as I recall I set the price at $29.95 for each book, plus $10.00 (US) for the companion 3.5" disk, with both of these not including shipping and handling . . .

Part of the logic for this pricing was based on several perspectives, including my then current practice of having sufficient income from software engineering to enable me to purchase books and software simply to avoid being bored when the price was under $50.00 (US), especially if the technical books and software were either (a) interesting or (b) appeared likely to provide insights into a particularly gnarly software engineering problem . . .

Overall, I sold approximately 10,000 to 20,000 copies of each book . . .

This strategy works very nicely when the economy is strong and people have good-paying jobs, which I think is the case now . . .

Regarding the upcoming book on digital music production, there are several chapters that certainly will make it easier for readers to make sense of digital music production and other aspects of making music at the dawn of the early-21st century . . .

There are chapters on selecting and purchasing a computer suitable for digital music production, as well as what I consider to be the necessary software; and for someone who is embarking on this worthy endeavor, I think the information is well worth the price of the book, which as noted in my first post to this topic is $50.00 (US) . . .

There also are chapters on the rules and criteria for a studio monitor system, which are the result of over a decade of experimentation and research here in the sound isolation studio that eventually made it possible for me to produce audio which at least is consistent with the audio on YouTube for popular "hit" songs, which I consider to be a significant step in getting everything to a practical standard, at least with respect to the so-called "popular" music of the group of folks I colloquially call the "Youth of Today", many of whom (as we know) are mutants and tend to be devoid of what one might call "musical taste", since as a group they are focused primarily on populating the Earth and generally have about as much sense as other generations had during the "be fruitful and multiply" phase . . .

At present, there are approximately 450 pages in the book; and I plan to write a few more chapters primarily to put everything together and to share some thoughts and strategies for entertaining and capturing the attention of the Youth of Today, which among other things requires a virtual festival of what I call "sparkles", motion, and "in-and-out" bits of sound that serve mostly as bells and whistles designed somewhat subtlety to provide audio cues to "listen over here", with such audio cues needing to occur rapidly, randomly, and distinctly, since the "Youth of Today" have disturbingly limited attention spans due primarily (a) to devices like the iPhone, iPad, personal computers and (b) to being nearly constantly texting or engaging in similar social media communication activities . . .

Lots of FUN! :+1

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!

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