Archive for August, 2011

Studio Upgrade Part 6: As the Summer Winds Down (b)

I am still trying to get new material done before the fall semester starts in four days. Here we have a completed version of what was my “First Experiment”, referenced in an earlier post. This is the first thing I composed in Sibelius.

Subsequently I moved it over to ProTools and completed the recording today. I have given it a new name: “Camp Mac”, in honor of my MacBook Pro, which is where I run ProTools.

This is by far the most “Smooth Jazzy” of the things I have done using my upgraded studio. The lead guitar is my Orchid archtop, and the overall feel is pretty relaxed. As the others, it is a guitar, bass, piano and drums setting where I played the guitar and bass and programmed the other parts.

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August 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm Leave a comment

Studio Upgrade Part 5: As the Summer Winds Down…

…I am trying to get in as much composing, arranging and recording as I can.

Today’s result is a tune called “Tube Debut” (no, I have not run out of Palindrome song titles yet).

This one is a bit more on the smooth jazz side of things, featuring my Orchid archtop as the lead instrument. Everything else follows form from recent months: a guitar, bass, keys and drums group where I play the guitar and bass parts and program the others.

As with my other newer material, the composition/arranging work was done in Sibelius and the recording in ProTools. In ProTools, everything was done internally using plugins.

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August 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm 1 comment

Studio Upgrade Part 4: An Almost Total Break from the Past

This is an all-new composition and recording. The tune is called “Stack Cats” (yes, another Palindrome title). The style is what I would call jazz-rock, set for my standard guitar, keys, bass, and drums quartet. As usual I actually played the guitar and bass parts and programmed the others.

What is new here is that this recording was done entirely using Sibelius and ProTools. I am still struggling a bit with them both, but am making progress.

On the Sibelius side, I’ve decided it works better for me on Windows than on the MacBook — largely due to the missing numeric keypad on the portable.

On the ProTools side, everything for the recording itself was done in ProTools after importing the midi file that I exported from Sibelius. Rather than using my Yamaha Motif ES Rack for the drum and keyboard sounds — as I have been doing for more than 5 years, I exclusively used plugins within ProTools for this purpose. The drums were done using EZ-Drummer and the keyboard using one of the soft-synths that comes with ProTools. I also used the reverb and compression plugins.

The quality sounds good to me, and there were no performance or latency issues — even with all the plugins loaded up.

For those of you interested in such things, for the guitar tone I used my Ethos Overdrive pedal.

See what you think:

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August 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Studio Upgrade Part 3: 2nd Recording Completed with ProTools/Sibelius Studio

This time, in the interests of spending my time focused on learning the recording studio tools rather than the writing process, I chose to record an arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Impressions”. It is structually and harmonically very simple. This tune was something of a “next step” after Miles Davis introduced the concept with the composition “So What” — which had only chord changes — no real melody. “Impressions” has a tune, however uncomplicated and repetitive.

I’ve also found that these “progressive” jazz tunes from the fifties and sixties take pretty well to being “Rockified”.  I took a similar approach with Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”  for my album “Drawn Inward” — arranged for guitar, keys, bass and drums over a driving rock beat.

Here are the links to listen:

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August 4, 2011 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Studio Upgrade Part 2: First Recording Completed with ProTools/Sibelius Studio

I figured the best way to go about my first real test of the new studio software was not to write and record an all-new song.

Rather, I chose to recycle one of my previous tunes. I first wrote it for my 2006 album “A Step Along the Way“, where it received a highly-produced smooth jazz setting. I re-did it for my 2008 album “Just the Three of Me“, arranged for guitar, bass and drums trio.

This version falls between in the two, a fusion-ized approach for guitar, bass, drums and keys (my current format). I am pretty pleased with the musical result, given that the main motivation for doing this was to get to learn my way around the new software in my home studio.

The original title was “Just the Three of Us” — here I’ve retitled it as “Just the Four of Me” to reflect the quartet setting and the fact that I played or programmed everything myself (as always).

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August 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment


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