Halcyon Sky (Debut EP) – Day 11

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Greetings all. It’s been a very quiet Friday evening so I took advantage of that fact to get some progress time in on the EP. Tonight I continued on one of the more chilled tracks and have finished the entire arrangement. I got a little work in on it last night and afterwards popped in a sample library disk from the lastest issue of Future Music Magazine. On this disk there are some vocal samples from a collection called Terry Grant – Voices From The Edge. While I won’t give the title of the track I’m working on, these vocal samples AUTOMATICALLY and coincidentally fit the theme of the track perfectly. All that was required was for me to chop them up and place them where they fit best in the track. With some added stereo delay, the fit very nicely. All that’s left now is to record the bass synth. Logic has a nice stock bass synth from its ES2 synthesizer that I’ll use for the last track, then it’ll be time to mix. Once you finally hear it, come back and read this post if you remember. It’ll all come together.

9:24 pm…I gotta make a run. Have a good and safe weekend….

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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Halcyon Sky (Debut EP) – Day 10

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Day 10. Ok, so each track on the EP is at some level of development. Some are ready to mix and master, some are just snippets that need to be arranged and so on, others are sort of at the midway point. As said in the last post, collaboration track with C3 is arranged and ready for mixdown – after I upgrade to Logic X. As seen from the photo above, this afternoon I’m finally taking time to prioritize the schedule so I can get this out at the desired time.

Now that the Studio A is finally back up and running, the last thing I need to do is install the Maschine 1,8.2 software OS to be able to integrate Maschine Mikro into my Logic workflow. I was thinking of leaking the artwork to your good people, buuuuuut I think I’ll wait. :)

Speaking of schedules, I really should develop a master schedule to include this other music projects I’ve got going. Can’t reach the destination in the best way without a path forward.

Enjoy the evening…

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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Halcyon Sky (Debut EP) – Day 9

Logic Studio in The Lab

….and on the ninth day….I’m back. :)

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, but things are moving along. First, good Tuesday morning at 7:24am. In our last episode, I received the drum track from from one of my production partners (of C3) for the collaborative track on the EP. Since then, I’ve received keyboard tracks from my other partner in C3, definitely some great additions to the track (as I expected). For all intents and purposes, all the elements of this track are in place. Next step is the final arrangement, then mixdown. I’m definitely looking forward to how this track will manifest itself.

In other news, I broke the studio down over the last two weeks in order to upgrade to a newer, better, faster computer – a 2.5 GHz Mac mini, i5 Intel processor. What does this mean, other than the performance upgrades? Logic X on the horizon :). The reassemble of the studio also meant integrating two older units into the rack for use with Logic: my Roland JV-1080 and Roland S-760 sampler. Why integrate older units from the 90′s when I could use everything more intuitively “in the box”? It’s where I came from AND I’d like to incorporate/integrate the old with the new instead of having them sit in my studio storage taking up space. Strangely enough, its part of the whole composition process. The units are still very capable in light of the advances in synth and sampling technology over the years. I had a long discussion with Netm8kr on this topic this past Sunday.

So, one track pretty much done. Off to the next one in progress on the list.

Have a great day….

:::oceans of rhythm:::

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Halcyon Sky (Debut EP) – Day 8

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Greetings….

I trust this post finds you well. 12:12 am and I’ve taken a few days off from the EP recording to focus on completing a final mix for the long awaited CD project my partner and I have been working on. We had a successful session last week and have one last mix to do before sending the entire project (less two tracks) out to Nashville to get mastered. More on that as the weeks approach.

Yesterday, I got back some drum tracks my man Todd Kelley of C3 recorded and programmed for me. These are, of course, for the track entitled “Deep (f/C3)”. After inserting the stems in to the track and giving it a listen, they fit perfectly. Working with individual stems (as you other recording artists/producers know) allow for maximum flexibility from an editing standpoint, so I can see now this is going to work out perfectly.The addition of the drums alone vibe great with the feel of the track.

In any event, that’s it for now. Bed time for sure….

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 7

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Good Sunday night to you (or whatever day it is). Had some time this weekend to continue pre=production on the tracks for the EP, particularly the title track. I’ve posted that I’ve found the artwork for EP already, as well as the artwork for the title track remix, so that’s cool. I’m liking the current arrangement of the track so far, but know I’ll probably take awhile to make sure that it’s birthed correctly :-)

In addition, I received what is to be the first input on the collaboration track with C3, and I’m LIKING where it’s going already…definitely excited about this. This comes as no surprise though, because every track we’ve collaborated on in the past has been on point.

I’m blessed to have a dedicated project recording studio in my home, a place where my creative flow can go unhindered, it makes music production a joy. That said, I came across some articles in my library this weekend that provide some good reminders to heed as I take this particular creative journey:

1. “Don’t let the technology lead you – it is a tool, be the master, not the servant.” – Garry Cobain.

This obviously applies to employing tech in most creative processes outside of music production.

2. “Remember, no matter how much you like all those colored flashing LEDs (and LCDs) in the studio, they are the means, not the end. At the end of the day, what you make is only any use if it works for the ears and the brain.” – Dr. Alex Patterson

So true. I come from a time of music production and songwriting when it was purely analog. Through the evolution to the present, I’ve got plenty of LCDs and blinking lights up in here. I’m the kind of composer that prefers not to birth tracks from solely “in the box” (computer)…I like my compositions to be yielded from a mix of hardware and software sound generators. Either way, Dr. Patterson’s quote rings true.

That’s it for now. It’s about 10:20p right now and we’re under another winter storm advisory. Gonna do a lil more work here in the studio, we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

PS: Shout out to my whole crew over at ADN. Catch up with you soon!

Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 5

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Friday. The fifth day in the development of this project. I hope this post finds you well. With every song I’ve ever uploaded to the internet or submitted for a podcast (obviously for someone else’s listening pleasure), I’ve strived to include song artwork that conveys a visual feeling for the song. Just like all musical artists that release a collection of music, I try to do the same with artwork that describe the release as a whole.

Yesterday shortly after I woke up, I saw a photo that would be the perfect visual to encompass the entire project. As usual, it only took a matter of seconds (2 at most) for me to decide this was it. I contacted the photographer and with the request, explained why and how I intended to use it. The photographer was very happy and honored that I’d choose the photo for this body of work. The next thing I need to do is see if I can get the title of the work properly placed on the cover as I currently envision it. I’m actually glad this aspect of the project is already completed, because it is something that I can get quite anal over, LOL.

On another note (no pun intended), I continued work on another track from the EP. This one is mellow, all purpose (if you will), chillout track that I think will turn out nicely. I know I’ll be using NI Massive as one of the plugins on this track, but not entirely sure if I’ll record any guitar on this song. If I do, it has to end up being exactly as the little I do hear in my head at the moment – that’s gonna take a little extra homework to achieve the effect I want. I know I will engineer the track out of Studio B and probably on the road at some points. It’s nice to have a capable mobile setup, thanks Apple!!

I hope to hear something regarding two of the collaborative tracks I have out there, by next weekend…we’ll see how they’re coming along. That’s about it for now.

Enjoy the weekend….

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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“Left Coast Flow” (Thai-Roc Instrumental Mix) Pt. 1

Ok.. hope everyone’s well. Some of you may remember seeing some posts about a P5 Audio West Coast Detox beat contest I entered last month. I follow them on Twitter and check out the free samples they always post for their contests. While I’d download some packs along the way, I happened to like this particular one, and thought I’d give it a shot. For those who haven’t heard, my entry is here.

Fast forward. Another Soundcloud member, Thai-Roc is definitely feelin’ it and has asked for a longer version….has some MC that wants to have at…some vocoder stuff, etc. The full mix is done, nothing really special about it, and I’m about to send it. Click the player below. Pt 2 of this post will have his final production on it.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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Sample credit: “California Love” – 2Pac/Dr. Dre

Left Coast Flow (Thai Roc Instrumental

Hardware vs Software: Tools of musical composition

Hey crew…

Hope all is well. It’s been a minute since I posted a blog, but I’m back. Been pretty busy between various music projects, work, fam, life, etc. This post is sorta related to the last few as its on the subject of how we, as musicians, compose music and the tools we use. Two days ago I happened to be reading an article on world renowned electronica musician, Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher in Future Music Magazine #235. He has a new release entitled “Squarepusher presents: Shobaleader One”. I’ve featured a track or two of his on my podcast The Sunday Soundtrack.

Being a solo artist until this new release, he’s greatly relied on hardware to produce his tracks. He’s relied on the Yamaha QY700 up to now to handle all his sequencing. Even with the employment of actual musicians for this release, he’s still using it for that task.

The interview is actually pretty good. In it he talks about his use of samples (or lack thereof) in his compositions. He said the following:

“With a modern sequencing package, I get four pages of snares, a hundred kick drums and a giant screen. That’s my idea of hell”

That, ironically, reminded me of a thought I had just a day prior… about a hip-hop producer I connected with on Twitter that graciously shared with me a slew of drum kits and samples. One file alone contain 1600 snares….1600! I thought to myself…”How would I ever be able to audition all of those snares in a somewhat timely fashion to find “the right one” for a tune?”. Ever since getting Logic Studio and an MPC shortly after that, I’ve been collecting samples and loops on the net (from the vast majority of free ones offered) for quite a bit of time how. So far to the tune of about 5GB alone. This doesn’t include the sample CDs that come with my monthly purchase of Future Music Magazine, and occassionally Computer Music and Music Tech.

I’m in a moment of time where I am seriously enjoying using Logic Studio as my DAW of choice, but at the same time, there’s something about pressing buttons, turning knobs, and seeing the glow of LED and LCD screens in the studio, that makes it all part of composing music (not to mention picking up one of my guitars or my bass guitar as starting points).

The hottest composition tool that, in my mind, is a mix hybrid of hardware and software is NI’s Maschine. I won’t even begin to get into this right now, but it is what’s on point right now. Tons of videps all over the net, big time artists using it. Many have made the jump from the MPC to this unit.

That being said, I think Squarepusher shares the following mindset with many artists who have been composing music in the digital age. He sums it up quite nicely:

“My advice to anyone who’s reading this would be: Don’t worry about what I’ve got. Don’t worry about what anyone else has got. Take whatever’s in your studio and make music. The most important thing is that you keep the free flow of ideas. Keep pushing your imagination. If you can only afford two bits of gear…fine! Use them, push them as far as they’ll go”.

Am I an advocate of the above quote? Yes, definitely… but at the same time, I am hardly against buying new gear at all. While I had enough hardware in my studio to make music without a Mac, I found that using a computer easily made the process and workflow MUCH easier and quicker.

I often key my eyes on everything coming out that’s new, but with Logic Studio and a rack full of synths, a MPC, and an MC-808, I find myself hard pressed to purchase anything new. What I am beginning to find exciting (again) is to breath life into some of my older modules (even the stock sounds) and combining them with Logic to come up with tracks that are….”Fresh”! ;-)

Thanks for the read… now go make music. Peace.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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Sample Library Organization – Making Workflow Efficient

Greetings…

Thanks for stopping by. Some of you may have read a three part series I did recently on Sampling and Music Compostion. Over the last two days (Thanksgiving morning and evening, and this evening), I decided to gather up all the downloaded sample libraries, construction kits and various samples spread out over two Macs to add and categorize them onto a 250 GB portable HD I use for music production. While there are many software apps (Redmatica, etc) out there to do just this, I needed a solution that would work best for the way I intend to work. One solution I thought (and still do think) will work great is using iTunes to categorize samples. It has smart folder capability and search and can be used across Windows and Mac. While multiple playlists can be set up, I’d have have the app installed on my computers (which it is) as well as the external drive. I decided I wanted to be app independent.

I read and viewed a very good video by my man St. Joe over at Sounds and Gear entitled Organizing your samples and sound libraries for better workflow. I like his thought process, but since I am not primarily a sample based musician, I really don’t care about the manufacturer connection to the samples I use (unless of course they really suck, which none I have come across do), instead, it’s more important to me that I choose my samples by sound category, genre and bpm (if they are loops). So I set out to categorize them in that fashion. While I prefer to program my drum tracks from scratch, I do find loops useful for quick and dirty tunes or for something fast I may need for a client. I most likely would use an audio drum loop for something backing, though there are a few songs I’ve used straight loops for. In any event, being able to choose loops of any sort by bpm first is easiest for me because the tempo of a song is one of my first considerations, along with genre. I keep my genre list basic because frankly, the industry is out of control with genres, sub-genres and the like…I just can’t keep up.

That being said, here is a screen shot of what my sample organization looks like. There are a number of sample loops aside from drum loops with bpms so having that as the primary search criteria makes composing, from a sample standpoint, very easy.

I still have a ton of sample CDs that I haven’t categorized yet, but at least I’ve got all the ones from the various hard drives done. Aside from adding the sample CDs over time, the next project is to burn all of these current ones….to CD, then incorporate the iTunes solution into the mix. Between the CDs, my portable drive and Logic Studio, I shouldnt ever want to see another sample or sample loop ever …lol. (I know that it itself, is unrealistic…ha!) I’ll continue to look out for the info I get from Primeloops, Loopmasters, Platinumloops, Siliconbeats, P5 Audio, and a host of other fantastic vendors that grace the music production community with free demos and samples…but at least now, I can categorize them in an order fashion.

Sample users (this means you especially Big La ha!), I’d be interested to read about how you categorize your samples, if at all.

Thanks for the read…

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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Your music production studio. Does limitation equal greater creativity?

A few weeks back, I posted a series of blogs I wrote about sampling and music composition. In the last of the articles, I posed a question in which answers came back regarding tools used to compose music, in the midst of current music composition technology (DAWs, software and hardware synths, etc). I specifically posted questions I knew would solicit such answers after (again) thinking about how my own studio is set up and in turn, how I like to compose music.

Recently I came across a really good article about music production studios and their outputs regarding the use of them by their own engineers/producers. The next to last paragraph hit home for me and I agree with it a great deal. It definitely describes my mindset when it comes to the desire to get the latest and greatest anything with respect to what I have already. Here’s an excerpt:

Well I believe the most important thing to remember, and a notion that all producers will agree with is that having limitations enhances your creativity. Equally it is very easy to get bogged down and loose your creative flow if you have too many options available.

Before you cripple your hard drive with that new Waves bundle or clutter up your studio with another vintage synth off ebay, think to yourself, have you really mastered all the instruments that you already have at your disposal? Why not try making a tune using just one synth? Is there a plugin you always use that has parameters that you still don’t understand? These parameters might just create the effect that you have been searching for so seek the answers. By mastering one synth at a time you will 1) learn the science of synthesis far more thoroughly 2) open up new avenues of sound which might have otherwise fallen by the wayside if you had not fully explored that instrument and 3) be able to get musical ideas from your head onto your arrange page as quick as possible, before they frustratingly evaporate.

You can read the article in it’s entirety here

Thoughts?

::: oceans of rhythm :::

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