A while ago we received a gift of a beautiful set of wind-chimes made out of sea-shells found on Fire Island. I set about creating a piece of music incorporating them and, after many months of revisions, this is what I created. The rhythmic pattern of the sea-shell wind-chimes was created via a PD program, as were some of the ambient effects. Vocals were provided by my beautiful wife Juliana.
A piece I’ve been working on for quite some time. Essentially an electronic percussion ensemble with strings. Trying to find a way to create music in such a way that I can take advantage of all of the power of the computer while not giving up the musicality of traditional classical music.
SonicBirth is a plugin development environment - free, but currently unmaintained. Nonetheless, it provides some powerful functionality if you want to get into the details of tweaking your sounds. It can generate AudioUnit and VST plugins (others?) but AudioUnit plugins are what it was designed for. It consists of a standalone application where, in a Max/MSP-like gui, you piece together audio processing pieces. Then, when satisfied with what you’ve created, you can design a gui and export as a plugin (a ‘.component’ file for AU plugins).
SonicBirth provides a long list of components to use in creating plugins. The plugins produced are certainly not perfect - you may have to modify the plugin a few times to get it the way you want - but in general very usable.
KVR Audio provides an extensive database of audio plugins in most formats, both free and pay. In general that’s a good place to start if you have something specific you’re looking for. To get you started though, here’s a few useful free Audio Unit plugins (for the Mac, of course - though most have Windows versions as well). Some come with an installer; others consist of simply a .component file, which you place in the Library -> Audio -> Plug-ins -> Components folder to install.
Frohmage: multi-band resonant filter. Can be a little tricky to tweak with any precision, but provides a nice metallic crunchiness to what you put it on.
KTGranulator: granular synthesis plugin. Quite a unique sound - and hard to find plugins that do this well.
Cyanide 2: Waveshaper (digital distortion). Absolutely brutal digital distortion. Nothing warm and fuzzy with this one.
SoundHack, a freeware program by Tom Erbe, has some terrific and unique functionality for manipulating sound - including convolution.
Convolution, a type of analysis-based sound file manipulation often used for reverb, can be used to generate some extremely interesting sounds by “cross-breeding” two source sound files. This can be done programatically with a number of music programming languages like CSound and Max/MSP, but SoundHack makes it quite easy (and free).
Here I’ve taken an alto flute sample:
And convolved it with a female voice sample (courtesy of the freesound project and digifish music):
Recently switched to Logic Express 8 as my editor and, while in general I’ve found it to be fairly intuitive, I’ve had to search a bit to discover how to do some things. So I’m compiling this list, which I hope will be useful to others, of tips and tricks for getting started using the program.
How to get the playhead to snap to a barline/beat: In the ruler bar, click near the barline/beat and hold the mouse button down. The playhead will automatically snap to the nearest division as defined by the snap settings.
How to get dragged regions or midi events to snap to a barline/beat, not to the position relative to the barline/beat: In the “snap” drop-down menu choose “snap to absolute value”
How to get more than two insert slots for a track: Just fill up the first two slots and a third will appear, with more slots becoming available as they’re needed.
Navigating between markers Control + Command + Arrow (left or right) will jump to the previous (left arrow) or next (right arrow) marker in the project
How to jump to a specific marker Command + /, then enter the number of the marker in the dialog box which appears
How to auto-zoom-in or out Command + Left Arrow (zoom out) or Command + Right Arrow (zoom in)
Rename an audio or midi region Select ‘Text Tool’ from the ‘Left-Click Tool’ or ‘Command-Click Tool’ menus (top right of the arrange window). Then just click (or Command-Click) the region
How to alter the velocity of a midi note in the piano roll There’s a velocity tool available from the drop-down menus in the top right of the piano roll interface (square with a ‘v’ inside it). Using this tool you can drag up or down to change the velocity of the note. The program helpfully plays the note repeatedly as you change it to give you a sense of the impact of your change.
How to select multiple regions Two ways: simply drag the cursor to select a group of regions all together or click each region while holding down the ‘Shift’ key to select only certain regions.
How to see a spectrum analysis for a given track While there are plugins available for doing spectrum analysis, the channel EQ in Logic has a built in spectrum analyzer. Just click the ‘Analyzer’ button near the bottom left of the EQ window.
How to show the ‘freeze track’ button on tracks - used to reduce CPU usage Control-click on the ‘track header’ for any track (the section of controls where the solo, mute, etc. buttons are found) and choose ‘Configure Track Header…’. In the dialog box which appears check the box next to ‘freeze’ (green button with snowflake icon). You can then use that button in the track header to ‘freeze’ the track.
How to move notes to a different staff in the score view Use the ‘Voice Seperation Tool’ found in the drop-down in the top right of the score view (where the ‘Pointer’, ‘Pencil’, etc. tools are found) to assign the notes you want to move to a different voice. Using the tool draw a line between the notes which should stay on the staff and those which should move. (Note: you may have to define the ‘voices’ prior to doing this).
Not seeing the symbols you’re looking for in the score view? There are a number of buttons under the ‘part box’ menu - in the left column while in the score view. Clicking on the various buttons in the ‘part box’ will cause different symbols to become available for dragging onto the score.
How to move symbols (dynamic markings, pedal markings) on the score view Use the ‘Layout Tool’ found in the drop-down in the top right of the score view to be able to drag symbols to where you want them.
Track playing at different speed after tempo change? Recently freaked myself out when some of my tracks were out of sync with others after changing tempo via the tempo track. Then I realized that it was because the out of sync tracks were frozen and so were still playing back at the old speed. sigh…
The Miroslav Classik Edition instrument is fairly simple, operating in both stand-alone and plugin modes. It seems to cover a thorough range of instruments, including all the major orchestral sections and a fair sampling of solo versions of the major instruments. As for sound quality, it’s pretty darn good. Nice rich sounds; far better other synth and sampler instruments I’ve used.
Rich, realistic sounds
Cheap: $200.00 for a decent orchestral library ain’t bad
Decent selection that covers the entire orchestra
IK Multimedia’s registration process is a frustrating nightmare (note that you can’t just authorize installation with an admin account while logged in to a regular user’s account; you have to be logged in as admin to authorize. That one cost me a few hours)
Sounds are so rich and idiomatic that they may be recognizable as being from this particular sample library
Limited to the classical orchestra with no option to add other sounds
While it covers the standard orchestra well, it doesn’t contain anything truly exotic