Looking Ahead track notes

Looking Ahead

The third track in our album Sampler

The album and audio samples available at: http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesgilbert11

This track is one of 3 tracks where I was experimenting with brass instruments. Please leave a comment if you like this liner notes or I may not include liner notes for all of the tracks.

For this track I used Native Instrument’s Session Horns utilizing various of the brass articulations available. I used key switching in the midi files to switch between articulations.

The rhythmic comes from the Heavyocity Kontakt instrument Damage. My notes don’t tell which instrument(s)/patch(es) were used. On that track, in addition to cutting off some low end with an EQ I also used the Native Instruments Supercharger compressor with a modified drumbuss preset. I also used some sort of riser in a few spots.

I used some EQ on all the tracks, except the master buss. It was mainly to remove unneeded low end and in a few cases a high-shelf. I used reverb on the risers. I used a Computer Music magazine version of the Acon Digital Reverb. I used the Large gothic cathedral preset, with of course, modified to fit the sound.

On the master bus, for mastering purposes, I used the Lurssen mastering console. I started with the default classical preset and made changes to fit the sound I wanted.

 

Engergizing Daydreams track notes

Energizing Daydreams

The 2nd track from our album Sampler

The album and audio samples available at: http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesgilbert11

This is part of my continuing series providing what are essentially liner notes for the tracks on my album. Please leave a comment if these liner notes are of interest or I may be inclined not to do notes for all the tracks on the album.

There is a piece of software out there that professionals I’ve run across don’t like to admit they use. Or maybe they don’t want others to find out how helpful it can be. From an educational point of view, it is an excellent way to learn about many aspects of popular music styles. That program is Band in a Box. It would not surprise me if many pieces of music out there aren’t straight from the program with little more than simple mixing added.

For those that don’t know, Band in a Box, from PG Music, lets you enter the chords symbols and structure of a piece of music, choose a style and press play. Depending on the style selected (and other factors) one will then hear either recordings of live musicians playing based on the chords or midi instruments playing whatever instruments & software you’ve assigned Band in A Box to play. All in whatever style you’ve selected. What is heard, again depending on the style, are drums, piano/pads, guitar(s), bass and strings/brass/other. You can export, depending on the style, either audio files of each instrument (stems) or midi files of each instrument (and sometimes a combination of them) as well as an audio of the stereo mix. This program is light years ahead of similar iOs apps I’ve run across.

For this track I chose a midi only style – a style that only creates midi notes. I exported the midi tracks. I took the midi files created by the program, loaded them into my DAW (Reaper) and adapted, changed or added to those files. I then bounce the midi instruments to audio files and mix and master as usual.

The bass part is a cello like patch from the Novo expansion pack 1 by Heavyocity. For the drums I used the Afro Shop Kit in Battery 4 from Native Instruments. The piano part I used the Emotional Piano from Soundiron with Solid Bus Compressor from Native Instruments. For the pad part I used Soundiron’s Mercury Elements Amb F with Solid Bus Compressor. For the string part I used Spitfire audio’s Bernard Herrmann composer toolkit Studio Orchestra patch, long articulation. For the melody I used Exhale from Output with Solid Bus compressor and Replika XT Tape 30fps Delay.

I typically make modifications to any default patches in the above instruments. I did not keep detailed enough notes to know exactly what changes I made to the patches. For the strings, I duplicated the audio track (after bouncing from midi) on another channel. I then panned the original string channel hard left and the new one hard right pitching the left down in pitch ever so slightly and the right one up ever so slightly in pitch. This helped to give the strings a wide sound.

As with the first track of the album, I used a master folder on which any effects or mastering plugins went. All the tracks mentioned so far route to it. I then sent some of the master folder to the reverb track (in this case, not part of the folder). I used the RC48 delay unit from Native Instruments modified from the Small Church reverb preset. On the master folder I put the Solid Bus Compressor from Native Instruments with a modified mix glue preset.

It doesn’t look as though I did anything on the master bus for mastering purposes. Between what Band in a Box does and what the midi instruments I chose do, there wasn’t much need to anything special with the mastering as I did on many of the other tracks.

This track I suppose is about the most mainstream, pop sounding of any of the tracks on the album, with the exception of maybe one other piece.

Hope you enjoyed this track and the notes. Questions and comments are welcome.

Notes about the rest of the tracks will be in future articles if I get enough feedback from those of you reading this.

New Sheet Music

Christmas Organ Selections II

I have a new sheet music Organ Collection available. This contains selections of Advent and Christmas titles.

Available at: https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20753754

Away In A Manger [MUELLER]
God Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen
He Is Born [IL EST NSTE]
In The Bleak Midwinter [CRANHAM]
Joy To The World [ANTIOCH]
O Little Town Of Bethlehem [ST LOUIS]
The Babe of Bethlehem
The First Nowell
The Snow Lay On The Ground
What Child Is This [GREENSLEEVES]

There are a variety of styles represented. This and volume 1 will provide you with plenty of selections to choose from during the hectic Advent and Christmas season.

In addition to the link above (which takes you to the SheetMusicPlus website, my main distributor), a listing of all my available music can always be found at my website, JamesGilbertMusic.com

All of the typesetting for this collection was done using Sibelius.

Beginning The Adventure (Album track review)

Sampler

Beginning The Adventure

(This is the first of a series of articles about the tracks in my new album Sampler)

The album is available on Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, Amazon MP3 and at CD-Baby: http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesgilbert11

The first track is called Beginning The Adventure. As a side note, I have to say that coming up with titles for my music is probably one of the most difficult aspects of composing I have. I always start with the music first and since there are no lyrics in my music, it makes sense. The last thing I do is come up with titles. Since I needed something a bit upbeat to set the mood, this track seemed appropriate, although I did give consideration to the “trance” like track “Exciting times,” but I thought “Beginning The Adventure” was a better choice.

I probably should have included Heavyocity in the name of this song. As best as I can tell, I only used Heavyocity products on this recording.

As I do most of my recordings “in the box,” that is, in my computer the sounds come from various software sound libraries, software based instruments and in rare situations, something from a loop. Some of the sounds I used were from synthesizers or modeling software that creates the sound as you go. Some were from samples of real recordings of acoustic instruments

This piece started out as my experimenting with the Heavyocity Gravity expansion pack “Vocalise.” There are 3 tracks that utilize some of the phrase menus. They are “A Phrase MV sus” (twice) and the C minor phrase menu. As I experimented I realized it would make a good piece, even for listening (as so much music I run across these days sounds like background music to a video or game and only useful for that, not listening). I also utilized Heavyocity’s NOVO strings at the very beginning for the low filtered sound that gradually comes in and helps set the mood. I don’t keep very good notes so I don’t know which patch it is. The low bass lick that comes in just before the voices start is from Heavyocity’s Aeon Rhythmic using the Synthocity preset. Underneath the vocals is the Heavyocity Aeon Rhythmic patch Falling Filters. The rhythmic pulse throughout comes from Heavyocity’s Aeon Rhythmic

I’m not big on using hundreds or even dozens of tracks to make a piece of music. The Heavyocity material frequently has 3 channels of sounds in one preset and offers a wide choice of effects all within the software avoiding the need to do a great deal of processing in my DAW. So, I only ended up with 7 tracks. I use “Reaper” as my DAW of choice. All of the original 7 tracks were MIDI tracks. I “freezed” the tracks once I had the sound I wanted. “Freezed” (or should it be “froze”?) is the term Reaper uses, in this case, to turn a MIDI track into an audio track. It renders the midi instrument into an audio file. It’s like in the old days of recording, committing to tape the take you best liked of live performers. The nice things is that in Reaper it is very easy to “un-freeze” (no they don’t call it “thaw”) the track if you don’t like it. (You do loose the edits you’ve made to the audio file, if any, but that’s kinda the point in “un-freezing” it).

Since there were so many processing and sound sculpting options in the software instruments – and I did process the default patches – I did very little processing in Reaper. In fact I only used two effects prior to the stereo bus. One was the Native Instrument/Soft Tube emulation of the Lexicon RC48 reverb. I modified the Grainy Echoes preset using a Random Hall and setting it on effect rather than reverb. Since this was on its own bus it was 100% wet. I used the send amounts to balance how much reverb each of the 7 tracks got. You may hear other reverb sounds but those come from the individual instruments themselves. I then routed the reverb to both the stereo bus (0 db) and to a delay bus (at -23db). I used the built-in ReaDelay that comes with reaper. I modified the basic ‘5-tap ping pong’ delay. Each tap was 1/4 of an eighth note after the other, panning left/right and getting softer. That went straight to the stereo bus.

In Reaper there is always a “master mix” channel. (See photo above). Other than a hard limiter (to prevent accidental or hidden clipping) I don’t put anything on it. Instead I setup a folder, the parent folder being the final stereo mix. The 7 music channels and 2 effect bus channels feed into it. Since I was having to master my own material, I put an EQ on this channel with a high-pass filter removing unneeded low end. I then added the IK-Multimedia mastering plugin “Lurssen Mastering Console.” I started with the EDM preset and modified to get the sound I was after. For this album I opted to mix everything using the TR5 Metering plugin from IK Multimedia for an average mix of -16 LUFS (which is the level at which many online streaming services prefer tracks to be and is a broadcast industry standard).

And that’s the details on that piece.