All posts by james

New Album Released

Hymns – Plugged In

I’ve been at it again. A new album is now available. It is title Hymns – Plugged In.

Album Art

A collection of traditional hymns set in contemporary styles using all electronic instruments.

Available at: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesgilbert13  as well as on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and all digital music sources.

Here is a demo of the whole album:

New Free Music available

Free Music

If you didn’t know it, my website has quite a few complete pieces available for download for free. There are also some free titles that would be of use to teachers or students, particularly as related to music theory. Unlike many free products out there, you don’t have to register, you don’t have to give me your email address. Just download what you want.  You’re welcome to click on the donate button found on several of my pages if you’d like to help me stay out of debt.

Go to the music catalog https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php and click on the free music link.

The original descriptions from when they were sold:

Volume one: AMSTERDAM (Praise The Lord Who Reigns Above) – BLESSED NAME (Blessed Be The Name) – CONVERSE (What A Friend We Have In Jesus) – GALILEE (Jesus Calls Us) – MESSAGE (We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations) – NEAR THE CROSS – SALVATION – ST THOMAS (I Love Thy Kingdom)- SURRENDER (I surrender all)- WEDLOCK (God Is My Strong Salvation) -Parts are included for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Volume 2: AR HYD Y NOS- BRADBURY (Savior Like A Shepherd) – CRIMOND (The Lord’s My Shepherd) – ST DENIO (Immortal Invisible) – WEB (Stand Up For Jesus) – CRUSADER’S HYMN (ST ELIZABETH) (Fairest Lord Jesus; Beautiful Savior) – I AM THINE – MY SAVIOR’S LOVE (I Stand Amazed) – O HOW I LOVE JESUS – PROMISES (Standing on) – RESIGNATION (My Shepherd Will Supply). Parts are provided for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Volume 3: AZMON (O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing); CWM RHONDDA (God Of Grace And God Of Glory); TOPLADY (Rock of Ages); JOYFUL SONG (Praise Him Praise Him); GORDON (My Jesus I Love Thee); HENDON (Take My Life And Let It Be); BUNESSAN (Morning Has Broken); LYONS (O Worship The King); PICARDY (Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence); In The Garden; Love Lifted Me. Parts are provided for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Enjoy.

Slurs, ties and phrases

Let’s talk about slurs, phrases and ties. As a long time piano teacher, I find many students, even advanced players get confused.

Slurs – curved line over/under two or more *different* notes.
Tie – curved line connecting the *same* note(s) immediately next to one another.
Phrase – a musical idea, often indicated with a slur line over/under many notes or more often, many measures.

Slurs mean to play the notes legato, or to put it into English – play the notes smoothly, connected or without any silence between the notes. How this is done depends on your instrument. On piano, do not lift the finger of the first note until you go to play the 2nd note. In bowed strings, like violin, it typically means to keep the bow going in the same direction. Wind/brass instruments it often means that you don’t tongue between notes. Check with your teacher on the best way to do a slur. You do have a teacher, right? Please tell me you aren’t trying to do this without anyone checking your work to see if it is correct – just because it sounds fine to you doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Example of slurs
An example of slurs

In the entire example above, all the curved lines over/above the notes are slurs, *except* for the D notes in the right hand and the E notes in the left hand in measures 7-8 & 15-16 (3rd beat tied to 1st beat). Those are ties. In all other cases, even measure 5 going into measure 6, the curve line is over/under at least 2 different notes. That’s all there is to slurs. Note that in this piano music example, there are some passages with both stem up and stem down notes at the same time. We call the different directions “voices.” In those cases, the position of the slur makes a difference. For example, the slur in measures 7 & 8 over the high (stems up) voices in the right hand part are under the influence of the slur, but not the low voices.

At the end of a slur it is common to “take a breath” before going to the next note. At measure 22 below in the right hand, a pianist might shorten the length of the  off-beat 8th notes (& of 1, & of 2, etc) ever so slightly. A violinist would change bow directions resulting in a break in the sound. How much breath one takes, if any, is subjective.

Phrase example
An example of phrases

In the above example starting at measure 26, the curved line over the right hand part is more properly called a phrase. A phrase being a musical idea implies that all the notes in the phrase are all part of one musical idea. Whether to play all the notes legato (smooth) as a slur would indicate is more of a performance choice than a requirement. In fact, in this example it is impossible to play the entire phrase connected. Can you spot why not? In measure 27 there are two repeated “G”‘s in the right hand. By definition, repeated notes cannot be played smoothly connected. One has to lift their fingers (or change bow direction, etc.) in order to play a repeated note. That causes a silence between the notes and thus they are no longer connected or smooth.

Ties. In measures 40 to 41 and 41 to 42 are examples of ties. The top note, B on the 3rd beat is tied into the 1st beat. That means play the note on beat 3 and hold the note down until the end of the tied note, in this case the end of beat 1. The F in measure 41, beat one is tied to beat 2. The C on beat 2 is tied into beat 3 *and* into the dotted half note on beat one of measure 42. All the while, there is a phrase/slur line over measures 39 to 42. Both notes in the left hand of measure 41, beat 2 tie into the next measure. In the case of the ties, all the curved lines connect the *same* note(s) to the same note with no other notes between them. Don’t be confused by the slur in measure 34 and 35. The first and last notes are both G in the right hand. Are the two G’s tied? Of course not. Because there are several notes between them it can only mean the curved line is a slur.

I hope this helps. Please comment below.

Kontakt Player Intro

Kontakt Player
Kontakt Player

In my latest YouTube video I am taking a quick look at Native Instrument’s Kontakt Player. This is a free product that comes with a respectable amount of instruments. It is ideal for anyone getting started with sampling or interested in getting into music technology. I made the video for some of my piano students who have expressed an interest.

The video does show the full version of Kontakt, but the player version is essentially the same. The only major difference is you can’t created your own instruments from samples or edit the existing instruments and a few other restrictions.

Please leave comments here and let me know what future tutorial videos you’d like to see.

New Sheet Music

New Music

Available now at my website and SheetMusicPlus, are the following titles. For a list of all titles I have available, visit https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php

Ancient Quandary — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964252

Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964255

David’s Lamentation — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964256

Heaven Above — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964259

I Remember You, My Lord — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964261

Open My Eyes – Organ — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964263

Is there a specific hymn tune you’d like to see arranged, and for what instrumentation? Let me know.

Choir Labs contest

Choir labs contest

From time to time I enter various arranging or mixing contests. Recently Spitfire Audio – a British company that makes very good sound libraries – sponsored a contest. They make available various free libraries, one of which is based on the Eric Whitacre choir. The contest was to compose and record music to fit one of 5 NASA provided videos. They ranged in length from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Here is my effort.

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Recent additions

Late October additions to catalog and Soundcloud

Listen to my contribution to a collaborative effort with Spitfire Audio. (Alas it wasn’t selected as part of the song).

I added 3 new sheet music titles to the sheet music catalog (https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php)

Two versions of the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah. One for solo organ and one for Brass quintet:

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928934

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928932

A solo organ arrangement of Beneath The Cross Of Jesus.

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928930

I have some instrumental ensemble (orchestra) titles coming soon. If you have any suggestions for what type of music you’d like to see me add to the catalog, please comment below.

Enjoy..

New Choral music (and personal update)

New Choral Music

I’ve released 2 new choral titles through my distributor Sheet Music Plus Direct. As with all my current arranging, I use Sibelius for the composing and layout.

First, an unaccompanied setting of Are You Washed In The Blood for SATB choir. See more details here: https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20804287

Secondly, an accompanied setting of Christ, Whose Glory Fills The Skies, also for SATB choir, although the first part only requires a 2-part choir. See more details at: https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20804289

On a personal note I had a bit of a scare on Sunday, Sept. 2. I play organ for a local rural church. Short story is I passed out about 15 minutes before the service. Fortunately it turned out to be a case of dehydration. I mention this as a word of warning to those who might have done like I did. I use to drink a gallon or more of tea (and that’s it) in a day. (Maybe an occasional soda). As one gets older, the body cannot tolerate caffeine as well and it tends to dry one out. In trying to figure everything out I’m happy to say I have a very healthy heart, good lungs and am not diabetic. I did of course take it easy for a while.

Since I’ve had no comments about my liner notes for my album Sampler I will no longer be writing any more. Suffice it to say the rest of the songs were done very similar to the previous tracks. If interested in the rest, drop me a note or comment. And thanks to all who read this blog. Please share it and my website with others. I have opening for piano students or music software tutoring via Skype.

No Time To Relax (Album Notes)

No Time To Relax

Track 9 from my album Sampler. Visit http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/JamesGilbert to purchase this or any of my 11 albums. I’m also on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more.

A melancholy piece featuring pads, light drums and vocalise melody to start with. Then the track adds in some synth leads and synth bass part. The end echos the feel of the start.

The Gravity sound library is used for the bulk of the vocalise. For the drums I used Drum Lab from Native Instruments. Also used for some rhythm elements was Grid II.

The bulk of the sound in this track comes from the instruments. There is no EQ used on any of the instrument tracks. I did use the REAPER ping-pong delay and Native Instruments RC48 reverb unit with some EQ on the reverb. Only the two vocal tracks have any reverb added to it. Although I have the delay unit on a bus, I just realized nothing is being bussed there. So, just reverb is added to this track.

For mastering purposes, I did not do anything beyond a peak limiter (just to make sure nothing peaked).

To my ears at least, this piece just “worked” with the combination instruments I chose and without having to do anything besides balance levels. That’s something to think about as you compose and record music. Get it as good as you can prior to recording to audio and the mixing and mastering process will be easy.

Please, please, if you like the album or these track notes, drop a note in the comments. Even if you don’t like it, drop me a comment. Now that I think about it, I’ve not had any comments since I moved the blog here. Maybe the comments only work for me? Anyone care to test it out?

Is Something Bad Coming (album notes)

Continuing with my series of liner notes for my album Sampler, we get to track number 8. This is a darker sounding track. It consists of 6 instruments and various effects.

You can find all of my albums, including this one at https://store.cdbaby.com/artist/jamesgilbert

First up is the Bass, the Padaboom patch from the Substance library by Output.

Next is the Arp Harp Loop patch from Output’s Signal Pulse library. I believe the patch may be part of an add-on library.

Next is the After Waves patch from Output’s Exhale program. The patch is probably part of an add-on library.

It looks like most of this piece uses Output’s various libraries. The next track is Tears in Rain patch from Analog strings by Output.

The next patch is a PolyBrass 2 from Kontakt’s RetroMachines Mk2. I believe this is an emulation of a Korg PolySix patch. The PolySix was the first synthesizer I ever owned.

Finally we have Battery 4 using the Sad Flamingo Kit.

For all the instruments, I only used automation on the Battery kit and that was for some volume changes.

I must have been happy with the sounds of the instruments because I used practically no effects on anything. Only the drums (Battery 4) were processed. I sent them (-13db) to a rever bus. The reverb was the Native Instruments/Softube emulation of the RC48 using a Medium Hall preset.

I sent the reverb (0db) to a Gate buss.

On the master bus I cut out frequencies below 30hz and used the Lurseen Mastering Console from IK-Multimedia. I used the Classical (More Glue) preset. If I made any changes, it would have been to the De-esser or compressor in the chain view options (icon at top). This plugin makes a huge difference in the final sound. It isn’t just louder, but better sounding.

Any questions or comments, please let me know.