Category Archives: Arranging

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.

Exciting times (track notes)

Continuing my liner notes for my July 2018 album “Sampler”

Track 7, Exciting Times, was my first experiment on doing something entirely from loops. Not audio loops, but MIDI loops. The entire track was produced from MIDI loops.

I use to subscribe to a magazine that included a download link or a DVD that had various samples and loops on it. My notes don’t show which issue or magazine name, but it was from a magazine. I took loops that came from what I think was a Trance selection. The majority of the magazine content was audio loops or samples, but from time to time they include midi loops.

Here are the instruments/patches I used for this track. My notes don’t show what changes I made to presets and it would take too long to figure out. Whatever they were, they were not dramatic changes.

Battery 4 (Argon Kit) with ReaEQ highpass at 40HZ and Supercharger GT compressor with a modified drum buss preset. Automation on ReaEQ highpass frequency.

Massive with Thelonius preset (modified). ReaComp sidechained from drum track; ReaEQ with a slight boos around 300hz and a low pass cut at 1.1K. Another ReaComp with sidechain. Supercharger GT with modified Synth Bass preset. NI VC 2A compressor, modified Electric Guitar preset. ReaDelay (modified Dehuminator slower preset). Automation on the Wavetable position and cutoff in Massive as well as the Bypass on the ReaDelay.

Reaktor Razor, Centauri preset (modified); ReaComp sidechained from Drum Buss, 0ms attack; 47ms release, 4:1 ratio, 0 to 481Hz input filter; ReaEQ highpass around 60Hz. Another ReaComp sidechained with 30-225Hz input filter. 3ms attack, 100ms release, 4.1 compression. (The two compressor settings basically end up being sidechained by only the bass drum from the drum sidechain input). Automation on two Macros in Razor. Automation on high pass filter in ReaEQ.

Absynth 5, Arcadia patch (probably modified). ReaComp sidechained similar to above examples.
ReaEQ. Automation on Pan and EQ Low pass frequency

Reaktor Monark, Sakwenzer patch (probably modified). ReaComp with sidechain from Drum track 0-745HZ input filter. 0ms attach, 100 release, 4:1 ratio. ReaEQ, low pass at 8.5Khz and high pass at 100Hz. Automation on lowpass eq filter.

Reaktor Kontour, Twin top patch (modified). ReaComp sidechained similar to above examples. ReaEQ, high pass, automated. Another ReaComp sidechained similar to above. Automation on pan.

Kontakt, string ensemble symphony series, string ensemble patch. ReaComp, sidechained similar to above. ReaEQ High pass around 60Hz, automated.

Kontakt, Rise & Hit, Heavy Fuzz patch. Automation on Volume and Rev-Heavyfuzz.

Kontakt, Exhale by Output, Backwards patch.

Four tracks were sent to a ReaDelay buss that had a 4-tap ping pong delay

Four tracks were sent to a Reverb buss with NI Passive EQ in mid/side mode. Some low mid boost in middle and some low boost on the side.

I printed all the midi to audio and produced the final mix from there.  I used an IK Multimedia Quad Compressor and Quad Image to widen out the sound a bit. I used a few sidechained compressors on some of the audio channels.

Please leave a comment or question below. You can also subscribe to this blog to be notified whenever a new article is posted.

Very Confused (album track notes)

To continue with my notes on the songs on my 11th album, Sampler, we get to the 6th track. That title is called Very Confused. The description of how I did it may be as equally confusing.

As inspiration for and as a way to try different ways of composing, I took an existing piece, the first movement of the Opus 2, No. 1 Beethoven Piano Sonata. I loaded a midi rendition of the piece into my DAW. I used a function that takes all the notes of the file and extracts them to separate MIDI tracks. I forget how many unique pitches there were, but it was a large number. Based on the visual look of each track in a piano roll editor I moved tracks around and combined many with specific percussion instruments in mind.

I ended up with 16 different midi tracks. Using what I thought would sound good in combination with all the other tracks I assigned various percussion instruments to each of the 16 tracks. All the percussion sounds were from the Native Instruments sound library Percussion Symphony Series. Even the mysterious piano sound was from that library.

Processing, as with much of my music was minimal, once the desired sounds were recorded. The Claves had Replika XT (from Native Instruments) on it with a special effect patch highly modified. The Rain Stick track utilized the Movement plugin (from Output.com), 11.8 pitcher from one of the expansion packs. The vibraslap track sounds like a metalic flying object with lots reverb. That was accomplished by sending it through the Dual Crystals effects chain in Absynth. I used a little bit of EQ and compression here and there.

The original Beethoven Sonata movement, with repeats is nearly 20 minutes long, far too long for a track on the album. So I cut and chopped different sections, mainly silence and shortened it to less than 6 minutes. I was surprised by how much silence there was in the original piece when broken into its individual notes.

It is definitely Very Confused. I hope you like it. If you do or have any other comments or questions, please leave them below.

Sheet Music: Collections vs. Singles

I’m taking a break from writing about the individual tracks on my new (July 2018) album. I will return to them.

I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading these blogs of mine, I’d love to know. With practically no comments or interaction from anyone about my blog, I’d love to hear from you in comments or the contact form on my website.

Earlier in 2018 I wrote that I was no longer selling my keyboard music as single titles but would instead be selling collections of my music. After experimenting with that for a few months I’ve decided to go back to selling titles individually. The benefits of  having only collections available were outweighed by administrative and organizational elements that the average buyer of sheet music probably isn’t aware of.  For example, keeping track of which titles are contained in which collection and which filenames are associated with those collections & individual titles.

Whether it be keyboard, bells, instrumental groups or solos, I’ve only ever had one collection sell well. That being my Huge Classical piano collection book. This is probably due to classical music always being more popular than sacred or popular music arrangements and that few of the titles in that collection are available elsewhere from me.

The thought occurs to me that maybe with digital music, people prefer to buy individual titles. Is it because the total price is cheaper? Is it because, unlike with collections, they don’t end up buying titles they don’t want. (That’s my reason for preferring singles to collections. I’ve quit buying Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solo series books because I end up with too many titles I just don’t care anything about ).

I’d really love to see a discussion of what you like or what other musicians you know like. Are there other reasons why people don’t want to buy collections in digital form as much as singles? Or maybe I’ve got it wrong. Maybe people do like collections better than single sheet music.

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.

May update

Current news

I’m always looking for subjects to write about here or tutorial to do on YouTube. Please use the comments section to give me some ideas.

I’ve not shown a map of where people are buying and performing my sheet music for some time, so here’s the latest (as of Mar 31, 2018)

I’m making some changes to the music catalog. Rather than offer individual keyboard arrangements, I’m only selling collections. I have 8 piano solo collections available. As time permits I will remove organ solos from the catalog and only offer collections. It is easier to manage collections.

I have no plans for anything on YouTube at the present time. This is for two reasons: 1) Nobody who watches my videos on YouTube has bothered to let me know what they want to see and 2) YouTube no longer allows me to monetize my channel and nobody who watches my videos has donated anything to keep it going.

As always, check the sheet music catalog for new titles. At least once a month, sometimes more often there are new titles.

After 15 custom arrangements for a single client I must be doing something right. If you have a beginner/intermediate instrumental group or a church orchestra in need of arrangements, let me know so I can write it for you.

I’m always “playing around” with my various sound libraries and live instruments in my home studio. Look for at least one new album out this summer, if not two.

I continue to teach piano lessons locally and via Skype. So, no matter where you are in the world I can teach you. I can also tutor on composing, arranging, music theory and more. Drop me a note if you are interested.

 

New Additions to the Catalog

New Additions

The sheet music we have available is in a variety of styles for just about every imaginable combination of instruments. Some were written & used in church; some were written for teaching and educational settings; some are just fun to play and some would make great background music in a video.

I’ve added the following Solo Organ titles to the catalog recently (March 2017):

Down At The Crosshttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707177 — A good piece for Lent or Communion

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Dayshttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707178 — Another excellent piece for use during Lent

The Lily Of The Valley https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707179 – An upbeat, fun to play setting of this tune.

There Is A Fountain https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707180 — Another piece well suited for Lent or Communion

To see all the titles I have available (currently around 1,000) visit https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php

 

Feb 2018 Sheet-Music additions

More additions to the catalog

Here are the latest additions to our sheet-music catalog. Including sheet-music and individual audio tracks, we approach a total of 1,100 titles available.

Breathe On Me — A setting of the hymn tune NOVA VITA for orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701580

Come Down, O Love Divine — An arrangement of this hymn tune for solo organ — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701582

Memoriam — Based on the original piano solo, this piece is for solo orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701584

Now Thank We All Our God — A setting of NUN DANKET for solo orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701581

Once In Royal David’s City — This Christmas time piece is part of our Any Size Church Orchestra series. Playable by as little as 1 orchestral instrument and keyboard or a full concert band or full orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701585

Onward Christian Soldiers — A setting of this very popular hymn. Part of our Any Size Church Orchestra series. — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701590

Visit our Catalog Page to see all of our titles and recordings.