Tag Archives: Reaktor

More on iPad apps for music

iPad music apps

See also an updated article HERE

If you have some time, please listen to my music on iTunes (Click here)

This is a followup to my previous blog about sheet music apps for the iPad.

My favorite and the app I use the most for viewing sheet music is still forScore. If you don’t like it, another good one is unrealBook.

In addition to creating music, I also teach lessons, mostly piano, but also composition & theory lessons. Here are some apps I find useful for one or more of my musical endeavors, whether teaching, performing or creating. Some of these will also work on the iPhone while others are only for the iPad.

dbVolume – not really music, but it measures the db level of any sound source.

FinaleSong – If you use the Finale notation program, you might find this useful. (I wish there was a similar free app for Sibelius)

iRig MIDI recorder – This app could be a lot better but it allows you to record MIDI using the iRig MIDI adapter. If you could move existing midi files from your computer to it via itunes I’d find it helpful. I find that the iRig MIDI adapter tends to slip out of the iPad if there’s the least bit of motion in the iPad or the midi cables. But for free, it’s helpful if you don’t need a full-blown midi sequencer or DAW just to record MIDI.

iTalk Record  and Pocket Wave – for recording my piano students during lessons to give them more feedback about their playing. The built-in camera app is good for video of performances.

English: An image of an iPad 2.
from Wikipedia

MIDI Monitor & MIDI Wrench – for troubleshooting midi connections

miniSynth2 – a nice 2 Oscillator synth with some nice features

Musical Terms – a dictionary of musical terms, with an option to hear an Italian speaker say them. (I forget if it just does Italian).

Pitch Invasion – a neat video arcade game that helps teach ear training

SampleTank Free – Another disappointment from IK Multimedia, but I guess for free I shouldn’t expect more. A 4-track only (even in the full paid version) sequencer. Contains a variety of sounds & loops. Can use with or without the iRig MIDI adapter. But really, only 4 tracks and again no way to transfer midi files from my computer to the app? Decent if you need to put together a sequence and you don’t have anything else to use.

Sound Brush – An interesting way to compose music. Useful for teaching purposes.

TouchOSC – If you use a DAW or musical instrument software (like Reaktor), this is is nice. It turns your iPad into a hardware controller. Depending on how you set it up and what you’re trying to control, you can use OSC or MIDI for the controlling. It is easy to design your own control templates. Since you already spent a lot of money on the iPad, why spend more buying a hardware controller when this can pretty much do what you want for around $5?

Komplete Ultimate 9 – Software based music creation

Komplete Ultimate 9

Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate

FM 8
FM 8 (Photo credit: matt.searles)

For those that might be new to the world of creating music all on your computer or new to the world of synthesis and sampling, I thought a brief mention of what I use would be in order. There are many very good comparable products available from many sources, but for the cost, the unified look & feel and overall quality, I really like Native Instruments and their products. If you want everything, then Komplete Ultimate 9 is the one to get. You can spend years playing around and putting this software to use. It is pricey, but consider it a worthwhile investment, especially if you anticipate making money from your music or as an educational investment. But, if you don’t want to spend that much, individual parts are available.

The main components:

  • Kontakt – Sampler and playback. Includes a lot of ‘default’ sounds in addition to libraries mentioned below
  • Reaktor – A modular synthesizer with lots of instruments and, best of all, the ability to create your own instruments.
  • Massive – wavetable synthesizer, great for bass and leads
  • Absynth – semi-modular, great for pads and abstract sounds
  • FM8 – FM synthesizer and more
  • Battery 4 – A drum sampler, player than can be used for more than just drums
  • Guitar Rig 5 – A creative effects rack with 17 amps & cabinets, 54 effects and lots of capability

With just the above programs and their factory content, you can do more than enough to get really great sounds. Kontakt & Reaktor are the main ‘engines’ on which most of the rest of the content relies.

With Kontakt, there various libraries that come with Ultimate (or are available separately). Those include Strings & Cinematic libraries like Session Strings, Session Horn, Session Strings Pro, Damage, Evolve and Evolve Mutations 1 & 2. If you want to do anything for TV, Film, video games or just generally dramatic music, these are great. For retro sounds there is Retro Machines MK2. There are several drum packages in the Abbey Road series including Vintage, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s & modern drummer. There is also a Studio drummer. These drum packages give you drum kits, thousands of midi grooves and effects appropriate to those eras. To round out the drums, there is a West African drum collection, Balinese gongs and samples from Maschine. If that weren’t enough, there are several electric bass instruments and guitar. Finally, there are keyboard libraries. These include classic rock organ (B3), several grand pianos, upright pianos, including The Giant, electric pianos, retro keyboards, and a soul loop library.

With Reaktor, the instruments included are: Razor, a great additive synth; Reaktor Prism, a modal synth; Reaktor Spark, a dynamic subtractive synth; Skanner XT, part synth, part sampler; Monark, a new analog emulation similar to a mini-moog. Remember, these are just the added libraries that come with Reaktor. Reaktor itself has hundreds of synths, samplers, sequencers & effects including in the base package.

On top of all of that, NI includes numerous effects as plug-ins ready to be inserted into your DAW. (It should be noted that many of the above products include versions of these plug-ins as part of their implementations). These include a variety of solid state and tube emulations of compressor/limiters, EQ, reverb, gates, transient master, driver (distortion & filter effect), The Finger & The Mouth for live performance or studio manipulation of sound; and Reflektor, another reverb.

If you’re just getting started and don’t want to invest in all of these sounds just yet, I would recommend either Kontakt or Reaktor depending on your interest. If you want to design your own synths and get into the world of sound design, then go with Reaktor. If playback and maybe taking sounds you already have and making into an instrument is for you, then Kontakt. Each of these are available in a free versions with limits on what you can do with them. But, they do come with sounds that can be used in a production. Think of them as demos to get your feet wet before deciding what to do.

As to learning about them, the manuals that come with Ultimate are pretty good. There are also videos from various sources. I have some on my YouTube channel (as shown below). I also like Groove3.com for their tutorial series.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd2VZsK6btM]
In addition to the tips you can find on my YouTube channel, I offer this. To start with, for the synths, take any piece of music you are familiar with, load it into your favorite midi sequencer or midi track of your DAW and start assigning different instruments to it. For effects, use an audio track with GuitarRig or the plugins. Mess around with the various knobs on the software and/or use automation in your DAW in order to vary the sounds. Personally, I use the Reaper DAW. Great for the price and great for what it can do.

I’ve been using Ultimate 9 since it came out and am very impressed with it. As an updater from a previous version, I think there are just enough new products included to make the upgrade worthwhile (assuming you didn’t buy any of the libraries when they came out individually over the past year or so). The effects package and Battery 4 definitely deserve a good going through.

Enjoy..

Piano lessons and music lessons over the internet

Piano

I’m happy to announce that I’m now teaching piano lessons and general music lessons via the internet. Please pass the word on to all you know.

I mainly teach piano lessons, but I am also available to teach Composition, Music Theory, Sibelius 7, Reaper DAW and Native Instruments Komplete 8 (with the various software like Absynth, Battery 3, FM8, Guitar Rig 5, Kontkat, Massive and Reaktor). For piano I teach all levels of experience and all styles. For Composition, Music Theory and Sibelius 7, I teach all levels, from beginner to advanced. For Reaper DAW and Native Instrument software contact me for details. If you are interested in organ lessons via the internet, let me know.

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

I’m using Skype with video to teach lessons*. I have a webcam with high quality video setup to show my hands at my keyboard and one to show me. I can alternate between the two. I also have the ability to share my desktop. On the desktop I can show various material to supplement the lesson. Of course, I can also speak to the student. This makes it almost like me being in the same room with the student.

All that is required of the student is the ability to use Skype near where they are playing the piano or for other lessons, wherever they want.

Being able to see the piano student’s hands and their keyboard is preferred and is almost essential for beginners. But, if a video connection is impossible on the student’s end, then audio will also work. For other non-piano lessons, audio is sufficient although being able to share our desktops with one another would be desired.

For a limited number of new students, lessons (of any type) are ABSOLUTELY FREE through the end of 2012. After that, I will charge half price through May 2013, then go to regular price.

For general information about piano lessons, either in person or via the internet, visit my Piano Lessons Page and then use the Piano Inquiry page to contact me.

Don’t forget, we have over 400 free sheet-music titles available on our website for FREE! All we ask is that you consider making a donation to help the effort.

*My Skype name is: “JamesGilbertMusic” (all one word, without the quotes). Go ahead and give me a call. NOTE: I can also teach lessons via FaceTime but the experience will not be quite the same as described above.

Fractal Art – New video

Fractal Art

New video on YouTube

I’ve always liked fractal art and the seemingly infinite possibilities that one can make with them. Now with faster computers and some free software, one can make 3D animation fairly quickly and easily. So, I found some still 2-D images I liked from various formulas I tried and I rendered out some 3D animations and put them together as a video.

The music is an original composition I’ve been working on. It makes for a good background to the video.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbNprcjSXGQ?hl=en&fs=1]

I used a number of free fractal software programs to create the content. After evaluating a number of them, I’m going to stick with XaoS for 2D and Mandelbulb 3D. The 3D animation does take a very long time to do. One of the clips, I think it was the first one, took about 12 hours of rendering to create.

For the music I used several different synths and of course different sounds. These included Absynth, Reaktor (using Skanner), Table Synth and FM8. I also used some drum loops I had laying around on my computer. I’m not sure if you can tell it from listening, but the simplicity of this piece is that the original source material is an old hymn as I arranged for bells. I made few changes to the original arrangement, but the synths and various processing makes it come out the way it did.

I’m looking at a program that creates midi tracks from fractal math formulas and may use one of them for background music to another fractal video. The fractal music sounds a bit too random so I’m going to have to tweak it quite a bit if I do use it.

Please spread the word and let others know about the YouTube channel, this blog and of course the website. Check out all the links at the top and bottom of our website.

New MP3 recordings at the website

Two new mp3 audio recordings have been added to the music catalog.

Chord Flavors

The first, Chord Flavors, is a recording of the original composition Chord Flavors. It is a flowing, rhythmic transition between various chords. This transition and interplay of chords ends up making for a nice melody as well. If you’ve followed any of the chord tutorial series on YouTube, this is a good example of what you can do with little more than a progression of chords.

For the recording, the G-flat Group used software based synthesizers to do the recording. The piece used only 3 instruments, a patch in Massive, a patch in Absynth and an instrument in Reaktor that was created by feeding the audio of the first two instruments into Reaktor.

Read more and listen to an audio sample.

Run Away From The Island

The second piece, Run Away From The Island is a recording by The Emotive Players. It was made from a piece written specifically for the recording. The sheet music to this title will soon be in the catalog, and may be by the time you read this. It is a high-paced, percussive piece implying action and movement. Instruments used include Massive, Evolve Mutations 2 and Studio Strings Pro. A fun little piece. See our YouTube channel where this music is used as the soundtrack to a short slideshow video.

The piece is based on a 12-tone row. The row is formed in such a way that it is not too atonal. The piece is melodic, but it is more percussive than melodic. The use of the animator feature in Studio Strings Pro gives the piece some real sense of motion. The Evolve Mutations patches add a depth to the percussive nature of the piece.

Listen to an audio sample

The recordings were mixed in Reaper. The sheet music used to generate MIDI files for some tracks was done in Sibelius 7.

We hope you enjoy these and please let your friends know about them.