Thursday, December 27, 2007

Blogging from the Road

Blogging from my pda . Maybe I will blog more consistently in 2008 ?

Friday, November 09, 2007

MOTU 2408 vs Edirol FA-101

Well more of a comparison. I purchased the Edirol FA-101 firewire interface because I needed a unit that could hook up to my then notebook based DAW. However, as part of my efforts to resurrect my home studio I decided to put back to use my old MOTU 2408mkii. Said unit was actually dedicated to my PowerMac Dual Processor G4. I now wanted to leverage the 2408 from my new PC Core2 Duo. That entailed buying a hardware upgrade from MOTU, the 424 PCI express interface card. So what are the differences between the two units ? Here we go:

Portability

The 2408 is simply not. It requires a PCI card in the host machine. The Edirol on the other hand requires firewire on the host machine and as a matter of fact on the MAC it just uses the native firewire support. So the Edirol will be indespensable on the road on a notebook or on the occassion that I may want to record a gig.

Latency

The Edirol on my Core2 Duo system provides 3 ms latency at 152 samples which is the lowest the ASIO driver will allow, nonetheless this is quite good. However, the MOTU provides 1 ms latency at 64 samples and I can go down to 32 samples but did not want to push my luck. So I'm a happy camper indeed.

Sampling Rate

Here the Edirol outshines the MOTU providing up 96K sampling. The MOTU only goes up to 48K but in practical terms that's just fine. Most pop to even instrumental guitar music i.e. my music does not need to go over 44.1

Connections

The MOTU has by far more connection possiblities but again in practical terms and for me that would entail getting more hardware to leverage the ADAT and Tascam connectivity provided. So effectively , the MOTU has 10 channels available including 2 spdif i.e. digital connections. That is exactly what the Edirol provides except that the Edirol does toslink i.e. optical instead of spdif. The Edirol does provide 2 mic connectors with decent preamps. In reality I prefer to go thru something like the Studio Projects VTB1 which is a tube hybrid pre-amp which does a great job of warming this up.

Conclusion

The MOTU will become my interface on my main audio workstation. The Edirol will be now dedicated to my G4 which I have plans to make a midi workstation which I can use to pump soft synth's output back to my main DAW on the PC.

The MOTU 2408mkii is a great interface even six years later after my initial purchase. I will probably look for another on Ebay. The new 2408 mkiii has great specs but is overkill for my needs. If you are looking for a digital interface for your audio workstation I would highly recommend finding an used 2408mkii.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Professional audio presentations in NYC

I just bumped into a group that I plan to be spending sometime with:

Part of the American Engineering Society, the NYC chapters have monthly presentations on professional audio engineering topics.

The next one's on the 16th of October.

See: http://www.aes.org/sections/ny/

The parent organization is having a conference Oct. 5 - 8 th at the Javitts Center in NYC.

Friday, September 28, 2007

John McLaughlin at the Town Hall

I attended McLaughlin back to fusion concert at the Town Hall theatre in NYC last nite. First fusion concert in something like ten years. I think that McLaughlin may not be my cup of tea. He is one of the acclaimed Jazz fusion greats, has fantastic chops. Everybody in the band did. But it just did not grab me. The groove was too straight and too busy and too technical.This is coming from a guy that likes chops but where is the music. I think that it may just be an acquired taste. Certainly many will disagree with me. The show was sold out and the audience was as fired up as any I have seen.

It just does not seem to do it for me. Maybe I don't get it. I do get DiMeola and Metheny. I love their stuff. So maybe McLaughlin is just in another planet that I just don't understand.

I have heard that he has nice acoustic music, maybe I need to now check that out.

We do share one thing in common i.e. McLaughlin and I. We both thnk that Godin makes great guitars and especially great if one likes to blend synth tones into the mix.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Do you dig it ? Part 1

video

Woke up this morning to find a plumbing crew getting ready to replace my sewage pipe. We have had issues this morning but our landlord just popped this one on us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Resurrection of my Wiki

MediaWiki i.e. the php framework used by Wikipedia, and the framework I was using on my last wiki, is actually quite prone to spam and it takes a community to fend of the evil spammers. Obviously, I don't have a "community" per se so I found a great wiki framework with a lot of bells and whistles and which has quite decent security mechanisms in place. The framework is called PMWiki and one can read up more about it here.

I like PMWiki so much that I got rid of my regular web site and now my new PM wiki is my web site. I do need to spend a bit of time adding more content but I think it already has the "look" I always intended to implement.

So check it out:

http://www.monteirosfusion.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Testing Video upload

video

Musicians noodling while floor is being setup to record Jon Raney's original composition Sumbate.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Death of my wiki

I am sorry to announce that due to my total neglect and abandonment my wiki has died. I actually put it out of its misery after I found it to have been pillaged by a gang of virtual hoodlums. Yes, I'm talking about spammers. I used WikiMedia which has lousy admin to guard against spam. The various Php Forum software on the other hand have decent protections. My only option it seems would have been to entirely disable registration. I may try this later but for now I have to concentrate on the music. The front may pick up soon. It has been a slow and frustrating year so far but my friend and collaborator Jon Raney may finally come back online towards the end of September.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Keeping it safe



Recently, I started getting really paranoid about the safety of my content. I have been thinking about setting up a backup system for my music system since I got the new system in January but I guess now that my friend Jon and I are resuming our collaboration the issue has stepped up into the front burner.

So what's my strategy for my music content security?

First of all, start with a 500 gb Western Digital SATA drive that has enough space without accounting for compression to back up all of my drives. Then buy the right enclosure. I opted for the ICY Dock eSATA/USB single tray enclosure. Mostly because of tray driven design where once the hard drive was fastened to the tray, there was zero need to make any cable connections.

It worked perfectly and as I write this blog I'm formatting the Western Digital disk.

The hardware side of the solution i.e. disk and enclosure cost around $160.00. Not bad at all.

The software solution entails using PathSync , a utility for folder synchronization developed by the same developers that develop my preferred multi-track recording digital workstation i.e. Reaper.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Playing the Matrix




I recently purchased an M-Audio TriggerFinger. At first most music tech savvy will recognise it as a midi drum pad and indeed that was the original reason I purchased. Not because I wanted to program drum parts but rather because I wanted to embellish sample based loops i.e. such as BFD with “live” albeit triggered patterns and single hits. In other words for the purposes of recording live playing of the TriggerFinger against a BFD track backdrop.

However, I soon realized that the TriggerFinger doesn’t care what it triggers. Now that makes total sense of course , its afterall a midi controller, but what I had not thought about was to use it to trigger something other than a drum sampler. Indeed, the TriggerFinger becomes an instrument. Using the accompanying Enigma software one can map any scale on to the sixteen pads. A transpose controller allows one to transpose the registered scale to any other base note. One of the reasons that this is appealing to me is because there are certain patches , percussive in nature but yet melodic that play better using a percussive approach i.e. instead of playing it as a keyboard. Another interesting aspect of playing on TriggerFinger and for that matter any similar grid based midi controller, is that there are no rules. Guitarist, piano players and others develop an almost subconscious memory of underlying finger patterns and its these patterns that tend to come out in one’s playing. A good thing for sure, but it can lead to a “confined” expression. The TriggerFinger has no rules and if you just “jam” with it you may be surprised what note sequences you get and what you learn.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Calibrating for Latency



Calibrating your DAW for latency is an increidibly important first step not to be forgotten. Depending on your audio interface and computer setup the latency i.e. delay between what you play and what is recorded can be significant. Furthermore, if you are not aware of the issue it can really be disconcerting since it will seem like you have timing issues.

On Windows reduced latency is achieved by using ASIO drivers. Once you have an ASIO driver installed the next step is to determine what the lowest buffer setting is where your interface still operates normally. Abnormal operation is discernible due to audible pops, clicks and glitches. The lower your buffer setting the lower your latency but having low latency is still not enough with regards to recording. The goal is to actually "zero off" latency i.e. calibrate your DAW so that an a sample size offset is specified so that there is no latency at all.

So how do you do that? Well, you conduct an experiment which is known as a loop back test. I learned about how to set this up from a thread I started at the Reaper forum.

These are the steps:

  1. Find a sample audio material such as a click track or very simple drum loop.
  2. Set the master output of your daw to a specific out on your audio interface . say Out # 1.
  3. Arm a track for recording and set its input to a specific input on your audio interface , say In#1
  4. Physically connect with a patch cable the on your audio interface Out #1 to In #1.
  5. Record a few seconds of the material.
  6. Use an audio editor to find the crest of a discernible piece of audio on your original drum loop. Make sure that timeline on your DAW is set to show samples and note what sample the crest resides. See figure above.
  7. Do the same for the recorded material.
  8. Determine the difference in samples between the original material and the recorded material. This is your offset.
  9. Add the offset to your DAW's preference settings for latency offset.
  10. Repeat the experiment making sure that the offset has been applied and saved to your preferences.
  11. Confirm that the second time around that the original material and the recorded material line up perfectly.
If using Reaper there's a project file availble in the thread I have a link for above. The thread has some interesting discussions on latency and is a good read. Check it out.

Layla DiMeola




Just found out that my favorite guitarist's wife is becoming active about her own artistic passions. I'm referring to Layla DiMeola which is married to the great guitarist Al Di Meola.

The pic above was borrowed sample of her artwork from her website.

Keep in tune.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Putting down that Bass #1


Here is one I hope of many experiments that I will share in making the right bass sound for whatever the occassion may be.

First of all, I started by using the Pandora PX4D and specifically the Slap Bass patch. I made sure to remove any effects processing since I was going to be doing that on my DAW i.e. Reaper in this case.

As far as to the effects the first VST effect I used was a guitar effect the RedNefTwin from SimulAnalog. Here is a screen shot of the settings used:



The second effect is the free Classic Compressor by Kjaerhus Audio. Here is the screen shot of that:



Finally the third effect is a reverb again by Kjaerhus Audio namely the Classic Reverb. BTW, the "Classic" series is a set of free , yes free and excellent VST plugins.




Check out the mp3. Its a very basic bass riff that is repeated over a BFD latin drum groove but it should get the point across as far as to the sound of the bass. It is also bass riff to one of my original tunes Maldezar.

I have started a discussion on creating bass tones on my forum.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Are you a Studio Pack Rat?

I plead guilty. I'm also a gear junkie and the combination can be deadly. A pack rat is annoying but in the studio it can be counter productive. The more my setup goes virtual in the studio the more I see gear becoming irrelevant I also recently decided to condense my guitar/ synth setup around the newly released next evolution of Roland's VG line namely the VG-99.

Here is a list of gear that I am getting rid of:

  1. Roland GR-20s
  2. Line 6 PodXT
  3. DBX 163X Compressor
  4. Zoom RT-323 Drum machine
  5. Alesis Microverb III
  6. Rocktron Intelliflex LTD
  7. Alesis Midiverb III
  8. MOTU MicroExpress MIDI interface
  9. MOTU 2408 mII Firewire Audio Interface
  10. AKG 330 BT Cardiod Microphone
The GR-20s and the PodXT are being replaced by the VG-99. Mind you I do have a Sansamp PSA-1 and that I will always keep. I also have a couple very handy , portable Korg Pandora's for the acoustic guitars, electric and bass.

The DBX 163x is a great soft knee compressor but last year I purchased a Focusrite Trakmaster Pro which is just more versatile.

The Zoom drum machine again great drum machine but I decided to go virtual with the drums. I'm using the BFD virtual drum kit and to play live into I will be purchasing an M-Audio Trigger Finger.

The Rocktron Intelliflex is a great guitar effects processor i.e. its just effects but very high quality but again the VG-99 has all of that. The other effects units basically replaced by the fact that most of my needs are handled by virtual plugins. No , I am not gigging but I suspect that if I was that the VG-99 should do me well.

The MOTU are legacy units from the days I was running a MAC although they do have drivers for Windows. However, I had decided to go with Edirol, a subsidiary of Roland and which is a company that targets Windows. Specifically my DAC is a firewire Edirol FA-101, great unit, very portable at a half rack size. It provides for 10 in and 10 outs , certainly more than I project I will ever need.

The AKG Mic is really more of a live mic than a recording mic. For recording I'm using a Rode NT-1 omni condenser mic. So far very good results in recording my Ovation's "presence" in my studio.


Every piece of gear represents a knowledge skill set that must be obtained and maintained. Fine tuning your studio gear to do what you need to do helps focus and therefore productivity.

I started a thread on my forum on the importance of one's studio setup, so if you care please join our group and let us know what you think. Here is the link to the thread:

http://www.monteirosfusion.com/forum/index.php?topic=23.0

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reaper



Reaper is an incredibly powerful Windows DAW, which is as increidibly affordable at a price of $39.00 and which has a very active if not passionate community behind it. I bumped into Reaper because my usual DAW Adobe Audition does not have VSTi support. VSTi support means being able to load virtual instruments not to be confused with virtual effects which it can indeed do. There are many more reasons than just VSTi support to contemplate using Reaper. It is really a powerful multitrack recorder with very flexible signal routing capabilities. It also comes with a ton of free effects which seem to be very well liked within the community. Reaper does not have in my estimation the editing tools that Audition has. My guess is that I will be using both tools with Reaper being used for the intial multitrack recording to initial mixes and Audition in the final mixing and mastering process.

Some of Reaper's features:

  • Portable - supports running from USB keys or other removable media
  • 64 bit audio engine
  • Excellent low-latency performance
  • Multiprocessor capable
  • Direct multi-track recording to many formats including WAV/BWF/W64, AIFF, WavPack, FLAC, OGG, and MIDI.
  • Extremely flexible routing
  • Fast, tool-less editing
  • Supports a wide range of hardware (nearly any audio interface, outboard hardware, many control surfaces)
  • Support for VST, VSTi, DX, DXi effects
  • ReaPlugs: high quality 64 bit effect suite
  • Tightly coded - installer is just over 2MB
  • ool-less mouse interface -- spend less time clicking
  • Drag and drop files to instantly import them into a project
  • Support for mixing any combination of file type/samplerate/bit depth on each track
  • Easily split, move, and resize items
  • Each item has easily manipulated fades and volume
  • Tab to transient support
  • Configurable and editable automatic crossfading of overlapping items
  • Per-item pitch shift and time stretch
  • Arbitrary item grouping
  • Markers and envelopes can be moved in logical sync with editing operations
  • Ripple editing - moving/deletion of items can optionally affect later items
  • Multiple tempos and time signatures per project
  • Ability to define and edit project via regions
  • Automation envelopes

  • and more well worth checking it out. Don't let the prize fool you Reaper in many ways is just as powerful as any of the other well known DAWs such as Cubase and ProTools. It may well be exactly what you need.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Self Reliance

    Self reliance means taking the ultimate responsibility for the success of your project. Dependencies on other individuals create vulnerabilities which can derail your project. Its nobody’s fault but yours. One must therefore strive for control. The first objective of is to control the scope of your project i.e. define what success is. Can you do what you are setting out to do? In the context of music this can be an easy objective if your goal is one of self expression. Do you have enough technical and compositional skills to be able to express your musical thoughts to your satisfaction? If your goals in music are not about money, not about public accolades but about WHAT you want to say then defining the project is done. The rest is just hard work.

    To be more concrete in the context of modern music “self publication” there are some specific things one can do. This is where I start talking about what I can do to be self reliant. I can think of 3 main areas:

    • Composition
    • Playing the Parts
    • Audio Engineering

     

    Composition

    To be self reliant here involves learning about the music craft and some of its rules. It also means not being tied by its rules or certain interpretations of said rules. Self reliance is built through experimentation and the courage to finish something regardless of the emotional suffering. Don’t wait for others to tell you what they think. What do you think?

     

    Playing the Parts

    Tunes consist of multiple parts , all doing their part. Its that cooperation that makes music breathe. We are living in a day and age that making those parts happen is very do-able. Technology here has been the great enabler. Very viable drum parts can be generated via software like BFD. Equipment like the M-audio Trigger finger make it possible even for non-drummers to add the percussive icing that can make such a great difference in a tune. Synthesisers make it possible for keyboardists and guitar players to play a multitude of sounds. If you are a guitar player you should play your own bass parts on a bass guitar. Keyboard players have their left hand. Sequencing can be a viable mechanism for adding further orchestration. Here is the main point don’t stop finishing your tune just because you don’t have a bass player or drummer around. Just do it. You can always later collaborate. 

    This brings me to an important point with regards to collaboration. Be sure you are ready to collaborate. Don’t rely on anybody understanding your vision for your project nevermind your vision for a particular tune. Make that vision as concrete as possible by having something finished to show. You have to have something to polish , you can’t polish smoke.

     

    Audio Engineering

    Product means a CD and to get there one needs to put things down on tape or rather on a hard drive. Again, don’t rely on anybody. There is so much out there nowadays to help with this. Sound recording has indeed become accessible to the masses. Inexpensive powerful software is there and with these new Core 2 Duo Cores there is not much that one cannot do. Secondly, there are some great communities of like minded individuals that are invaluable resources.

     

    Publishing independent music by independent musicians is today attainable by those that really want it. Success is achieved by building self - reliance and accepting full responsibility for the success of the project. Dependency on other individuals is relinquishing responsibility which has the potential outcome of derailing you of the path to the release of your CD.

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Spectrasonics and its Pro-Users

     

     Atmosphere_final

    I have talked quite a bit of what is out there for free. Free and of high quality.  From effects to virtual instruments each with their pluses and minuses. On the other side of the fence there is quite a bit of expensive software. At first,  said software rubbed me the wrong way because I figured it should be much cheaper than rack gear but often not or not that much cheaper. There are two main issues that I need to solve to sustain my composition efforts.

    • supporting arrangement / embellishment
    • drum track/ groove

    I suspect that in my particular case , given my strengths and weaknesses as a musician etc,  that embellishment of tunes i.e. secondary comps/lines other than the primary comp/lines  I do with the guitar will be a result of the use of guitar synth generating midi to be later converted to audio and of the use of a step sequencer such as Fruity loops.

    The other issue is the one of laying out the drum / percussion parts. That deserves its own post. Its a huge problem and I fear that there is not one single simple solution. More on that later.

    Out of the various commercial companies out there that attempt to address the above there is one in particular that seems to stand out to me. Specifically, two products by Spectrasonics :

    • Stylus RMX — a Groove machine
    • Atmosphere — an intensely complete synth/sampler

     

    2-StandartEdit_Web

    Although not cheap they seem to give you quite a bit for the money. I’ll let the reader check that out at their site. At least for now  . Another major reason though that I can’t seem to get past is who uses Spectrasonics. Artists such as:

     

    • Lyle Mays of Pat Metheny
    • Chic Correa
    • Al Jarreau
    • George Benson
    • Mary J Blidge
    • tons of hip hop
    • movies such as BloodDiamond
    • tv shows such as 24
    • and it goes on ….

    the list is quite impressive. The capabilities and resources that come with Spectrasonics are as well quite impressive. Stylus is selling for $289.00 and Atmosphere for $399.00 , not cheap but less than the price of a lot of guitar and synth hardware i.e. not so expensive as to scare me off , yet expensive enough to really study the pros and cons.

    I would love to hear feedback on Spectrasonics or on alternative strategies to handle the issues I mention above. thanks.

    As always please leave feedback on my forum.

    Wednesday, January 31, 2007

    Jamming with SoundFonts

    I have really been bogged down with my day gig spilling into my evening guitar hours. However, although I did not have time to work on composing  I did manage to experiment with the use of a soft sampler and sound fonts. The soft sampler I use I have mentioned before. Its SFZ which is free but excellent so far. What was a pleasant surprise was the performance I am getting out of SFZ and the use of SoundFonts. Now, for those that don’t know, SoundFonts come in all shape and sizes. Some are huge. Like RealFont which is a free, good but large GM sound font. Its large because its high quality but also because its a GM font which means it provides for the entire GM (General Midi) instrument set which is large. Everything from pianos to helicopter sounds. SoundFonts can be small , of high quality but specific to a certain sound or instrument. For example, one commercial sound font I’m checking out is based on the vintage Yamaha DX-7 saw wave. Since in this case the sound font is about a specific sound it can still be of very high quality yet significantly smaller than using a GM sound font. The size is important because the size impacts the memory of your system. In other words the smaller the sound font the less chance you get into a memory hungry situation which means that your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) has the space it needs to operate best. The key is to avoid latency. Latency a fancy word for a disconnect between when your fingers play a note to the point when your ears hear the note.

    I was very happy with the performance. I could not hear any discernible latency at all. Soft samplers have an edge over soft synths. They just have to compute much less. After all the sound is already made, it just needs to be mapped to a note range. Synthesisers have to generate i.e. “synthesize” the sound and this takes horse power. The other benefit to the use of the soft sampler and sound fonts is the flexibility of choosing different sounds. There are tons of free sound fonts out there. Many are very good. There is also a good selection of commercial sound fonts and they are not really expensive. I have seen prices in the low teens for certain sounds. The way I see it twenty bucks is well spent if that buys me a killer lead saw sound.

    The other note is how pleased I also am with my Godin LGX-SA. Specifically, the capability of driving multiple sounds from the guitar i.e. acoustic pickup, electric humbuckers and of course the synth access. Unless, I’m trying to do some special effects ,  the guitar synth to me means the combined guitar natural tones with the synth tones. As a matter of fact, in many ways I see the synth as an effect on the guitar. For example , one combination could the use of the  natural  more staccato acoustic lines of a guitar and that of a legato string synth line which is by the nature of the string patch a “delayed” sound. The synth is providing the delayed effect but instead of delaying the guitar signal you get a delayed synth which tracks the pitches of the guitar line.

    The possibilities are endless and the tracking is there.

    I did run into a snag getting the soft sampler’s output to Audition but I’ll talk about that on a later post.

    Feedback for this post can be left on my forum.

     

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    DiMeola experiments with CDBaby

    Yes, DiMeola has released his new album Diabolic Intentions and it is being sold at CDBaby. This is very interesting to me. Here is a mainstream fusion artist, well as mainstream as fusion can get, experimenting with an unorthodox distribution channel and which is still probably associated with unknown artists. In my opinion it makes sense. It at the very least makes sense to experiment from Al’s perspective. Two good reasons:

    1. He makes more money i.e. he gets a bigger cut, a much bigger cut.
    2. He has more control if not total control over his intellectual property.
    3. No contractual arrangements to support the CD.

    Reason # 1

    CDBaby charges , last I checked, four bucks per CD. If you sell a CD for $10.00 and more , well I’ll bypass the math. Most artist get less than a couple dollars per CD from the big labels.

    Reason # 2

    Control. This is a big issue. There are DiMeola albums which are basically out of print. That’s just a ridiculous state of affairs. It should never happen. If Dimeola had legal rights to that material and assuming he has possession of the masters he could just re-issue and sell them on CDBaby.

    Reason # 3.

    Big labels usually force the artist to support the album by touring. Al DiMeola tours a lot. It has to be grueling. To have actual control over whether he tours or not , where and the whens must be fantastic.

    I suspect that there other reasons why this was a good album to give CDBaby a shot. For one, his bandmate Gumbi Ortiz has at least a couple of his albums on CDBaby. Secondly, its my guess that this last album was cheaper to produce. My understanding is that is a solo guitar album. The cost would have been significantly cheaper to record, mix/master and obviously the musician fees were kept low . Other albums i.e. with full bands can get expensive, they take longer to record and usually would bring in more talent to assist i.e. the right engineers, producers etc. In this case depending on the scope the artist may want for the record label to foot the bill.

    I hope this works out for Al because it may make it easier to get another twenty years of music from him. The way technology is going he could pretty much record his stuff in the comfort of his home studio .

     

    BTW, feedback for this article can be left on my forum.

     

     

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Here She Is

    A late announcement but here she is in all her glory. The Godin LGX SA. Great acoustic tone, Seymour Duncan humbuckers on a 5 position switch, nice ebony action, controls the synth perfectly and you can run all three sound sources at the same time. If you need a synth capable guitar , I just don’t think that there any other good choices.

    You can read my previous blog about the LGX-SA here.

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Music Patterns

    Revised: Jan. 12th, 2007.

    As some may know I’m a software engineer by day. I have come to believe that there are certain ideas in software engineering that are applicable to delivering product in the music world i.e. to compose and publish your music CD. One of those ideas is that of patterns ala Design Patterns. Simplistically, a pattern is a label on a repeatable strategy to do something. The label serves as a way of communicating an idea to somebody(s) , a collaborator or perhaps oneself . In the case of software its your team. In the case of music its your team as well. Your bandmates, your composition partner , even a teacher or student.

    Often, you hear “well, there are a thousand ways to do that” and with art that goes up to a million ways. However, the case is that there is actually a limited number of commonly used and effective strategies. Often, the creativity comes in the extension or slight departure from a pattern. Of course, somebody can invent something entirely new. That’s okay, its great but often people don’t appreciate stuff that is too “new”.

    From my perspective the main value of “music” patterns would be to foster communication between collaborators at all levels of expertise. To better allow one to get a grip on effective strategies and therefore enhance productivity. 

    All of the above to introduce:

    The Layered Riff Intro

    A riff is at first introduced over for example a 4 bar phrase. Every four bars another part is added e.g. percussion, bass, piano etc,. thereby “thickening” the sound until by the end of the fourth pass one enters the top of the A section. A twist to this pattern, which I like and I’m currently using on a tune, is to repeat the riff over your A section and to finally end the tune with the riff.

    Note, the riff is not the melody but something that the melody plays against. The melody can contain parts of the riff, it can contain inversions of the riff, be rhythmically symmetrical to the riff, etc. I find it very cool to do that.

    Let me emphasize in case there is any confusion, I have not “invented” anything. I’m just going through a process of labelling these patterns , strategies that I hear in the music I listen to for the purposes that it may help my personal composition process. If this perhaps helps others , great. I do doubt that a seasoned composer will find much value in these, such already know them may have even coined their own terms or not for these.

    ——

     

    Now, some heavy composer types may call this “motif development” or something else, well fine. But this pattern is more specific. It is easy to grasp and more direct to implement. Try it out. The next time YOU, and I’m now talking to those that may not have heavy music education under their belts, set out to write a tune, just try it. Come up with a riff , layer in the rest of the parts, come up with a melody that is a play off the riff, come up with some chords that work and end the tune with the riff.

    You may be surprised to find a decent initial cut of an “entire” tune. Often, at least with me, having a notion of what the “entire” structure of the tune is has been difficult and a roadblock to finishing a tune. I have a lot of unfinished tunes . This pattern or if it is preferred “recipe” has been helpful.