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Heading Off In A Slightly New Direction

The times they are a-changin.  What I mean is that I’ve focused all of my creative energies this year into one main direction, learning how to write music for TV/Film.  I thought I’d take a second and catch you up on how this change in direction has been going.

Writing Music for TV/Film

I don’t really buy into New Year’s resolutions but the one main goal I had for myself this year was to focus on writing music for media, specifically TV/Film.  I knew this would be a major undertaking so I didn’t put any time expectations on it.  I simply committed myself to learning how to write and record music specifically for use in TV/Film.

What brought this about?  Well, some of the most common feedback I get from people that hear my music is that it sounds like “film music”.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this:

  • I write instrumental music.
  • My music tends to be electronic, dark and ambient which is a genre that is used quite often in popular TV shows like CSI, How To Get Away With Murder, Mr. Robot, etc…
  • My music tends to evoke very specific moods and feelings in the listener.  Again, something that successful TV/Film music should excel at.

After hearing this type of feedback for years on end I decided that this was the year I would bite the bullet and seriously pursue a part-time career as a TV/Film composer.  I’ll be sharing my experiences here on this blog.  I hope you enjoy the journey!

So you may have caught on to this by now but, I am making a music video for each of the tracks from my latest CD, Interstellar Drones & Soundscapes. Here’s the next one for the track, Pulsar GenRec T4.

You’ll notice that this is a very short track, really more of a vignette than a song.  I have three tracks like this on the CD.  I see these short vignettes as aural “palette cleansers”.  I use them to sort of “reset” the listener’s brain after having listened to 10-15 minutes of drone-y goodness.  Take a listen:

Technically, what you’re hearing was created using granular synthesis controlled by stochastic musical processes.  I created this years ago so my memory may be failing me but I’m pretty sure I used Cecilia to generate the samples for this piece.

Cecilia is a very cool piece of software that I would suggest any sound designer check out.  It’s actually a graphical front-end for Csound.  This is great because even though I would never take the time to learn how to code in Csound, I can still access its power and features using a GUI similar to other audio software that instantly makes sense to me.

I plan on recording some instructional videos in the near future showing how I use Cecilia.  I’ll be putting them up on my YouTube channel.  In fact, you might want to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss them.

BTW, I’ve had some questions about what software I use to make my music videos.  The answer is that I use ScreenFlow 4 for all of my screencasting and video editing.  It’s Mac-only but a similar software that is available for Windows machines would be Camtasia.  They’re both very nice apps that I would recommend to anyone.

My #1 Computer Troubleshooting Tip - SoundSavant.comSometimes we humans just make things more difficult on ourselves than we need to.  An example of this weird phenomenon that I see every day in my classroom is computer troubleshooting.

Of course, we’ve all had those moments when our computer/software just didn’t react the way we thought it should.  It happens to me too so I understand how frustrating this can be.

However, it’s the way we react to these moments of frustration that separates the experienced/savvy computer user from the novice.

Luckily, I have a quick and simple fix for you.  So, in the hopes of saving you from hours of frustration, here’s my #1 solution to 90% of your computer issues:

When In Doubt, Re-Start

Wow, that was a little anti-climactic wasn’t it?  Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.  The simple act of re-booting your computer will fix about 90% of your computer troubles.

I can’t give you the technical reason why this works because it will be different for each of you.  All I can I tell you is that 9 times out of 10 this will fix whatever issue you were experiencing.  And here is where your mindset is going to come into play.

Just Get Out Of Your Own Way

The only way this is really going to work for you on a consistent basis is if you are able to quit obsessing over the details.  Here’s what I mean by this.

Based on my 15+ years of teaching experience, computer users break down into two main groups:

  • Those that feel like they need to understand every single technical thing involved in using their computer system, no matter how small or random it may be.
  • Those that just want to get stuff done.

It’s the people in the first group that tend to waste a huge amount of their time trying to understand why they get a certain error message or why something isn’t working the way they think it should.  They’ll often spend as much as half an hour or more trying to “beat a dead horse” when they could have simply re-started their computer and been up and running again in 2-3 minutes.

The people in the second group tend to be focused on finishing tasks.  Because of this, they don’t bother wasting the extra mental energy needed to figure out why something went wrong.  They simply re-start and move on.  Problem solved.

In other words, they stay out of their own way.  You need to find a way to join this second group.

What About The Other 10%

At this point there’s probably a few of you asking, “What about when re-starting doesn’t fix my problem”?  As I mentioned before, about 10% of the time you’ll find that re-starting your computer won’t fix your problem.

This is when you’ll have to dig a little deeper for a solution.  Check out your owner’s manual, surf Google or the forums.  If this still fails you may need to call tech support.

However, if you do resort to calling tech support be prepared for one of the first questions they ask you to be something like, “Well, have you tried re-starting your computer?”  And that’s the moment when I hope you remember this tip and say to yourself, “Man, Bill really does know what he’s talking about!” 🙂

Best of luck on your computer troubleshooting and, as always, feel free to “drop me a line” here with any questions or comments.

Here’s the newly completed video for The Bells of Galaxy 13, a piece from my latest CD release, “Interstellar Drones & Soundscapes”:

Most of this piece was created using variations of a field recording I did of wind chimes (the same wind chime recording I used for The Fall And The Rise Of It).  The other element I used was a Reaktor patch.

As I tend to do, I performed some extreme time/pitch-shifting with SoundHack on the wind chimes to arrive at what you hear.  It’s always been my “go-to” piece of software when I’m looking to seriously mess up audio.

Here are the other videos from this CD that I’ve finished so far:

Expanding Space And Time

The Fall And The Rise Of It

If you liked this song you can buy it “on the cheap” right here: