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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:

My Top 7 iPad Music Apps - SoundSavant.comA colleague of mind asked me the other day, “What are your top 3 favorite iPad music apps?”  I don’t remember exactly what I said but I’m sure I ran down a list of the some of the music apps I’ve been using lately.  For some reason, the question stuck with me.

I’ll confess that I was an early adopter.  From the moment I bought it, I’ve been intrigued by the music-making possibilities offered by my iPad.  Because of the touch-screen interface, it instantly felt more like an instrument than my computer.

As I continued to ponder my colleague’s question I realized that my iPad has become an integral part of my music-making process.  Of course, I figured you, my fellow “SoundSavants”, are probably doing the same and would be interested in hearing what I use.  So, here is a list of 3 of my favorite iPad music apps.

1 – Beatwave

Screenshot of a Beatwave sessionBeatwave was the very first iPad app I actually used to make music and I’m pretty sure it’s design was based on the very influential Tenori-on electronic music instrument by Yamaha.

Basically it’s a 16-step sequencer with built-in sounds.  The horizontal axis defines time and the vertical axis defines pitch.  You can see it in action here.

My favorite feature in Beatwave is the Grid Morpher.  This allows you to add a certain amount of randomization to your sequences.  I’ve found that if you use the Grid Morpher the right way it turns Beatwave into an algorhythmic composition tool.

In fact, this is what I use Beatwave for now.  I type in a simple sequence, turn on the Grid Morpher, hit record and just let the app percolate away.  Invariably, I end up with something I can use in a future piece.  In other words, Beatwave is my secret composition starter.

Beatwave is a free app, with an upgrade to BeatwavePro available as an in-app purchase.  The upgrade give you some new sounds.

You can hear some loops that I’ve created with Beatwave here.

2 – Stochastik Drum Machine

Obviously, this is a drum machine app, but it takes the concept of a drum machine a step further by allowing you to set the probability that a note will trigger for each step in your sequence.  Sounds complicated but it’s not. Take a look.

I use Stochatik to give me a bunch of variations on the same drum loop.  Basically, I program a 1-bar loop and “seed” it with some variables.  Then I just have Stochastik export 8 or 16 variations of that loop.

I can then use those variations to add excitement and variety to my music because there’s nothing as boring as a 1-bar drum loop that repeats through an entire song.

Stochastik comes with a bunch of very useful drum sounds.  It will also allow you to import your own samples.

I’m trying to give you an honest explanation of what Stochastik does but it’s very hard to curb my enthusiasm.  Since buying Stochastik, I really haven’t used any other program or app for my drum programming.  It’s that good.  You owe it to yourself to try it out.

3 – Animoog

Animoog isn’t just a cool iPad synth.  It’s a flat-out monster sound design machine!  It’s also difficult to describe with words so take a look at this demo video:

As you watch the video, pay attention to how the use of touch gestures allow you to instantly create sounds that are far more organic than most keyboard-based synths. That’s the thing that struck me as soon as I started messing around with this synth.

I still haven’t touched 10% of what this thing can do.  I’m just amazed at how they were able to create such a sophisticated and expressive synth for the iPad.

Here’s one  example of how I’ve been using Animoog in my musical productions.  The first synth part you hear is the Echopluck preset from Animoog.

What Are Your Top 3 iPad Music Apps?

So those were my top 3 favorite iPad music apps of the moment.  I say, “of the moment” because I just bought the Thor app by Propellerheads last night and I expect to be enjoying messing with that for a very long time.

What are you using to make music with your iPad?  I’d love to hear about it.  Just let me know right here.