Making Music On My iPad With Beatwave

I’ve had an iPad since July and have been making some cool music with it these past few months.  I’ve found some apps that I really enjoy so I thought I’d share my thoughts on them, as well as some sounds, loops and music that I’ve made.

Screenshot of a Beatwave sessionBeatwave

The very first music-making app I ran across when I was exploring the App Store for the first time was Beatwave.  With an interface very similar in design to the Yamaha Tenori-On, Beatwave is essentially a 4-part multi-timbral step sequencer.  I found it to be a very intuitive app.  I was up and making music on my iPad in literally seconds.  The free version has a very limited sound set but the $7.99 upgrade to Beatwave Pro gives you a whole bunch of new sounds that I’ve found very inspiring. Continue reading “Making Music On My iPad With Beatwave”

15 Fun Ways to Freak Out Your Sounds

I don’t know about you but I am always looking for new and exciting sounds to use in my music and sound design projects. I suppose I could invest in a bunch of sample libraries but that feels like cheating. I have way too much fun making my own sounds to give that responsibility up to someone else. How do I do it? Here are 15 ideas to get the creativity rolling. Continue reading “15 Fun Ways to Freak Out Your Sounds”

7 Of My Favorite Pro Tools Navigation Shortcuts

There’s no denying it, Pro Tools is everywhere. I know some of you may prefer doing your work in Logic, Cubase or Live but most professional audio work today touches Pro Tools at some point during it’s life-cycle. You can choose to accept this trend or to fight it. If you choose to fight it then you don’t need to read any further, have a nice day. However, if you are interested in improving your Pro Tools skills please allow me to offer these seven handy navigation keyboard shortcuts.

  1. The RETURN key functions as a return-to-zero command sending the cursor to the beginning (start) of your session. I discuss this more in the next point but you should always strive to keep your hand off the mouse as much as possible. This will allow you to work much faster.
  2. The SPACEBAR toggles the Play and Stop functions in Pro Tools. Hit the Spacebar once and Pro Tools goes into play, hit it again and playback stops. This is one of those “Duh!” shortcuts but I still see way too many engineers using their mouse to engage the transport controls. Get out of this habit. Using these first two shortcuts will make you 15-20% more efficient in your Pro Tools work.
  3. Pressing APPLE+SPACEBAR puts Pro Tools into record without having to put the transport into record-enable. Again, a huge time saver. This one shortcut eliminates having to grab the mouse, click the record-enable button and then click the play button.
  4. Using Command+[ or Command+] allows you to zoom in and out horizontally. I’m constantly using this shortcut as I edit my work. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but, huge time-saver.
  5. Hitting the TAB key takes the cursor forward in the session (to the right) to the next region boundary (this is assuming that the Tab To Transient function is turned off). Hitting OPTION+TAB takes the cursor backwards in the session (to the left) to the previous region boundary. This makes it very easy to bounce from region to region within your session.
  6. OPTION+F will fill the window with your selection. In other words, if you make a selection and then hit OPTION+F that selection will be expanded to fill the screen. This is great when you need to look at a particular selection in greater detail.
  7. I guess this last one isn’t necessarily a navigation shortcut but CONTROL+UP/DOWN ARROW keys will increase/decrease track height. This becomes more and more useful as your session fills up with tracks

As a Certified Pro Tools Instructor, I’ve notice time and again that the engineers that take the time to learn their Pro Tools shortcuts get hired much more often than the ones that don’t. If you think about it this makes perfect sense. Using keyboard shortcuts allows you to work more efficiently, which saves your client time and money, making them happy. Happy clients become repeat clients.

What are your favorite Pro Tools shortcuts? Leave a comment and let me know.

Are You Really Listening?

One of the most important skills any musician, recording engineer, producer, sound designer, etc.., must have is the ability to listen critically. What do I mean by that? Not only must you be able to listen, you must be able to understand what you are hearing.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you are a recording engineer and you are spending your day cutting guitar tracks. The guitarist tells you that he has a specific tone in mind for the next song. He plays you three examples from other songs to give you an idea of the tone he is looking for. As an engineer, it’s now your job to listen to those examples and immediately understand what your client is looking for and how to get it for them.

Here’s another example… You’re writing a new tune and you need the ultimate kick drum sample. You search your sample libraries and realize that you just can’t find what you are looking for. Now what are you going to do? Well, if you are are a well trained producer/engineer you should have no trouble taking the kick drum sound that you are hearing in your head and turning it into a reality. You will have spent many hours listening to kick drum samples so that you understand what frequencies are involved. You will have also listened to the shape and envelope of a great kick drum. Because you have developed your ability to listen and understand what you are hearing it shouldn’t take you very long to find a kick drum sample that is close to what you are looking for. Then all you need to do is apply the correct amount of EQ and/or compression and other effects to create your ultimate kick drum.

A common question among new engineers/producers/sound designers is, “How do I practice listening?”. I have lot’s of ideas on this but I’d like to turn it over to you. How have you developed your listening skills? Are there specific books or courses that you’ve used in your studies? Leave me a comment and let me know. We’ll continue this conversation in future posts.