Starting Year 8

As Year 7 of my music efforts comes to an end and Year 8 begins today, it happens with a renewed sense of confidence, something which I only recently realized I had lost a long time ago.  That is in large part due to the lack of time to truly focus on music.  Recently, things with work have become less hectic and stressful, and most importantly take less of my time, enabling me to spend more time with music.

I believe that extra time combined with some new inspiration is what has provided that needed confidence.  Taking advantage of stackable sales at Loopmasters, I was able to get Niche Audio’s Deep Moods, and that formed the basis of “Racing Dream.”  Additionally, I feel like I am making better decisions in mixing, which in turn results in “Racing Dream” being my best-sounding finished product to date.

…and that is before adding studio monitors, which I plan to do very soon.  I have been planning on adding monitors to my setup eventually, but the timetable has been decreased dramatically by IK Multimedia’s iLoud Micro monitors, which I hope to have by the end of the year.  In addition to the size, I believe that they will work better for me than “standard” monitors in my less-than-ideal studio setup.  It also helps that a sound engineer I know who has seen my setup also believes the iLoud Micro monitors should work well for me.

As for 2017, I intend to be much more productive on the music front.  I already have one new piece which is currently deep in the composition stage, plus a number of projects I had abandoned previously in the mixing stage because I had lacked confidence in myself to bring those to completion.  Along with the newly-acquired Hybrid 3 synth which I find to be quite inspiring, I intend to make a lot more music in 2017.

While this is probably a 2018 goal, I do intend to look more in 2017 into DJing – not so that I can DJ parties and weddings, but because I believe that modern DJ technology, especially leveraging Native Instruments’ Stems format, can provide more life for my music.  This would inherently add a completely new step to my music process, but it should be a rather beneficial one in the long run.

Hopefully 2017 will be a good music year for us all!

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Sampling?

Late last month, I finally received the Yamaha PSS-480 I had won on eBay, and it has definitely been good reconnecting with a keyboard from my youth!  I had not done too much with it yet, partially because after the passage of several decades, I cannot remember all of its functionality and simply have not been able to force myself to sit down and read the manual.

With the Presonus AudioBox Stereo I recently bought from Guitar Center, the PSS-480 is now set up to send and receive MIDI, so I can use it as a 49-key MIDI controller.  I can also get audio from the keyboard into the computer via the audio interface, which then spawned an idea:  Perhaps I should try sampling the keyboard’s various sounds (maybe not all 100 of them!) so that I can more easily use them in my music efforts.  Beyond that, I have yet to find any evidence online of others sampling this keyboard, and given that I have seen more of an interest in the PSS-480 recently, perhaps sampling the keyboard could be useful for others as well.

I still have some issues to rectify in terms of the sound quality from the keyboard to the audio interface – I may end up recording through the on-board sound card on my desktop computer instead.  But then there is the issue of time to sample even just one of the 100 instrument presets on the keyboard.

Then today, thanks to the February 2016 issue of FutureMusic (page 34), I discovered Samplit 2.  This looks like a really good and fast way to sample the PSS-480, as well as sample my VST instruments to save myself some headaches when layering CPU-intensive synths.  I have not bought Samplit2 (yet), but it is definitely a strong possibility for once I figure out the sound quality issue in getting the keyboard’s sounds into the computer.

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Kudos to Guitar Center!

I like Guitar Center in general, although I specifically do not go there very often because my wallet would otherwise start screaming!

Christmas Day, out of the blue, I decided to check the Guitar Center Web site to see what offers they might have, and I ended up getting a bundle which includes a USB audiobox and other items – the brick-and-mortar locations were closed that day, of course, and I am not in a particular hurry, so I opted for ground shipping to the nearest Guitar Center location.  I knew it meant that the items I ordered would not even leave until today, which was fine – again, no rush on this from my point of view.

Out of curiosity, I just double-checked the e-mail with the UPS tracking number, and I happened to notice this:

We transport ground-ship packages directly to regional UPS hubs. This reduces handling and improves shipping time by up to 24 hours. It’s also why you may notice a 24-36 hour delay in finding your tracking on the UPS website. Rest assured that your package is on its way.

That is very, very impressive!  I never would have thought of this tactic, but something so relatively simple meaning that I can get my order sooner certainly makes me even more likely to order from Guitar Center 🙂

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Year 7 Begins Now

Christmas Day 2009 was when I began making music with my computer, finally achieving a goal I had had since the 1980s when I first learned of MIDI.  That goal seemed to come a step closer in (I believe) 1988 when my parents gave me a Yamaha PSS-480 keyboard for Christmas, and I then proceeded to play it into the ground over the next decade – to the point that buttons stopped working, and it would not even make any sound unless a paperclip was properly unfurled and snaked just right underneath the volume fader.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2015, and I am soon to be reunited with a PSS-480!  I had been thinking about my old keyboard for several months, and recently began looking on eBay to potentially buy one.  I finally found one which I believe is in fairly good condition, and if all goes well, it will be in my hands early next week.  To be honest, I have no idea if/how I will integrate it into my music workflow, but simply having a PSS-480 again will almost certainly be quite inspiring for me.

Other things I want to do musically in Year 7:

  • Upgrade to Reaktor 6 and get my hands on the Blocks, as I figure that should really teach me a lot about synthesis
  • Actually finish and release more music – 2015 has largely been a year of lack of inspiration mixed heavily with projects being stuck in mixing
  • Work more with Vocaloid – specifically Hatsune Miku, but perhaps there will be a new voice released in 2016 which captures my attention

One major decision, of course, is whether to upgrade to Windows 10 while it is still free.  I have Windows 10 on a test computer, and while it is passable in my opinion, I am not particularly thrilled with the new operating system.  More importantly, however, I have yet to see confirmation that many of the programs (music and otherwise) which I use regularly are actually compatible with Windows 10.  At least I have until July to make the upgrade decision, but I know that I should make that decision sooner rather than later.

May 2016 be a good music year for us all!

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Elders React to Vocaloid

I do sometimes wonder how people who are not well-versed in Vocaloid (or at least in anime) think when they hear a Vocaloid song, especially one featuring Hatsune Miku (since she is the Vocaloid I now use exclusively).  It never dawned on me that perhaps someone should create a video with senior citizens experiencing Vocaloid music for the first time.

…then tonight, I found two such videos on YouTube.  To say that their reactions are classic would be an understatement 🙂

These are particularly relevant for me right now, as I am in the middle of a Vocaloid project with Hatsune Miku – one which actually sounds to me as if it should have been included on the Paprika soundtrack:

If all goes well, I will be able to complete the composition part of this project over the weekend or early next week, and have the final mix completed and released before Xmas…

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