Archive for April, 2012

BBB blow out

I don’t shill for products, but I’m a huge fan of Broadway Big Band. I just got an e mail blast saying that SONIVOX has dropped the price for the full product by $900, and taken $200 off the lite version.

If you’ve been thinking about popping for this product, now seems like a good time to pull the trigger.

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Authentic Guitar 2

Authentic Guitar 2
149 pounds (approximately $197 US dollars)
Authentic Guitar 2 Lite 79 pounds (app. $105 US dollars)
purchased through website (musesamples.com) via PayPal

Once upon a time I spent six hours a day practicing the “classical” guitar-a term that always sounded lame to me. The great Fred Hand was my teacher. Naturally, I tilt my head whenever someone mentions a nylon string plug-in. Authentic Guitar was released in 2008, but I just got around to checking it out. The Musesamples website doesn’t provide a lot of background info on the product or the company itself, which is located in The Netherlands

So, how good is this product? Very good. A multitude of samples have been well recorded on a high quality instrument, and produced by folks who clearly know the guitar literature. Hit this link (http://musesamples.com/mp3demos/musicdemos/index.html) and listen to the virtual performance of Tarrega’s “Lagrima.” A technically unchallenging piece, “Lagrima” is one of the first chestnuts that aspiring players dig their teeth into. Sounds amazing, right? Hector Berlioz said that the guitar was a miniature orchestra, based largely on the variety of colors that can be pulled from it. A good guitarist is constantly moving his or her hand away from the basic position over the sound hole to create different shadings. Ponticello (by the bridge) is the most important of these variants, and AG2’s “metallic” patch is a clear attempt at providing this functionality. Musesamples took the time to record separate ponticello patches and the effort goes a long way in enhancing the realism of this product. Tasto (near the fretboard) is presented, as are espressivo and “molto” espressivo patches. They sound good!

Downloading plug-ins from a manufacturer’s website can be a harrowing experience, but I had no problem installing Authentic Guitar 2. The product will run on a Mac running OSX 10.5.8 and beyond, or a Windows computer running XP, Vista, or 7. Windows 7 is my operating system, so I installed the 64 bit version of AG2.

The folder structure of this plug-in is straightforward. Nested within the main folders are four sub folders (Basic Patches, Advanced Use, Strokes & Rasgueados, Left Hand and Right Hand Sound). Within each bank switching between sounds can be handled by key switching or midi controllers. My only criticism of Authentic Guitar 2-and it’s a fairly substantial one-is that the user can’t create banks of his or her own that contain the samples needed to achieve a specific performance on one midi channel. Musesamples says that loading time is an issue, and they suggest that you call up three instances, on separate midi channels, to cover the bass, accompaniment and melody areas. We can adapt to this method of working, but it’s not ideal.

Notwithstanding this shortcoming, I give Authentic Guitar 2 very high marks. It’s well recorded and includes all the obvious articulations and many that only an experienced player would know about. If you’re looking to recruit a “classical” guitarist or want to play bossa solos in the style of Jobim, Authentic Guitar 2 will fit nicely into your studio. I strongly suggest that you hit their website and check out the demos… they’re convincing, right?

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CinemaCon Brings New Surround Creation Systems

CinemaCon opened this week in Las Vegas and brought with it the release of two new Surround Sound creation packages for film mixing. CINEAUDIO with AstoundSurround is a software solution allowing theaters to play back 11.1 or more on existing 5.1 systems with no additional hardware. Dolby’s new ATMOS on the other hand is a scalable system that is object rather than channel based. It involves sophisticated panning executed during the mix that is encoded, then decoded on site. The video below explains it all.

Also in the game, but not exhibiting at CinemaCon is SRS Labs’ who just released MDA (Multi Dimensional Audio). MDA promises to represent sound sources as objects in space just as they are in the real world, without regard to the number of channels or speaker locations.

READ MORE

CINEAUDIO With AstoundSurround

“In the theater, the CINEAUDIO cinema processor unit integrated with AstoundSurround® for Cinema software takes the multi-channel audio printmaster with discrete channel inputs (e.g. 7.1, 11.1 or more) in real-time and renders the same multi- channel audio experience in any existing 5.1 multi-channel audio equipped room, maintaining all panning information (including elevated audio channel information).” READ MORE

Dolby ATMOS

For the first time, Dolby Atmos introduces a hybrid approach to mixing and directs sound as dynamic objects that envelop the listener, in combination with channels for playback. Dolby Atmos enables adaptive rendering to ensure that the playback experience is as close as possible to the creator’s original vision in any given environment, irrespective of the specific speaker configuration in the playback environment.

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Peter Alexander

In an era where the return on dollars pumped into the traditional university system has become questionable and the internet has made long distance learning easy and affordable, enter Peter Alexander. Actually, Peter, a seasoned music industry vet, has been working as an educator for some time. He invites you to visit his website, www.alexanderpublishing.com.

When did you first become interested in teaching?

I don’t think I became interested in teaching per se, but rather in studying and how people learn, and out of that, developing materials that enhance and speed up the learning process.

The process started in college when I asked myself the question, “How did the great composers teach themselves?” I asked that question because I was frustrated with having a different teacher and a new set of “rules” every semester. As I began reading composer bios I discovered a set of results driven books. What started as a personal learning quest grew into Alexander Publishing.

At this point I had the books and a pattern of the learning styles of the great composers. What was surprising was that from Bach to Jerry Goldsmith nothing had changed. The learning styles patterns were rock solid consistent for how composers learned the craft. The top two skills that emerged were butt power and the developed skill of self-instruction.

Butt power means the ability to sit a desk doing focused work for hours at a time. Self-instruction is the art of being able to understand how to teach yourself and apply what you learn. These are the core critical skills for making it as a composer, even a film composer. The learner that develops these skills puts himself on the road to long term career success-in music, and in most any field.

What does the full progression of Alexander University training entail?

Alexander University is the corporate name, and Alexander Publishing is the publishing imprint for the books. Alexander Publishing has in development a complete self-directed training series in counterpoint, harmony, orchestration and recording.

We have enough texts published in our Professional Orchestration™ series so that a school can offer either a minor or major in orchestration. Volumes 1, 2A and 2B are the beginning vocabulary for orchestration. The advanced How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite and Professional Orchestration: A Practical Handbook Series is pretty much graduate level work. I also have enough harmony and counterpoint to cover two semesters each for those subjects plus Music 100.

If a person was interested in buying the vast materials offered on your site, what would you recommend they start out with?

If it’s orchestration, they can start with one of our home study bundles that includes the book (or books depending on the bundle), workbook, MIDI files/MP3s from the Vienna folks, and tons of audio. The entire package, which can be accessed via the link that follows, is less expensive than either of the other main orchestration texts.

http://alexanderpublishing.com/Departments/Professional-Orchestration/Professional-Orchestration-PDFMP3-Home-Study-Bundles.aspx

Our Writing For Strings downloadable course with video instruction can be found here:

http://alexanderpublishing.com/Products/New-Writing-For-Strings–Expanded-Complete-Edition__AU-WFS-Home-spc-Study-Complete.aspx

For beginners, there’s the Applied Professional Harmony Series:

http://alexanderpublishing.com/Departments/Composing-and-Film-Scoring/Applied-Professional-Harmony.aspx

We’re just getting rolling on our revised Hit Sound Recording Course™.

http://alexanderpublishing.com/Departments/Hit-Sound-Recording/Hit-Sound-Recording-Course/Mixing-Board-Mastery.aspx

Who was the first great orchestrator? Bernstein said that Beethoven was a poor orchestrator-was he right? What do you think of Mendelssohn as an orchestrator?

The French composers of the 1800s thought that Gluck and Weber were among the first. I think you have to keep in mind that every generation usually yields a great composer who pushes both composition and orchestration to the next steps. Bernstein’s comment makes for great press. But look at the giant leap from any Mozart symphony to Beethoven’s First then the Ninth, which Wagner, after hearing, got a copy of the score and copied note for note to learn from Beethoven. Beethoven’s 3rd and 5th overwhelmed Berlioz. Berlioz, rather than writing symphonies as we traditionally know them, writes programmatic works in a symphonic format like Symphonie Fantastique and Harold In Italy. From there we leap to Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky in Russia, later Mahler in Germany, then certainly Debussy and Ravel in France, and later Copland in America.

Each of these greats benefitted from both improved musicianship and better quality musical instruments, especially the standardization of the valve brass for trumpets and French horns.

Are the techniques required to capture the “Hollywood” sound different from orchestrating concert material in any way?

Are you talking about the Hollywood Sound derived from Beethoven, Berlioz, Bizet, Borodin, Britten, Copland, Debussy, Dukas, Mahler, Prokofiev, Puccini, Ravel, Resphigi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Schoenberg, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, and Wagner?

Or are we talking about the recording/production answer for defining the Hollywood sound which includes Altiverb, Bricasti, Lexicon, TC Works and Waves?

Or are you talking about the new Hollywood sound derived from samples, melodic themes, percussion, and ambient textures?

The so-called Hollywood sound changes every generation, sometimes twice within a generation depending on the composer, and how each approaches dramatic scoring. An excellent overview for seeing this is Tony Thomas’ book, Music For The Movies.

Is there a “typical” profile to the students you attract?

I don’t really think of our customers as students since most are adults. We look them at as people who have a desire to learn, so it’s a broad age range.

What kind of interaction with you or another teacher do students get when they “enroll” in Alexander University?

There’s no enrolling. I have two online seminars we’ve tested for several years. My current approach is first you buy the seminar, which are now being populated with video classroom-like instruction materials. After that, if you want to study privately, I connect the learner with a composer. Over Skype and email they engage in a mentoring relationship. But the learner has to be able to read music and score read to take advantage of this.

What’s the difference between orchestration and instrumentation?

Instrumentation is first and it’s where you learn the range, mechanics, and coloristic issues within each instrument’s range break. Orchestration is the act of taking a completed work and translating it to orchestra. Instrumentation is learned by seeing how the technique was scored and from that building a list of scoring techniques.

Can today’s sample libraries be used to teach orchestration effectively?

Sample libraries are a great tool which is why we cover MIDI mock-up insights in our books and new Writing For Strings course. But it has to be balanced with attending live concerts, watching orchestral DVDs, and lots of listening.

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What’s New At NAB?

10 Hot Products from NAB

I haven’t seen attendance numbers this year, but NAB seemed busier than ever. Every hall was jammed with attendees on hand to see what exhibitors were offering. The biggest audio news of the show happened this morning with DTS announcing they have purchased SRS Labs.

Some of the products that turned heads at the show were the Focal SM9 monitors which are now shipping. The monitor uses its focus mode to make the cabinet morph from a three way system with a passive radiator, to a two way system with just the touch of a button. There will be a review coming very soon.

Yamaha unveiled the CL Series, a Dante network–based console featuring remote I/O for a faster, more responsive Yamaha system solution. All three CL models in the Centralogic™ series, only differentiated by frame size and input capability, feature 24 mix buses, 8 matrix buses, plus stereo and mono outputs, and 16 DCAs.

DPA showed their new live microphone, the d:facto. Features include, a pre-polarized super cardioid condenser capsule, controlled off-axis response, extreme sound level handling, 3-step pop protection and more.

iZotope’s IRIS is incredible. Calling it a synth or sampler doesn’t do it justice. Apart from having some great sounds included in the software (4GB), it offers a completely unique way of manipulating audio and mapping it across a keyboard. Onboard DSP sweetens the deal and you can drag and drop audio into the interface making it a great sound bending tool for post, live performance, music mixing and more. The intro price is just $149.

Roland’s latest software upgrade for its M480 console includes many new features such as increased number of DCA’s from 8 to 24, scene Fade Function, increased delay time up to 1.2 seconds for broadcast and large outdoor applications, five new effect processors including Multi-Band Compression/Expansion and BOSS digital effect models, second order shelving on Lo and Hi EQ, mutually Exclusive LR/C assignment for cross-matrixed linear array speaker configurations and more.

SSL showed a cost-effective, live recording solution for live, broadcast and anyone else needing high track count capture. SSL’s Live-Recorder combines Soundscape Version 6.2 DAW Recorder/Player software, a MadiXtreme or MX4 PCIe audio interface and an industrial strength high performance 1U rack mounting PC. The Soundscape 6.2 software is a powerful audio only multi-track DAW Recorder/Player.Soundscape V6.2 has SSL’s ‘Pro-Convert’ technology built in, so can export recorded multi-track sessions in a range of formats which are native to a selection of popular DAW packages for editing and mixing. Export formats include; Pro Tools® 8 & 9 Sessions, Cubase/Nuendo Track Archives, Final Cut XML’s and Samplitude/Sequoia Edit Lists The price is expected to be around $6k.

Sound Devices showed a new video/audio recorder called the PIX 260. The rackmounted unit uses the Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD codecs, and records and plays files up to 220 Mbps in high-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video as well as 32 tracks of 48 kHz audio. Files from the PIX 260 are ready for direct import into Avid and Final Cut editing environments, eliminating time-consuming transferring and transcoding. Files can also play out of the PIX 260 for real time applications.

Studio Technologies Live-Link Jr. is a highly-integrated camera extender system optimized for electronic news gathering (ENG), uplink truck, and specialized broadcast applications. The portable camera end unit and rack-mounted truck end unit provide all the resources needed for a single-camera live event. Linked using just two single-mode optical fibers, the same excellent performance will be supplied whether the units are hundreds of feet or miles apart. Notable features of the Live-Link Jr. system include performance flexibility, support for high-quality on-air (program), talent cue (IFB) and intercom audio, and ease of use.

Lectrosonics showed a new wireless transmitter. The WM Watertight Transmitter, the company’s newest addition to its line of highly acclaimed Digital Hybrid Wireless® microphone systems offering compandor-free audio. Combining ‘cabled-microphone’ audio performance combined with a super-tough housing designed to withstand the harshest environments, the new Lectrosonics WM Watertight Transmitter is certain to be well received by theatrical and location sound professionals.

Finally, Dynaudio showed their 20th anniversary main monitors, the M3XE. It combines world-class driver and cabinet technology from Dynaudio Professional with cutting-edge signal processing and amplification from Lab.gruppen, Lake and TC Electronic. Sporting the newest and most pristine Dynaudio driver technology, M3XE takes over where most other monitor systems give up. With unsurpassed attention to detail, underpinned by an impressive 20Hz – 25kHz frequency response and beyond 133dB SPL, M3XE leaves no room for desire in terms of resolution, range or sheer power. The powerful combination of Lab.gruppen, Lake and TC Electronic processing technology forms the ultimate backing for M3XE and ensures unlimited power and the tools for optimizing any room to become the perfect listening environment.

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New Advanced Panning Plugin for Pro Tools

Maggot software has just released a new ProTools plugin called SPANNER for working in 5.1 or 7.1 surround. It is $199 has very low CPU overhead, so can be used on every track in a session. It can also can be used as an AudioSuite plug allowing non-realtime downmixes. READ MORE

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Free DAW!

PreSonus is now shipping Studio One™ Free, a new entry-level version of its DAW for Mac® and Windows®. Intended for beginners who don’t yet need the advanced features in Studio One Artist, Producer, and Professional, Studio One Free provides all of the recording and editing features needed for basic music production-and as its name implies, it’s free. READ MORE

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A Plea to software manufacturers

What software do you use on a regular basis in your music studio? For me, it’s Cubase 5 and Finale 2012. I may be neurotic, since a disk has never crashed on me during a session in all the years that I’ve been using music software, but I back up my files every 15 minutes or so to a drive on my system other than the one I’m currently saving to-just in case.

Cubase has an a Preference that lets you direct the application to make back ups while you work, but only to the folder that your project sits in. Finale has no automatic back up provision at all. What’s up with that?! I spend an annoying amount of time migrating between disks to execute saves in my back up folder. Ok, not a tragedy, I admit that, however…

It should be easy for developers to add in the option to save back ups to a drive you designate at the beginning of a session. Folks… please think about implementing this functionality!

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Baron and Big Nancy

The three of you who regularly read my posts (ok, maybe it’s just a pair!) have heard me mention Baron Raymonde on several occasions. Baron’s a monster alto player-check out his site, www.saxbaron.com. Wait, a link to “Dream Girl,” a track I wrote for him several years ago is right there, sitting on his home page.

Baron sent out an e mail blast a few weeks ago saying that he’d be playing with a blues harp player, Big Nancy, and her group, Supreme Court (don’t get me started) on March 30th at a club called Roxy and Duke’s in Dunellen, New Jersey. Hey, that’s only about three miles from my house-I had to go!

I’d never heard of Roxy and Duke’s, but it’s a very cool venue, put together by owners who clearly have a lot of love for soul music, rock, and the hallowed days of the Fillmore. Big Nancy, who hails from these parts, draws a big crowd. Check out her site (www.bignancy.com); Nancy has a sterling resume, she commands the stage, and she blows the hell out of the harp.

The band really tore into the blues/R&B book. But the best part was when a woman approached and asked me to dance. I couldn’t wait to come home and tell my wife Jerri about it-I knew she’d be proud of me!

Seriously, if you’re a blues fan, check out Big Nancy’s schedule. She’s got all the Little Walter licks down cold, plus more than a few of her own!

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Jim Marshall Dies at 88

Jim Marshall, the founder of Marshall amps has died at 88. From the 1960s forward, Marshall amps became the very definition of rock and roll guitar amplification. READ MORE

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