The interesting and never-boring Texas-native front man of MURDER FM, Norman Matthew, will be guest appearing on the Cakewalk blog every other Monday (NorMondays) delivering music production tips, tricks and conditional evilness. As a seasoned producer/songwriter/instrumentalist, he will be delving into his bag of production wickedness to shed some interesting light on how he approached sounds, songs and life in general;)
MURDER FM’s dark, edgy, and sleek style has been creating a buzz in the music industry domestically, and is quickly becoming a huge hit internationally. Norman Matthew and the band have established a cult-like following, propelling two of the bands’ videos “As Beautiful as You Are” and “Machine Gun Kisses “to the Top-Ten list on (more…)
When people ask me what I do for a living, it is often difficult for them to grasp the words; I record sounds and musical instruments that musicians use to create music. At Digital Sound Factory we breakdown the instrument to the fundamentals and capture the sounds that make up its character. Each note and playing style is recorded. We are essentially creating a ‘digital archive’ of musical instrument sounds that render playback on modern computers.
Creating sound expansion packs for Cakewalk synthesizers involves many steps in the development process. It’s a long journey from defining the scope of the sound set to hearing a sound when playing a MIDI note. This is an overview of how an expansion pack is born and what goes on behind the scenes.
Defining the Project
First we take a close look at the scope of the project and define the instruments and samples required.
Musicians, engineers, and studio time are not free, so the better prepared we are, the more we capture. Each instrument requires different considerations. Sampling drum’s is different from sampling synthesizers is different from sampling brass or winds. In the case of drums, how the drum should be tuned, number of velocity hits on center to the edge of the head, matching rim shots, various microphone placements, to name a few. Sampling brass or woodwinds will entail multiple volume levels of sustain, more breath, less breath, breath only, mutes, staccato, and more.
The Recording Process
Sampling is similar to recording music in some ways, but in other ways it is very different. The similarities are musicians are recorded in professional sound environments using microphones, mixing console, speakers, etc. The very different part is we are not there to record music. We record the instrument and its characteristics. I can’t begin to tell you how many sessions I have walked into and the musicians are ready to impress with great music. In these sessions we focus on the technique, not the music.
Each note the instrument is capable of playing is meticulously recorded at various amplitude levels and styles (ie: sustained, mute, fast attack, slow attack, soft, loud, etc.) using 4 – 16 microphones, fast computers, and Sonar. It is imperative that any addition sounds that are not part of the instrument, such as squeaky chairs, breathing, or noise from the musician are identified and eliminated during the recording process. Occasionally there are sounds that make their way into the sample and need to later be isolated and removed using software tools. All microphones, takes, tracks, hard drives, etc. are documented for use during the editing process.
Selection and Editing
After days, weeks, or months of recording, the tracks are reviewed and the best takes are sliced and copied to a new project. This may include as many as 4 to 16 tracks of microphones that can be mixed or separated to create the final individual .wav files for each pitch/velocity/etc. Selecting the best ‘takes’ involves a lot of listening and is essential to delivering the highest quality instruments. Any additional DSP (Digital Signal Processing), such as leveling, noise cancelation, equalization, and amplitude fades are completed at this stage. Sustained notes require looping the recordings to create a seamless pitch at the loop points. Loops are adjusted to lengths based on memory size targets. Each .wav file is tagged with the instrument name, style, and pitch identification.
SFZ files are created and used to map the incoming MIDI controller note number to the correct .wav file and location. The SFZ files are text files and use ‘opcodes’ or operation codes that are used to control various synthesizer program parameters. It contains relevant information about the instrument such as velocity, filter types, envelopes, LFO’s, and others. SFZ files are programmed for each playing style and sometimes combined to create layers.
This is where the instruments develop personality and flavor. SFZ files can be combined as elements to create layers. Filters, modulation sources and destinations, and effects are assigned. The program is named and saved to the relevant style folder.
Digital Sound Factory Recording Video
This video includes recording sessions for orchestral strings, winds, brass, and percussion in the concert hall and studio, drum kits and percussion, ethnic instruments, and grand piano.
Download DSF Expansion Packs for as low as $19.95
Stock up this weekend on DSF expansion packs for Dimension Pro/Dimension LE. The DSF collection features thousands of sounds for all types of music and genres. Included are Grand Pianos, Guitars, Basses, Classic Keys, Orchestral, Hollywood Sound FX and much more. Buy one or buy them all and save big during this special offer. Ends February 28th, 2013.
Electronic music producer Encanti has a brand new toy. Watch as the Z3TA+ 2 preset designer takes the new QuNeo controller for a spin with Z3TA+ 2. Z3TA+ 2 is currently available as a VST for Windows, and it’s coming soon for Mac, so it can be used in other hosts like Ableton Live as pictured below.
Encanti: “In this example, all of my square pads on my QuNeo are set to “latch”, which means where ever my finger goes on the x-y axes, the value will remain there once I take my finger off. The notes are pre-programmed and playing back on the sequencer. This gives me 16 x-y controllers, which I can use to fine-tune values across the board. QuNeo’s XY pads are immediately useful with Z3TA+ 2 because once you’ve set up some interesting routing settings in Z3TA+ 2′s modulation matrix, you are free to explore their potential by dialing in many different values at once with the QuNeo pads. When I find a “sweet spot”, I save a preset in Z3TA+ 2 and keep on exploring. Later on, I can revisit all my variations, and explore them further, add/subtract ideas, make pads into leads, and keep ideas flowing until starting the process over again with new routings in Z3TA+ 2′s modulation matrix or possibly binding my QuNeo to different controls.
Two sweeping resonant bandpass filters are at the soul of this gnarly bass sound. While most traditional x-y setups typically control “filter freq” and resonance, I’ve opted to control filter frequency and pole separation width as my x-y, on two different x-y pads. I’m also modulating these filters with two envelopes, while I control the duration/volume using two different x-y pads. This opens up a huge range of expression – because 3 sweeping poles on two filters (that’s six points of resonance all moving together) is easier to keep track of since I can define their movements all at once with the QuNeo. I’ve also got an envelope opening a delay effect, which I can control the attack/sustain and duration of. With a soft attack on my delay volume, my bass womp has a nicely compressed-sounding impact when the note hits, but I can still add lots of variation to how spacial it sounds, lending me the ability to make those long notes sound really massive.
The QuNeo is controlling the same parameters as the last preset, except I’ve added a few things: each filter has it’s own LFO modulating the frequency along with the envelopes – and again what’s also true with this patch is that the soul lives in the filter modulation settings. There’s also a quadruple-phaser modulation, with pad control over speed, depth, volume, and feedback, which sounds good with all the LFO sounds happening. I also have the ability to change the octave of different oscillators independently. One of my faders are also controlling the key of my chords (via Ableton “pitch” midi effect), allowing me to easily explore different range potentials for the patch.”
One of the main features of SONAR X1 that has been revamped is Automation. The problem of accidentally clicking on the wrong envelope or node has been eliminated via the new Edit Filter control. SONAR’s Edit Filter allows you to choose the type of active data for editing. Each track in SONAR provides its own individual Edit Filter.
To choose a track’s editing data type, click its Edit Filter control and choose a type from the menu. You can also hover your mouse over the track and open the Tools HUD (press the middle mouse button or press T on your PC keyboard) to access the Edit Filter from there. Once chosen, the data type becomes active, and all other data types become inaccessible so that you don’t make accidental changes. For example, choosing Automation allows you to edit automation envelopes, but it doesn’t allow clip or audio transient editing.
In addition, instead of using the track or Tools HUD to access the Edit Filter, you can Shift+click on a data type to quickly switch to that type for editing. For example, Shift+click on the background of a clip to choose Clip for the Edit Filter. And Shift+right-click switches back and forth between the last two data types. You should also be aware that inactive data can be displayed as either “ghosted” or not shown at all by choosing View > Display > Display Ghosted Data from the Track view menu. For a demonstration of the new Automation and Edit Filter features, watch the video below. (more…)
“Here I connect the kitara to the cakewalk z3ta+ 2 software synthesizer. Basically, the kitara becomes an extension to the synth, as a new way to control it.
The glide/portamento of a synth is a very overlooked aspect of synthesizers, especially from a guitar synth perspective. The idea behing this video is to show how you can get a more “sequencer” type sound using the kitara’s onboard sustain functionality. (more…)
Did you know that you can use the Event Inspector to easily edit multiple data events (such as MIDI notes) simultaneously?
In SONAR, right-click the Control Bar and choose Event Inspector Module to make the Event Inspector visible. If you don’t see it appear, you may need to hide some of the other Control Bar modules. Next, select some data (such as a group of MIDI notes) and then click a field in the Event Inspector. Either type in a new value or click the spin controls to change the value sequentially.
In addition, you can use modifiers (+/-) to change values. For example, if you want to add 23 to a velocity value of 37, type +23 for the Vel parameter and SONAR will automatically change the value to 60. The plus and minus modifiers work for all parameters, but the Vel (velocity) and Duration parameters can also accept a percentage for scaling values. For example, with 100% representing the current value, if you want to lengthen selected notes by 20%, enter 120% for the Duration value. If you want to shorten the same notes by 20%, enter 80%. For even more details and to see the Event Inspector in action, check out the following video. Versions 8.5 (and earlier) as well as X1 (and later) are covered.
Alex Niedt (pronounced “neet”) is a Kansas City recording artist, producer, and mix engineer whose releases include the Don’t Forget To Tip Your Bartender and Song To The Siren EPs and the Lex Luger-produced single “Hold Me Down”. In early 2012, Niedt won the MixFest Competition, hosted and judged by Grammy-winning mix engineer Dave Pensado, and appeared on the 52nd episode of Pensado’s Place.
I love to use mono slapback echo to support lead vocals or guitar solos. This classic effect has been used for decades and continues to be an important music production technique. Slapback has its roots in reel to reel tape and is characterized by the vocal or guitar part mixed with a single, audible echo.
While, you might associate this effect with late 50′s rockabilly, slapback echo is probably more common than reverb on modern pop and rock mixes. I often use a slapback delay along with other beat synced stereo delays as an important part of a lead vocal sound.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to set up a master slap-back delay effect in SONAR X1 is to use the Channel Tools effect. Channel Tools is the swiss army knife of effects offering a range of stereo imaging tools that are more handy than glamorous. For this application it’s the simple left and right delay controls that get the job done with minimal complexity.
Here is the setup:
1. Create a bus channel and insert the Channel Tools effect. Label the bus “Slapback”
Bio Information: Sharooz has proven himself as a talented sound designer, and provides sounds and patches for numerous companies including Cakewalk. His biggest record to date was ‘Get Off’ which was released more than 3 years ago on his own label ‘La Bombe.’ The record was played by some of the biggest DJ’s in the world such as Moby, Dada Life, Soulwax and Boys Noize, and reached no.2 on Beatport.
Sharooz: The question I’m almost always asked is ‘Where does the pumping saw bass sound come from and how do you made it so thick and fat?’
Check out Sharooz’s original mix ‘Get Off’ with the nasty bass line (more…)