SONAR User and Composer Jerry Gerber to Give A Power-workshop on MIDI at NAMM 2014

When programming complex orchestrations, getting that authentic “feel” can be a big challenge for any producer or composer regardless of the DAW at hand.  It takes many years of use-case scenarios along with a full bag of MIDI tricks of the trade.  Longtime SONAR user and MIDI-manipulator Jerry Gerber possesses both of these elements, and will be sharing his secrets at the 2014 NAMM show.   Interestingly, the workshop is not targeted for just SONAR users, but rather for anyone who wants to create the most artistic MIDI recordings possible with the technology they have available. (more…)

Share

Anatomy of an FX Chain: CA Power Chord (Free Download)

Let’s de-construct an FX Chain, and find out how to optimize distortion guitar sounds

by Craig Anderton

I like big, rich, smooth power chords—harshness need not apply. While TH2 Producer’s presets were a point of departure, I wanted to take them further.

The UI for the Power Chord FX chain

So I got to work on an FX Chain, and I’m happy to share it with you. The final FX Chain ended up as (more…)

Share

HOW TO CREATE A VIRTUAL 12-STRING GUITAR

And not just that, but virtual “Nashville tuning” too…and 18-string guitars…with lots of audio examples!

by Craig Anderton

One of the reasons I got into Gibson’s newer guitars is because of the way they implement hex outputs (i.e., each string has its own audio output). Although Gibson isn’t the only company that makes guitars with hex outs, they’ve taken the concept seriously and keep improving on it.

This all started with the HD.6X-Pro back in 2007 (the guitar that’s been in my avatar all these years!), which used a magnetic pickup; since then, the Dark Fire, Dusk Tiger, Firebird X, and Les Paul X have all had hex outs based on piezo pickup technology. The X-series guitars are my favorites, because they’ve increased the isolation between strings by reducing crosstalk even further.

The obvious use for hex outputs is hex processing, like the kind of super-clean, almost synth-like sound you get from distorting each string individually. But using a piezo pickup means it’s also possible to obtain very convincing acoustic guitar sounds, and with hex outputs, you can apply SONAR’s offline pitch transposition to emulate acoustic 12-string guitars as well as 8-string basses, “Nashville” tunings, and even guitars that don’t exist—like a 12-string where the top two strings aren’t doubled, but also transposed up an octave. Or how about an 18-string guitar, where you add another set of six virtual strings transposed up and an octave, and another set transposed down an octave (more…)

Share

Mixing Music For Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Falk Au Yeong has been making waves in the Video Game industry with many of his recent projects. One of the most notable includes the new Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. We were able arrange an in depth interview about him, his work, and his favourite DAW – SONAR X3 Producer.

When did you first get into SONAR, and what version are you currently using?

I’ve been a Cakewalk user all the way since Cakewalk Pro Audio and Home Studio, mostly working with MIDI. The first version of SONAR I jumped into was SONAR 3 Producer, and I’m currently using X3 thanks to the extremely reasonably upgrade paths and goodies that come with each update. For example, I’m really digging integrated Melodyne right now and I’m not ashamed to say it!

What is the Video Game Orchestra? How did you become associated with them?

The Video Game Orchestra is a group that plays arrangements of Video Game Music, created by Shota Nakama in 2008. They’ve grown from humble beginnings to playing shows in all kinds of formats each year, from rock band, to acoustic, to full-blown “Rockestral” performances which consist of rock band, orchestra and choir. Recently VGO has also started to get involved in recording gigs and self-produced albums under Shota’s curation.

I got involved earlier this year when Shota e-mailed me asking if I’d be up to do a series of small gigs for ‘a very important client’. Little did I know that I’d be working with one of the biggest independent game music production companies in Japan in real-time, via Skype and various audio streaming solutions. But that’s how we started! Crazy post-midnight sessions recording all manner of instruments, from drums to accordion to alto trombone to string quartet.  (more…)

Share

A Holiday Miracle: 24 Hours To Write, Record, Produce, Mix A Commercial Track in SONAR X3

“Audio Production Jobs” come in all shapes and sizes these days;-)  Yes, the music industry in general has shrunken to an all-time low in terms of major label budget projects, but the flip side is that there are many nooks and crannies out there to stay creative while making money.  I think the key these days is getting into as many industry circles as possible, and then over-delivering.  If you’re handed a job for writing, mixing, producing or even recording, and you knock it out of the park the first time with low-no hassles to the client, you will certainly come to mind on the next round.  I would also be willing to bet that your name will be referred to other folks outside of that job’s “circle.”  You just never know to where things are going to lead.

Stemming from this theory, I have been fortunate enough to work on some pretty diverse projects ranging from title tracks for Pokémon DVD’s to Major Label artists and just about everything in between in one form or another.  For the work I do now, the one thing that gives me an edge using SONAR X3 Producer over other DAWs is the quickness of the workflow; which contributes to music creation diversity.  Sounds deep right? …well it kind of is.  Here’s a real-world example with italicized words in red representing why SONAR X3 features are crucial to me when facing tough audio jobs.

Just a few weeks ago I was contacted by NYC singer-songwriter Jodi Good’s music attorney Steven Beer on a Friday night to discuss an opportunity for a “Holiday Song” to be placed with a major publication [for Monday].  Now usually, “Holiday Songs” are recorded around August or September and we were already at the end of November, so I knew this was going to be a tough one to accomplish especially since the song had to be written, recorded and mixed fast.  The other strike against me was that this one was a bit out of my rock, and pop-rock comfort zones, but I knew the challenge would be a good experience on many different levels, so I decided to fire up the eggnog and go for it.  Plus I had the comfort of knowing that Jodi is a great songwriter especially in the lyric department, so it was “weekend on.”

Literally that night Jodi was sending me vocal-only words and melodies as text messages on my Samsung S4.  She doesn’t play an instrument and we didn’t have the benefit of time, so we had to start writing via virtual and digital means.  I instantly forwarded them via email to my HP Z400 main rig where I drag-and-dropped them into a session for reference where they automatically created audio tracks.  The next move was simply pulling them down to a midi track where Melodyne’s ARA technology kicked in instantly giving me the notes in Midi.  This helped me to figure out the best chord structures for the verses and pre-chorus and also allowed me to see where I could go writing the chorus melody.  After about a half hour on my trusty acoustic, I had the bones to send back to Jodi via text.

[I'm going out on a limb here for your laughing pleasure ;) Here's the actual writing file on my phone which is what I texted back to Jodi when we were writing the melody - so you can hear how the song started, and where it ended.] (more…)

Share

Is Your Project Ready For CD Manufacturing? A DIY Album Release Checklist

This post originally appeared on Disc Makers’ blog. Reprinted with permission.

- Before scheduling your album release, plan for the steps that lie between songwriting and disc manufacturing –

Releasing a CD is a big deal for any artist. This is your baby, your calling card, the result of a lot of hard work, and your best chance to earn revenue. You spend a lot of time writing, rehearsing, and recording — and that’s all just leading up to the CD manufacturing process.

Before you gather your materials to submit for CD manufacturing, there’s rehearsing, recording, audio mastering, designing your package — and all these processes can take longer than you might expect. Then there are the numerous music promotion and sales activities, and much of your PR may require your (more…)

Share

Singing Tips – Don’t Tax Your Voice Before a Vocal Performance

This post originally appeared on Disc Makers’ blog. Reprinted with permission.

Resting before a vocal performance is key, but environmental things, like being in a place where the decibel level is too high, can adversely affect your capacity to sing.

What makes a great vocal performance? There are many answers to that, and they don’t all require being the most technically gifted singer with a five-octave range. Confidence, charisma, and the right repertoire are among the many subjective elements that go into any great performance – live or when recording vocals in a studio – in addition to having chops as a singer.

“‘Synthesis’ is this fancy word we throw around in our college,” says Daniel Ebbers, Associate Professor of Voice at the Conservatory of Music of the University of the Pacific, “and I do think it’s an important thing. We study all these things individually, but it’s the synthesis, a command of your vocal instrument, a command of the stage, a command of the language and the language you use – all these things synthesized together make a great vocal performance.”

Of course, much of what helps a performer reach the point where all these elements come together is preparation, practice, and experience. A good vocal warm up, and general vocal care, can help ensure peak vocal performance.

(more…)

Share

Professional SONAR users weigh in on SONAR X3 – Stability, Performance, & Workflow

X3 is being hailed as the most rock solid edition since SONAR’S inception.  Beyond the new tools and features, a lot of work was put into the core functionality of the program to make sure that even top-notch music-making professionals would find performance improvements.  From the Skylight User Interface enhancements, to audio engine improvements – and everything in between, professional users who depend on SONAR day-in and day-out for their livelihood are weighing in:

 

Timothy Wynn (Sonic Fuel Studios / SonicFuel.net) – Los Angeles, CA

Congratulations to SONAR X3 user Timothy Wynn on winning Best Score at the CineRockom Film Festival for “The Liberator” this year.  With several globally successful franchises already to his credit ranging from blockbuster video games such as Command & Conquer, Dungeon Siege, GUN, The Punisher, Red Faction, 2K’s The Darkness II, The Simpsons and Warhawk to music in the hit television series Supernatural, Tim Wynn has gained international recognition as a leader in a new generation of highly talented and versatile composers.

Most recently, Timothy used SONAR to work on the feature films “The Starving Games” and “MK Reloaded (2014),” while also scoring EA Sports Madden 25 with Chris Lennertz.

“Cakewalk software has always been great for me in general, but this round of SONAR has really been stepped up.  SONAR X3 is the most stable DAW I have ever used.   I’m running huge projects (more…)

Share

SONAR Quick Tip: Changing The Default Preset For A Plug-in – by Scott R. Garrigus

After adding effects to a folder (in the Cakewalk Plug-in Manager), you can also specify default presets for each effect. Right-click an effect in the folder and choose Properties.

In the Item Properties dialog box, choose a preset from the Default Preset menu.

Click OK. Now when you insert the effect into a project, it will automatically default to the preset you selected. See pages 12 to 15 in SONAR X2 Power! for more information about customizing plug-in menus. 

Share

SONAR Quick Tip: Use the Marker List to set Now Time – by Scott R. Garrigus

Another quick way to jump to a specific marker is to press G to access the Go dialog box.

SONAR Go Dialog

Then press F5 to bring up a list of all the markers in the current project.

SONAR Markers Dialog

Select a marker from the list and click OK twice. The Now time will be set to the time corresponding to that marker. See pages 50 to 53 in SONAR X2 Power! for more information about Markers. 

Share