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.
Jerry Gerber has composed for film, television, computer games, concerts, dance and interactive media, and wrote all of the original music for the remake of the popular children’s television show The Adventures of Gumby. He began his musical studies at the age of nine, and received his Bachelor of Music in composition and classical music theory from San Francisco State University in 1982. He has studied with Wayne Peterson (Pulitzer Prize), Alex Post, David Ahlstrom, Matt Doran, and many other notable composers and musicians in San Francisco and Los Angeles. As a pioneer of authentic MIDI sequencing since 1982, he also teaches the art privately while conducting in-depth workshops in the Bay Area and Southern California.
The “Beyond the MIDI Mockup” workshop at NAMM 2014 is intended for musicians with strong playing and writing skills who want to create the most artistic and realistic MIDI recordings possible — music with expression, gesture, nuance, depth and subtlety. Demonstrations will be made using Cakewalk SONAR, but the topics and techniques we will discuss are cross-platform. Participants may bring a laptop with their preferred Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) installed, though this is not required. DAWs that have a notation editor are preferred, but those more familiar with the piano-roll style of editing will still learn valuable information and new skills. Techniques and concepts learned will help the participants use their digital tools in a way that goes beyond the MIDI mockup.
The MIDI mock-up idea is based on a deeper understanding of implementing and communicating sound through MIDI. It arose out of three primary practical considerations:
- The tight deadlines that compel film and TV composers to work very quickly.
- The need of directors and producers of other media to be able to get an idea of what the composer is actually creating for the project.
- The habit and inertia of tradition bearing down on our ideas about music, sound and art in general.
JG: The attendees can expect to learn about how to infuse musical phrases with gesture, intention, subtlety and expression. By using MIDI controllers it is possible to create phrasing that “sings”, in other words, does not sound mechanical or non-expressive. I’ll be playing excerpts from my own symphonies and shorter works, and, with the help of a video projector, will be projecting views of the event list so that musicians can get a better understanding of MIDI programming in detail.
Also, I’ll be talking about soft synths and the various ways they interact with MIDI channels and instances. A lot more will be covered in a short period of time.
This workshop is normally 4 hours, but I had to reduce it for NAMM as they are only allowing me 2.5 hours.
CW AR: It’s interesting that this is a cross-DAW seminar but you are teaching on SONAR. Can you tell us what has kept you using SONAR for so long?
JG: I use the term “cross-platform” because the techniques I am demonstrating are applicable to any modern DAW, particularly those with notation editors.
I’ve been using SONAR since Cakewalk for DOS and have produced 12 CDs with this software. I’ve also scored over 100 soundtracks for animation, computer games, documentaries and other projects. I’ve been using SONAR for so long because it does what I need it to do on so many levels. The features I use the most are the staff view, the event list, the controllers view and various plugins including many soft-synths and signal processing. I have never used the piano-roll view in the past 27 years.
CW AR: After NAMM, what will you be working on?
JG: I’m working on my 13th CD. I’ve got three short works done for it so far, and am about to begin a new symphony (my 9th). I’m also teaching music theory, composition and electronic music production, and doing production work for other composers and songwriters (rendering scores into MIDI interpretations).