Archive for the ‘tech tools’ Category

Future of Music Conference

September 15, 2011

Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit

Future of Music Coalition’s 2011 Policy Summit. I know the title is wonky. Be there anyway. I attended last year and I’ll be there again this year. If you are a songwriter, you should check this out.

From their web site:

The Future of Music Policy Summit 2011 will bring together incredible array of musicians, arts advocates, policymakers, technologists, media representatives and industry figures to discuss issues at the intersection of music, technology, policy and law. Attendees will examine current trends while looking ahead to a sustainable, 21st century music ecosystem that rewards creators and fans.

Your participation in these conversations is crucial to the future of music. Please join us at the most anticipated music-tech-policy conference of the year.

Wikifonia – lead sheets

August 31, 2010

Do you have a friend who always seems to know the coolest web sites and resources? My friend Dan H is that guy. His latest find is Wikifonia, a giant online database of lead sheets. You can browse and download high quality lead sheets for free.

Thanks Dan.

Lead sheets

March 24, 2010

For guest musicians at a gig or studio musicians at a session, lead sheets are invaluable. Check this blog entry for a quick review of two popular music notation programs – Sibelius 6 and Finale Songwriter.

Both are available for Windows and Mac. Click the links for free 30 day trials of each.

Feed me

September 25, 2009

If you find our blog helpful and would like to continue to visit, try an RSS feed. It’s free.

The main benefit of RSS is that you save time. You avoid checking blogs only to find there is nothing new. If you haven’t tried RSS before, here’s a 3 minute video that explains it in plain English.

Of course, you can use RSS for any number of other blogs and news sites, not just ours.

Skip the drum solo

June 10, 2009

Zoom H2

I swear by my Zoom H2 digital audio recorder. It’s an inexpensive unit that does several things a songwriter needs.

First, it’s a way to record ideas (melodies, titles, rhymes, concepts) on the fly. Sure, you can carry around a notebook, but you can’t easily record a melody with pencil and paper, unless you have staff paper and you’re good at notation. And even so, I think it’s faster to just sing it into your handheld recorder.

Second, it works well for recording live performances. It contains two pairs of xy pattern stereo microphones.

Third, it can be used as a direct audio interface to your computer. Connect it your PC via USB and use the H2’s microphones and recording inputs to record audio directly to your PC.

Fourth, it works as an external USB drive. Turn off the H2, plug it into your computer and transfer your recorded wave and mp3 files from the Zoom to your computer for further tweaking, editing, organizing.

Fifth, everything is included: ear buds, wind screen, tabletop stand, mic clip adapter, 1/8 inch stereo to RCA cable, AC adapter, 512MB SD card and USB cable.

Zoom H2 two side views

Other features – settings for low-cut filter, automatic microphone gain control, compression presets, sound-activated recording, track splitting, a two-second prerecording buffer, metronome, an instrument tuner, and A-B audio looping.

See a six minute video demonstration from Portland Music Company (scroll past the first minute to skip the drum solo, really).

Or read a CNET review here with photos and video.

Street price is in the neighborhood of $130- $150, nearly half the price of its competitors.

Finally, check out the Zoom H4n, the latest offering from Samsun.

iPhone band

May 13, 2009


Watch and listen as the band known as iBand plays a tune on their iPhones: using a drum app on one iPhone, keyboard apps on two other iPhones plus a live voice.

Thinking Outside Band-in-a-Box

October 21, 2008

The software program Band-in-a-Box (BB) has gotten a bad rap by musicians as a kind of cheesy substitute for talent. Although I can see that using BB to generate MIDI files to back up your live act could be stretching it a little, I would offer this tip in defense of BB.

Think of BB as a songwriting or rehearsal TOOL, not as live accompaniment. Here at STJ we have written many songwriting tips that suggest doing manually many of the things that BB can do “right out of the box,” so to speak.

Consider this: You’ve written a new song, and it sounds OK, but you’re not satisfied with it. Maybe it’s a little unpolished at this point, or maybe you’re not sure how it might sound as a bossa nova, or as a rock ballad. BB can help you both as a rehearsal tool, and as a “style experiment” tool.

First of all, you can put your chord changes in with about as much arranging complexity as you can muster, and BB will play it back for you, over and over if you like, til you’ve got it down. Maybe you want to work on the vocal melody repetitively (BB will display the lyrics for you, if you want). Or maybe you want to play along with BB on your ax, just to decide if the arrangement you’ve got works for you.

If your song isn’t quite cutting it as is, try playing the changes in a different style. BB has thousands of different available styles to choose from. If your song was originally conceived as a ballad, it may sound quite different as a zydeco shuffle — or at least good for a laugh!

Here are more things you can do with BB. Is your song too high to nail the vocals, or too low to get any power out of your voice? Transpose to a different key with the click of a mouse. Is the tempo too fast or too slow, or would you like to test a faster or slower feel? With another mouse click, you’ve got a different tempo. Maybe you’d just like to print out your song for other players. BB will print out lead sheets with chord changes, fret diagrams or tablature.

In short, if you have a computer and would like to use a handy tool to help you with your songwriting, Band-in-a-Box is a great choice, with a feature list too long to print here. BB is available for both Windows and Mac OS X. Get the Pro version for $129.

Let us know if you find this tip helpful.

Free recording guide

October 9, 2008

Disc Makers and Electronic Musician magazine have teamed up to produce The Complete Recording Guide, a publication packed with tips and articles designed for anyone involved in audio recording. Whether you’re a musician, engineer, or producer, you’ll benefit from the in-depth information about digital workstations, preparing a master, post production, and more. Get your free copy today.

Features include:
• Building a Personal Studio on Any Budget
• Recording Excellent Guitar Tone Without Miking a Cabinet
• 12 Common Mixing Mistakes to Avoid
• DIY Mastering
• Successfully Marketing Your Music Online

Dial it back for tempo

September 13, 2008

This tip was provided by Andrew Coupe of eVirtualStudio. Check out his bands – Tyfoo and Chapter Three.

One way to determine the right tempo for your song is to increase the tempo by a few beats per second and try it out. If it’s not too fast at that tempo, increase it a little more and try again. Continue doing this until you feel it’s about right, then go up just a bit more. Once you find a tempo that is clearly too fast, dial it back a bit. This is easy to do if you’re using a DAW.

Don’t worry if you don’t use a DAW. The method still works using an old-fashioned, low tech solution: a metronome. Possibly a bit more convenient than an actual metronome are the free metronomes available online. Here’s my current favorite, called Metronome Online, powered by emusicinstitute.

Dirty little secret

September 10, 2008

Check out this video called iPod’s Dirty Secret about the life expectancy of Apple’s unreplaceable iPod battery and how much Apple charges to fix it.