Friday, August 30, 2013

More D. I. Y. Recording Tips - Overlapping Synth Tracks

This installment deals with getting a layered sound by overlapping several short synth tracks to create an ever changing, almost floating effect. I used this idea to construct the main part of "Overmed Daydream", and chose that for a title because I remember when I was younger and had a few symptoms of flu or something I kind of took a few too many medications and found myself drifting in and out of a series of dreams with the most ominous soundtrack for what seemed like days. This music was very similar to what I was dreaming(I think!?). Anyway, For this song I wrote out the chord progression in block time form so I knew what order everything had to be in. Then I recorded a couple of seconds of each chord played on a synth, making several recordings of each chord with the synth set to different sounds. I then took each chord separately and layered them up into one track in Audacity and listened to them to decide which ones to leave in and which ones to leave out. Once I had that done I exported each short track out to a single WAV file each and then brought them back into Audacity one at a time. Then I applied a "fade in" and "fade out" to each one. I know this is starting to sound tedious but it doesn't take that long once you get going, and you're driven to see how this all works. Now I had all of these short clips, each one a couple of seconds long, all fading in and out, so I began placing them in the order they needed to be in according to the chord progression, but I assigned each chord to it's own track and then positioned them so that they overlapped. Now I had one chord just starting to fade out as the next chord is fading in. You can do this in Audacity by using the copy/paste function, first you highlight the section you want to reposition and copy it. Then you move the timeline over to where you want the section to be and paste it, then go back the the original position and highlight it and zero out the volume. Here's where this took an unexpected turn, placing the timeline and pasting in the section is not an exact science in Audacity, so my first attempt to get these all into place came out sounding different than what I was imagining it should. The fade ins and fade outs weren't lining up exactly, but, it sounded great(to me anyway), so after spending a few minutes trying to get them to line up and not getting good results(I was making it sound bad), I decided to use it the way it was with the idea that once all the other instruments were in I would fix it if it didn't sound good. I like the finished product and left it alone, putting it down to what some people would call a "happy accident". You can hear "Overmed Daydream" at YouTube, along with one of my psychadelic video montages at Overmed Daydream

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Halloween, I'm Afraid" Review

Independent music reviewer Bob Noble wrote:

"Halloween, I'm Afraid" by Dulcet Jones. "5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting concept and sometimes unusual 24 Aug 2013
By Bob Noble
Format:MP3 Download
I must admit I am more of a traditional music listener but there is something about Dulcet Jones' music that I find intriguing. There's an interesting blend and use of instruments and texture in the entire album. It is similar to reading a book just to find out what happens next, there's something in the music here that has the same appeal.

Out of all the tracks in this album I do prefer "Overmed Daydream", this (for me) is an extremely well thought-out and implemented piece which has been brought together to form a great soundscape in its own right. Some of the other tracks I would prefer to view as animated videos which has been synchronised with visual elements. Though I do imagine such a thing while listening to it, it would also give a greater understanding of the composer's thoughts while conceptualising the work. It would be interesting to see.

Good work and some very nice ideas indeed. As an indie artist myself, I am always looking to broaden my own horizons and there's enough cleverly implemented audio twists to think about.

I look forward to listening to more musical content from this artist."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More D. I. Y. Recording Tips - Software/Freeware

There are several free programs available online that I find very useful, here's a breakdown of some of the ones I use the most and a few tips on how to use them. To ensure you get the latest version I will suggest you google them by name instead of provide links. Power Tab Editor: Originally designed for guitarists to learn to play their favorite songs this software went on to prove to be a powerful scoring program. Not only that, it's MIDI capabilities make it a very useful songwriting tool that can also be used to provide actual tracks. To write a score you enter the tab fret number on the string you want and it can be played back in MIDI. Having at least a basic knowledge of music theory will help immensely, especially the time part when scoring a track. The options of sounds your score can be played back in with MIDI is very surprising. The funny thing is, the guitar options are about the most unusable for actual audio use, other than learning to play a song, but the bass guitars, drums and several of the keyboard options sound great. I have written parts for songs in all of these that sounded good enough that I exported the MIDI track and converted it to a WAV file and used it in a finished track, with some tweaking in an audio editor, usually Audacity. A quick google search for "MIDI to WAV converter" will get you lots of results, I use the NCH model, which also allows conversions to and from mp3. Once you have your file in WAV format you can load it into Audacity and edit it into whatever you need it to be. To hear what can be done with Power Tab Editor listen to "Silicon Dirge" at YouTube, everything you hear in the first minute or so was created in Power Tab Editor with this process, even the deep voices. Only the guitars that show up at certain points were played in real time on this song. So to re-cap; with a computer, free downloads of Audacity, Power Tab Editor and a MIDI to WAV converter(and some imagination) you can create something like this:Silicon Dirge at YouTube

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Recording Tips and Tricks

I'm going to be putting together a podcast series in the near future outlining some of the recording techniques I use, it will probably be called "D. I. Y. Recording Tips For The Low Budget Musician" or something like that. As I prepare for that I will be trotting out some of the material I hope to use here, starting with: How I got one synthesizer track to sound like 4 different tracks in the song "Timeframe". This is one of the few songs I've released that has no programming involved. I played every instrument from start to finish in one take. When I was finished recording the synthesizer track I loaded it into an audio editor, in this case Audacity, a freeware program that is a must-have for the D. I. Y. musician. Google it online and you'll find where to download the latest version. Once I had the track loaded I then highllghted it from the start to the quarter track mark, this song is actually a long chord progression that is played 4 times in a row. When applying "effects" the effect will only act on the highlighted area, so for the first part of the song I went into "effects" and opened the free equalizer that comes with Audacity and tweaked the sound enough to make it stand out as being clearly different sounding than the rest of the track. Next I highlighted the second section of the song and opened "Effects" and chose a reverb plug-in that allowed me to alter the sound enough that it sounded like a different synthesizer had just entered the song. I continued on to the next two sections of the song until I had all four parts sounding just slightly different from each other, giving the song a little more colour than it had. You can hear "Timeframe" in video form on YouTube, with a bit of my "still in development" video skills offering a psychedelic panorama to watch. Timeframe at YouTube

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This Is What Can Happen When A Man Is Left Unsupervised For Too Long

Doesn't every guy out there ever wonder at some point, "could I make a track with my synth that sounds like a lawnmower?" Well, I did, and we all need a good laugh sometimes so I added what I think it would sound like if the mower wasn't concerned too much about whether there was beer cans or other debris in the way. Here's a couple minutes of your life you will never get back. -- Update: This track has now gotten over 100 "listens" and has surpassed many of my songs in popularity! (yay?) -- Hear actual songs at Dulcet Jones Website

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dollarama Halloween Prop

This is pretty subtle but I like sneaking in things to see who notices them. I got this for a buck twenty five, so hey....Creepy Portrait Another not so subtle touch is the background music clip. It's an excerpt from my song "Halloween, I'm Afraid".

Sunday, August 4, 2013

While Searching For Inspiration.....

I came across this while cruising "Stumbleupon", Creepy Comments From Children
There are some things in this article that might get my mind whirling in the right direction to make more spooky creepy music. This is my first foray into "Stumbleupon", I would advise anyone wanting to check it out to sign up and go edit your profile first. Until you do that the site doesn't make much sense. They're at Stumbleupon