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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Creating a Sound-Design Patch with Cakewalk Zeta in Sonar

In this video I show 3 methods to set up a patch that has a falling and rising pitch effect. I use Cakewalk Zeta 2 in Sonar X3, but this technique should be implementable in many other synthesizers.

I show 3 methods of how to achieve the result of constantly varying pitch in your patch.

The first method involves setting up the pitch bend range. In the second method, I make use of the portamento settings to achieve a rising and falling pitch.

Finally, in the last and most involved method, I use one of the four available LFOs in the synth to drive the pitch of one of the six available oscillators.

I then proceed to enhance the patch with sound-shaping tools found in the oscillator generation controls, and making use of the audio processing effects.

 Leave a note after the video if you find this useful :)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The United East Jazz Quintet - Teemo's Journey

The United East Jazz Quintet - Teemo's Journey from DeSant Productions on Vimeo.

Here's a video of an amazing group of jazz musicians. Love the musicianship, the sound they create, and the presence and fidelity of the recording.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Setting up Sonivox Vocalizer (Pro) in Cakewalk Sonar X3

I finally found the time to do up a video showing how I set up Vocalizer Pro in Cakewalk Sonar X3. I believe this would work with Vocalizer 1.0 as well as with Cakewalk Sonar X1 and above.

Vocalizer Pro takes a stream of audio data, and a stream of MIDI data, one of each. The audio data will get processed and played back only when there is MIDI data present at the same time.

I have tried to set up a working instance of Vocalizer Pro and Vocalizer in a couple of occasions, with no success. Vocalizer comes with video instructions for setting up in a few DAWs. Unfortunately for Sonar users, the video for Sonar shows a version of Sonar that was before Sonar X1, where the set up for signal routing and the interface was slightly different from the current versions.

In this tutorial I covered two scenarios:
- we use the output of a virtual instrument as the audio input to Vocalizer Pro, and then use MIDI input from a separate channel to feed into Vocalizer Pro.
- using an audio file (or live audio input) to feed into Vocalizer Pro and then using MIDI input from a separate channel to connect to Vocalizer Pro also.

The most important part of the set up is to understand signal flow, and what kinds of data we're passing into each section of Sonar / Vocalizer Pro. Whether it's MIDI data, or audio.

I hope this is of some help to those trying to get Vocalizer to work with Sonar. And also to understand the types of signals and data needed to get it working.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Facing the Horde - 20140507_v01_03

Once again, I attempt the 'epic' genre.
This time I try to incorporate little bits of sound-design elements to give it something unique.

I hope you all like it!

Start-end Dates: 20140507 - 20140509
DAW: Cakewalk Sonar
Virtual Instruments Used:
- 8dio requiem Pro
- Heavyocity DAMAGE
- Spitfire Albion1 and Albion3 (brass, woodwinds)
- EastWest Symphonic Orchestra (fr horns)
- Output REV

With epic tracks with full orchestration and blasting percussion tracks, I find that I always have problem with instruments becoming muddy and losing definition in the mix.

From articles on mixing tips, this is known as frequency masking. So this time round I set up high-pass and low-pass filters to roll off top and bottom frequencies that may contribute to frequencies that are vital to other instruments.

I feel that technique helped me to get rid of the typical muddiness that plagued my previous mixes.

As I built my instruments and patches for this piece, I had to make a decision on the size of the instruments used. In the end I used a lot of ensemble and "section" patches. That means "low strings in a patch" and "low brass in a patch", or "6 french horns" in the same patch.

I figured that the goal in an epic track, is to minimalistic, to be on the safe side. The percussion would be the main driving force, and there would be lots of ostinato rhythm patterns going on in the melodic section to drive and weave into the percussive rhythm.

This time round, my goal is to to achieve the feel of epic-ness. I did not feel I was able to get it until this track was done. Therefore when I attempted this, I wanted to keep the rhythmic drive the main thing, and to stay on a safe path, just to achieve that epic feel.

Thus the safe thing to do is to limit the number of distinct and concurrent musical lines going on, so the main melody is reinforced with by it being played in unison, in different octaves.

In the future I may want to try to have more complex arrangement and textures,

Another interesting observation for me, on this piece, is an unforeseen perception of the quality of my virtual instruments.

For those who have been using patches on yester-era synths will remember (fondly or not!) that a common technique in early synthesisers to simulate brass sounds, is to use the saw-tooth waveform to modulate the sampled attack of a brass instrument. Sometimes the sawtooth waveform IS the brass patch.

In the beginning of this track, in my attempt to incorporate sound design elements into the track, I included a sound-design patch that has some kind of rounded percussive attack, and then sustains the note with a sustaining tone that sounds like a saw-tooth wave. This patch was played low, layering and moving on top of the swelling and ebbing brass parts, which also happened to be low in pitch.

The surprising observation from some of my listeners were that the brass sounded electronic / fake or sounded "midi" (this expression is one of my pet peeves, incidentally. I'll write about this in another entry some day).

This was from the president of one of the music libraries that I was submitting to. I figured I shouldn't ask too much without going back to investigate how valid and accurate his observations are.

One of the possible reasons for his perception that the brass sounded synthetic was because of that saw-tooth sounding patch.

If you have any other insights on the quality and realism of the brass samples, please feel free to drop a comment.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

New Track - ZouZaiHongTanNaYiTian V01 008 - 20140319

Listen on SoundCloud.com

Here's an instrumental of a Taiwanese pop ballad done for a contact for their wedding day. The pitch has been transposed from the original. 

Live guitar performed and recorded by glenn_fong

Original MV on YouTube here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhbvQPQjraY

All rights belong to their rightful legal owners. I do not claim ownership to anything directly related to the original melody, tune and chord progressions.

All rights of the photo of Julia Peng Jia Hui is belong to their respective owners.