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Posts Tagged music

Behind The Scenes; Soundtrack. 1

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

The music makes all the difference.
Ever watched a video with no sound? It’s has nowhere near the same impact as one with sound. Just think of the cinema, how dramatic is that!!?? (I like to stay until the very end, to be able to listen to the soundtrack in an acoustically treated room with a good sound system!) ;)

Most people hardly notice the background music at all (or at least what it’s doing), and that’s what you want to do. You want to put the emotion into the scene but without it sounding out of place. And when you do it right, people won’t notice you’ve done anything at all! So that’s why it’s so important to spend a lot of time getting it right.
It’s only when you do it wrong that it notices!

The soundtrack took quite a long time to do.
Before I could even start writing anything, I had to spend a long time just watching and thinking. I found it helpful to ask myself questions like; “What’s the mood of the characters in this scene?”, or “When and how should the music start and end?”
I think that that creativity comes from solving problems. So I like to see problems as a chance to be creative, by finding ways around them.
So I found that the more questions I asked about each scene, the easier it became to understand what to do.
And when I finally got it right, I’d listen to it and think; “of course, that’s so obvious! How come I didn’t think of doing it like that in the first place?”

The first piece of music that I wrote was a very simple sinister sounding atmosphere, for the first scene (the one with the monks in it). Then the monk pushes play on the tape recorder and soon after, the second track starts. Then the atmospheric music fades out, as the music on the tape starts changing from a radio sound into the live sound of Jayme and Joe! playing in the classroom.This wasn’t hard at all because it was just simply a matter of following what was going on in the visual.

Then it goes straight to the bar scene, with Joe! (years later) and the music starts the scene off. There the music is used as if it were playing in the bar.

After we finish playing, the next track starts at the end of the scene. I think that it really ties the scenes together and gives the whole thing more continuity, plus it complements the “9 o’clock on a Saturday morning” joke. It also gives off the feeling that something else is about to start, i.e. the next scene.
This track was the first one I worked on and it was very hard. I ended up having to dump the first song I wrote for it and write a new one because the flavour was all wrong. Getting the right flavour is so important!

It was also very hard deciding what to do with the music once it had started. “Is it O.K to just play it in the background, even though they’re in the street?” Answer; This particular piece of music isn’t in their world, so they can’t hear it! It is simply just part of the soundtrack. “O.K, but is that still O.K to just play over the scene…?”
So I simply tried it with and without the music..
I found that, due to all of the cuts and the way the scene has been filmed, there is quite a few continuity faults. So leaving the music playing over the whole scene helped to gel it all together by giving it more of a timeline and making it more like one long scene, instead of a load of cuts.

More soon…

Home Studio Basics

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | 1 Comment »

Today I thought I’d do quick rundown of the basic things you need to set up a fairly efficient home studio, for those who are interested in setting one up.

-First you’ll need a computer.
Desktops are usually more stable and powerful than laptops, plus you can upgrade parts later on.
Now the dilemma…
P.C or Mac? Well, this is a tough one:
1: Mac= supposedly better than a P.C

…Once you have your P.C, you’ll then need a DAW.
Digital Audio Workstation. This is where all the music is going to be put together. There are lots of diferent ones; Logic, Cubase, Sonar, Ableton Live, Pro-tools, e.t.c..
To me the DAW is like another instrument. It plays a big part in the way I write music, purely because I am able to manipulate whatever I’ve record, until I like the way it sounds!
Moving on…

-Then you’ll need some sample libraries.
Sampled pianos, organs, drums, e.t.c…

-A midi controller. (Keyboard) To trigger the samples.

-A microphone, or microphones.
Essential for recording vocals.
I would definitely recommend at least one condenser microphone for acoustic guitar and vocals because it is more sensitive than a dynamic one, so you’ll get a much clearer sound.

-An audio interface.
This is basically a sound card.
Choosing the right one depends on what you’re going to be doing.
If you need to use microphones for acoustic guitar recordings and more, then you’ll definitely benefit with more than 1 XLR input (a high impedance mic input). If the audio interface has phantom power as well then even better because some microphones, like condenser microphones, need it.
I used to use a mackie onyx 400f, but I don’t think that it’s available anymore. Now I use a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56.

-Some loudspeakers and amplifier.
For mixing, it’s better to use loudspeakers than headphones.
You’ll also need to treat your room so that you don’t get sound bouncing all over the place and bass collecting in the corners, giving you an inaccurate reading. Bass traps are good for this.

-And finally some headphones.
For recording guitar and vocals, e.t.c.. But don’t expose yourself to loud volumes for long periods of time cos you’ll damage your ears!

How To Write A Song! 12

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

Today I’ve been working on some harmonies for ‘Hannah’.
I decided to leave the new song (‘Clean The Fan’) for a day. Sometimes I find myself getting too familiar with a song, and start messing around with it too much that I end up nowhere. So sometimes it’s good to be working on more that one song at a time.

I’ve done one verse and one chorus. The choruses are usually the same, but I like to make each one slightly different. I like to add different harmonies or slightly change the bass line or something like that.
I like to think of it as mixed bag of sweets. Having lots to choose from makes them more interesting, but if it’s filled full of cola bottles or boot laces then it becomes a bit too boring. Also, having too big a bag, i.e. a song longer than 4 minutes, can also make it a bit boring.

Anyway, what I’ve done is:
I’ve made 9 mono audio tracks and panned 3 left, 3 center and 3 right.
Then I’ve listened to the whole song, with the microphone on, ready to record and roughly sung the ideas that came to mind.
Then I went back to the start and slowly proceeded to develop those ideas as I went along.

It’s hard, deciding where the harmonies should come in. I find that it makes it easier if I treat them as three different groups of people, listening in and voicing their opinion when they’ve got something to say or want to emphasize a certain point.
I also like them to say things in the background. But that can sometimes be confusing if you don’t do it right. A good way that I’ve found is to construct the background phrase out of words that the main vocal is singing at that particular time. That way it lessens the amount of different words you have to take in.

So, all I have left to do is the second verse, the break and add a few extra harmonies on the choruses…

How To Write A Song! 11

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

I Haven’t done the harmonies yet because I got distracted.
Just recently I had to completely take apart my laptop, just to clean the fan!
Now, I managed to do it and still carry on with the song, but the problem now is that it has inspired me to write another song!
This often happens when I’m writing, I usually end up working on two or three songs at a time!
This new one is going to be about wanting to clean a laptop fan but having trouble doing it (it’s hard to explain), usually I don’t like to be too literal about what I’m writing about because it can sound a bit cheesy. But I think that, because of what I’m going to do with this new song, it’ll be o.k.

So anyway, it’s going to put a slight delay on the old song (that I’m calling Hannah) because I’m inspired and motivated, so I have to go with it! And this one has a video idea attached to it, so stay tuned for that one!

…I will continue with “Hannah” when I can.

How To Write A Song! 10

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

I love doing harmonies!

I usually do them in 3 groups of 5 part harmonies; 5 panned left, 5 in the center and 5 panned right.
I often treat them as if they were like people commenting on the lyrics that are being sung.
Depending on the song, I think that 3 sets of 5 part harmonies can be a bit too confusing, especially when there is lots going on. I think that the average listener listens to a song as a whole and doesn’t always home in on any specific instrument, or harmony, other that the main vocal line. So I don’t think that they get to appreciate a complicated harmony part when the rest of the music is quite busy. It’s also down to my mixing not being good enough to get them heard properly! But hey, I’m still learning.. (that’s why I did a bonus version of “cats and rats” that was just the voices!)

So, for this song I have decided to do 2 groups of 3 part harmonies, panned left and right. That way they should be easier to pick out!
When writing the harmonies, I like to sit in front of my computer with the microphone and a keyboard and record them in as I write them. I don’t bother with doing lots of takes because they’re more in the background than the main vocal, so they don’t have to be as perfect. Also, there are so many parts that it would take me ages to process it all!
So, I listen to the track and think of where to put the harmonies and what they should be saying. Then I press record and see if I like the way it sounds, then check to see if it’s correct and goes with the chords of the song and that it doesn’t change the flavour too much. Finally I check to see if the take needs re-singing or is ok enough.
I always try to avoid singing too many different words on top or the main vocal, because it can be too confusing. Also I try to make sure that the vowel sounds are the same. So that I don’t get one voice in a harmony par standing out above the rest, simply because it’s singing an “aaaa” when it should be singing an “ahhh”. ..and yes, it happens.
That’s how I write and record harmonies!
I’d best get to it…