Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Right Guitar Tuner For You

There are so many different guitar tuners out there that it can be hard at times to know which one you should choose. We have all been there when you need a new tuner so you start doing some research on the best guitar tuners and you end up with pages upon pages of results. It may all seem intimidating at first but am going to give you a few of my favorite all time best guitar tuners. Hopefully using this list you can find one that you really like.

My all time favorite has to be the Korg GA-40, I have had this tuner since I first started playing guitar almost 13 years ago. I still have the same exact one and it has yet to die on me. I can not think of anything else that is as reliable as the Korg. Not only is it reliable but the quality of the tuning is almost perfect. The Korg GA-20 even allows for drop tuning which I highly appreciate because I enjoy playing the heavier metal and rock songs. If you can not decide on as guitar tuner, the Korg GA-20 is no doubt one of your best options.

The second tuner on my list is the KLIQ UberTuner. The KLIQ UberTuner may not be anything too special but the display is just beautiful. You can see it in all light conditions whether you are in a dimly lit room, a dark stage, or even in the bright outdoors. Nothing fancy, just a simple thing that works.

The last one that I am going to suggest you give a chance is the BOSS TU-3. Unlike the last two tuners, the TU-3 is a pedal which means you can easily leave tuner this plugged in at all times. If you are in the middle of a jam session you can just easily turn it on, and tune up. My only complaint about the TU-3 is its display. It can be a little hard to read at times but it should not be too much of an issue once you get used to it. Over all the TU-3 is a very solid pedal.

When it comes down to your final choice it is purely personal preference though. If you have had a clip on before maybe try out the pedal or the normal electric version. Try things out and find out what you like best.

Writing Melody

Writing MelodyMelody

The melody or tune of a song is what most people hear when listening to music, the chords, drums, bass are very important in supporting the melody but the average person hears the tune. The best melodies are simple, easy to remember and easy to sing along with. However the goal of good melody writing is to make the tune simple but not boring or run of the mill. We will discuss how to write a melody, explain a bit of music theory

(I promise not too much!) behind constructing a tune and how to fit lyrics to melody.

The most common question I receive from ‘non-‘musicians’ is what do you write first, music or words? I like to do both and I would recommend you try both ways. If I’m writing with a collaborator who writes lyrics I would always write the tune to fit the lyrics. Sometimes if you have a chord sequence composing lyrics and melody at the same time is a good way to go. Even a combination of the two will work, remember there’s no hard rules to this. The melody is normally the primary reason a song gets recorded or not so make it the strongest you can.

Writing a Cappella:

A cappella means without musical accompaniment. Writing a cappella means composing melodies in your head and just singing them with the voice. Sometimes writing without an instrument can bring forward the strongest melodies.

As a beginning songwriter you can create songs without playing an instrument. With lyrics and melodies in your head, you can complete a song! How cool is that? Some songwriters who can play guitar or piano make the mistake of strumming some chords and letting the chords lead to the next predictable notes.

People sing the melody not the chords, the number one downfall of new songwriters is first playing chord changes on a keyboard or guitar, and then imposing the melody over the chord progression. Now chords are very important to add harmony which we will talk about a little later but if you don’t play an instrument don’t let that stop you writing great melodies.

Having said that, playing an instrument is very useful and knowing chord changes, scales and simple theory will assist you. Learning popular chord sequences will also be of great benefit.

Keep it Simple and Singable:

The goal of melody writing is to communicate a simple and singable melody that fits a perfect lyric. So how do we write melodies? (here comes the theory part) Say you have a chord sequence C Major-F Major-G Major These chords have the following notes in them;

C Major C-E-G

F Major F-A-C

G Major G-B-D

The scale would be C Major going from C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C when writing the melody for your song, you would select notes from within the chord you were playing at the time. So for example if you were playing a C Chord, the notes you would use would be C, E,or G. You can use notes outside of the chord but as a starting point you would choose the notes in the chord. I like to look at the syllables in the lyrics and decide what notes and rhythm I want to assign to them.

When you begin writing your own melodies try a variety of notes with different rhythms. Have fun with this and learn to rewrite melodies like you would with lyrics

Intervals in melody writing is a useful technique to learn. It will help you pick up new music and give you an understanding of melody. I hear you say what is an Interval? Good question, Intervals are the spaces between notes. So F-C would be a 5th because it’s a 5th in distance. To recognize a perfect fifth is to hum the starting of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; the pitch of the first “twinkle” is the root note and pitch of the second “twinkle” is a perfect fifth above it.

Professional Tips on Mixing and Mastering Audio

Music mixing is a task that forms an important part of music creating. The procedure of penning down the lyrics, creating a tune, syncing the lyrics to the tune created, recording it and finally mixing and mastering it makes it a complete music track. Music mixing is often the task of professionals who know the technicalities involved in creating a perfect song. They are the ones who use modern software allowing them to have perfectly mixed songs at the end of the entire procedure. These are performed at specialised studios, but several companies specialise in online mastering and mixing where there is no need for you to go to a studio and instead get professional results virtually.

Any professional who is an expert in mastering and mixing audio, know the right ways to have a final mastered sound piece. Mastering too requires a particular procedure which when followed would give the best results. Here are a few steps that you could follow that come direct from the mouths of professionals.

• Choose fresh music – It is always advisable to bring about freshness to the music that you record. While you record music, ensure that you use the best devices to record it as the recorder plays a significant role in the final product. There has to be a freshness in the audio that you record as the mastering would get tougher if the recording is of poor quality.

• Learn not to appreciate your work – You may no doubt have the best-recorded audio but at times you need to be critical of your job. It helps in analysing the minute details and looking out for loopholes. You may appreciate your work as eventually it is your creation any if you do not find any loopholes in it, you can get someone who may critically analyse your work and provide you with some help.

• Match the volume – Imagine listening to a song where the volume of the voice recording is lower than that of the instruments that make up the tune. It would sound annoying to the ear, and therefore, you should ensure the fact that the volumes of the audio and the instruments are equal and not overpowering each other.

• Choose quality equipment – You may own a professional mixing console and the best mastering software that can help you mix your music well. They need not be the most expensive equipment but should be able to bring out the best in your sound recording.

Tips on How to Make Vocals in Music Recordings Sound Professional

First things first

Every voice is different. Settings that help the voice of the top-selling artist to be at the top of the charts, might do nothing to help your voice. In fact, such settings might even harm it. Keep that in mind as you read advices regarding frequency numbers, etc.

Your voice is unique. And what is unique, has to be treated as such. That’s why opinions about microphones vary so much. I will say this though – the better the vocal recordings, the easier it is to mix them properly.

1. Equipment

Let’s say you take a picture of a sunset over Paris with an old, two megapixel camera. It’s going to be a great picture nonetheless. But if you try to make a poster out of it, you’ll end up with a blurry, pixelated mess. What the pixels and camera quality are to your eyes, bits and studio equipment are to your ears.

Expensive, high end studio equipment can indeed give you a sense of what makes it expensive, or to put it correctly, what makes it different. Using it is a good way to train your ears. But never suppose that quality lies in the price, because like I said, every voice is unique and just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it makes your voice sound better. With that said, if you ever have the chance to record with different studio equipment, different mics, different workstations etc., please do so! It will give you the opportunity to consider the best arrangement for your voice.

2. Environment

Keep recording sessions dry. You can add every reverb, and every room ambience you can think of with just a few clicks, but it is almost impossible to remove recorded room ambience from your signal. So, do everything possible to keep your room dry. If you have a booth, you are probably in a good situation. If you don’t have one, try to build one (it’s easier than you think-just Google “vocal booth selfmade” to get some inspiration). If you don’t have time or the money for it (you don’t need a lot), at least try to separate your recording area from the rest of your room in some way.

3. Panning and Track Numbers

Everybody has a different approach to panning and the number of vocal tracks that are necessary. I’ll just tell you my opinion.

The lead vocals for verses are usually placed in the center. If you want to give your listener a certain intimacy, it’s always better to use only one vocal track. It just keeps your mix clear and it makes the listening experience better. I’m not a fan of doubling the entire verse. With all the subtle differences between the two takes – including the consonants that never get matched up perfectly – it just makes your vocals sound messy. If you want a clear lead vocal, only use one track.

The next thing I would do is record two tracks in which you double certain parts of the verse. Pan them both in opposite directions (15 to 40), and reduce their volume. You have to hear a difference between the doubled part and the part without doubles, but don’t make it that obvious. Just so that it gives your vocals and the meaning of what is being said in certain parts more power. Doubling is quite common in all kinds of music, especially in rap music. If you are singing, rather than rapping, be careful when doubling because it can make your vocals sound too artificial and too pop-ish. On the other hand, if you are going for that pop sound, doubling might be a great tool for you!

In the chorus, you can record two vocal tracks and pan them between 30 to 60 – one to the left, one to the right. Another option would be to record a third track, which is placed in the center, but not as loud as the lead vocals in your verses.

Some people record one lead track and double it (copy and paste it) and edit them differently (EQ, compressor, pitch, etc.) This can be another great tool to make your vocals sound different in certain parts of the song, just like the panning advices I mentioned above. Try it out and see how you like it.

4. Equalizing Vocals

At first, add a low cut filter on every vocal track. It’s quite common to raise the frequencies from 2 kHz and up for female vocals, and 3 kHz and up for male vocals. Frequencies between 6 and 8 kHz are very sensitive because this is the place where the S sounds are at home. Be careful here. What sounds good and clear on your studio monitors, might feel like needle-sticks to your ear when listening with earphones. Always double- and triple-check your mix on different playback devices like monitors, headphones, earphones, etc.

If the S is too sharp, reduce it. You can either add a native de-esser in your DAW by applying a dynamic equalizer, or by manually reducing every S in your vocal recording. The latter is the most time-consuming, but gives you the most control. Keep in mind that equalizers and de-essers don’t recognize consonants, they recognize frequencies. And some consonants might share the same frequencies as the S. So only apply native de-essers with caution.

5. Reverb

When adding reverb, keep in mind that the lead vocals should usually be just that – leading. So, adding too much reverb is disadvantageous. Only use small room reverbs. You shouldn’t even recognize the reverb, except when it’s gone. It also depends on the instrumental. If there’s a lot going on in your instrumental already, a big reverb would probably be too much for the song. Yet if your instrumental has much room/space, reverb on vocals can be very effective.

6. Breathing Sounds

Of course, your vocal recordings will include breathing sounds. Whether the presence of such breathing sounds should be strong or weak is a question of personal taste. In my opinion, they are extremely important. That doesn’t mean they should be extremely loud though. It means you should edit them separately and with great care.

If a breath is too loud, then reduce its volume. If it is too long, then replace it with a good breath from the same take or from another one. If a breath makes a certain part feel too hectic, then remove it. If it feels like a breath is missing, add one.

These adjustments can improve the flow of your recordings and make your individual takes feel more cohesive. They can also be used as a kind of glue to stick two consecutive takes together to make them feel like they were recorded at once!

But: Don’t double them, and don’t cut them. Always fade in and fade out.

7. Consonants

If you have recorded one lead vocal track and two doubling tracks for a phrase such as, “I’m looking at the mist,” you mind encounter a rattling noise at the end, because the three T’s of “mist” will not appear at the exact same time. You can either move them closer together, so the rattling sound disappears, or you can remove two of them. Fade out the tracks you removed the consonant from to avoid unwanted cutting sounds.

8. Breaks

Many people avoid breaks because they want to finish their project or they don’t believe breaks are necessary. But human senses get accustomed to both good and bad stimulations. You might not recognize something in a room, if you just came in from the sun, but once your eyes adjust, you will notice all sort of things you had missed. When you enter a restaurant, you might perceive good smells, but after you have been sitting at your table for a while, your perception of those smells vanishes. The same thing happens with your ears. If you have been mixing vocals for a couple of hours, you might think they sound good and clear, but the next day, you might just feel ashamed at how muddy they sound.

Take short breaks, if that is all the time you can afford. Taking longer breaks – in which you change your environment – is better. And before you perform your final mix, set your project aside for a couple of days. It’ll give you fresh ears when you resume. At least try it once. Afterward, I think you’ll be pleased that you didn’t release your music without a two-day break.

Life Situation Songs We All Don’t Like Singing

LIFE is like a game of football. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Winning is exhilarating, but there’s not much learning that comes from winning all the time. Losing is much more of value in a life that’s about growth.

Growth emerges out of regret that we should’ve known better…

1. SHOULD’VE KNOWN BETTER – JIM DIAMOND

Sentiment that hangs long after we’ve said our goodbyes is the regret that surpasses the moment. Times when our emotions lag seriously behind reality, when it takes us months if not years to catch up; times like these are lamentable. But only if we don’t capture the essence of this truth: the hardest lessons are rich with material for learning.

2. IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME – CHER

If only we could turn back time. I find myself saying, “This time last week… if only I knew… ,” but then there wouldn’t be the learning that comes from making such noteworthy mistakes. It’s understandable to wish to turn back time. We cannot help think like that in our regret.

3. THE LIVING YEARS – MIKE AND THE MECHANICS

If only we’d spent the time with a parent or a son or daughter that we could have. But time’s gone. Blessed be that final opportunity of reacquainting in eternity – that’s our hope. We implore God for that. But we also accept that what we feel now we hope is communicated to the other soul in the other realm. Another hope.

4. MAN IN THE MIRROR – MICHAEL JACKSON

A seriously penitent song, Man In the Mirror, helps us know that true joy, hope, and peace emanate from the humble heart alive to his or her own truth. As we look into the mirror that is the reality of our own lives, as God or others perceive us, the truth kisses our perspective, and we have fresh impetus to grow.

5. CRY ME A RIVER – JULIE LONDON

There are times when we feel like we literally cry a river over a lost love. We’re desperately forlorn. That was me; when I lost my first love, my first marriage, and my first infatuation afterwards; three times I’ve felt that way – the middle one the worst by far. And still God journeyed faithfully with me even as I cried me a river.