Friday, December 23, 2011

Gaia Stage

Gaia Stage

Have to get out of the theory stage and into the practical stage. Here's a quick test of one of the daiko drum elements and shakuhachi in the Garritan World library. Played a bit with the pressure channel to get some vibrato. And some ES2 pads.

Doing this quick shows how difficult it is to get some sort of accompaniment going, even if the pads are just straight chords. My feeble attempts to seek out the chords to fit the melody utterly failed. In the end, I went with single notes that seemed to work, and formed chords from those. Bleh.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Can't hear ya

Been working on a jazz-ish arrangement for Silent Night, and have completed a first run of the sax, double bass, piano and drums. Piano will probably be removed as with my current accompaniment skill level (which is zero), doesn't seem to add to the arrangement, more likely a distraction.

Interestingly, I can't actually here the double bass on my speakers - this is a 2010 mbp. On my reference headphones though, they come through clear as day.

Does this mean the frequency response of the mac's speakers don't have much low frequency response? Ponder ponder.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Patterns in Chords

Currently working through Chapter 2, and the 2nd exercise deals with forming chords a perfect 4th/5th apart, as well as those a 2nd and 3rd apart.

Spending some time on the keyboard seems to indicate a pattern of sorts.

Chords a 4th above/5th Below
For the chords a 4th apart, in their root position (i.e. no inversions), all one has to do is move the 2nd and 3rd notes one tone up to get to the chord a 4th away, to what I think is the first inversion.


C to F (CEG -> CFA, 2nd inversion of FAC)
Dm to G (DFA -> DGB, 2nd inversion of GBD)
Em to Am
F to Bdim 
G to C (GBD -> GCE, which is 2nd inversion of CEG)

Am to Dm

On the keyboard in the C Major Scale, with the left hand, it means moving the thumb and middle fingers one key to the right.

Chords a 5th above/4th below
Similarly, a pattern can be found for chords a 5th below.

C to G (CEG to BDG -> 1st inversion of GBD)
Dm to Am (DFA to CEA -> 1st inversion of ACE)
so on and so forth....

Again on the keyboard, this is done by shifting the last and middle fingers on the left hand one key to the left.

Chords a 2nd above/below
Erm, no patterns here, since they are basically moving all the keys either one key to the left or right..

Chords a 3rd above
And here another pattern emerges
C to E (CEG -> BEG, which is the 2nd inversion if EGB)
Dmin to F (DFA to CFA, which is the 2nd inversion if FAC)
so on and so forth....

On the lefthand keyboard in CMajor, this is moving the last finger on key to the left.

Chords a 3rd below
The final pattern I noticed.
C to Amin (CEG to CEA, which is the 1st inversion of ACE)
Dm to Bmin (DFA to DFB, which is the 1st inversion of BDF)
so on and so forth....

So on the left hand keyboard in C Major, this is moving the thumb one key to the right.

Not sure how useful this is, but perhaps it could be down the road.

NOTE: This are my personal observations, and it could be correct, or incorrect. Use the information here at thy own peril.

Flute class musings

Had my second flute class today, at my teacher's place over in Hackney central. From today's lesson, it seems like why I'm running out of breath quickly is because I'm blowing a massive stream of air - and I can barely support it for more than a few beats. The proper way, which still eludes me is to focus the embouchure into a tighter, small stream. Gonna take awhile as I find it quite difficult to adapt, but already I could manage about 2 bars at a reasonably slow tempo without fainting.

That said, I think there is an advantage of learning from different instrument with a different teacher - everyone has a different things to teach - one of the key points I picked up is about practicing with long tones. It's not just blowing long notes, but to figure out what is the best position for one's embouchure to be in per note.

With the saxophone, I didn't think of it this way, my understanding was "long tones" == "tone gets better". Time spent with long tones needs to be used to find out how to make that particular note as sweet as possible.

With the flute, it's finding the sweet spot with the various variables - placement of lip plate, roll in/out, embouchure etc. With the sax, in my experience it's more about the shape of the tongue inside to direct the air, as well as the firmness of the embouchure support. 

This also brings up the point of doubling - the flute and sax use wildly different embouchures, and I believe that either won't interfere with the other much. Fingering wise, it's similar, but the flute seems to utilize overblowing to get to the next register, whilst with the sax it's a combination of keys and embouchure to get there.

Lots to think about and practice.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 8 - Wayward Rhythm

Wayward rhythm is the last exercise in the book, and apart from following the rules ("Basic Note Values") listed in the beginning of the chapter, no instruction apart from using an unpitched instrument.

The instrument I choose was the Pueblo Drum from the Garritan World library. I like it, and a quick google indicates it may be used for Native American drumming, so, woot! As I would love to write some sort of tribal style music and this is an instrument to consider.

Also had to figure out how to get Printmusic to switch to a percussion track, not to difficult just a setting away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 6 - Abandoned Dwelling

This lesson features the E Phygian scale, with a melody that is supposed to sound dark and omnimous. Hopefully this brings the idea across. I've swapped out the concert flute with a Native American Flute sample from Garritan's World Instruments, to fit the vibe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 5 - Morning Lake

Exercise 5 features the D Dorian mode, fixed rhythm and a melody expressing water. I went with this idea of a lakeside in the morning.

I also found the section in Printmusic where effects can be added, an added the AU MatrixReverb, one of my favourite reverbs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 4

Figured out yet a few more bits with Printmusic - you'd need to enable one of the Human Playback styles in order to have the markings e.g. mf or the fermata played back. The rit marking doesn't seem to do anything though. Hairpin crescendos also seemed to work though I had to put the dynamics at either end of the hairpin.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 3

The third exercise focuses on "the row" where one must use a fixed sequence of notes, and repeats are allowed.

In addition, I also learned a few tricks with Finale and the Garritan samples. Figured out how to lock it to 4 bars per line - been working on 12 bars as standard - and that using the "Notation" version of the instruments e.g. n-flute plr 1 vs flute plr 1 - it's the correct instrument for use with Finale, and allows the articulations like legato and staccatos to be properly played back.

Lucky read on the garritan forums - wonder if its the same for other scoring programs as well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 2

Gah has it been a week since I worked on this?!
Foxes curiously look around, sniffing the air for signs of humans. Oh no! What is that! Hide hide hide! Oh, it's just a cat. La de la, look around, foxes all around!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chapter 01 Ex 1

Straight export from Printmusic with "Classical" humanization. This begs the question - am I allowed to use rests? The general rules seem to say yes, but the exercise itself says to use the rhythm given. Mmmm.

Personal review:
a) Should have added in performance markings, as indicated in the general rules
b) No rests is correct
c) Should have titled the piece.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Finale Printmusic and Garritan GPO

I'm currently using Finale Printmusic to digitize my scores. It's a great piece of software, but has a pretty steep learning curve. Thankfully, the included video tutorials make using it much simpler. Took me awhile to figure out how to notate rests, until I went through the tutorials :3

Now I'm using this on OSX, and because Garritan were recently running a 30% of sale on their virtual instruments, I picked up the Garritan Personal Orchestra (I have grandiose dreams of remixing music, orchestrally) and Garritan World Instruments.

I understand that the full blow version of Finale comes with the GPO built in, but it's far to expensive for my newbie purposes. Connecting Printmusic to GPO is quite straightforward though - with a score loaded, go to the MIDI menu and switch from "Play Finale Through Midi" to "Play Finale Through Audio Units". Next, in the MIDI menu, go to "Audio Unit Instruments", and by default, channels 1-16 should be loaded with the finale soft synth - switch that over to the Garritan Aria Player. A little button to the right of the drop down list can be pressed to bring up the Aria interface. Load up the instrument in the matching channel and you should be set. The Window -> Instruments list can tell you which channel is assigned to which instrument.

Sadly, the GPO does not have saxophone sounds - as I think saxophones do not exist in traditional orchestras, woodwind or not. In any case, the book suggests working with either Strings Or Woodwinds for the melody, and the wind choices in the Garritan Personal Orchestra do sound much better than the softsynth.

Well that's it for today.