Music Production: Synthesis Presentation

Hello friends,

Another week and another assignment for my Intro to Music Production class with Coursera.com.  I’ve really enjoyed this class but I must admit it’s been a real challenge trying to get all the information to stick in my head.

This presentation discussed the “Usage of the most important synthesis modules.”  Just click on the Presentation Art  below to make the jump to view my prezi. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Cheers and God bless!!

Cosima

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More on Effects in the production process

Greetings music lovers! This week my assignment with Coursera for the Introduction to Music Production class is to “Compare and contrast an algorithmic and convolution reverb. Demonstrate the difference and the important features in both types of reverb.”

I’ve tried on several occasions to embed my presentation but have had not luck.  Please visit my prezi by clicking the Prezi Artwork below to view the assignment.  And, thanks for visiting and taking the time to read through my work.

 

Blessings,

cosima

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Distortion ~ The Good and the Bad

Hey there folks!  Cosima here.

This is the fourth assignment in a series of posts I’m writing for the online Music Production class I’ve been taking.  For this week’s assignment I’ve chosen to prepare a presentation to “Explain distortion and give examples where it can be both musical and problematic.”

Click on the Prezi Artwork below to enjoy my presentation and perhaps learn a little something too.

God bless and thanks in advance for any input you might like to add.

 

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What about effects?

In my last post I briefly took a look at Digital to Analog Conversion. Today I’d like to discuss effects.  Not guitar pedal effects, which in my case would probably make more sense to those of you who know me well, but Digital Audio Effects used when configuring a digital mixing board, their categories, plugins and properties when using a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

This is the third post in a series devoted to completing assignments for an online Introduction to Music Production class.  I hope you enjoy reading about what I’m learning and perhaps get some learning along the way.  Any input on your part is appreciated. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read through the material.

Categories of effects: Teach the effect categories including which plugins go in each category and which property of sound each category relates to.

Categories of Effects: Plugins and Properties.

The process of recording, mixing and editing music has come a long way and those that have gone before us have paved the way to great music production by giving us some pretty awesome tools or plugins that help us get the sound we’re hearing in our heads into the airwaves and into the ears of our audience.  The complex spectrum of Audio Effects at our fingertips is simplified a great deal when we understand their categories and the most appropriate way to configure them into a signal flow based on their uses.

Digital Audio Effects fit into three basic categories in digital processing that relate directly to some basic elements of sound itself.   These three categories are

Category 1: Dynamic Effects

Category 2: Delay Effects

Category 3: Filter Effects.

  1. Dynamic effects plugins- generate amplitude over time.  You may recognize these effects as gates, compressors, expanders and limiters and can give the listener a sense of emotional intensity or help the music “tell the story” by increasing or decreasing the dynamic.
  2. Delay effects plugins –  Sound propagation or the speed at which a sound travels through and around objects can be simulated in the DAW to give us a sense of space.  Delay effects, like chorus, or phase and reverb as well as the flange make a recording sound as though it were played in a large or small space.  If you want your audience to get the feeling they are in a concert hall or perhaps outdoors delay effects can accomplish it.
  3. Filter effect plugins control something called timbre, (ˈtambər) or particular sound quality of an instrument such as a trumpet or violin or a voice.  When you adjust highs and lows in the DAW you are using filters.  The most common filters are the parametric and graphic equalizer or EQ.  Other Filters include high, low and band pass filters.

My first assignment was to discuss signal flow in a home production studio set-up.  Part of the signal flow which I did not discuss in-depth included the flow through the DAW itself.  Knowing where to position which effects can help a lot when producing music especially when mixing multiple tracks.

For instance, lets assume you’re mixing several background vocals and you equalized them carefully but now you want your listeners to feel as though the singers had performed in a great cathedral.  You’d want to add a delay effect plugin.  Trying to mix delay into each singer’s track individually and keep it consistent between the tracks would take some time to accomplish but if you routed those tracks into one sub-track you could filter them all at the same time, equally, and get that cathedral sound without all the fuss of individual mixing for that plugin.

So, you see, having an understanding of when and where to use which effect can make a huge difference in time management in the studio as well as improve accuracy and efficiency in the processing stages.

In reflection I’ve learned so much as I’ve contemplated and researched this topic.  My appreciation for those who have a great knowledge and understanding of this topic. Learning these categories and knowing where the plugins fit helps me get my head around some complexities that would otherwise be out of my reach!  And, in the end it’s not so overwhelming.

Thank you again for taking the time to read through my topic and for sharing your knowledge with me!

The Analog to Digital Conversion Process

Hello musicians and friends! My name is Cosima and this is my second assignment for Intro to Music Production online at Coursera.org.  For this assignment I’ve chosen to discuss the analog to digital conversion process.  I spent some time reading up on the process and enjoyed learning something new.  I hope my post will spark some interest in this topic for my readers.  Thanks for visiting my blog and reading my post.

Analog to digital conversion process

In my last post I indicated that the source of an audio signal in my studio generally is a voice.  The sound of that voice affects the air and creates longitudinal pressure variations that are picked up by a microphone which converts those variations into voltage variations know as  an analog signal. That’s great for live performance but if we want to send that signal into a computer’s digital audio workstation (DAW) we’ll need to convert the analog wave signal to a digital signal or data.

The only thing the computer can deal with is strings of numbers. Things represented in 1 and 0s, called binary information.  So, there’s a process to go from the continually variable sound into a stream of ones and zeros and that process is called a sampling process.  An analog signal is a wave form that is a continuous stream of data that the computer can’t recognize whereas digital data is discrete or individually separate and distinct. To convert the analog wave into digital data of ones and zeros I’ll need to use the Analog to Digital converter in an  audio interface device.

The audio interface uses a common method that converts analog to digital that involves three steps: Sampling, Quantization and Encoding.

SAMPLING

[Image: Sampling of Analog Signal]

The analog signal is sampled at an interval rate making many, many measurements per second.  Most important factor in sampling is the rate at which the analog signal is sampled.  Over 40,000 times per second to be able to accurately represent the continuously variable signals in the air as a digital representation.  And the higher the sampling rate the higher frequency that can be represented accurately in the digital domain.  And this frequency  is known as the Nyquist frequency, just half a sampling rate.  So a sampling rate of 44,100 hertz can accurately represent half of that in the digital domain, 22,050 hertz.  The human ear can hear a range of about 20,000 hertz and the CD standard sampling rate is 44,100 hertz which will accurately represent everything we hear as human beings.

QUANTIZATION

[Image: Quantization of sampled analog signal]

Sampling yields a discrete or individually separate and distinct form of continuous analog signal. Every discrete pattern shows the amplitude, the extent of a vibration or oscillation, of the analog signal at that instance. The quantization is done between the maximum amplitude value and the minimum amplitude value. Quantization is approximation of the instantaneous analog value.

ENCODING

[Image: Encoding from quantization]

In encoding, each approximated value is then converted into binary format of 1s and 0s the computer can then recognize which we now can manipulate in our DAW for the purpose of music production.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my post!  Please feel free to leave comments.  Your input is appreciated.

(sources include http://www.tutorialspoint.com and wikipedia) 

Typical Recording Signal Flow in Home Recording

Hello, my name is Cosima Ybarra and I live in Southern California.  I’ve written this post to fulfill the first assignment for the Introduction To Music Production class I’m taking online at Coursera.org.  This assignment will cover what a simple recording signal flow looks like in my “home studio” which really is a little workstation in my office at home.  My hope is that I could share this information is such a way that someone could gain a bit of understanding regarding using signal flow in a low cost but effective home recording studio.

As a voice teacher I generally record my students semester project song for their semester final.  In most cases I just run an Apogee cardioid condenser microphone into my iPad with a USB cable, use the Garageband application and then run a cable out to some commercial home theater speakers.  This simple setup works fine for my needs but it’s certainly not very professional.

Apogee microphone

Apogee microphone

iPad with Garageband

iPad with Garageband

Logitech Home Theater Speakers

Logitech Home Theater Speakers

In this assignment I hope to explain signal flow in a bit more depth.  Thanks for reading my post.  I appreciate constructive input so please share your thoughts with me… Thank you.

Introduction to Music Production – week 1

According to Wikipedia “Audio signal flow is the path an audio signal takes from source to output, including all the processing involved in generating audible sound from electronic impulses or recorded media.”

The gear from source to output in my demonstration includes:

  1. A digital Reference DR-VX1 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone
  2. A standard XLR microphone cable
  3. The M-Audio DUO (2×2 audio interface) Pro USB Mic Preamp with S/PDIF
  4. A USB cable with a device end
  5. A MacBook Pro Computer
  6. A set of Bose noise canceling headphones

The source of an audio signal in my studio generally is a voice.  The sound affects the air and creates longitudinal pressure variations that are picked up by the microphone which converts those variations into voltage variations.  The dynamic cardioid mic is designed to respond to that sound and convert it at a low amplitude but I need to use the preamp to boost that up to line level once the variations move through the balanced XLR cable and into the audio interface.  Then adjust the gain, making sure the indicator light doesn’t go into the read zone.

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Once that’s set the signal can continue to flow through the audio interface where it is converted into a digital signal.  This stream of ones and zeros is sent to my computer via a USB cable with a device end to be processed in the Digital Audio Workstation, which in my case is Garageband.  I’ve not explored the limits of Garageband but the digital audio workstation we can make adjustments to the timbre and dynamics, mix and edit.  Once that’s completed the signal almost is ready for listening either through my computer’s audio output to my headphones or I can send the signal back to my audio interface. In either case the signal is processed through a digital converter from the stream of one’s and zeros to digital, then to my out to my headphones for my enjoyment!

 

Thanks again for taking the time to read through my assignment.

Cosima

 

 

Using the iPad on your Vocal Journey

Did you know that most people, when trained, can learn to sing really well? To be one of them, you need two things: 1. vocal training, 2. a good sense of pitch. The Erol Singers Studio app gives you not only world-class voice lessons to develop your voice, but also instant visual feedback on your pitch during the lessons, so you also develop an accurate sense of pitch. It’s a complete voice and ear training program that comes with dozens of voice lessons that were designed by an award winning singer and vocal coach to help you learn about your voice and become a better singer.

During practice, target notes and your actual pitch are simultaneously displayed onscreen, so you can actually see and correct any pitch problems before they become habits.

The app comes with 36 unique voice lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, each individually crafted to build a specific skill, each with detailed instructions and audio examples for both males and females so you know exactly what to do.

All the essentials you will need are already included, and you don’t need to make any additional purchases to get all the benefits. With regular use of the app, your breathing, tone, range, and vocal flexibility will improve, and you will sound better singing your favorite songs.

See how fun it can be to develop your voice and be able to sing songs you never could before!Erol Singer’s Studio is not only the most beginner-friendly voice training app on the market, but with its support for standard sheet music notation, accurate pitch analysis, and exercises for all levels of singers, it is also the most powerful one for more advanced singers.

“Certainly the best App for singers in the App Store! … A Killer App!”
– Apps4iDevices

“This is a near perfect system. I am thrilled with the scope and effectiveness of this app. … I’ll be sharing this with many others.”
– Forum comment on Vocal Health section of the User’s Manual

How I use the Erol Singers Studio App
BEGINNERS:

  • Listen to you to detect vocal range, and customize the lessons to a comfortable range for the students voice type. I use this feature from the first lesson; it makes the notes much easier to sing, which helps the student to focus on learning.
  • Shows when the student sings the right notes and help them sing on pitch
  • Teaches correct singing techniques that are widely used around the world
  • Allows practice that encourages the students that may be shy about singing in front of others.

INTERMEDIATE SINGERS:

  • Helps students identify and focus on parts of their range where have problems
  • Increases range and tracks progress
  • Improves the quality of their tone
  • Helps smooth vocal breaks
  • Improves musical ear

ADVANCED SINGERS:

  • Provides effective warmup/cooldown exercises
  • Keeps the voice in top shape with a thorough voice exercise program
  • Improves sight singing when following the music notation instead of the note bubbles
  • (Optional) See the “Ear Training for Singers” package mentioned below

AS A TEACHER:
– I’m not much of a piano player so scales and arpeggios take some concentration. This app gives me some great exercises I can use with my students so I get to focus on the student
– Helps my new students see when they’re flat

I hope you check it out. The price is right at $14.95 on iTunes. Erol Singers Studio is a serious tool that’s fun. The app that will truly improve your singing. It comes with 36 lessons included (covering beginner to advanced), with an option to buy more exercises such as the “Ear Training for Singers” bundle that includes an additional set of 60 exercises for scales, intervals, and arpeggios that will greatly expand your musicianship.

One Worship Leader’s Gear

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When I was just starting out, as a full-time worship leader, about 10 years ago, I wondered what kind of gear other worship leaders were using.  I’d go to conferences and ask lots of questions.  I’d stay after the sessions and snoop around the stage and I’d go to the local music store and try out this and that.  

Not being an experienced gear girl I was a bit overwhelmed at all the stomp boxes and other goodies out there but I did find some basic gear that suited my needs as an acoustic guitar player.  

I decided to put it down in this post for those of you who venture onto this blog looking for gear for worship leaders so here’s the scoop.  This is not a review of the gear nor is it an exhaustive description, but I hope this post will help some of you in your quest for just the right gear in your arsenal.

First of all and most important, a worship guitarist can’t be excellent for God without a tuner.  The tuner I recommend is the Boss TU-2.  This chromatic tuner is a kick and because it’s part of your gear board you can tune at any time since the Mute/Bypass is great for silent tuning.  A nice advantage when you want to tune during a set or even during a song while the rest of the band continues to play.

 

 

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Next in my string is the Line-6 DL4.  This stomp box contains 16 models based on legendary echo and delay boxes from the Maestro EP-1 Echoplex to the T.C. Electron 2290.  I use it mostly digital delay and for the loop sampler which I use for a few songs.  I just play a chord progression into the sampler and it will play back a continuous loop making it nice to “play over” a lead or another chord harmonic.   A big help when you lead alone and want to add some depth to your sound.  We’ve also used it for vocals.

 

 

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Finally, the Boss DD-6.  This Digital delay rounds out the sound so it doesn’t sound so sterile.  I usually keep it at the same setting since I’m not into a lot of effects.

 

 

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Well, that’s the basic string I use.  Nothing fancy, just enough to enhance what I do without drawing a lot of attention to my guitar.  Which works fine for me since I usually play alone.

Tech Tips- Techno Goodies!!!

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I don’t claim to know much about running a sound board or any of the other electronic stuff you tech heads have emersed yourselves into and I’m sure you would agree with me if I spent any time around you during setup and sound check. So, you may ask, “Why are you writing an article on a Techs Tips page?”

Well, I just have to say my piece about some things, I guess. And, today I want to talk about using computer technology during worship services.

With all the new uses for computers, graphics, software, videos and other media elements we are hard pressed to keep up with the rapid changes in presenting a worship service that is spiritually sensitive and yet effective. Our purpose is not to have every techno goodie out there operating within our church walls but to be ready to use the technology to better serve the Lord and His Church.

With that said, here’s some info that I thought would help us do just that!

On July 17, 2005, Calvary Chapel Perris Valley, had The Gutierrez Brothers from LA come and lead us in worship and praise. If you aren’t familiar with these brothers you are missing a real experience in latin flavored worship.

With the diversity of cultures in our fellowship the music set off a buzz in the crowd. Latin rhythms and guitars with harmonies to match… we were captivated and moved to worship the Creator.

Now, let me get to the point of this article. The two brothers only brought one guitar and one bass but they had a whole band. I realize that that is not unusual these days with computers and backup tracks but their band in a box was…. An iPod!!! Dunn, dunn, duuunn!!!

I spoke with Jose after the service and asked him how they were connecting the iPod into the sound system. It was too easy!

Equipment used included:
1 iPod plugged into….
1 adaptor cable that allowed them to go from the iPod to a quarter inch jack plugged into….
1 direct box plugged into the snake!!

That’s All Folks!

Art and Jose pre-recorded their songs minus the vocal, guitar and bass tracks. Added a click track to help count in at the beginning of a song and BAM!

From ipod to worship music in less than 4 moves. Wooo hooo!

So, are you ready to give it a try. I know I’m itching. But I did receive fair warning that you have to be good at keeping time and staying with the tempo of the track or else it will sound real bad no matter how good the equipment, recording or musical talent.

And, yet, another use for the iPod is born and once again I’m floored! Art and Jose did use a drum machine to enhance their sound.. but that, my friends, is another story for another time.

Surrendered,

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Continuity is King

One of our long time friends, Van Metschke, has for quite some time been a major assett to the greater church community through his expert ability to help churches with their technical sound needs. I have taken the liberty to insert one of his articles here at Worship One! For further reading you can go to his website at thesoundbooth.com

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Have you ever been sitting in a service in which you are not serving and wondered, "Wow, this sounds much different than last Sunday"? Maybe you have noticed that some weeks the complaints about the sound are "It’s too loud" and the next week "It’s to soft" and the next week "It’s just right". While this may be reminiscent of a fairytale, many churches have a real problem with services sounding vastly different from week to week.

Most people, when asked, will say that they like change but studies have shown that stress levels are lower in a familiar and stable environment. In church the way it sounds week in and week out is very important. People want to know what they are getting into when they come to church.

Think of this like going home at the end of a hard day. If the house is the same every day it can be a hiding place. Your favorite easy chair is in the same place and the TV remote is on the armrest, the same place you left it. If all is comfortable in you surroundings when you turn on the TV or pick up that novel, you will be more inclined to focus on the material in front of you. The same is true in church. If the sound and volume of the worship is consistent from week to week the stress level of the people in worship will be lowered. Consistency also keeps distraction to a minimum, which also makes people more receptive to the message of both song and speech.

One of the best ways to get continuity is to decide what is the vision for the service. The Pastor with the support of the worship leader MUST decide this, as the Pastor is responsible for the content of the service. It is a good idea to have a few special rehearsals and for the Pastor, music leader, all band members, worship singers, and most importantly the sound and production teams to be present. At these rehearsals the Pastor can share this vision so that everyone is on the same page. Some churches have even added service vision statements in the worship team manual that is given out to new team members.

What happens if you have several types of services on a weekend? If you have a traditional service and contemporary service, every traditional service should sound similar and like wise for the contemporary services. This means that a mix’s sound and style must be agreed on and approved by the Pastor and worship leader before hand and everyone who mixes must try to achieve the same mix. I know that this is easier said than done but if you will set you coarse to this goal, I guarantee that your services will improve on a weekly basis. This philosophy must be accompanied by the three most important traits in the music ministry, teamwork, a servant’s heart, and a commitment to excellence.

Teamwork means there can be no egos in the music ministry. Teamwork is the key to executing a well-planned service and it is crucial in those rare occasions (laugh here) when changes are made at the last minute. During the Purpose Driven Church Seminars a concert is giving just for the pastors that attend. This concert is a four-alarm Saddleback Church music event where every part of the music ministry is showcased. The typical fare is an orchestra, brass and rhythm sections, multiple soloists during each song backed by six singers, and a one hundred-voice choir. I am usually asked, after the concert is over, "How do you guys make it all work? This concert would have been a train wreck at our church." I always answer them the same way by telling them that we have a great team. The goal of a successful service needs to be number one in the minds of volunteers and staff alike.

A servant’s heart is also a must have for all team members. The tech team’s ministry is to the pastors and leaders of the church. Willingness to serve these people is key. I am not saying that you should be a "yes man" or a "doormat" but rather someone who serves and supports the vision God has given and the people he has given it to. There must be a willingness to take direction from the leadership of the church.

"Striving for excellence" has a great sound to it, but what does it really mean? It doesn’t mean that when the service has problems you have failed, it means that you and your team are always trying to do the best job possible. It also means that everyone should continue to grow in the knowledge of whatever position you serve in. Always trying to be the best you can be.

You will never be truly happy in ministry if you do not have these abilities. They are as important if not more important than pure skill. Of course a balance of all three is preferred and should always be the goal.

I have to insert a word to Pastors; it is vital that you build continuity into each service. The number one way to do this is planning. Some churches have four or five meetings about the weekend and the staff can’t get any work done while others are rewriting the order of service while the worship team is playing the first song. A happy medium between these two extremes needs to be found and that is no easy task but it is crucial if all of your people are to serve at their best. It is frustrating for those who serve to feel like they don’t know what is going to happen next, so communicate with your people.