From The Boiler Room: Patterns vs. Programming

Beat DesignerWith the arrangements and tempi decided, it’s time to start building up the tracks and, again, a decision looms.  I’m not a drummer, but I can program drums fairly well – I had a lot of practise back in the days of Freeway.  (As an aside, if you want to improve your drum programming, I’d recommend recreating the drum tracks to some of your favourite songs.  This will give you an invaluable insight into how drummers build up their parts.)  Not that I had a choice – MIDI libraries just weren’t available back then, especially for some of the more esoteric numbers we did.

But things are different nowadays.  [Read more…]


From The Boiler Room: Sketching An Arrangement [Video]

When I was thinking through my approach to recording the songs I’ve picked, I said I would be using the Chord Track in Cubase 7 to sketch out the arrangements.  I’ve done this, using just one keyboard sound that fits in with the song as I hear it in my head today.  I’ve not taken much time to pick the sound – what’s being used now is just the first sound that I came to that fitted.  I very much doubt that these sounds will feature on the final tracks; they’re just to give a voice to the chords.

The process was intentionally rough and ready, but the Chord Track works well with that approach.  Apart from editing out a couple of moments when my tongue tripped over my teeth, the video below is in real time.  It shows me setting up the Chord Track for the song “Too Far From Home”, starting with my default template and finishing with the song arrangement sketched out in full.


New Mix – “Invincible”

This is my mix of “Invincible”, a new song from LA-based singer/songwriter Daniel Sobrino.  It features more synths and electronic drums than other mixes I’ve included on the site, but is still driven by an acoustic guitar that runs throughout and some nice harmony vocals in there as well.

Momentary Max: -11.5 LUFS, Integrated: -16.4 LUFS, Range: 8.3 LU, True Peak -0.5dB


Video Tutorial – Alternate Drum Maps

In this second video of the series looking at drum maps in Cubase, I show you how to set up a drum map to remap the notes from an existing groove to work with an alternate VSTi that has a quite different drum mapping across the notes – without editing the notes themselves.  Setting up an alternate map in this way, once, means that it is possible at the click of a mouse to repeat the remapping without any further editing being required.


From The Boiler Room: Lockdown

LockdownThere’s such a thing as tempting fate.  I’m about to start a major project, (my new album), and don’t want to do anything that’s going to derail my creative train of thought before its even left the station.  So until this project is finished, nothing gets upgraded.  I’m locking down my DAW and VST installation until I get to the stage where the final song has been mixed and I’m happy with the results.

So, for the foreseeable future, I’m sticking to Cubase 7.0.5 and my VSTs in their current form, be it 64bit or bridged 32bit.  112dB just got in under the wire by releasing a 64bit version of Redline Monitor, which I’ve installed and verified, but other than that, we’re good to go.


Video Tutorial – Drum Maps In Cubase

In the first of a series of video tutorials looking at drum maps in Cubase, I look at how Cubase offers an alternative to the Key Editor when it comes to programming MIDI drums and set up a drum map to use in the Drum Editor, in this case for the EZ Drummer Indie Folk expansion.  However, you can set up drum maps for all VST instruments as an alternative to using the piano roll.


From The Boiler Room: Method In My Madness

Method In My Madness

Having eschewed my old way of working in favour of trying to keep multiple plates spinning at once, (how come you never see that on TV anymore – it was staple of Saturday night TV shows when I was a child?), I now have to decide where to start and how I’m going to develop the arrangements for each song and build up the parts for each member of my virtual band.

In the days when I was using Cubase 3.0, the starting point would be to set the tempo, (and time signatures), in the tempo track in Cubase, then block out the drum parts, followed by bass and keyboard parts.  Which actually doesn’t seem to be a bad way to go, (it worked well before), but it does lead you towards fixing the structure of the piece rhythmically before you start adding any melodic instruments.  Cubase 7 offers a different possibility that I want to try, to see if an alternative approach has anything to offer.

[Read more…]