With Flow 1.0, Mixed In Key steps out from behind the scenes and onto the main stage. The company’s first DJ performance software assists with harmonic mixing as you might expect, but it also trades in cue and loop points for new track Segments. Offering crossfading from Segment to Segment within the same track, and Energy ratings for each Segment, Flow was designed to change the way you think about DJing. Will it succeed? Enlighten yourself within. Reviewed: Mixed In Key Flow 1.0 DJ software Price: $58 Available: Now Supported Audio Formats: AAC (M4A), AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, MP3, WAV System Requirements: Windows 7 or 8; Mac OS 10.7.5 or higher The Good: Segment mixing is a cool and fun innovation that one must try to best...
We've seen exciting touch-based projects in the MIDI controller in the past - most notably the conductive Makey Makey board that allowed bananas (or any conductive object) to be turned into a simple trigger for any type of project. Bare Conductive, the team behind Touch Board, got their start making conductive paint that allowed users to build conductive circuits on walls, tables, and other unique surfaces. The Touch Board project takes the conductive circuitry to the next level, with a Arduino-compatible board that packs a solid feature set: Touch sensing - The world is your interface! Distance sensing - You don't need to touch your sensors to use them! Arduino-compatible - Easy to program and works with popular shields MP3...
Pioneer has just announced a brand-new version of the CDJ-900 line, adding on a NXS label and packing a brand new full-color LCD screen (pictured above: left, CDJ-900 NXS model, right, CDJ-900). The LCD screen actually has the highest resolution screen out of the entire CDJ line, and displays track information similarly to the CDJ-2000NXS, including waveform display, beat countdowns, and a phase meter. The 900NXS' also are totally compatible with Rekordbox, including playing tracks wirelessly off of smartphone and tablet installs of Rekordbox. This also includes the "controversial" cross-unit beat sync that was introduced on the CDJ-2000NXs units, as well as slip mode, quantize, and beat divide features. Watch the full demo of the...
Cubase iC Air, erm… artists’ rendering. Just about got that mix right. (Hold on – red ball. This track is not going to be premeditated.)
When it comes to big, flagship audio tools, you don’t get a whole lot of sci-fi in your software. That makes Steinberg’s announcements this week more of a change of pace. They aren’t the first to talk about virtual studio sessions, or even gesturally-controlled music. But seeing this as an add-on to Cubase, not just an experimental hack, counts as news.
And Cubase users can add on those futuristic capabilities in the form of two new tools.
You can fly through Cubase sessions with gestural controls using depth cameras (on Windows) or LEAP Motion (on Windows and Mac). And you can cross time and space by connecting remotely to Cubase projects – soon, even through your mobile device.
Cubase iC Air: Gestural Control
iC Air is a new add-on, available free, that lets Cubase 7 users (in any edition) control various parameters without touching a controller, simply by using hand gestures in front of a camera or sensor.
Right now, the most likely way to do that will be via the LEAP Motion hardware, because it’s readily available and compatible with both OS X and Windows. But the Steinberg engineers also support a set of developer tools from Intel called the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK 2013. That promises support with future depth cameras, including, at the moment, one made by Creative Labs. That’s mostly future-proofing, though, as you need to actually fill out a developer form to even get hold of the one camera that currently works. (More on why that’s interesting in a moment.)
Regardless of input hardware, you get the same basic capabilities. People aren’t doing the “devil horns” sign in the video just for dramatic flair; that’s actually a discrete gesture.
The Minority Report comparison here is apt, as this is the mode of interaction depicted in the movie: particular hand positions and gestures like zooming work much as the now-aging sci fi film predicted. (That’s because interaction experts consulted on the movie.)
Specific positions of your hand will control starting and stopping the transport. (Three spread fingers start, five – think Stop in the Name of Love – bring things to a halt.)
Make circular motions, and you “spin” the transport position in forward or rewind. Swipe horizontally or vertically to switch between tracks. Move your hand left and right with a gesture to control the shuttle.
Most impressively, spreading your fingers apart or bringing them close together controls zoom.
And the combination of zoom and transport means this could be genuinely useful when recording while, say, holding a guitar.
Sadly, giving your computer the middle finger (or two fingers, British folk) will not trigger undo/delete. Yet.
Of course, it’d be a missed opportunity if you couldn’t control other parameters, as well. Using Cubase’s “AI Knob,” you can assign gestures to free control of any parameters, for Theremin-style manipulation of things like effects levels. (It also disables the other gestures, so you don’t get overly confused.) On the LEAP, you hold your palm parallel to your desk and hold your hand above the LEAP sensor. When using a camera with the Intel tools, your palm faces your computer screen and moves up and down in the camera range. (It looks, therefore, like the LEAP has a slight edge, at least for now – but perhaps soon PC depth cameras will become more commonplace.)
Other than that, if you’ve got a licensed copy of Cubase 7, you can give this a go. We’ll be doing that soon in the studio with our LEAP.
CUBASE IC AIR [Downloads, documentation and info]
Now, as for the Intel dev tools, for now, you’re probably out of luck – even if you’re a developer. Developer kits are out of stock, and there’s no sign yet of the commercial Creative product, dubbed the Creative Senze3D, that I could find.
But Intel’s long-range plans for “conceptual computing” look fascinating. They include the sort of thing you’ve seen on Microsoft’s Kinect, but aimed at general PC audiences. (Microsoft promises some of that, too, but we won’t see general-purpose PC SDKs until next year, as far as the new Kinect camera. It’ll be interesting to see who delivers first, and most widely.)
And Intel, who years before the Kinect popularized computer vision with their OpenCV toolkit, have a lot of ideas in mind. They list speech recognition, individual finger tracking in 3D, facial analysis, augmented reality, and 3D point clouds in their sights.
See the SDK page for more info.
And if you do have Cubase and LEAP, let us know how this goes. Especially if you can do a good Tom Cruise impersonation.
The post Cubase Goes Futuristic: Motion Hand Gestures Control Music in Free Add-on [Details] appeared first on Create Digital Music.
The introduction is one of the most important parts of a song or composition. It’s your moment to grab the listener’s attention, make them want to hear more, and set them up for what’s to come.
Too often I’ve seen singer-songwriters begin every one of their songs by strumming out the chords from an entire verse, as if that’s just what they’re “supposed to do” without any thought to how boring that is to listen to.
In this tutorial we’ll examine introductions across a variety of styles, from pop to classical to film scores, and learn techniques for crafting introductions that do more than just take up time.
How Important Is the Introduction?
1. Why Have an Introduction?
The main function of an introduction is to establish the style and mood of the song.
The introduction to this cue from Final Fantasy establishes several key elements for us.
First, it’s quite clear that the piece is orchestral.
Second, there is a feeling of fanfare from the triplet figures in the brass which associates the piece with adventure and fantasy.
Lastly, the static movement on the dominant chord, as well as the motivic figures with no real melody, give us a feeling of tension and anticipation, setting us up to welcome the theme when it finally arrives.
An introduction can give you a moment to set the stage before you begin your main theme or verse. By setting up your main groove or instrumentation, you give the listener a chance to get their bearings and settle into the piece.
A strong introduction can grab your audience’s attention, and immediately say, “Hey, listen to me!”. We’ll discuss this further below.
An introduction can also be a way to establish contrast right at the beginning of your piece, thus highlighting certain elements of your song simply by juxtaposing them with opposites. For example, your tempo will feel faster if your introduction is slow. We’ll get into this more too.
2. When an Intro Isn’t Needed
You don’t always need an introduction. There are countless examples of songs that just get right into it without wasting any time. Two that come to mind are Lorde’s “Royals” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”.
What both of these songs have in common is that they begin with a solo vocal pickup. The human voice is a very powerful “instrument” for grabbing people’s attention, and it will usually pull in our ear right away. By starting with the voice unaccompanied, we are sucked right into the verse of the song and no other establishment is needed.Note: I’ve found a few versions of Royals, including the official US video, that starts out with the beat instead of the vocal. I find this to be a far less effective way to pull the listener into the song.
“Trepak” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcraker is an instrumental piece that begins without an introduction.
Tchaikovsky smacks you over the head with energy and excitement, he doesn’t need to establish the mood first. Rather than give you time to settle down and get comfortable, the theme starts right away and we are off and running.
How Do You Write an Introduction?
1. Use Material From The Song
Many times, however, you will want an introduction. The most natural way to get it is to use material that already exists in your song.
Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” begins with the first four bars from the verse, just without the vocal.
Although very simple, this manages to be an effective introduction because the synth is a fresh sound, and the dissonance in the fourth bar is interesting.
Notice that the song only plays through the pattern once, which is all that’s needed to say “Here it is,” without going the entire length of the verse.
You don’t always have to use your verse as material for the introduction.
The introduction to “What Does the Fox Say” is the background accompaniment from the pre-chorus. This time it’s without the voice or drums, but there is still plenty of activity and motion for it to sustain our attention.
In both examples that use material from later in the song, it is a stripped down version. Better to start with less and give yourself room to grow than use all your tricks right away.
2. Compose New Material
Some songs will use new material for the introduction that doesn’t come from another section. When that’s the case, it still has to be interesting on it’s own.
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” is an example of such a song, which begins with a guitar lick and pattern that doesn’t return anywhere else in the song.
The intro establishes the tempo and pace of the song, while also using all of the main instruments (except voice) to establish the style.
The guitar lick has an interesting rhythm and tone which is enough to grab our attention. Just the drums and rhythm section alone might establish the style, but it’s the lead guitar that provides something more substantive for our ear to grab onto.
The harmony is a persistent V chord which, just like the Final Fantasy piece, builds tension and suspense for the I chord to come and the song to actually begin.
The guitar lick follows the Rule of Three pattern; after the third time it’s played it doesn’t repeat but instead crescendos to the chorus.
Also interesting to note is that this song has a composed ending as well.
3. The Hook – Grab Their Attention
A great way to tell your audience “Listen up!” is to use a unique sound. Something that really stands out from the usual rhythm patterns and feels novel.
The opening chord from “Hard Day’s Night” is a classic example of a unique hook.
There is a lot of disagreement about what that opening chord even is, because it doesn’t fit our usual music theory conventions (Fadd9 over D seems to be the consensus). And that’s exactly what makes it stand out and make you sit up straight to pay attention!
4. Introductions For Contrast
Sometimes a song will have an introduction that is actually very different in character from the main music.
“That’s Amore” begins with a rubato, romantic and lush introduction.
The tremolo mandolin and guitar create an open suspenseful feeling, and the group of singers singing about Napoli and love give us a sense of the mood.
The introduction ends on a V chord which makes the main groove on the I chord feel strong.
Most importantly though, this introduction is slow and rubato, while the main song is medium-fast and has a feel-good sway. Sure, they could have begun the song right on that verse groove, but by contrasting it with the slow romantic feeling they make it feel even more fun.
“Rx” by Hiroyuki Sawano is an instrumental piece with a introduction that is similar in tempo to the main theme, but very different in function.
The introduction establishes a tempo, style, and groove. But as it develops more and more instruments add on to create a very complex texture. It’s almost like a marching band is wandering down the street and everyone is just playing whatever they feel like.
The beginning feels fun and wild, but also chaotic and uncertain. When it builds to a climax the music suddenly stops. And then out of the silence comes the main theme in unison.
Unison is not always a very interesting texture, but when contrasted with complete chaos it suddenly feels poignant and purposeful.
The sudden contrast of “many” to “one” is extremely powerful. Even when the rest of the orchestra kicks in after only a few notes, the theme now has our attention.
The main lesson from this introduction is contrast, and in order for contrast to be effective it is often best exaggerated.
5. Introductions to Introductions to Introductions…
There are many songs that have an introduction to the whole song, as well as introductions to different parts of the piece.
“That’s Amore” has a composed introduction using material that doesn’t return again later in the song. However once the main groove comes in there is also a four bar introduction before the vocals begin. The tempo is much faster, so those four bars take up proportionately less time than the slow beginning.
The beginning was nice for setting up a romantic mood and making the main beat feel faster, but the main groove also needs a moment to be established, and so the mini-introduction to that section allows us to reorient ourselves to the new tempo.
“Anakin’s Theme” from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace by John Williams is another example of a song that begins with an introduction for the entire piece, as well as a short introduction to the main theme.
The piece begins with a shortened version of the main melody, four bars instead of eight. It is also played by winds, which is a very contrasting color to the strings that carry the theme for the entire piece.
After this “main introduction”, the low strings establish the pacing and mood for the main theme.
Similar to Dobby, notice how the viola arpeggios get out of the way once the melody begins.
Some Final Advice
1. Keep It Interesting
The cardinal sin of writing music is to be boring, so even a small section like an introduction deserves to be worth listening to. Remember how “Wrecking Ball” used a very simple technique of borrowing the verse pattern, but there were elements present that still caught our ear.
The introduction to John WIlliams’ “Dobby the House Elf” from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has a little flourish in the flutes that grabs our ear.
Notice that the flourish stops once the melody starts. It gets out of the way to let the principal voice have space to be heard. Often composers will lay down an introduction, and then after four bars just stick their theme on top of it. But by removing the flutes, Williams gives the english horn melody room to be the main event.
The flourish has another effect beyond giving our ear something to focus on; it helps create a sense of playfulness.
2. Keep It Simple
Never let your introduction be confused with your main theme. The most effective ways to do that are to keep it short and keep it simple.
Use little motivic ideas that don’t develop into complete melodies, like “Dobby the House Elf” and the flutes.
This is why accompaniment patterns work as introductions; usually they are repetitive and motivic so they don’t mislead us into thinking they are a main theme.
Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony has an incredibly simple introduction of two punctuated staccato I chords, and then it’s off and running.
3. Write the Introduction Last
It is often wise to write your introduction after you’ve written the rest of the song. How can you introduce something if you don’t yet know what it is?
Instead of writing an intro and then trying to figure out what song goes after it, write your song.
Then figure out the best way to get your audience’s attention, establish the scene, and make your main event shine.