Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

h1

7 Tracks Remixed by Microsoft Songsmith

February 25, 2009

david-lee-roth_b

Microsoft’s Songsmith has become a cult phenomenon, but probably not how the software giant wanted it to be.

If you’ve never heard of it, Songsmith is a program that can give an automatic musical accompaniment to any vocal track you give the computer. The basic aim is give the karaoke singer the chance to live out their dreams and become an all-round musician. It launched in America with an astonishing promotional video (see below).

But as a Microsoft spokesman said recently, Songsmith is being “used in ways we haven’t quite imagined.” People have been taking the vocals from hit songs and then adding Songsmith backing tracks to them. The results are funny, bizarre and sometimes disturbing.

Below, here is our Top 20 tracks remixed by Songsmith. This post comes with a health warning. Listening to them all as I have just done might make you go a bit doolally. Please use the comments section to send in some of your favourites too.

1. Ozzy Osbourne: Crazy Train

If the train in question was filled with old bearded men with banjos. Yes, that crazy

2. The Police: Roxanne

I still maintain that a better move for Sting would have been playing the steel pans rather than the ruddy lute. This video proves that. Sort of.

3. Queen: We Will Rock You

In the vein of the Sex and the City theme music.

4. Notorious B.I.G: Dead Strong

Biggie Smalls does hip-harpsicord.

5. Van Halen: Runnin’ with the Devil

Club Jazz again. Watching Eddie Van Halen going thrusting about to this is particularly enjoyable

6. Survivor: Eye of the Tiger

Yeah, gimme some synth, yeah.

7. Weezer: Buddy Holly

Let us play an inherently catchy tune. But wait, we should scalpel out all the joy and those catchy bits. We’ll do that for a few minutes, and then contemplate suicide.

Update: Watch this promotional video for Songsmith, which is beyond parody. Also note that the the computer in the ad is a Mac. Oh dear, oh dear.

Source: Timesonline

h1

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 Software Upgrade – Step Up to the Most Powerful Pro Tools M-Powered Software Ever

February 20, 2009

ptmp8_callout

  • 48 stereo audio tracks* > up to 2 times more audio tracks
  • dedicated MIDI Editor window > greatly simplifies and streamlines MIDI sequencing
  • includes 5 new A.I.R. virtual instruments and 30 more plug-in effects > inspiring creative tools
  • powerful new Score Editor window > based on Sibelius notation engine
  • beautiful, redesigned user interface > new enhancements and customizability
  • elastic Pitch real-time pitch transposition > complements Elastic Time time-stretching
  • incredible new track compositing workflow > easily construct a perfect performance from multiple takes
Get ready for a revolutionary new way to work with Pro Tools® software. Pro Tools M-Powered™ 8 delivers a streamlined, customizable interface along with many new production tools and creative options. Work with up to 48 stereo audio tracks*. Create with five new A.I.R. instruments and 30 more plug-in effects. Create sophisticated notation with the new Score Editor based on the Sibelius engine. Work MIDI magic with the new MIDI Editor. Change audio pitch with the new Elastic Pitch real-time pitch transposer. It’s time to upgrade to the most powerful version of Pro Tools M-Powered ever.

Stunning New Look and Interactivity

With a sleek new look, Pro Tools M-Powered 8 is as easy on the eyes as it is to use. All of the Pro Tools M-Powered functionality you know and love is still in place—now with double the inserts per channel, more customizability, easier access to editing options and more. Customize the toolbar to show only your favorite tools, and rearrange them the way you want. Tile or cascade your window arrangement. Change the color of your channel strips, tracks, regions, groups and markers to any hue. Navigate through sessions quickly using the Universe view. And with the QuickStart dialog, you can jump right into an existing session, quickly create a new session from scratch, or start from one of the new session templates.

A Well-Stocked Studio

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 comes fully packed with a huge, comprehensive collection of music creation and sound processing plug-ins—giving you a well-stocked studio right out of the box. Create and play music with groundbreaking new virtual instruments, including the Mini Grand piano, Boom™ drum machine, DB-33 tone-wheel organ, and Vacuum and Xpand!2™ synths. Dial-up awesome guitar tone with Eleven™ Free and SansAmp. Play DJ with Torq® LE. Add character to tracks with 20 new A.I.R. effects. Make music with nearly 8GB of pro-quality loops. And with dozens of professional sound processing plug-ins and tools at your disposal, you can fix, enhance and polish your mixes with ease. See the complete list.

More Tracks Than Ever

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 expands the power of your current hardware interface, allowing you to work with up to 48 mono or stereo audio tracks. You can also add Music Production Toolkit 2 to create huge mixes with up to 64 mono or stereo audio tracks.

Score Your Music

Based on the Sibelius notation engine, the new Score Editor lets you view, edit, arrange and print MIDI data as music notation. Whether you want to compose music using the notation tools—or transcribe recorded, imported, drawn (with the Pencil tool) or step-entered MIDI data into notation—the Score Editor features everything you need and nothing you don’t. Write parts on a single staff—treble, bass, alto, or tenor clef—or grand staff. Place and edit notes, and edit the meter and key signature at whim. Add chord symbols such as Dm7 and guitar chord diagrams to sessions. Transcribe MIDI parts in real time. Print out a score in its entirety or print only certain instrumental parts. You can even export sessions as Sibelius (.sib) files for further finessing in Sibelius.

Complete MIDI Production

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 features a comprehensive array of new MIDI tools to streamline production with both virtual and traditional instruments. Gain extensive MIDI editing power through MIDI Editor windows, which can display MIDI and automation data for Instrument, MIDI and Auxiliary Input tracks. Work with new features that let you separate, consolidate and mute MIDI notes; scrub and shuttle through parts; view superimposed MIDI and Instrument tracks for easier arrangement editing; color code MIDI notes by track, type, or velocity; audition velocity changes; and play MIDI notes when tabbing. Edit MIDI automation and continuous controller (CC) data through multiple Automation and Controller lanes. You can even watch your musical handiwork scroll by in real time during playback.

Transpose Audio with Elastic Pitch

As a complement to Elastic Time, Pro Tools M-Powered 8 introduces Elastic Pitch, which allows you to you to effortlessly manipulate or correct the pitch of any audio region in real time, right inside the Edit window. Easily transpose an entire audio region in semitones +/- four octaves without affecting its timing or tempo. Fix a less-than-perfect vocal performance by altering the pitch of individual notes in cent intervals. You can also create cool sound effects by linking pitch changes with time compression/expansion using the Varispeed algorithm.

Comp Tracks to Perfection

Creating flawless performances is easier than ever with Pro Tools M-Powered 8. New track compositing features let you quickly and easily piece together the best possible version of a performance from multiple recording passes. Simply loop-record multiple takes on an Audio track, view and audition the takes in Playlist view, select the best parts from the track’s alternate playlists, and copy them to the main playlist with a single click. You can also rate regions on a scale of one to five to help identify which takes you like the most when compositing playlists.

New Editing and Mixing Capabilities

With Pro Tools M-Powered 8, your system has even more editing and mixing capabilities. Lock regions to the timeline to prevent them from being inadvertently moved or edited. Use the Automation and Controller lanes to view and edit track automation (such as volume, pan and plug-in automation) and MIDI CC data (such as velocity, pitch bend and modulation) without changing track views. And with ten inserts to play with per track, you can now use more plug-ins than ever before.

Expanded Hardware Control

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 deepens its integration with hardware controllers such as M-Audio® ProjectMix I/O and Digidesign® Command|8®. Now you can map plug-in parameter controls to almost any encoder on your controller, and access each track’s ten inserts.

More Great New Features

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 is chock full of many other amazing new features that’ll help you become more efficient, inspire your creativity and provide more flexibility for your workflow needs. For example, the new Check for Updates feature keeps Pro Tools M-Powered and your plug-ins up to date with the latest and greatest revisions. There’s also support for files up to 4GB in size, letting you work with longer files with higher sample rates. You’ll find even more with the most powerful update to Pro Tools M-Powered yet.


*Up to 64 simultaneous stereo or mono audio tracks with the Music Production Toolkit 2 option. Owners of the original Music Production Toolkit software option who upgrade to Pro Tools M-Powered 8 will automatically get support for up to 64 stereo audio tracks.

h1

Alesis USB Pro Drum Kit – Professional USB Drumset

February 18, 2009

alesis-usb-pro-drum-kit

THE ONLY DRUMMER-FRIENDLY CONTROLLER
Just plug the Trigger|iO interface into your Mac or PC’s USB port, load up the included copy of FXpansion BFD Lite, and you’re ready to play. Because USB Pro Drum Kit is MIDI compatible, you can track a performance, and then go back afterward and tweak your sounds. Try that with acoustic drums!

USB Pro Drum Kit also opens up a new world of software including BFD, Toontrack, and Reason to drummers and producers looking for realistic drum performances.

ADVANCED DRUM PADS
USB Pro Drum Kit’s acoustic-feeling drum pads are built around 8? mylar drumheads and acoustic-dampening foam for quiet response. The snare and tom pads are dual-zone, enabling rimshot or rim-click sounds on the snare and additional sounds such as wind chimes, cymbals, gongs, and cowbells on the tom rims.

When they wear out, the drumheads can be replaced with any model you choose from any manufacturer. The heads are tunable with a standard drum key for adjustable tension and feel. The triple-flanged counterhoops are covered in removable, sound-reducing rubber sleeves, which further cut acoustic noise.

USB Pro Drum Kit includes a self-standing kick tower, to which any model of single or double-bass-drum pedal can be attached. The kick pad also features a tunable, 8? mylar playing surface.

CYMBALS WITH BUILT-IN TRIGGERS
USB Pro Drum Kit comes with our top-of-the-line SURGE Cymbal Pack with choke: the only serious choice in cymbals for triggering electronics. The kit comes with a 12? SURGE Hi-Hat Cymbal, a 13? SURGE Crash Cymbal with choke, and a 16? SURGE dual-zone Ride Cymbal with choke. Based around a true brass-alloy cymbal and coated with a clear sound-dampening layer, SURGE Cymbals feel like acoustic cymbals because they begin life as just that. The Crash and Ride cymbals feature large choke strips on the undersides for even more attention to accurate cymbal control. The Ride features dual-zone triggers for bell-clanging nuance. And the SURGE Hi-Hat Cymbal is continuously controllable using the included pedal.

alesis-surge-cymbals-300x187

SURE-GRIP HARDWARE
The fully adjustable rack is built of 1?-inch metal tubing, which is standard throughout the drum industry. It’s easy to expand USB Pro Drum Kit with any manufacturer’s clamps and mounts. All necessary clamps, professional ?-inch cables, and mounting hardware are included. All clamps adjust with the included drum key. Pad-mounting L-arms feature non-round arms to eliminate slippage from playing. All of the hardware on USB Pro Drum Kit is designed for sure grip and extensive adjustability.

No other drumset blends the realistic feel and touch, with the sonic and creative flexibility USB Pro Drum Kit.

Alesis USB Pro Drum Kit Features:

  • Five-piece electronic drumset: kick, snare, three toms, SURGE Hi-Hat, Crash, and dual-zone Ride Cymbals
  • 8? drum pads with tunable mylar drumheads for customizable feel
  • Brass-alloy SURGE cymbals are real cymbals with triggering
  • SURGE Cymbals feature exclusive sound-dampening layer to cut the acoustic noise
  • Dual-zone snare and tom pads enable access to a wide palette of sounds from a standard setup
  • Choke capability on SURGE Crash and Ride cymbals
  • Ultra-fast triggering and intuitive operation
  • Interface accommodates up to 10 inputs including continuous control hi-hat
  • Easy to expand with additional Alesis pads and SURGE Cymbals
  • Includes BFD Lite virtual drum-module with sound library
  • Practice quietly with headphones or connect to a PA to rock out loud

Alesis USB Pro Drum Kit INCLUDES:

  • Trigger|iO trigger-to-MIDI interface
  • 8? dual-zone snare pad
  • Three 8? dual-zone tom pads
  • Bass drum pad with tower and mount for single or double pedal (pedal not included)
  • SURGE 12? Hi-Hat Cymbal
  • SURGE 13? Crash Cymbal with choke
  • SURGE 16? dual-zone Ride Cymbal with choke
  • Continuous-control hi-hat pedal
  • Metal drum rack with 1?-inch tubing
  • Complete set of firm-grip hardware mounts
  • Complete set of connection cables
  • Drum key
  • Software CD with FXpansion BFD Lite
  • Owner?s manual

Alesis USB Pro Drum Kit Specifications:

  • USB Computer Interface
  • 10-1/4″ TRS Trigger Inputs
  • 1- 1/4″ TS input for Hi Hat Continuous control messages
  • 1- 1/4″ TRS input for up/down value footswitch
  • USB 1.1 Jack
  • 1 MIDI Output
  • 20- Presets (can be overwritten)
  • Controller remapping support
  • Trigger|iO Dimensions: 8.5 inch W x 5 inch D x 1.75 inch H
  • Trigger|iO Weight: 1 lb, 15 o
h1

Touch Mix iPhone deadmau5 DJ-Remix App, from Future Audio Workshop

February 17, 2009

Touch Mix is a simple music app for the iPhone and iPod touch that lets you play, mix, and remix ten exclusive tracks by producer deadmau5. Now, of course, you’re unlikely to grab this in order to DJ nothing but deadmau5. (The all-deadmau5, all-the-time approach?) But the app demonstrates that iPhone-only artist releases can be a whole lot more fun than just a few tracks and some static album artwork. And it also shows off what a handheld DJ interface could look like, with a pretty efficient one-screen-per-deck design that doesn’t overwhelm your fingertips.

Features:

  • Two players, two sets of playback controls
  • Interactive display warns you as the next track is queuing
  • Separate crossfader, volume
  • Effects: loop, filter, flange, delay
  • Adjustable speed, bpm
  • Scratch, back spin by touching live waveform

Yes, that’s quite a lot more than simply plopping in some static content. Just guessing, but I imagine we could see this app applied to other music, as well. (What you can’t do — yet — is bring in your own waveforms, which would make all the difference.)

Touch Mix is the work of Future Audio Workshop, the folks who brought us the lovely drag-and-drop, OpenSoundControl-compatible Circle synth. FAW’s Gavin Burke had a chat with us about how he thinks about design. (If Touch Mix isn’t meaty enough for you, you can use your iPhone or iPod touch to control Circle in real-time; you’ll find an app that works with the popular TouchOSC to ease setup.)

Visit Deadmau5 Profile here

from Create Digital Music

h1

Logic, GarageBand users represent at the Grammys

February 13, 2009

300pxthief__radiohead

Among the winners that utilized Logic or GarageBand to make their albums were Coldplay (winner for Best Rock Album, Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals); Jennifer Hudson (Best R&B Album); Daft Punk (Best Dance Recording, Best Electronic/Dance Album); Estelle featuring Kanye West (Best Rap/Sung Collaboration); and Radiohead (Best Alternative Music Album).

Nominees that didn’t walk away with one of the coveted awards, but still used Apple gear included M.I.A., Sara Bareilles, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Death Cab for Cutie, Rihanna, and Marcus Miller.

death_cab_for_cutie_announces_album_release_sort_o_432x299

Two of the nominees, Sara Bareilles and OneRepublic, are also featured in GarageBand’s Artists Lessons.

51st GRAMMY performances by Coldplay & Jay-Z, Jennifer Hudson and Katy Perry available for download

Starting today music fans will have the opportunity to purchase and download select performances from the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards. Three special “GRAMMY Moments” from Music’s Biggest Night are now available exclusively on the iTunes Store (audio and video) and internationally through Nokia Music Stores (audio only). These include performances by seven-time GRAMMY winners Coldplay with seven-time GRAMMY winner Jay-Z (“Lost”/”Viva La Vida”), two-time GRAMMY winner Jennifer Hudson (“You Pulled Me Through”), and GRAMMY nominee Katy Perry (“I Kissed A Girl”).

jay-z1

“This represents yet another important step in The Recording Academy’s continually evolving digital strategy,” said Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer, The Recording Academy. “Ours is some of the most dynamic music content anywhere, and we want fans to be able to experience these GRAMMY Moments during the GRAMMY telecast and throughout the year.”

The exclusive performances can be purchased and downloaded beginning today on iTunes, at 99 cents each for audio and $1.99 each for video. The audio tracks of the performances also are available internationally in 13 countries through Nokia Music Stores.

http://GRAMMY.com
http://www.macworld.com

h1

GarageBand ’09: An in Depth Look

February 13, 2009

138701-garagebandmagicgb_original1

Make and learn music with the latest GarageBand

Unless you have an active interest in producing podcasts or creating a musical score, it’s likely you’ve opened GarageBand once and then never bothered with it again. Of all the programs that make up the iLife suite, none is more overlooked than this application. And, given its original focus, that’s not too surprising. Making music requires a skill not common in the general population of computer users.

Lessons are well presented and move quickly toward learning songs; multiple views in lessons; guitar amps and stomp boxes are intuitively presented and sound good; Magic GarageBand supports recording; interface reorganization makes it easier to locate features.

No MIDI control of stomp boxes; can’t have more than one GarageBand project open at a time; no improvement in notation printing from last version.

138701-garagebandproject_original

And so, with each version, Apple tries to explore a different angle, hoping to bring in a new audience for GarageBand. Two versions ago, with GarageBand 3 (), it was podcasting. In GarageBand ’08 (), Apple introduced Magic GarageBand, a feature that allows you to jam along with a canned band. With GarageBand ’09, the new lure is guitar and piano lessons—nine basic lessons for budding musicians as well as a handful of optional artist lessons for learning specific songs by such well-known musicians as Norah Jones, John Fogerty, and Sting.

Veteran GarageBand users who’ve already mastered their axes aren’t left out of the mix. Guitar players now have the opportunity to play through five newly modeled amplifiers and a host of stomp box audio effects. Players who were frustrated by Magic GarageBand’s inability to record what they noodled will be pleased to learn that recording is now part of the magic. And, regardless of who opens the application, users will discover a redesigned interface that makes existing features easier to find.
Lessons learned

The marquee feature of GarageBand ’09 is Learn to Play, the application’s basic and artist piano and guitar video lessons. GarageBand ’09 includes the first basic guitar and piano lessons. You can obtain eight additional free lessons for each instrument by choosing the Lesson Store entry in the New Project window, selecting the Basic Lessons tab, and then clicking the Download button next to the lessons you want to download from the Internet. Artist lessons are obtained similarly, but cost $5 each. Unfortunately, these lessons work only on Intel Macs with a dual-core processor, though the rest of GarageBand ’09 works with PowerPC-based Macs.

Each basic guitar and piano lesson is taught by “Tim,” an approachable instructor who begins with the physical layout of each instrument and, in later lessons, walks through the basics of playing the instruments. For the piano lessons this includes left and right hand notes and fingering, sharps and flats, rhythm, major and minor chords, and scales. The guitar lessons include basic major and minor chords, major and minor barre chords, strumming, single note melodies, and power chords.

Nearly every lesson ends with a song that you’re welcome to play along with. Each lesson also includes a Play section that allows you to play along with the teacher (and record what you play). The lessons are nicely produced, well paced, and presented in a way that you can easily zero in on exactly what you’d like to see. You can, for example, use the Mac’s number keys to switch views. In the piano lessons, nearly every view includes Tim at the top of the window and a keyboard at the bottom. But you can switch views to see the treble clef, bass clef, grand staff (both clefs), or chords in between Tim and the keyboard. In the guitar lessons, there’s Tim above and a fretboard below with switchable views that include guitar chord boxes, chords, tablature, and notation. Lefties can also change the orientation of the fretboard at the bottom of the screen.
You can view the instructor, instrument, and music in a variety of ways.

138701-garagebandlesson_original

When Tim plays, you can see what he’s playing reflected on the piano keyboard or fretboard at the bottom of the screen—when he places his third finger on E above middle C, for example, a blue 3 appears on the keyboard’s E key. It works similarly on the fretboard—when he fingers a chord, those frets associated with the chord gain a blue dot and the strummed strings vibrate.

When you plug a MIDI keyboard into your Mac, it becomes available to GarageBand, allowing you to play a piano sound within the lessons. If you’re using a guitar, you tell GarageBand whether you have an electric guitar plugged into an audio interface attached to your Mac or you’re using an acoustic guitar and a microphone. GarageBand will record it accordingly. You can switch on a metronome as well as slow down the speed of the music so it’s easier to play in time (when you adjust the tempo, Tim’s voice is muted). You can also change the sound mix, adjusting the teacher’s voice, teacher’s instrument, the band (and each instrument within the band), and the volume of your instrument. You can also loop sections of lessons so you can repeatedly practice them.

The Artist lessons are just as beautiful to look at and offer the same kind of interactivity. The teaching ability of the artists varies—some are more thorough instructors than others. Norah Jones, for example, speaks as if she’s had formal musical training and explains the way she voices her chords by describing their position (root, first, or second position). One Republic’s Ryan Tedder doesn’t offer this level of detail but rather shows you how he plays a particular chord. Sting assumes you know how to make more complex chords on the guitar and so simply tells you the chord names and shows you how to finger them. Not surprisingly, none of the artists completely agree on technique so you may see them do something—finger a chord, for example—that contradicts something Tim has taught you.

Some of the artist lessons are offered in both Simple and Advanced versions, allowing both beginning and experienced musicians to get some enjoyment from them. And each artist lesson includes a video of the artist speaking about the song or another subject close to their heart. (Norah Jones doesn’t touch on her song at all, for example, but rather discusses the advantage of hauling a relatively portable Wurlitzer electric piano to a gig versus the back-breaking Fender Rhodes.)
Getting you started

GarageBand’s approach to teaching piano and guitar is an intriguing one—providing enough information to have you playing a song as quickly as possible. It’s a great approach for giving nascent players the kind of success they need to keep at it, but there are compromises as well. Some subjects aren’t covered very deeply and, of course, there’s no one standing over you to check on what you’re doing. But depth isn’t what Learn to Play is about. Rather, it’s a starting point for learning to learn how to play.

Fortunately, you have other choices as GarageBand ’09 isn’t the only instructional game in town. You can get more in-depth computer-based lessons from iPlayMusic, iPerform3D, and eMedia Music. And iVideosongs offers some beautifully filmed artist lessons. (I discuss some of these and other instructional methods in Learn to Play an Instrument.) Of course, there’s still no substitute for a real teacher who can give you customized assignments based on your ability.
Rock on

In previous versions of GarageBand, you could play real instruments through the program’s amplifier simulations (or apply those simulations after the fact) as well as apply effects to that instrument. But many people missed these features as they weren’t easy to find. GarageBand ’09 includes interface changes that make many features more obvious (as I discuss later), and none more so than the guitar amps and effects. Not only did GarageBand’s designers bring these guitar features to the fore, but they completely rebuilt the amps and effects from the ground up.

These features are found in the new Electric Guitar tracks. These tracks are real instrument tracks that place one of five amp models (modeled after Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Vox, and Fender Combo and Tweed amps) front and center. You can easily change amps as well as adjust the settings of each amp—the amps carry knobs for adjusting Gain, Bass, Mids, Treble, Presence, Master, Output, Reverb, Tremolo Rate, and Tremolo Depth. (Those who find adjusting virtual knobs clumsy with a mouse will be happy to learn that you can click on a knob and then twist it by moving a mouse’s scroll wheel up or down.) You can also edit the amp’s master echo and reverb settings. The work that went into these amp models is apparent—they sound very much like the real deal, complete with noise when you’ve cranked them up.

The new Electric Guitar tracks support modeled amps and stomp box effects.

Electric Guitar tracks use stomp box effects—effects modeled after the small effect boxes that routinely litter the floor around electric guitar players. Stomp boxes include Phaser, Overdrive, Distortion, Fuzz, Chorus, Flanger, Vibrato, Filter, Delay, and Sustain. You can have as many as five stomp boxes at a time and changing the position of where the stomp boxes appear in the interface changes the sound coming from the track (so the boxes work in serial order). Each stomp box includes an On/Off switch as well as knobs for adjusting the parameters of the effect. The stomp boxes also sound very much like the real deal.

You’re welcome to create your own arrangement of amps and stomp boxes, but before you do you might care to try one of the 37 included presets. If you want to sound like The Edge from the early ’90s, for example, choose Dublin Delay. Dick Dale wannabes can dial in Surf, which features the Combo amp with a fair bit of amp reverb and tremolo and a Sustain stomp box.

Before you toss your outboard gear in favor of GarageBand’s amps and stomp boxes, note this crucial omission—like much of the rest of GarageBand, amps and stomp boxes can’t be controlled via MIDI, and that’s a shame. Guitar players like to kick in effects as they play and the only way to do that in GarageBand ’09 is to take your hand off the guitar and click a stomp box’s virtual buttons. You can control parameters for stomp box effects after the fact using GarageBand’s automation controls, but it’s not the same thing. Electric Guitar tracks demand some way to stomp a real switch while you’re playing and a MIDI controller is the means. It’s time, Apple.
Additional enhancements

Magic GarageBand has seen some needed improvements. While the band is still limited to the same nine songs as before, you can now record what you play and export that recording as a multitrack project in the usual GarageBand interface. You also have the ability to shuffle the backing instruments by clicking anywhere other than on an instrument. This makes for some unexpected (and sometimes welcome) combinations. You can also now mix the levels of each instrument as well as quickly mute or solo each one with the click of a button. And you can choose any software instrument sound you like as your instrument when playing through a MIDI keyboard. You’re no longer limited to a handful of instruments as you were in GarageBand ’08.


Magic GarageBand now lets you record your part and mix the band.

Finally, Apple has rejiggered the look of GarageBand in helpful ways. It now bears the same gray tone as Aperture () and Logic (). The New Project window contains a broader variety of projects including Piano, Electric Guitar, Voice, Loops, Keyboard Collection, Acoustic Instrument, Songwriting, Podcast, and Movie, making it easier to start with a template configured for the kind of project you want to create. For example, choose Podcast and the resulting GarageBand window is populated with Podcast, Male Voice, Female Voice, and Jingles tracks. (Regrettably, you still can’t have more than one GarageBand project open at a time.)

When you add a new track, you see a redesigned window that lets you easily choose a Software Instrument, Real Instrument, or Electric Guitar track. Loops are now found on the side of the main window rather than below. Effects are no longer hidden at the bottom of the Info pane but rather available from an obvious Edit tab in the Info pane. And text is larger throughout the interface. Taken together, it’s easier on the eyes as well as easier to find the functions you’re after. Veteran GarageBand user though I may be, with the new interface I was able to find features I’d forgotten existed.
Macworld’s buying advice

As a musician and podcaster, GarageBand remains one of my favorite iLife ’09 applications—I’m able to pull compelling results from the program without a lot of work or worry. Nothing about the latest version changes that. What GarageBand ’09 brings to the table is the possibility that more people—specifically those looking to get some use from a guitar or keyboard crammed in a closet or electric guitar players seeking a more authentic sound—will stick around for a second look.

[Senior editor Christopher Breen at Macworld]

h1

Auto-Tune: Why Pop Music Sounds Perfect

February 11, 2009

If you haven’t been listening to pop radio in the past few months, you’ve missed the rise of two seemingly opposing trends. In a medium in which mediocre singing has never been a bar to entry, a lot of pop vocals suddenly sound great.

Autotuner brigade

Better than great: note- and pitch-perfect, as if there’s been an unspoken tightening of standards at record labels or an evolutionary leap in the development of vocal cords. At the other extreme are a few hip-hop singers who also hit their notes but with a precision so exaggerated that on first listen, their songs sound comically artificial, like a chorus of ’50s robots singing Motown.

The force behind both trends is an ingenious plug-in called Auto-Tune, a downloadable studio trick that can take a vocal and instantly nudge it onto the proper note or move it to the correct pitch. It’s like Photoshop for the human voice. Auto-Tune doesn’t make it possible for just anyone to sing like a pro, but used as its creator intended, it can transform a wavering performance into something technically flawless. “Right now, if you listen to pop, everything is in perfect pitch, perfect time and perfect tune,” says producer Rick Rubin. “That’s how ubiquitous Auto-Tune is.” (Download TIME’s Auto-Tune Podcast from iTunes)

Auto-Tune’s inventor is a man named Andy Hildebrand, who worked for years interpreting seismic data for the oil industry. Using a mathematical formula called autocorrelation, Hildebrand would send sound waves into the ground and record their reflections, providing an accurate map of potential drill sites. It’s a technique that saves oil companies lots of money and allowed Hildebrand to retire at 40. He was debating the next chapter of his life at a dinner party when a guest challenged him to invent a box that would allow her to sing in tune. After he tinkered with autocorrelation for a few months, Auto-Tune was born in late 1996.

Almost immediately, studio engineers adopted it as a trade secret to fix flubbed notes, saving them the expense and hassle of having to redo sessions. The first time common ears heard Auto-Tune was on the immensely irritating 1998 Cher hit “Believe.” In the first verse, when Cher sings “I can’t break through” as though she’s standing behind an electric fan, that’s Auto-Tune–but it’s not the way Hildebrand meant it to be used.

The program’s retune speed, which adjusts the singer’s voice, can be set from zero to 400. “If you set it to 10, that means that the output pitch will get halfway to the target pitch in 10 milliseconds,” says Hildebrand. “But if you let that parameter go to zero, it finds the nearest note and changes the output pitch instantaneously”–eliminating the natural transition between notes and making the singer sound jumpy and automated. “I never figured anyone in their right mind would want to do that,” he says.

Like other trends spawned by Cher, the creative abuse of Auto-Tune quickly went out of fashion, although it continued to be an indispensable, if inaudible, part of the engineer’s toolbox. But in 2003, T-Pain (Faheem Najm), a little-known rapper and singer, accidentally stumbled onto the Cher effect while Auto-Tuning some of his vocals. “It just worked for my voice,” says T-Pain in his natural Tallahassee drawl. “And there wasn’t anyone else doing it.”

VIEW AUTO-TUNE PRODUCTS AT DOLPHIN MUSIC

h1

Cakewalk® Announces Free SONAR 8.3 Update

February 11, 2009

Free update adds new features and continues company’s mission to provide timely updates to best support our customers…

Cakewalk has announced a free update for SONAR 8 Producer and SONAR 8 Studio. The 8.3 Update will be available in February as free a download for registered SONAR 8 customers.
The SONAR 8.3 Update adds new usability enhancements, engine optimizations, classic Roland® sample content for Dimension Pro and Dimension LE, and drum kits for Session Drummer 2. In addition, the update addresses various performance issues reported by customers after SONAR 8’s initial release.

The SONAR 8.3 update will include:

Snap Presets: SONAR has always provided flexibility in snap settings, allowing for audio and MIDI edits to specific musical or absolute times (to snap points, or by time intervals), clip events, transients, and markers. SONAR 8.3 introduces user-defined ‘Snap Presets’ that can instantly recall all of these settings in one click, providing a fast, efficient way to incorporate many edit type combinations into your workflow.

External Inserts: Allow you to insert outboard gear into your projects, while providing sample accurate delay compensation. New optimizations for SONAR 8.3: improved sync when mixing external hardware with other plug-ins that require delay compensation; multiple external inserts can be used in the same project; improved stability on multiprocessing machines; and improved sync while looping. The “ping” test has also been improved to consistently return sample accurate offsets without any further adjustments.

Optimized multiprocessor load balancing: More efficient handling of multithread processing for improved CPU utilization and better overall performance.

Aim Assist enhancements: SONAR’s visual guide for precision editing can now follow snap settings or automatically align to clip starts and ends.

Vintage synth sounds for Dimension Pro: Original samples of the legendary Roland SH-101, TB-303, and VP-330, along with classic sounds of the Arp Odyssey, Moog Minimoog and Sequential Circuits Prophet5.

Classic Drum kits for Session Drummer 2: Genre-defining original samples of the classic Roland TR-707, TR-727, TR-808, and TR-909 drum synthesizers, along with kits from Sequential Circuits Drumtraks and Linn Electronics LinnDrum.

Guitar Rig 3 LE and TruePianos Amber Module updates: Offering support for Windows Vista x64.

A comprehensive list of all feature enhancements and refinement of the user experience will be posted when the SONAR 8.3 Update is released in February, 2009. All of the new features found in the SONAR 8.3 Updates are a direct result of active dialog with our users. Cakewalk’s delivery of timely product updates is an extension of Cakewalk’s commitment in providing the very best in product support for our customers.

Availability
The 8.3 Update for Windows XP and native Vista (32-bit & 64-bit) versions of SONAR will be available as a free download to all registered SONAR 8 customers at www.cakewalk.com  February, 2009.

View Cakewalk Sonar 8 at Dolphin

h1

Cubase 5 : The New Features ‘ A Guide’

February 10, 2009

0b18cd1972

Cubase 5 – Advanced Music Production System

Cubase 5 comes with fully integrated new tools for working with loops, beats and vocals, such as LoopMash and VariAudio, combining with new composition features and the first VST3 convolution reverb to take musical creativity to new heights. With stunning innovations and additional enhancements that boost productivity and performance, Cubase 5 represents the absolute cutting edge in digital audio workstations.

Beat Creation and Loop Mangling

Cubase 5 features outstanding new tools for creating beats, generating exciting new rhythms and working with loops.

Find out more

Vocal Editing and Pitch Correction

Cubase 5 comes with an amazing new toolset for perhaps the most important element in any song: the vocals.

Find out more

New Dimensions for Your Mix

Cubase 5 has numerous new features that will help you bring new depth to your mix — in more ways than one.

Find out more

Express Creative Visions

With Cubase 5, Steinberg has innovated even further to offer even more creative compositional tools.

Find out more

Next-Generation Performance and Faster Workflow

Cubase 5 also includes an array of additional new ways of working faster, with added performance that takes advantage of new technologies.

Find out more

Further Improvements and Added Value

Cubase 5 comes with redesigned and enhanced features plus many new handy tools and functions.

h1

Playa – a hip hop virtual instrument plug-in

February 6, 2009
cdplaya


Playa – a hip hop virtual instrument plug-in for MAC and PC packed with fat sounds, pro features and an interface that is ridiculously easy to use.

Whether you’re using a midi keyboard, MPC pad controller, or just your computer by itself, Playa gives you serious control over your music. Welcome to music and beat making paradise!


Playa serves up over 450 instruments and pad layouts, all in an interface that’s guaranteed to have you laying down cutting edge beats and music in no time. Playa interfaces seamlessly with your DAW and midi controllers so you can just it hook up and start laying down grooves the way you’re used to. Like a glove, Playa fits your style.

MP3 DEMOS

The Dark Playa by Eric Barlaan – 2,453k

Cinamatic Interlude by James Semple – 1,799k

DFreshhh Playa – 6,057k

West Meets East Part 1 – 3,231k

West Meets East Part 2 – 3,102k