Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Remix of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata 1st Movement

Remix of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata 1st Movement

Remix of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, first movement theme. Includes a classic motif from his 5th Symphony also.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Presenting at Vibe FM

I approached the manager of the college radio station and we agreed on a time and date for me to come into the studio and work being a DJ, playing songs and triggering jingles and advertising packages throughout the one-hour period.

·      Learn how a radio station works both technically and socially
·      To work on a one-hour radio slot
·      Gather further information about legal issues and details of outcome of FMP
·      Arrange with Station Manager and appropriate time and day to come in and work on a radio show.
·      Identifying and familiarising myself with technical equipment
·      Observe and learn the techniques involved in being able to manage a radio show independently.
·      Learning computer software programs used in radio production

To learn how the computer arranges playlists and adverts.

To discuss with the Station Manager about recording contracts, and artist/college copyright issues, pertaining to my Professional Practice Module.

I should be able to do the following here - learn how a radio station works, and also promote myself to the College audience - my target market.

Learn and put in place a standard copyright agreement between the radio and myself, the composer.

The Station Manager first of all introduced me to the equipment that is used to run a radio broadcast, these included media players such as Compact Disc and Mini Disc, as well as software based music databases and computer programmes. Other equipment included a compressor, mixing desk and condenser microphones to enable speech to the clear and bright in volume, for music and voice. I was able to learn how a playlist is put in order, and choose which advertising fits well with the preceding music.

I was also able to do a video interview with the Station Manager to ask him about feedback on the jingles that I have produced, and what work needs to be done to improve them.

My Reflection:

When I first arrived I was asking plenty of questions that a student needs to ask when either doing work-based learning or gaining knowledge in a negotiated project. The main important goals for me in this type of Foundation Degree project is to “make a nuisance" of oneself, that is, ask lots of questions, be inquisitive, research and develop not only the project but me as an individual.

I found the attitudes of the radio station management slightly puzzling. Maybe it's just me, but the questions I was asking were getting condescending answers, such as when I asked about a simple token contract that we should draw up stating who I am, and why I am writing jingles for the college radio station, just so I could fulfill part of the Professional Practice module that requires legal information to be researched, not necessarily having to make binding agreements with anybody in the real world, only if required should I be selling direct to market or a bona fide company etc.

I was told that “that's not how we do things here", and although I continued to explain the nature of this contract would purely be a token for the tutors, I ended up no further and was actually told the same answer 3 times, very helpful! It's rather surprising that, considering I have crafted a negotiated project from scratch which would not only give me a product and learning experience worth working towards, but at the same time provide a free jingles package for the college to play at their station whenever they want for however long they want to. These jingles can cost a lot of money if they are done ‘professionally’.

There certainly is nothing stopping me from reaching my goal of producing a jingles package using the latest production techniques that I have learnt so far on the courses I have done, and learning from talking to people in the industry.

My Strengths

·      Performing tasks asked of me
·      Remembering lots of technical info and putting it into practice first time, such as cueing up an ad and music before the news bulletin on the hour, (not a flexible time slot, as it is broadcast by Sky in London.
·      Fulfilling tasks quickly and effectively
·      Friendly and approachable behaviour
·      Professional conduct before, during and after the placement
·      Punctuality, being present well in advance for a briefing and other advice.

My Weaknesses

I don’t feel as though I have any weakness in this practice area, it came quite naturally to me, and I didn’t panic when I was executing the playlists and editing them. I think my only criticism is that I must expect a steep learning curve when working with other companies in understanding ‘underlying issues’, which may have been at work here, which hampered my communication with the management staff at the Vibe FM Radio Station.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

AVID Pro Tools 101 Training Course

This reading week beginning 13 January, I will be spending my time on a software qualification course called AVID ProTools 101 Training. 

Successfully passing AVID ProTools 101 qualification Certificate
Gain a better understanding of the ProTools 9 Software package
Put into practice skills that I have learned from other software packages.
Challenge myself to take a final exam, enabling me to gauge my level of learning so far.
Watch the training tutorials provided by my tutors
Listen and understand the qualified training staff and ask questions to gain a better understanding of the processes and tasks required for successful pass mark.
During this Reading Week, I will be taking part in a five day Certified ProTools 9 Training Course, and learn  about the program and it's features. Studying about audio interfaces, plug-ins available within the software, mixing and software instruments will be part of the course. 

We are going to be trained from qualified Avid personnel and on Friday we will be taking an online exam in which we need a 95% success rate in order to get the certificate. I would like to learn the ProTools 101 course because it is the industry standard recording software package in studios. I will gain a valuable qualification which would enable me to put on my CV that I have completed the course and that I am competent in using this software package.

I would rate highly the qualification as an important step in getting a job in a recording studio. If I can show competence with the use of the software, it will be far better than if I had no knowledge of this software as the college only has Apple's Logic Pro installed and I only have experience in using that software. Being able to manipulate both packages will make me more flexible in the studio and be a valuable asset possibly to future employers. 

By setting myself a target of completing the course, I am setting myself a realistic goal of being able to gain this qualification which will look good alongside my Foundation Degree in Creating Digital Media. 

Additional Links:

Pro Tools 101 - Introduction To Pro Tools 9

According to Avid, the following can be achieved by studying this course:
This Reading Week I attended a week-long course and examination for the Pro Tools 101 

This course covered basic Pro Tools principles. It provides everything I needed to complete a Pro Tools project-from initial set up to final mixdown. The course focused on Pro Tools software and covers a multitude of new functions and feature enhancements. 

This course is designed for the audio enthusiast with little to no Pro Tools experience.


At the end of this course, I will be able to:

 • Create a recording session
 • Make my first audio recording
 • Import media into my session
 • Make a MIDI recording
 • Select and navigate
 • Apply basic and mixed editing techniques
 • Finish my work
 • Create Music and Post hands-on projects

The Avid Pro Tools 9 Certified User Exam is the first of several certification exams that allows me to become Avid Certified.  The combined certifications offer an established and recognised goal for both academic users and industry professionals as shown in the graphic below. The graphic below illustrates your pathway to certification.

The Avid Pro Tools 9 User Certification requires that you display a firm grasp of the core skills, workflows, and concepts of digital audio editing on an Avid Pro Tools 9 system.

An Avid Certified User credential enables me to:

Demonstrate my fundamental competency in digital audio editing with Pro Tools
Differentiate myself from competitors and make my C.V. stand out
Leverage the power of the Avid brand by using my entitlement of Avid Pro Tools 9 Certified User logos on my digital correspondence and business cards
Confirm my credentials on Avid's 'Find a Certified Professional' online listing and with a paper Certificate of Achievement

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

BBC Radio Theme Tune Composition

BBC Ouch! Work Based Learning
I read an article describing a very lucrative gap in the market where instead of traditional songs or long pieces of music, short, catchy songs can be composed very cheaply. Apparently, there is a surprisingly large market for writing this kind of music, and this avenue I have already explored.
I had already contacted the BBC in the final year of my National Award. I noticed an opportunity where the theme for their radio show, called The Ouch! Talk Show, was a little dated and had the wrong lyrics in it.
Disabled journalists present the show, and features issues and information primarily of interest to the disabled community and their carers. I felt this would be a good opportunity for myself, being disabled, to show that people with disabilities can be as valid in the workplace and successful as anybody else.
I had the idea after listening to the show. I noticed they had changed the name of the broadcast from ‘Podcast’ to ‘Talk Show’, but still used a song with the lyric ‘Podcast’ in the signature tune. I decided to write in to the producer, who was very interested in listening to a jingle that I had written with better fitting lyrics, called the Ouch! Talk Show.
The URL for the show is here, where you can also download older episodes of the show, in which I was featured, in October 2009.
 I gave some information about myself, where I was studying and that this music project would help further my course. I was pleased to hear in their next broadcast that they spent a few minutes on an item featuring my song. They wrote to me, stating they would not be able to use the theme at this time, because they had already commissioned someone else to do a song before I managed to get my jingle to them. It took me many weeks to write produce and record the song.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, that last month (October 2010), they closed their show with my jingle once again, and so I wrote in to them a second time, because I am going to re-record the song in higher quality and with slightly amended words. This is because they are changing the program format from once monthly, to twice monthly, and the words need to reflect this.  I am now hoping that when I submit this new song, they will use it on a regular basis. I have already told them that I will not charge a fee for this song and they are very happy with this. I have constructed a package of the song, with shorter, and instrumental versions of the tune, for inserting during the show as well, for voice over purposes.
 I have learned that in order to gain a start in any profession, there is a need to give away some of your work, in order to secure a position in which you can make a living, in the long term this pays off.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Blue Jewel Live Band Recording

Band Recording

Blue Jewel Live Band Recording

Working with other musicians and P.A. staff recording a live gig.
Setting up a recording session.
Completing the placement in a professional manner.


Research live recording techniques both online, and asking questions to the tutors with experience of this.
Participate in a live computer based recording session, setting up equipment to do so.
Be responsible for making sure the recording is completed.
Record audio to hard disk for archiving and for submitting to Steve Banks.
Mixing a live recording of multi-tracks with acoustic and electronic instruments, using a variety of microphones and recording / mixing vocals.
Troubleshoot any problems quickly and in a professional manner
Diary Journal

On Saturday, 25 June, 2011 I agreed to attend the gig at around 3 PM, this was to set up my equipment and make sure I had a feed from the instruments going into the audio interface, which was then connected with FireWire to my Mac Computer. The recording software was Logic Studio and the gig lasted two hours.

We had managed to get everything up and running at around 6 PM and we worked with the PA supervisor and the tutor / drummer Simon Gregg to get our setup suitable for live music recording. I took some photos of the band and they are included with this blog to show the setup. I connected an audio interface from the desk to my Mac computer, and recorded the audio to hard disk.

The band consisted of:
Bass guitar

This was the first time I had recorded any live band and felt I needed this experience to learn if I want to do this again in the future. The audience seemed to enjoy the gig, with some 90 people attending which was a very good turn out for a Saturday night in Stoke Gabriel.

End of Placement Evaluation

I was surprised how easy it was to install and run the audio interface software without any technical issues at the time. Unfortunately the record level of the instruments was surprisingly low, however, they were enough get a good level in mixing.

Sadly, there was a technical issue which none of us spotted at the time, and the tutor was not aware of either. Because there was a lot of audio being recorded simultaneously, my hard disk and processor was not able to keep up with the amount of data coming through the FireWire input. I was unaware of this so cold not correct the fault at the time.

I should have rehearsed setting up the equipment beforehand, then I could have ironed-out any technical issues should they occur. Although I did ask the tutors in the recording studio if they thought my equipment was up to the task. They told me it was, and they dont' know why I have these problems. I did suggest a rehearsal setup but this was decided against as the tutors said it would be fine.

I chose this WBL task because I want experience in working with live bands, as recording live is a valuable asset to have, especially if it can be done with little cost. I did not get much recognition for my work that night, and it would have been nice to have been mentioned at the end of the night! I feel that student volunteering is of great value to performing arts, and should be valued just as much as people who are being paid for their services. I think I would be prepared to volunteer again, because the experience value is a priority over recognition and financial gain.

If my future work placements require me to do the same type of tasks again, i will have the knowledge to rehearse and look more deeply at the technical aspects of recording to eliminate problems.

The experience gained will help me decide if I would like to make a career in live recording. This type of placement is valid because I can make important contacts in the live music area, speaking and meeting like minded individuals, and perhaps be asked to record at another opportunity.This work placement would look good on my CV, showing I have the aptitude for recording a live gig.

I wanted to understand the responsibilities of a live recording engineer and learn about becoming a live recording engineer.

Monday, 7 February 2011

44 Gun - String Band Recording

Session - Monday 7th February 2011
Today we had the visit of a string band called 44 gun.
We were recording tracks for their new CD. This string band is a four piece outfit with instruments comprising double bass, banjo and guitar, violin & vocals. We set up a range of dynamic and condenser microphones for the instruments and also dynamic vocal microphones. We made sure the instrumentalists were comfortable, warm and happy in their surroundings so they could play in a relaxed manner.
What went well with this session?
We were able to set up and get recording in motion within half an hour or so and used a wide variety of microphones and placements using knowledge already gained from previous recording sessions
What didn’t go well?
The floor had no carpeting as we thought the sound might be better for recording purposes. This proved a problem with the instrumentalists needing to feet tap and acoustics weren’t great, so we put mats down and had to rewire some microphones so that cables were out of the way.
What did I learn from this session?
I learnt about various types of microphone and techniques for setting up acoustic instrument microphones and their positioning.
What did I ultimately get out of this session?
This will be a valuable lesson and session because our assignment brief indicates we must get many different microphone recordings, from different instruments and situations in order to get a good grade at the end of the year.
I believe this session has taught me a lot about acoustic instrument set up and how to use the digital recording equipment in various different setups depending on instrument setup, as usually we have a lot of MIDI instruments and digital sound sources which are entirely different in setup procedure.