Thursday, July 31, 2008

G# Chord Progressions: Relative Minor Substitutions

Remember the "Dirty Dozen" (see sidebar for more info) Key of G# from last time:

I. G# major
ii. Bbm
iii. Cm
IV. C# major
V. Eb major
vi. Fm
vii(b5). Gdim

(Remember that it's not orthodox notation to include both sharps and flats in the same scale.)

Each major chord in the key of G# has a relative minor that might sound great instead of playing the major chord, and vice versa. What? In other words...

I/vi: G# major could possibly be substituted with Fm
IV/ii: C# major could possibly be substituted with Bbm
V/iii: Eb major could possibly be substituted with Cm

Instead of playing I-V-IV-I, for instance, try the following permutations (not an exhaustive list), but we'll start with the original progression:

I-V-IV-I: G# Eb C# G#
I-iii-IV-vi: G# Cm C# Fm
I-V-ii-I: G# Eb Bbm G#
vi-V-IV-I: Fm Eb C# G#
vi-iii-ii-vi: Fm Cm Bbm Fm

Substituting a major chord with its relative minor (and vice versa) might liven up a boring progression with a less boring progression (albeit still widely used).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

G# Chord Progressions: I IV V vi

Remember the "Dirty Dozen" (see sidebar for more info) Key of G# from last time:

I. G# major
ii. Bbm
iii. Cm
IV. C# major
V. Eb major
vi. Fm
vii(b5). Gdim

(Remember that it's not orthodox notation to include both sharps and flats in the same scale.)

Now that you already know about I-IV-V (look above or refer to yesterday's entry), we'll bring in the vi chord in G# major: F minor. Several popular chord progressions include some sort of combination of the I, IV, V, and vi chords.

As I-vi-IV-V: G# Fm C# Eb

As I-vi-V-IV: G# Fm Eb C#

As IV-I-V-vi: C# G# Eb Fm (Alternatively, I-V-II-iii)

As V-vi-IV-I: Eb Fm C# G# (Alternatively, I-ii-bVII-IV)

As vi-IV-I-V: Fm C# G# Eb (Alternatively, i-bVI-bIII-bVII)

As vi-I-V-IV: Fm G# C# Eb (Alternatively, i-bIII-bVI-bVII)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

G# Chord Progressions: I IV V

G# and Ab are enharmonic. Therefore:

I. G# major
ii. A#m
iii. B#m
IV. C# major
V. D# major
vi. E#m
vii(b5). F##dim

It's ridiculous to speak in terms of the Key of G# Major because there are not one, not two, not seven...but EIGHT SHARPS in this scale! So, let's rephrase the list to cut down on the amount of sharps:

I. G# major
ii. A#m
iii. Cm
IV. C# major
V. D# major
vi. Fm
vii(b5). Gdim

It's not technically correct to have a natural and sharp/flat of the same letter in the same scale, but it definitely simplifies things memory-wise to deal with only the letter names: C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb, and B. It simplifies things even more if you selectively choose a the sharp names over flat names, and vice versa: C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, Bb, and B. So let's rephrase this again, in a way that mostly guitar players would recognize:

I. G# major
ii. Bbm
iii. Cm
IV. C# major
V. Eb major
vi. Fm
vii(b5). Gdim

It's not technically correct to include flats in a sharp key (and vice versa), but it definitely helps to only have 12 note names instead of 24+ (due to double sharps). Anyhow...

Many, many, many, many chord progressions in popular music contain some permutation of the I-IV-V progression, and since we're talking about the key of G#:

I-IV-V can be replaced by the G#, C#, and Eb major chords.

You can change the order of the chords for some familiar-sounding progressions:

As I-IV-V-IV-V: G#, C#, Eb, C#, and Eb chords.

As I-V-IV-IV: G#, Eb, C#, and C# chords.

As IV-I-V: The C# Lydian-sounding C#, G#, and Eb progression. (Also referred to as I-V-II.)

As V-IV-I: The Eb Mixolydian-sounding Eb, C#, and G# progression. (Also referred to as I-bVII-IV.)

All this looks a lot like high school algebra, but it sounds better than it looks (pun intended).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ab Chord Progressions: Basic Triads

If you remember from previous entries, the Ab major scale consists of the Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, and G notes. This scale will relate directly to the simple triads (that is, three-note chords made of the root, major/minor third, and diminished/perfect fifth notes) in the key of Ab major (please refer to this website or elsewhere for more information):

I. Ab major (made of the Ab, C, and Eb notes);
ii. Bb minor (Bb, Db, and F notes);
iii. C minor (C, Eb, and G notes);
IV. Db major (Db, F, and Ab notes);
V. Eb major (Eb, G, and Bb notes);
vi. F minor (F, Ab, and C notes); and
vii(b5). G diminished (G, Bb, and Db notes).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

G#sus4/D# (Guitar, Intermediate)

The chord illustrated above is actually the second inversion of the G# suspended-4th chord, as the perfect fifth (D#) is the bass note of the voicing:

A string: D# (perfect 5th)
D string: G# (root)
G string: C# (suspended 4th)
B string: D# (perfect 5th)

But to clarify that it is a certain chord with a non-root bass note, we use the slash-note designation: G#sus4/D#.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

C# Chord Progressions: iii and III Substitutions

Db and C# are essentially the same key, as they contain the same notes, but with different names. Those keys are called enharmonic:

I. C# major
ii. D#m
iii. E#m (we'll refer to this as Fm for simplicity's sake)
IV. F# major
V. G# major
vi. A#m
vii(b5). B#dim (we'll refer to this as Cdim for simplicity's sake)

The C# major diatonic scale is as follows: C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C# (again, E# is better known as F, and B# is better known as C)

Therefore, the relative minor of C# major (the chord and the scale) is A# minor.

The A# natural minor scale is as follows: A# B# C# D# E# F# G# A# (compare with C# major).

The A# harmonic minor scale is as follows: A# B# C# D# E# F# G## A# (note the singular difference between the natural and harmonic minor scales, and that G## is usually referred to as the A note).

Now we have those ground rules established, it might help in the songwriting process to substitute the mellow iii chord with a more confident III chord. Going back to the simple relative minor substitutions from last time, let's try the following progression:

I-V-I-V-IV-V-I (I-V): C# G# C# G# F# G# C# (play C# G# quickly)

Let's replace some I and V chords with their relative minors, vi and iii respectively.

I-V-vi-iii-IV-V-I (vi-V): C# G# A#m Fm F# G# C# (A#m G#)

Let's replace the iii chord with a III chord (that is a major chord).

I-V-vi-III-IV-V-I (vi-V): C# G# A#m F F# G# C# (A#m G#)

Anyway, to connect with the natural minor and harmonic minor scales mentioned above, let's look at the iii and III chords.

iii. F minor chord (F G# C notes)

III. F major chord (F A C notes)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Db Chord Progressions: Relative Minor Substitutions

Remember from last time:

I. Db major
ii. Eb minor
iii. F minor
IV. Gb major
V. Ab major
vi. Bb minor
vii(b5). C diminished

Each major chord in the key of Db has a relative minor that might sound great instead of playing the major chord, and vice versa. What? In other words...

I/vi: Db major could possibly be substituted with Bbm
IV/ii: Gb major could possibly be substituted with Ebm
V/iii: Ab major could possibly be substituted with Fm

Instead of playing I-V-IV-I, for instance, try the following permutations (not an exhaustive list), but we'll start with the original progression:

I-V-IV-I: Db Ab Gb Db
I-iii-IV-vi: Db Fm Gb Bbm
I-V-ii-I: Db Ab Ebm Db
vi-V-IV-I: Bbm Ab Gb Db
vi-iii-ii-vi: Bbm Fm Ebm Bbm

Substituting a major chord with its relative minor (and vice versa) might liven up a boring progression with a less boring progression (albeit still widely used).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Db Chord Progressions: Basic Triads

If you remember from previous entries, the Db major scale consists of the Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, and C notes. This scale will relate directly to the simple triads (that is, three-note chords made of the root, major/minor third, and diminished/perfect fifth notes) in the key of Db major (please refer to this website or elsewhere for more information):

I. Db major (made of the Db, F, and Ab notes);
ii. Eb minor (Eb, Gb, and Bb notes);
iii. F minor (F, Ab, and C notes);
IV. Gb major (Gb, Bb, and Db notes);
V. Ab major (Ab, C, and Eb notes);
vi. Bb minor (Bb, Db, and F notes); and
vii(b5). C diminished (C, Eb, and Gb notes).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Get a 25 Key MIDI Controller (Keyboard, Recording)

Owning both a laptop and a desktop computer is beneficial if you travel a lot, but still need the benefit of having a beast of a system at home. (Which one do you bring on the road?) Similarly, owning both a "studio-sized" keyboard/MIDI controller and a 25 Key MIDI controller will be useful.

So let's talk about the smaller one. If you already have a mid- to full-sized keyboard in your home/work studio, you needn't spend more than about $100 on your portable keyboard. You also probably won't need semi-weighted keys, unless you're really picky. It's just a good idea to have a travel songwriting studio because ideas don't care about geography. A company like M-Audio manufactures MIDI controllers, but be sure to do some research on the best prices and most reliability for the price. And be sure to look for coupon codes (remember the state of the U.S. economy these days...).

So, when you're on the road, living off hotel rooms, remember to bring that laptop and MIDI controller, loaded with similar software as your home system. Happy traveling, songwriting, and demo recording!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

C#m9 (Guitar, Intermediate)

Unlike yesterday's C#madd9 chord, the C#m9 chord adds a minor-7th and a 9th note to the C#m chord. Well, the voicing illustrated above omits the perfect 5th to make way for the 7th note:

A string: C# (root)
D string: E (minor 3rd)
G string: B (minor 7th)
B string: D# (added 9th)

And that's C#m9!

Monday, July 21, 2008

C#madd9 (Guitar, Intermediate)

C# minor add-9th is basically a C#m triad (C#, E, and G#) with a higher octave of the second degree (the ninth: D#):

A string: C# (root)
D string: E (minor 3rd)
G string: G# (perfect 5th)
B string: D# (added 9th)

And that's C#madd9!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

C#maj7 (Guitar, Beginner)

To play the C# major-7th chord, start with the Bmaj7 chord. Take that voicing up two frets, and there you have it: The C#maj7 chord.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Discover Distortion (Guitar, Beginner)

When I learned how to play the guitar, practice amps didn't have built-in effects or special channels, so how to make that distorted guitar sound eluded me for quite a while. (The Internet was nowhere as big as it is now, no one I knew owned a personal computer, and guitar magazines took it for granted that beginners didn't know basic amp knowledge.) Semi-foolishly, I bought a distortion pedal to get the sound, not realizing I could have distorted my amp for no extra money whatsoever. (On the bright side, stompboxes encourage the development of tap-dancing motor skills while playing the guitar.)

Beginners with amp effects and/or stompboxes, ignore this entry if you want and be happy that you can basically phone-in some decent-sounding distortion/overdrive. I was happy that the stompbox I bought made it easy, while I was still ignorant of what I already had...

Fortunately, my practice amp (only amplifier at the time) had a master volume and a gain knob. Eventually, the secret of amp distortion was revealed to me. (I won't bore you with that story.) Basically, if you have a small, 15-watt transistor combo and want to rock out, keep the master low and crank the gain and the regular volume for some nifty distortion. Max out your electric guitar's volume. Adjust the amp's bass, mid, and treble knobs - and the tone knob and pick-up switch on your guitar - to go from crunchy to creamy, depending on how you want the distortion to sound. Earlier Metallica songs had the mids "scooped out" (the mid knob at zero), so try that if you like.

The point of discovering distortion is this: If you're a beginner and you're a bit frustrated that you can't quite nail the F chord (yet), creating some wonderful cacophony will most likely inspire you to soldier forward. If you have an electric guitar and an amplifier, then discover distortion (if you haven't already). If you have an acoustic, use glass bottle or an aluminum can as a slide. Unfocused slide work is also fun and chaotic. You might discover something new, or you might only annoy those immediately around you. In any case, have fun with the guitar.

It's THE GUITAR for crying out loud!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Loudness War (Recording)

Sometime during the late 1990s, I found that my CDs of circa pre-1996 albums were drastically quieter than the newer CDs I bought. This phenomenon still plagues me to this day, as I have to constantly shift the volume when I listen to my ripped mp3 collection when they are shuffled on iTunes. (I am lazy to tell iTunes to normalize the levels in my collection.)

Long story short, the record industry created a culture of louder + more compression = better, and so they mastered most mainstream CDs to be loud to the point of clipping (the uncool kind of distortion). The richness of loud-soft dynamics is usually lost when compressor effects are used heavily. Here's an interesting YouTube video that boils down the situation:

For more information, do a Google search on the loudness war or read the Wikipedia article (for starters). When you are recording, try to make things dynamic and give your tracks some headroom. When you get to the mastering process, that's when you have to choose sides in the loudness war.

Happy recording!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Melodyne as Mirror (Vocal, Intermediate, Recording)

A lot has been said about vocal tuning programs and plug-ins, such as Autotune and Melodyne. (Melodyne is good for more than just vocal manipulation, by the way.) While an effect like Melodyne can "fix" less-than-perfect performances, it can also be used as an objective vocal coach, or sorts. Here's how (you'll have to be comfortable with DAW recording):

1. With a well-tuned musical instrument, record the "standard" arpeggio vocal exercise: C root-E-G-C octave-G-E-C root; C# root-F-G#-C# octave-G#-E-C# root; D root-F#-A-D octave-A-F#-D root; etc. You know: Do-mi-so-do!-mi-so-do (I think...).

2. Track your vocal to follow the exercise.

3. Run the Melodyne Plugin to analyze your notes.

4. See how reasonably close you are as far as pitch matching and the strength of your vocal range. If you are familiar with the Melodyne interface, you'll know how easy it is to spot where your notes are on the scale - flat/sharp, in between notes, or relatively spot-on.

5. If there are problems, don't fix them in Melodyne! That's not the point of this exercise! Practice more (but don't blow out your vocal cords), learn to breathe better (yoga, anyone?), look up some decent vocal tips online, and/or pay for one-on-one lessons with a vocal coach.

Happy singing, happy happy! (Okay, be intense when the situation calls for it.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Essential Pro Tools Add-ons and Plug-ins (Recording)

This entry is basically a review of various essential Pro Tools entries from the past couple of weeks. For the time being, the following plug-ins (and one supplemental add-on program) will make your Pro Tools program the most amount of flexibility on a budget (relatively speaking):

Virtual Instruments, or audio Illustrator
Strike instead of drum loops;
VST to RTAS Adapter to use free VSTi plug-ins, downloaded from the Web;
Xpand! as a sampler of sampled sounds.

Postproduction, or audio Photoshop
Melodyne Plugin to quickly fix pitch/tempo issues, or to explore the technology;
Repli-Q to mimic the tone of other recordings;
SoundSoap 2 or SoundSoap Pro to clean up noisy recordings.

Keep in mind the Audio Suite and RTAS plug-ins that come with Pro Tools by default are also useful - the EQs, the limiters, the delays, etc. We'll get into those already paid-for effects in future entries.

The only thing truly missing is the human element, and that's where you come in (and possibly some nifty guitars, amps, and mics, too). The above list will give you that audio Photoshop advantage for about a thousand dollars (not counting the price of the initial Pro Tools DAW), and they are all RTAS (or RTAS-dependent) add-ons. When you spend the big bucks on a TDM-based Pro Tools HD system, you'll get more than the above effects.

Happy recording!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Digidesign Xpand! (Keyboard, Recording)

The Digidesign Xpand! virtual instrument falls somewhere between an essential Pro Tools plug-in and a default, yet very useful Pro Tools plug-in. Let me explain: Xpand! comes with the installation CDs to Pro Tools 7.3 and later, but Xpand! might or might not come with Pro Tools 7.1, and definitely not with any earlier build of the DAW. In any case, Xpand! comes with a myriad default sounds and virtual instruments, with several options to modify them to your taste (and beyond). You can assign up to four different instruments per plug-in track (stereo or mono), and you can assign those instruments as overlapping or discrete regions on your keyboard to save RAM, CPU, and track usage (e.g., piano from C1 to B2, glockenspiel from C3 to C6, strings from A3 to G#5, etc., depending on your song's needs).

With that many sounds, you actually get to audition exactly what you want for a song, or something similar. From there, you can either buy a better virtual instrument plug-in or go on the Internet and download a free VSTi (VST instrument) if you have the FXpansion adapter. I recommend the latter route, as it saves money and time.

If your version of Pro Tools contains Xpand! by default, don't squander the opportunity to use it. If you don't have Xpand!, order a "free" copy from Digidesign - you will have to pay about $10 for shipping and handling, though. Xpand!, like Strike, is only for use in Pro Tools. A MIDI keyboard controller would be helpful to use with Xpand!, but you can always draw your notes in Pro Tools.

Tickle them pseudo-ivories and have fun recording!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Celemony Melodyne Plugin (Recording)

If there was ever an appropriate music analogy to Sauron's Ring of Power (from The Lord of the Rings), it would be the Melodyne Plugin. While it is true that in Pro Tools you can shift pitch by using the pitch-shifting effect in the non-real time Audio Suite menu, and you can stretch and fix tempos with the Elastic Time option in Pro Tools 7.4, Melodyne just makes those tasks a snap. It's like magic. No, better: Melodyne is like treating waveforms as MIDI.

The current version of Melodyne works best with monophonic sounds, that is, single-note melodies. Melodyne can only modify the tempos of multi-track recordings (like drums) and polyphonic sounds (chords and the like). (It has been reported that the next Melodyne version will decipher chords so you can fix/modify chord pitches.)

Keep in mind, that Melodyne can be used for "evil" too. Like Autotune, a producer can go perfection-crazy by fixing all sorts of notes and make a performance into some soft of pop music "perfection" (artifice would be the actual term). If your producing needs need that Autotune function, then by all means, go for it. However, you are just scratching the surface when it comes to manipulating the sounds around you: With Melodyne, you can make avian choirs from sampled bird chirps from your backyard and highway orchestras from the various cars zooming by your street - with actual melody, harmony, and tempo!

Yes, the Melodyne Plugin will take Pro Tools into the realm of Photoshop-for-the-ears in light-speed time. It works as VST, AU, and RTAS, so non-Pro Tools users can also experience the power of Melodyne! Check out the Celemony website for more information. The Melodyne Plugin costs between $250 and $300. The anticipated polyphonic upgrade will cost $130, or $400 for the full version (new users).

Just make sure that this and other plugins don't corrupt you musically (that's subjective!) and turn you into Gollum! Happy recording, my preciousss...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

F#6 (Guitar, Intermediate)

These notes make this particular voicing of the F#6 chord:

D string: F# (root)
G string: A# (major 3rd)
B string: D# (6th)
E string: F# (octave of root)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

BIAS SoundSoap (Recording)

I'd have to say that BIAS SoundSoap 2 and BIAS SoundSoap Pro aren't the most essential of "essential Pro Tools" plug-ins. Why? If you record with low signal-to-noise ratio equipment and in finely tuned recording rooms, then you might not need to use the SoundSoap plug-in. However, if your recordings suffer from background noise or 60-cycle hum (due to single coil pickups or faulty electrical wiring), a SoundSoap product can probably save the day.

SoundSoap 2 can be used as a standalone program, so you can "clean"/restore your masters (or scratchy vinyl transfers or hissy cassette tape digitizing) with ease but with less options than SoundSoap Pro. SoundSoap 2 can also be used as a VST or RTAS plug-in for your DAW.

SoundSoap Pro cannot be used as a standalone program, but needs a DAW to host its VST or RTAS plug-in capabilities. On the other hand, SoundSoap Pro is a much stronger program than its budget-minded counterpart.

Speaking of price, SoundSoap 2 costs between $80 and $100 from most retailers, and SoundSoap Pro usually runs around $500. HOWEVER, here's a little tip for those who want to get their feet wet in audio restoration and save money as they progress:

1. Buy SoundSoap 2.
2. Make sure you register with BIAS (you have to, anyway) and receive their periodic newsletters.
3. There is a chance that BIAS will send you an offer to upgrade to SoundSoap Pro for a couple hundred dollars less (but don't take my word for it!), as well as other BIAS products (like Repli-Q) at deep discounts.

It kind of makes you wonder if BIAS and/or retailers are high-balling you in the first place. In any case, check out the BIAS website for more information about SoundSoap 2 and SoundSoap Pro.

As always, have fun producing great music!

Friday, July 11, 2008

FXpansion VST to RTAS Adapter (Recording)

FXpansion's VST to RTAS Plug-In Wrapper is one of the most essential of essential Pro Tools add-ons. It opens the door for you to use a myriad of free/open source VST plug-ins in Pro Tools. (Just Google it!) Normally, VST plug-ins would not work in Pro Tools, as it uses proprietary RTAS technology instead. The adapter wraps most VST plug-ins so that Pro Tools will accept it for RTAS use.

Be warned, though, that not all free VST plug-ins are coded well enough for use in Pro Tools (you get what you pay for). For every new wrapped VST plug-in you must test it in Pro Tools, especially during the "Bounce to Disk" process. A faulty VST plug-in might cause an RTAS error, crash your session, or worse!

For more information, please go to the FXpansion website. The program usually costs between $100 and $120 (depending on the current conversion from Great Britain pounds to United States dollars). FXPansion also sells a sister program that wraps VST plug-ins as AU plug-ins, for use in Apple's Garage Band and Logic (and other Apple production programs).

Be careful, but have fun recording!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Digidesign Strike (Recording)

If you don't have a drummer with a drum kit at your disposal, Digidesign Strike will, at the very least, replace your drum loops. You can customize the drum performance, drum tuning, and mix - with several style and kit options to help you start. As of this writing, missing options include alternate drum sticks (brushes, rods, etc.) and a more intuitive non-4/4 time signature play. The latter can be remedied by sequencing the patterns yourself, with some knowledge about time signatures and accents.

This is Digidesign's introduction/advertisement video for Strike:


Strike is an RTAS plug-in and will only work with Pro Tools (Academic, M, LE, or HD). Strike costs between $250-$300, depending where you buy. If you buy online, always remember to do a quick Google search of coupon codes to save money! Along with Bias Repli-Q, consider Strike an "essential" non-standard Pro Tools add-on/plug-in!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ASCAP or BMI (Recording)

There are several conspiracy theories why you should/shouldn't affiliate with a performing rights organization (PRO), and whether ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, or some other PRO is the choice to go. We're not doing that here. At Chord du Jour, we suggest that if you want some support from the establishment (i.e., royalties from broadcast and various other public performances of your work), you might want to consider affiliating as a songwriter and/or a publishing company. (Please keep in mind this post is just base knowledge and should not be taken as legal advice. Read the book mentioned in yesterday's post for better information.)

To be clear, an ASCAP-affiliated publisher can only publish songs by ASCAP-affiliated songwriters, BMI publishers for BMI songwriters, etc. - BUT - ASCAP and BMI songwriters can collaborate, as long as their respective publishers are also involved.

Typically, songwriters who perform their own work should self-publish and share publishing only when it makes business sense to do so. Publishers that act like middlemen are more useful for connecting songs/songwriters with outside recording artists (like pop stars who don't write - what an understatement!) and other outside interests. If you make good business choices in addition to tasteful artistic choices, you stand a chance at getting those royalties from your PRO! (No promises, though.)

Here are the current (as of July 2008) fees to apply:

ASCAP songwriter: $25 (used to be free about a year ago)
ASCAP publisher: $25 (used to be free about a year ago)

BMI songwriter: Free?
BMI publisher: $150 for sole proprietorships; $250 for corporations/limited liability companies

ASCAP and BMI focus on U.S.-based music, as other countries/regions have their own prominent PROs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

All You Need to Know about the Music Business (Recording)

If you are serious about pursuing a career as a touring musician and/or a recording artist, All You Need To Know About the Music Business: 6th Edition by Donald S. Passman will be an invaluable resource. For those who have already gotten their feet wet as a public musician, this book will tie together a lot of the loose odds 'n ends of industry information undoubtedly picked up along the way. Bedroom musicians will probably be able to avoid a lot of hard knocks if they can understand the information presented.

A close alternative reading to this book would be to get an undergraduate degree in the music industry, then go to law school, and finally become a music industry lawyer. Your undergrad education would be obsolete by then, but hey! you're a music lawyer - and music lawyers make all kinds of money, dealing in all sorts of contracts among record companies, music publishers, and musicians (et cetera). Unfortunately, music lawyers don't have much time being musicians.

Be a musician.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bm6add9 (Guitar, Intermediate)

The following notes make up B minor 6th add-9th:

A string: B (root)
D string: D (minor 3rd)
G string: G# (6th)
B string: C# (9th)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bmaj7 (Guitar, Beginner)

To play B major-7th:

1. Barre your index finger across the second fret, from the A string to the High E string;
2. Place your middle finger on the G string, 3rd fret;
3. Place your ring finger on the D string, 4th fret;
4. Place your pinky finger on the B string, 4th fret;
5. Avoiding the Low E string, play the Bmaj7 chord!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pro Tools (Recording)

As of the writing of this entry, there are three levels of Digidesign's Pro Tools digital audio workstation (DAW) program:

M-Powered: Not counting the special academic version, this is initially the entry level for Pro Tools. This version of the software is made to interact with various M-Audio hardware interfaces. As I stated earlier, this version is basically entry level, but the variety of hardware interfaces available makes M-Powered Pro Tools very customizable. Check out for more information about the software and the hardware.

For example, the M-Powered program (with iLok dongle included) will cost about $250. Add a qualifying $150 M-Audio interface (the prices will vary, but this seems like an average entry-level price), and the DAW will cost about $400.

LE: This is the basic program for Pro Tools. It is often bundled with either the consumer level Mbox 2 series (Micro, Mini, regular-sized, and Pro) or the more pro-sumer level 003 family of hardware interfaces. Check out for more information about LE and M-Powered (mentioned above).

For example, a standard Mbox 2 package (which includes the LE software) will cost about $500.

HD: Take out a loan for this one. It's similar to M-Powered in that there are several configurations to make a Pro Tools | HD system, but these hardware configurations are exponentially more expensive than M-Audio's DAW. Digidesign has more info about the HD system, as well as the top-of-the-line ICON product.

For example, you must choose either the purchase of a new car or an industry-standard Pro Tools | HD system. With gas prices these days, you might want to lean toward building a music studio.

All of the above information does not include the additional costs of microphones, musical instruments, cables, a strong enough computer, and plug-ins (effects).

Happy recording!

Friday, July 4, 2008

BIAS Repli-Q (Recording)

If you are not a master at the mastering process, nor a wiz at fiddling with EQ settings, BIAS Repli-Q can help. This plug-in, which can be purchased separately at or part of the BIAS Master Perfection Suite, can literally take the EQ profile of an existing recording and allow you to place it on another recording/track. Of course, it isn't a miracle worker.

Repli-Q is best at tackling one instrument at a time. For instance, if you have an existing recording of a sweet-sounding solo piano, you can use Repli-Q to take that track's EQ profile. When you have a less-than-ideal EQ'd piano recording, you can insert the sweet sounding EQ for pretty good results. You can make the new recording have anywhere from 0% to 100% of another track's EQ. For mono/stereo single tracks, 50-100% will usually have good results.

You'll need to be more careful when you take the EQ profile from a multitrack, bounced stereo master (consisting of several instruments mixed together) and place that EQ onto another bounced stereo master. I'd say to hover around 25% to have noticeable similarities but not go overboard to the 50-100% range, as it will not have good results.

You can also throw away all the above suggestions regarding EQ profiles when you just want to experiment! Steal the EQ profile from a vocal track and paste it onto some bongos (and vice versa), and hear what happens! You might like the result, or you might just remove the plug-in from the track: The choice is yours!

Have fun recording, producing, mixing, and mastering!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

E+ (Guitar, Intermediate)

This is E augmented:

Low E string: E (root)
A string: C (augmented 5th - B# if you want to be fancy about it)
D string: E (octave of root)
G string: G# (major 3rd)
B string: C (octave of augmented 5th)
High E string: E (two octaves above root)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

E9 (Guitar, Beginner)

To play the E9 chord:

1. Start with the Eadd9 chord;
2. Lift your ring finger to leave the D string open;
3. Play the E9 chord.

Intermediate info: The E9 chord adds the 7th (D) and 9th (F#) degrees on top of the E major triad (E, B, and G# notes).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Eadd9 (Guitar, Beginner)

To play the E major add-9th chord:

1. Start with the E major chord;
2. Place your pinky finger on the High E string, 2nd fret;
3. Play the Eadd9 chord.

Intermediate info: You are adding an F# note on top of the E major triad (E-G#-B). The F# note is the 2nd note in the E major scale, but since it is in a higher octave, it can be referred to as a 9th note.

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