Hello. I just wanted to send this note of appreciation your way. Last weekend, a song I wrote and recorded on UJAM for my daughter and her fiancé was played during their wedding ceremony. Without UJAM, this special moment, that brought tears to my daughter’s eyes, would not have been possible. In times when we are not always aware of how far-reaching and significant our creations can be, I want you to know how much the use of your technology has meant to me.- Sandra.
If you visit Google today, you’ll see a musically-themed homepage with a classic synthesizer image. (You can even play it, record something, and hear it played back to you – try it out!)
Robert Moog, founder of Moog Music and creator of the famous synthesizer with the same name, is given well-earned credit today with Google’s shout-out. The world of synthesizer users has expanded dramatically in the decades since the 1950s, and we’ve got people like Robert Moog to thank for that.
Since the ’50s, we’ve seen explosive growth of synthesizers – not only in size and technical specs, but also in the amount and quality of music that can be produced. Two of UJAM’s very own founders – Hans Zimmer and Peter Gorges – are avid MOOG users themselves. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that they’re two of the best synthesizer pros out there today.
Here’s what Peter has to say about Robert Moog:
“Bob has truly changed music forever. UJAM would not be if not for him. Heck, my co-founder Hans Zimmer and I would probably have to get a real job!”
Although Robert Moog didn’t create the first-ever synthesizer, he was a pioneer in the field. After recognizing the need for simpler electronic instruments, Robert Moog mastered the synthesizer art and introduced the first “Moog modular synthesizer” at the 1964 Audio Engineering Society Conference.
And here’s some more synthesizer history: Some of the first-ever synthesizers were built by RCA – they used vacuum tube technology, magnetic tape, had no keyboard, and were so large they took up an entire room! Read more about synthesizer history here.
Here’s Robert Moog in an excerpt from a BBC documentary on electronic music; here, Robert demonstrates the use of the “Minimoog”:
We’ve come a long way in electronic music, and we’ve got people like Robert Moog to thank for helping us get there. Thanks to Google for a worthy shout-out, and here’s to all our synthesizer users out there!
P.S. Check out more on the Moog legacy here.
Happy New Year! 2012 is upon us, and it’s going to be a great year. We hope you brought extra cheer to your friends and families during the holidays with those sweet tracks from the Be Our Christmas Star contest. As we ring in the new year, we’re thinking about all the ways creating music can make a difference in people’s lives. Let’s start with one person doing it in her own special way.
Meet Wendy, a pianist, composer, and piano teacher. On her blog, Wendy recently wrote about discovering UJAM and the unique ways it can contribute to music education and songwriting, as well as her own personal jam sessions. Sometimes it’s more useful to hear about what other people are doing with new technology to inspire your own creative ideas. So, when we found Wendy’s blog, we naturally wanted to share it with you first.
Wendy points out several of the features that make UJAM an awesome composing tool as well as a great educational tool:
A few thoughts came to my mind as I explore this tool and its potential to inspire students to compose and learn the different genres and chord progressions that give the music its distinct character and mood.
- I’m excited that the little ones can now experience how they can make their little tune transform with this tool.
- Students can explore the different harmonies and chord progressions of selected styles. The chord names that accompany the playback are very helpful!
- File sharing. Once a song is completed, users may save the file in mp3 format and even share it with friends and family on Facebook.
This year’s “Be Our Christmas Star” Contest is now over, and we’re proud to announce the winner: Congratulations to Clint Ybanez!
You can now download the whole Christmas Album for free, featuring all Top 10 songs. (For any last-minute gift givers, this makes a great stocking stuffer.)
And now, from the Hollywood studios and Hans Zimmer: The Dark Knight Rises Chant challenge is not over yet. So for all of you who haven’t recorded your chants yet: we need more. Watch the second official trailer, and add your voice to the choir of thousands. This time, be even more aggressive, and add your own unique flare to The Dark Knight legend. Listen to the chant, and record your own.
That’s all for now. Here’s to the holidays – and keep making great tracks!
The Amnesty International Anthem Rejam Contest is calling everyone to contribute unique versions of the Amnesty Anthem to support international human rights and enter for a chance to win professional Avid studio equipment.
Not only is this contest in support of a great organization and a great cause — it’s also your time to shine. Be yourself, and be different from the rest of the crowd. Here are some tips from the team that will help your Rejam stand out – who knows? They may even help you make it to the top of the charts:
If you’re in a hurry to get started, take a look at the circled areas in the image of the Anthem Rejam screen above and check out these options while you’re working on your Anthem Rejam. Make your version of the Anthem now.
Tip 1: Speak another language? Use it!
This is the time to put your language skills to great use. Just because the example anthem doesn’t have vocals doesn’t mean you can’t add them yourself (remember, don’t use any copyrighted material). So whether you only remember a little bit of French from elementary education, or you’re fluent in German, or you speak English natively, using vocals will definitely stand out in this contest. If you’ve got language skills, use them! If you aren’t confident about your singing abilities, try speaking rhythmically instead, and see where it takes you. The more interesting and unique your version of the anthem, the better.
Tip 2: Do something different
Like we said before, the more variety you can add to your Anthem Rejam, the better. Have a listen to the example anthem, but don’t copy it. Whistle, hum, sing, talk, beat box, or whisper your own vocals and see what it sounds like. Don’t get too frustrated if it doesn’t sound the way you expected – sometimes that’s the best thing that can happen, because it will lead you to a truly interesting sound.
See how wacky you can make the rhythmic and melodic structure of the Anthem, as different from the example as possible. For example, try experimenting with the Tempo, Mix, and Pitch sliders (see the image above for reference). Record a track on top of the existing track to see what your own voice or instrument adds to the Anthem. And of course, check out the Vocal FX and Edit Style options to add even more spice to your track – more on these in the tips below.
Tip 3: Use styles to make your unique sound
We alluded to the Edit Style option above. This is one of the most comprehensive features in UJAM – it allows you to edit a style’s makeup and even fully customize your own style. This is a great way to make your Anthem Rejam stand out in the contest. Change the entire makeup of the track by removing the existing instruments and adding your own.
Want a romantic orchestra? Add the instruments one by one until you’re satisfied. Want a rock band? The guitars, drums, and even vocal styles are there for your selection. It’s our most extensive style catalogue yet, including great soundtrack styles from Hans Zimmer’s studio, so be sure to take advantage of all that’s waiting for you. If your Anthem Rejam has a unique and interesting style, it’s sure to stand apart from the crowd.
Tip 4: Got Vocals?
Whether you’re Mariah Carey or a shy shower-singer, try recording your voice on top of your track. It’s sure to add a distinctive sound, since everybody’s voice is different. Try singing, humming, whistling, or speaking rhythmically for dramatic effect. As we said in Tip 1, make up your own lyrics, sing in syllables without meaning, speak a foreign language, or make other sounds with those lungs and see what happens. In this contest, being different is a great asset and will definitely help your Anthem Rejam stand out from the rest.
We also mentioned above that there are Vocal FX to help you customize vocal sounds in your Anthem Rejam. Click “Change Vocal FX” to see the expansive list of options for customizing vocal sounds in your track. After you’ve already added your own vocals on top of the Anthem Rejam, you can tweak and perfect them with the Vocal FX enhancements. See what happens when you change the Vocal FX from Ballad to Bathroom or Echoes to Cell Phone. The options for variety here are nearly endless!
Tip 5: Play an Instrument
If you play an instrument, you better warm up and get ready to record. Show off your skills by recording yourself on that instrument. Just like singing and adding your own vocals, playing an instrument adds your own unique style to the Anthem Rejam contest, and it will definitely help your track stand out.
Don’t be content just adding an instrument recording over the existing track, though. Add an instrument and change the style, the tempo, and the mix. Customize your own style while you’re at it. Try a combination of the tips listed here, and think up even more of your own interesting ways to spice up your Anthem Rejam.
Participation in this international contest is really easy: All you need to do is “rejam” the Anthem – i.e. re-arrange the music using tracks readily offered, and/or re-record the melody with your favorite instrument or sing with your own lyrics – even in your native language. Get started now, or check out more tips & tricks on our blog. Learn more about Amnesty International here.
We all love Christmas songs. But, after hearing the same recordings year after year, it’s time to spice things up. With UJAM’s “Be Our Christmas Star” Contest this year, you have a chance to rejam a Christmas classic and spread some new holiday cheer this season! The Top 10 songs will become our UJAM Christmas Album, downloadable by anyone with a UJAM account.
There’s no pressure here, of course, but we decided it may help to give you what we think are the Top 5 Rejamming Tips to make the most of your Christmas carol rejamming. Keep these tips in mind, and you just may make it into the Top 10 and the very first UJAM Christmas Album!
Tip 1: Styles
After you’ve chosen which song you want to rejam for Christmas, a fun way to start spicing things up is by listening to a few different styles. Feeling laid back and folksy? Try a Country style like Laid Back Country or Americana. Feeling like this Christmas song needs a dose of heavy action? Try a Dance style like Tek Noize. You’ll be amazed at how much you can change the feel of the song by simply changing the style. Listen to several different ones to help make your own unique Christmas Rejam. You can spice up the styles even more by customizing them – add and remove instruments to your liking to make something truly unique that you can call your own. Click “Edit Style” and you’ll see the list of current instruments being used in your track. Click the “X” next to any of them to remove them, and use the list above the instruments to select new instruments. The columns start with the instrument family on the left, the style in the middle, and the particular instrument on the right. (See the Tips & Tricks section for more helpful hints on editing and customizing styles.)
Tip 2: Vocals vs. Instrument
Feel confident about your vocal cords? Then go for it and belt out your tune. Want to use the pre-made vocals? That’s fine too. Shy about your vocal abilities? Then choose an instrument instead. This is one of the most handy rejamming tools in UJAM. Changing the instrument from Glockenspiel to Grand Piano can make a world of difference, and may just be the key to making your Christmas Rejam winner-worthy. Click on “Vocals” or “Instrument” to determine which melody type you want in your track. When you’re editing your track in Vocal mode, you have the option to change the Vocal FX. When you’re editing in Instrument mode, you have the option to change the melody instrument.
Tip 3: Vocal FX
This may be one of the most underrated features in UJAM, but it can packs a powerful punch when used well! Enhance the sound of your Rejam by choosing from an extensive list of Vocal FX – from Lush and Multiplier to Psychedelic or Romantic, Vocal FX are sure to give your Christmas Rejam a special sound.
Tip 4: Chords
Ever thought about what Jingle Bells may sound like in a minor key? Here’s where you can take your Christmas Rejam to a whole new level – try some wacky, wild, and unexpected chord changes by customizing your chords or choosing from different presets. Too Happy and Jazz are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chord presets and possibilities – but keep an eye on the chord matrix to help you figure out which chords will still sound the best with your track.
Tip 5: Song Form
Song Form is the most important tool that makes UJAM tracks into meaningful pieces of music. Intros, verses, and choruses are essential to making a great song. Take some time to listen to what an extended intro can do for your Christmas Rejam, and be sure to add some Variations to see if they make your Christmas Rejam a winning-worthy track. Click & drag song parts into your track (where the other song parts are listed automatically) and see what happens when you spice up your Rejam. When you want UJAM to do the work for you, simply click “Create Form” and UJAM will take care of it.
There have been countless articles, from online journals and magazines – one notably in Wired UK earlier this year – discussing how different the music industry is these days.How much easier, and harder, it is for bands to make it, as we are all navigating the still somehow “new” space of the internet. Bands try to balance physical tours and face-to-face presence with online presence and marketing to their fans. And there’s the question of downloading music legally and illegally across the world and how artists get recognition for their work anymore.
How is it that in a world where we are already taking for granted the ubiquity of the internet, we haven’t yet managed to figure out how to rocket an artist to fame using the internet? Have we missed a beat, in musical and social terms, by not capitalizing yet on the possibilities that the internet offers? Or is it simply a matter of time before someone does hit it big with a presence that is based solely on their engagement over the waves of the internet?
I’m optimistic, and I think it’s the latter. I think the pieces of the puzzle are being put together, by innovative artists out there, by people who support the movement to democratize music, by supporting the outlet that creative people need to get their voices heard. Of course, that’s in large part because I feel like I’m in the middle of the movement. I’m watching people like Madeline Bell get discovered where before her talent was little known, and listening to great tracks every day that are shared with people all over the world.
And yes, there are other examples of stars who made their start – most notably with videos on YouTube – and have achieved fame, or notoriety, from it. But there hasn’t yet been a wave of stardom to slap us in the face like many expected years ago as the internet took shape as a major force in all of our lives.
But I want to see it go even farther. A big part of me knows we’re still just at the beginning. And I know I’m not the only one.
Experts have noted the demise of the CD sector of the industry, the vacuum that social media creates in a huge percentage of the population’s time online, our interest levels peaked with the sights of each new site on the web.
It’s time for us, the creative crowd, the artists, the writers, the studio musicians, the instrument players, the band leaders, to get a bit more clever in our use of the internet. It’s a tool, like any other technology out there, to be used for something. What is that something? Well, there are infinite answers to that question. And that’s the point: we should be seeing infinite creativity from the stars of tomorrow, building their way on the invisible yet tangible steps of the internet stage that allow us every democratizing force we need to start a movement.
So get your guitar picks out, or put your studio headphones on, warm up your voice, and press record. It’s time to be heard.
Tell us your thoughts, in words or in a song, and leave your comments here.
As if the upcoming premiere weren’t enough, those of us who are also video game fans have also enjoyed some graphically inviting scenes from Batman: Arkham City, the video game followup to the 2009 hit Arkham Asylum.
USA Today‘s article reveals some hot graphics from the video game, and quotes the game director Sefton Hill, who says that it was only natural for the game to return to Gotham City, Batman’s “spiritual home.” Warner Bros’ community page for the game adds:
Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight.
Well, with Warner Bros‘ Batman: Arkham City release and Ubisoft‘s recent release of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, it’s not hard to imagine what millions of people will be doing this weekend. Enjoy, everyone!
We have so many choices in life. We choose our friends, choose our universities, our courses, our hobbies, our meals, our clothes, our daily activities. And of course, we choose the music to go along with everything in our lives.
Whether you consider music an overarching soundtrack to life or a set of specific playlists by occasion, music is a choice we all take upon ourselves as a reflection of who we are. It’s an act of self-expression to play the songs we play on our iPods, even if no one is listening but us.
So when we are also the creators of our own music, we’ve got an interesting role to fill. Is it that no other music in existence can express what we feel inside? Perhaps for some, it is. Or is it that we simply enjoy the process of writing songs as a creative outlet? For many of us, that may be the case. Often, it’s a combination of roles that we see music filling, as we create tracks to accompany our karaoke sessions, our songwriting endeavors, and our passion for music.
Whatever the purpose of music in your life, it’s important to realize that it’s also a universal trait of human cultures to use music as a tool for self-expression, identity, and communication. Even listening to music in isolation somehow connects us to a wider community – whether it’s to the artist who wrote that song, or to the other people we know who listen to it, or to things in our past that remind us of the power of music as a barrier-breaker.
It’s also important to step back and realize that music is never as isolated as some may perceive it to be. It’s a collective pursuit, a passion among millions of people, all over the world.
It’s encouraging to know that we’re never on our own when it comes to music … even if we listen to it through a single set of headphones, alone in our rooms.
Happy musicking, everyone.
In this post, we’ll give you some helpful hints to make sure your melody is recognized and recorded at its best quality in UJAM – without having to buy any expensive external gear to make it happen. First hint: it’s not all about which microphone you have.
Of course, if you are interested in finding great gear – like a great mic for a great price – you can read some tips from pro singer Alison Lewis in our earlier post, “Which microphone is best?”.
It doesn’t matter if your microphone setup is built-in, external, fancy, or plain – these are some tips that apply to everyone, and will help you achieve a better overall quality of melody recording and recognition in UJAM:
- Make sure you’re in a quiet environment – nothing but your singing should be recorded.
- Check your microphone level: Sing loudly and set the level so the meter is in the middle of its right (or upper) half.
- Wear headphones when you sing along with click or playback – otherwise the click and playback noises will end up in your recording. This doesn’t sound good. Plus, it distracts the algorithm that is working to recognize your rhythms and notes properly.
- Try to sing exact, steady notes. Heavy vibrato, for example, throws off the recognition of notes and may not come through clearly in the recording. Controlled singing with steady pitches works best in this stage.
- If your singing is hopeless, don’t worry. Try humming or whistling – sometimes it’s easier to hit the right notes that way. Or, play an instrument instead. In fact, a musical instrument is much easier to analyze than the human voice. But remember: only play one note at a time. Chords won’t be recognized in the initial recording phase of UJAM – you’ll add and edit those later.