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.
Tip #3: Level Up: How To Choose Good Levels For Recording
“Turn up the gain!” … “Turn up the volume!” Many people think these are the same requests, but they are very different. Let’s look at what they both mean and how to use our understanding of gain and volume to get good recording levels. First we will look at gain.
Gain is the amount of amplitude you are allowing to enter in to your audio circuit or microphone.
Picture a very nice studio microphone in your room with a large clear red ball around it. Let’s pretend that ball represents everything your microphone is actually recording. Anything outside of that ball will not be recorded. In this example, let us say that you are currently sitting outside of that ball. If you were to speak it would be heard, but very faintly.
Now, picture yourself turning up a knob that says, “gain” on it. As you do this, the red ball increases in size, while remaining centered around the microphone. Since you turned it up and the ball grew, you are now inside of the circle. Picture yourself turning that “Gain” knob back down. As you do this, that ball gets smaller and you are no longer in the circle. Lastly, picture that you turn the “gain” knob all the way up and the ball fills the entire room!
This is exactly how gain works. As you turn your gain up or down, you are choosing how much space and sound around the microphone you will record. If you turn the gain down too low, you will not be able to hear anything that is not close to the microphone. If you turn the gain too high, you will be letting too much signal in to the circuit and will begin to hear a lot of “room sound” and introducing possible noise and distortion in to your recording.
Now that we know gain lets us choose what we record around the microphone, let us look at what volume does.
Volume controls how loud your recording is. Volume does not in any way choose what is recorded, just how loud it is. For example, you could have your volume all the way down on your software, but if your gain knob is still up you are still allowing audio in to your recording circuit. You will simply not be able to hear it. As you bring this volume up, you will be able to hear what you recorded.
Again, gain chooses what you record. Volume controls how loud it sounds to the listener. Now that we have an understanding of that, let’s look at the biggest issue people seem to have with home studio recording: distortion.
Distortion happens when too much sound is going in to a recording channel. When there is too much signal it causes the gear to cut off the unusable data and thus your sound is clipped and harsh. You can tell this is happening when the clarity is gone and it sounds like your speakers are overloaded. You will also see your audio appear maxed out in your DAW software. You will need to monitor your signal so you can turn your gain up or down before you record.
One way to monitor your signal input is to buy gear with signal indicators on it. You can find audio input devices that have small meters or even just one green light that turns red when the signal is clipping and distorting. When using these indicator lights, it is best to try playing or singing at the loudest volume you intend to perform. If the lights are constantly in the red, then your signal is probably clipping a lot. You will need to turn down the gain. It is ideal to adjust your gain knob so that your indicator is consistently just below the orange and almost never in the red. This will give you maximum signal without distorting your track and allow you to have a powerful clear track to work with.
In the end, you need good gear set up in the proper position running over high quality cables. Your audio sources need to be recorded at the proper levels in to a transparent and reliable piece of software. That is how to get a good mix before you begin recording. You need well-recorded source material so you can have a quality final product.
Well, that’s it for this series from Matt. Matt’s advice for all of us: Continue improving your skills. Continue learning new audio production concepts. Most importantly, continue to love music and keep jamming!
Couldn’t have said it better. Got comments or questions? Leave them 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.
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!
The much-anticipated release of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is upon us. Have a look at the first 10 minutes of game play here (and have a listen, too):
Recognize that lovely voice in the background about 3 minutes in? That’s Madeline Bell, winner of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations contest hosted by UJAM in September.
We’ve got to boast our praises again for Madeline, whose beautiful voice graces listeners and players of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Watch the “Making Of” video again to see Madeline’s contribution to the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed legacy. It’s great to see Madeline’s talent recognized, while also supporting the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations release. Thanks and congratulations again to everyone who contributed their renditions of the theme song in the contest, and we hope you enjoy Assassin’s Creed: Revelations!
See our earlier post on Madeline’s Assassin’s Creed adventure. Visit Ubisoft’s site to learn more about Ubisoft and the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations release. Share your thoughts with us about Assassin’s Creed: Revelations in the comments field here. You can watch the German version of the first 10 minutes of game play here.
Here’s a snapshot of The Dark Knight’s Facebook page – a great way to get excited about the upcoming premiere, see how many people are talking about it around the world, and add your voice to thousands of others. Remember, besides the really cool musical opportunity, this chant gives you a chance to be included in The Dark Knight Rises.
Add your voice and join the conversation.
Have a great weekend everybody!
How’s your chant coming along for The Dark Knight Rises?
Record your chant if you haven’t already. And here are some other places you can go to join the conversation:
- Hans Zimmer’s Facebook page: share thoughts about your renditions of The Dark Knight Rises chant and learn more about the film score master behind the legend of The Dark Knight Rises.
- Christopher Nolan’s fan page: see some great posts on The Dark Knight Rises and how you can make the most of your chanting
- The Dark Knight Rises website: download the official poster, and watch the trailer to get excited about the 2012 premiere
- UJAM’s Facebook page: we’ll keep you updated with the latest news about The Dark Knight Rises chant challenge
If you’ve got questions about your chant, write to us at email@example.com. We’re almost one week in to the challenge of building a worldwide chant, and every voice counts. Good luck chanting, everyone!
The air continues to buzz with excitement about the chance to be part of The Dark Knight Rises. Have you submitted your chant yet? If you haven’t, it’s time to equip yourself with the guts to go all-out. Give this your best shot and make it yours.
Hans Zimmer tells all of us, “We are creating the sound of a worldwide chant.” Thousands of voices, from all over the globe. “Let your voice be heard and be a part of our adventure!”
The opportunity to contribute our voices to thousands of others in a call-and-response chant is not only a unique musical event, it’s part of a legend, and a film that’s got everybody anticipating the 2012 premiere.
Remember, there’s no such thing as out-of-tune, it’s all about making a unique contribution and giving this your voice. Record your chant and cast your voice into a crowd of thousands for The Dark Knight Rises.
And in case you want more reason to be excited about the premiere, you can now download the official poster from The Dark Knight Rises website.