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.
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.
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.
Welcome back! In this 3rd episode we’ll look at the Mondo Rock Style in UJAM.
Have a browser window open with UJAM loaded up and follow along. I suggest you load the Rejam Template “Electro 1″, but you’re welcome to use any of your own songs too, as always.
To use Electro 1, go to Create, pick “Rejam a Song Template”, and click the Rejam button for Electro 1.
What you wanted to know about Mondo Rock
Mondo Rock is a heavy, uptempo, modern hard rock style with gritty guitars and pounding drums. It was produced by Rick Di Fonzo in a real studio using real guitars and other instruments – just in case you wondered why it sounds real.
Tip: This style requires a powerful voice or instrument to carry as a melody. Don’t even try humming or using the humble nylon guitar, it’ll be buried under a wall of sound.
Let’s dive in:
With “Electro 1″ open, load “Mondo Rock” from the Rock genre and mute the melody instrument by setting the Mix slider at the bottom right to -5.
Now play your song from beginning to end and try to imagine how many players are involved.
Now hit “Edit Style” – surprisingly, there’s only 4 tracks: Drums, Bass, 2 guitars. Let’s look at them one after another.
Mute all tracks except drums, by clicking the little speaker icons at the bottom left of each instrument symbol. (Tip: That’s one of many ways to customize styles, by the way.)
The drums are typical heavy drums. Very punchy – they have to be, as they have to cut through dominant rock guitars. Play the song and notice how the drums vary between verses and chorusses.
Now add the bass by unmuting it. You’ll notice it sounds pretty metallic and powerful, a typical rock bass sound.
Next, unmute the “Gritty Guitar”. You’ll notice it doesn’t play in all song sections, and it plays different stuff in say Chorus 1 and Chorus 2. It’s a low, “chugging” rhythmic guitar.
Last but not least, unmute “Rock Guitar” – that’s a high, cutting-through power chord guitar, complementing the Gritty Guitar for edge.
Ok, let’s add some orchestra. In UJAM, you can easily add tracks from other styles to the preset styles. Tip: this is a very powerful tool for making songs sound original based on your own ideas (in other words, making them sound like you).
Since the rhythmic foundation of the style is already there, we’ll just add strings and some timpani.
In the track browser atop the instrument icons, select “Strings” from the first column, then “Soundtrack” from the second column. There you have four sections of strings.
Simply click the names of the instruments in the right column to add them. Adding all four can be a bit much. I suggest you leave it at the Cellos and Violas, but entirely up to you. It will sound pretty orchestral already, but let’s add one extra accent:
Select Drum, Soundtrack, and pick Timpani. (Trick: this gives the track instant “Gladiator” feel.)
That’s it for today’s tips & tricks session – now you’ve got a symphonic rock style from editing the Mondo rock style in UJAM. In the next column, we’ll build a style from scratch. Stay tuned and keep jamming!
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.
The Dark Knight Rises chant challenge has begun. How many people can you invite to the choir? How will you record your chant? We’re aiming to make this a choir of thousands, and need every one of you to make your individual contributions.
Tip: the more creative you get, the better the results. Try chanting exactly as the preview leads you to respond. Then try your response as growls, or humming, or even rhythmic screams. Come up with some wild effects to make your chant truly unique. That’s what this is all about – there’s no such thing as out-of-tune, out of time, or correct pronunciation. This is your chance to become part of a legend, and it’s about what you can make of it. The more voices, the better.
Watch the official “The Dark Knight Rises” trailer to get into the zone. Record your contribution to the chant, and have fun with it. Add your voice and add your friends, and make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity one you’ll never forget.
Music is used for all sorts of events – community, spiritual, political, and social, to name a few – all over the world, all the time. Wired online tells a fascinating story today that may strike a delicious chord with many of us. So says some recent research, playing music in the background can deeply influence our perceptions about wine. It’s one of many stories about music as a sense-enhancer. Music enhances our tastes of food in restaurants, and as Shakespeare tells us, music is intertwined with our symbols of love and expressions of passion, too.
So music doesn’t simply have to exist in the background of our lives – it can, and should, be viewed as a tool for how we express ourselves. Through food, wine, merriment, and more. Of course, it all depends on how we use music to achieve these things. That’s where the community comes in. Music doesn’t do much if it’s kept in isolation; it requires others to hear it, others to share it, spread it, listen to it, and engage with it.
To whatever purpose you ascribe your music, it’s there for something beyond our own isolated studios and headphones. We create it to share, to enlighten, to experience, in ways that nothing but music can accomplish. After all, that’s a big part of why we’re here, right?
This is the first of many posts on the topic of music + education. After all, there’s a lot to be said for creative engagement in schools. Right? For many of us, schooling began with singing, or painting, or dancing. It was a way to get everyone to relax, to get to know each other, to realize that we all have something in common. Music is one of those connecting forces that few people argue against. But in many schools, music and arts education is vanishing by the second. It’s a shame, really. There’s so much more we can do – collaboratively, artistically, creatively – that is both fun and worthwhile.
The Global Education Collaborative is one organization seeking to reinvigorate the joys of education in meaningful ways: by letting people from all over the world share their thoughts and contribute to the ongoing conversation.
The goal here is that we won’t have to settle for boring lectures that turn into mid-day naps, and we can change the way we learn by using the tools at our fingertips every day. A worthwhile endeavor, don’t you think?
We’ve improved UJAM once again, and our newest release is live today. It’s all about a streamlined user experience, better help mechanisms, and sharing UJAM fun with your friends. Here’s some of what you will find:
- Invite your friends and be rewarded: Music is much more fun when you’re sharing it with friends. For every friend who signs up upon your invitation we’ll add a slot to your song page – that’s one more song you can store for free. If that’s not enough, then completing your UJAM Artist Profile will earn you up to 2 more.
- UJAM Studio: It’s the most intuitive layout yet, so creating and editing songs is even easier. Plus, our new Online Help gives you context-based guidance when you need it.
- New Top 5 Songs: Have a listen, these may be our hottest yet.
- We are hiring! If you want to be part of the UJAM Team, check out our latest job offerings in Germany. Learn more about what it’s like to work at UJAM and discover if you’ve got what it takes to join our team.
Your new studio awaits you at UJAM. Be on the look out for a newsletter with even more tips and tricks, plus a special sneak peek coming up. Have fun!
The International Songwriting Competition of 2011 is nearing a close – the deadline for entries is November 1st. That’s 8 whole days to finalize and submit a track to be judged by Kelly Clarkson, Ozzy Osbourne, Tori Amos, Massive Attack, and many other big-name artists. Not intimidating at all, right?
I didn’t realize this, but the ISC gives prizes away in loads of categories – everything from Americana to Blues to Novelty to Latin … 66 prizes across all the categories, PLUS honorable mentions, and one Grand Prize winner!
Among all those great songs and artists from last year’s contest, the one that strikes me most is this video, 1st Place Winner in the Music Video category, by Jorge Moreno:
I’m thankful for the songwriting contest for giving so many deserving people recognition for their talents. Good luck to this year’s entries!