A Síndrome

Publicado: fevereiro 2, 2014 por GG em Musicrônica
Tags:, ,

Acordei de um sono tranquilo, como eu não tinha há tempos. Relaxado e descansado, nem reclamei com o despertador. Abri a janela, deixei o sol entrar, e fui para o banho.

Alguém diria que meu andar era swingado, mas é bobagem pura. Posso estar balançando porque meu pé está machucado. Andando estranho, continuei meu caminho coçando minha barba, reparando o quão grande ela estava.

Depois de me lavar, liguei para a central de taxi, para pedir um carro que me levasse ao trabalho. Aí veio minha primeira surpresa, pois quando o atendente disse “alô” eu só consegui responder “tchubirubirubi yeah yeah oooooh uah uah uah”.

O cara desligou o telefone, certamente me achando doido. Pois tornei a ligar pensando que aquilo nunca iria acontecer de novo, mas para minha surpresa a condição era permanente. Ainda assim nada preocupante, pois me sentia bem. Resolvi que caminharia até o ponto de taxi com o endereço do trabalho escrito.

Cheguei quase sem fôlego ao ponto, após uma extenuante caminhada de 150 metros. Mostrei o endereço ao motorista e a viagem parecia tranquila, até que comecei a fazer som de trompete com a boca, descontroladamente, “fururufufu furufufufu fueeeeeueueueue”. Mesmo irritado, o taxista aguentou até o fim da corrida.

Ao descer do carro e entrar no prédio, minha caminhada já era bem mais swingada, e meus lindos solos de trompete só eram interrompidos por vocalizações cheias da mais refinada técnica. Eu me sentia muito bem e sofisticado, embora ainda me parecesse que algo faltava. Já aos meus colegas de trabalho, eu pareci um louco.

Eles me levaram de volta pra casa para que eu descansasse, apesar de meus protestos (em forma de vocalizações agressivas e solos de trompete bem agudos). E prometeram voltar pra me buscar na hora do almoço, quando checariam se eu apresentei melhora ou não.

Obviamente eu não atendi a porta quando voltaram. Eu estava muito ocupado. Estava sentado junto à minha coleção de discos, ouvindo um jazz sofisticadíssimo e apreciando um bom vinho.

E meu sossego não foi quebrado nem pelo estrondo que fizeram derrubando a porta, nem pelo grito desesperado que deram quando constataram “GG, você virou… o Ed Motta!!!!”

ed

Fechando o ano

Publicado: dezembro 16, 2013 por GG em Indefinido

Não posso dizer que esse ano foi um dos bons para este blog. Escrevi apenas 3 textos, fora os mais recentes (em inglês) que escrevi como parte do curso online de produção musical. Curiosamente, minha maior produção foi fora daqui, e de um razoável sucesso totalmente inesperado.

Eu já tinha colaborado algumas vezes com o impedimento, mas neste ano fui requisitado várias vezes. Graças ao desempenho do Cruzeiro no campeonato brasileiro, neste ano foram 7 textos naquele site. O que é uma honra enorme, considerando o nível dos editores.

Mas o mais impressionante, e o que foi totalmente inesperado, foi o sucesso da crônica que fiz após a vitória contra o Botafogo, numa carona com o sucesso cada vez maior do próprio site. O Douglas, principal editor do Impedimento, foi convidado no Redação SporTV, e logo no início do programa a minha crônica foi exibida, narrada e com um clipe de vídeo. Fiquei ainda mais transtornado do que quando escrevi o texto! Só de imaginar que gostaram dele a ponto de gastarem um tempo narrando e editando um vídeo, fiquei muito feliz com a repercussão.

E pra fechar com chave de ouro o ano no quesito futebol, fui mais uma vez à Impedcopa, o torneio organizado semestralmente pelo Impedimento. Não bastasse a sempre ótima recepção e o prazer de conversar com tanta gente boa, eu fui campeão!

Para o futuro deste blog não prometo mais nada- já prometi escrever duas vezes por semana, já prometi escrever semanalmente, já prometi escrever eventualmente, mas embora eu goste muito de escrever (e de vez em quando as pessoas até gostam dos meus textos, como se viu esse ano) isto continua não sendo a minha praia. Às vezes sai fácil, às vezes nada sai. Então fica sem promessa mesmo, só a esperança de que surjam mais uns contos.

Outra coisa divertida que fiz esse ano foi o Gerador de Escenarios. Peguei carona no sucesso de uma página do Facebook que fazia humor no formato dos Escenarios do Futebol Brasileiro do SNES. Como eu queria estudar algumas coisas, eu criei uma página para que as pessoas pudessem gerar as imagens facilmente.

A última coisa pra falar é lasanha. Infelizmente não será esse o meu almoço hoje, mas é o projeto lasanha. O Luiz e eu estamos começando a tocar este projeto de projeto que falávamos há muito tempo. O primeiro lançamento público foi o gerador de escenarios que eu citei anteriormente. Outros estão por vir. Inclusive este blog está agora sob o domínio vainalousa.lasanha.org.

Tenham todos um bom fim de ano!

Synthesizers

Publicado: setembro 1, 2013 por GG em Computação, Musicrônica
Tags:, , ,

Hello!

I’m Gabriel Marcondes, a computer engineer from Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, and I play the electric guitar as my hobby. Following my crescent interest in music composition and production, I enrolled in Berklee’s Introduction to Music Production, via Coursera‘s MOOC platform, and I’m writing this as the sixth and final assignment.

This week’s main topic is Synthesizers, and this text is about the main modules: Oscillator, Filter, Amplifier, Envelope, and LFO.

Oscillator

The Voltage Controlled Oscillator, or Oscillator for short, is the the part of a synthesizer that generates the waveform for the sound. Choosing between different waveforms gives us different kinds of sound. Sine, sawtooth, square and triangle waves are the most used, but you can make sounds with virtually any kind of wave.

Filter

The Voltage Controlled Filter, or simply The Filter, is the part that shapes the spectrum of the sound. Usually it is a low-pass, very important to cut high-end and avoid excessively bright timbres; but other filters are also useful (band-pass, high-pass, notch and comb filters).  Its main parameters are:

  • cut-off frequency
  • resonance, an amplification that gives emphasis on the cut-off frequency.

Amplifier

The Voltage Controlled Amplifier, or simply Amplifier, is the gain stage for the signal, generated by the oscillator and filtered by the filter. We control the amplification with an Envelope.

Envelope

The Envelope is a kind of automatization of the volume control, applied at every note-on event, when the synth receives that event and then creates the signal. The parameters are:

  • Attack Time, the time it takes from the note-on event until reach “full volume”
  • Decay Time, the time it takes to go from full volume to the sustain level
  • Sustain Level, the volume level for the note, until the note is released
  • Release Time, the time it takes to go from sustain level to zero, after the key is released (note-off event)

LFO

The Low Frequency Oscillator is a secondary modulation that can be used to control other modules. It is configured with a low frequency, usually lower than the human ear range (below 20Hz), and we don’t hear the LFO itself; instead, we hear its effect on other modules, using it to control other parameters, for example the pitch of the oscillator waveform, or the cut-off frequency of the filter. It also has the parameter Amount, that defines how much the LFO wave will impact the other modules.

So these are the main points in this topic. Of course it is a lot more complicated in practice, I wanted to create a demonstration with some music of mine, but I had no time for that.

Thanks for reading. It was a really good course, what do you think?

Hope to have you reading me again in the future!

I usually write in portuguese here, some tales and chronicles about computers, music and trips. If you can read portuguese, go ahead and look at some of my texts, hope you enjoy!

Aos meus leitores brasileiros perguntando “que é isso???”, é um texto como lição de casa de um curso on-line que estou fazendo. Este foi o último.

Hello!

I’m Gabriel Marcondes, a computer engineer from Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, and I play the electric guitar as my hobby. Following my crescent interest in music composition and production, I enrolled in Berklee’s Introduction to Music Production, via Coursera‘s MOOC platform, and I’m writing this as the fourth assignment.

Today I’ll show you how to do some compression in two different DAWs, Audacity and GarageBand.

For this exercise, I recorded my guitar without any effects. First, inside Audacity.

1 natural guitar

You can see it has a lot of dynamic. You can hear it here.

So, let’s compress and reduce this dynamic range, the difference between the louder and the quieter moments. We do this in Audacity via Effect > Compressor menu. Then a pop-up comes.

2 compressor

3 compressor popup

Here are the classical options. Threshold is the value that triggers the compressor function: lowering the louder sounds. Noise floor is a threshold that we define for cutting the noise. Ratio is how much the compressor will lower the volume when the sound goes above threshold. Attack is how long it takes to “bring down the fader”, the reaction time. Decay is similar to attack, but for the opposite movement of the fader. The check-button “Make-up gain…” will automatically amplify the result of the compression. I’ll leave this unchecked for now.

After a lot of tests and hearing, I set the threshold to -19dB. The maximum ratio available is 10:1. I choose 4:1. Attack time of 0.1secs is ok, but the minimum Decay time, 1 second, didn’t make me happy. We’ll see later why. In general, there are not much options here.

The result is this, the sound is more uniform.

4 compressed guitar

I’ll apply some gain, manually, via Effects > Amplify, and its pop-up.

5 amplify

6 amplify popup

Tweaking the Amplification slider automatically updates “new peak amplitude”, so you can see if the selected value will cause distortion. By unchecking “Allow Clipping”, the program will not letting you click “OK” if the result is distorted. With the values above, I got this:

7 compressed amplified guitar

And you can hear the result here.

The lack of real time monitoring while tweaking the compressor annoys me. So I moved into GarageBand (and recorded another guitar track, you can hear here, without effects). But GarageBand’s Compressor is even more limited when it comes to the options. Take a look:

8 garageband edit9 garageband compressor

The options are Threshold, Ratio, Attack and Gain. And you don’t see the values! It is just “low” or “high”, “fast” or “slow”. That’s disappointing.

But!

Alloy 2, suggested and used by Loudon Sterns on the course (you can download a free trial here), is compatible with both of these DAWs (and a lot more), so you can use it inside Audacity and GarageBand. So, to finish this work, I used Alloy 2 inside GarageBand, by editing the guitar track: Edit tab, click on the amplifier, and adding it to the channel strip. And I disabled all the other effects.

10 garageband alloy2 11 garageband alloy2 activated12 garageband alloy2 using

And with more hearing and testing, I set up the parameters as above, and this is the result.

My opinion about the results is:

  • on Audacity, the slow release time caused a high attenuation of the first strike on the guitar. That’s what I didn’t like.
  • on Alloy2 over GarageBand I could work the parameters carefully, and listen to the results in real time. As hearing is the most important thing in music production, real time monitoring is a key factor.
  • I didn’t apply any equalizers here- on a real situation I would cut a lot on the low frequencies of my guitar. So the results are quite strong in low and medium frequencies.
  • The difference between the uncompressed and the compressed wounds are subtle for this example. We would see much more of the work of a compressor if I were editing a complete song, with drums, keys and bass, for example, as the compressor would not only change the way one instrument sounds alone, but also its interaction with the others.

So thanks for your attention. Hope this helps, and, as always, I’m looking forward for your comments.

I usually write in portuguese here, some tales and chronicles about computers, music and trips. If you can read portuguese, go ahead and look at some of my texts, hope you enjoy!

Aos meus leitores brasileiros perguntando “que é isso???”, é um texto como lição de casa de um curso on-line que estou fazendo. Se te interessar, continue lendo.

Hello!

I’m Gabriel Marcondes, a computer engineer from Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, and I play the electric guitar as my hobby. Following my crescent interest in music composition and production, I enrolled in Berklee’s Introduction to Music Production, via Coursera‘s MOOC platform, and I’m writing this as the third assignment.

I’ve been using Audacity for a while now but, when I tried to figure out how to deal with the signal flow of the channels, I found out there was no way to do it. So I decided to switch to GarageBand (I had it here all the time but never used…)

Though beautiful and powerful, GarageBand also has some limitations on what you can do, but it is what I call abstraction: it does a lot of the work for you, so you have to worry less on details and more on the music itself. Of course this makes GarageBand more suitable for amateurs than for professional, but still you can do high quality music with this software.

(My installation is in portuguese, but I’ll refer to the options by their english names).

Okay, so let’s start. This is GarageBand’s home screen.

1 homescreen

 

Firstly, I’ll create a track for a software instrument, and record a piano with the M-Audio Ozone via usb, clicking on the menu Track > New Track, and selecting software instrument on the pop-up.

2 new track3 software instrument

 

So this is what I see after creating the track: the automatically labeled track on the left (Grand Piano, it is the default instrument), the sound visualization on the center (empty because I haven’t recorded yet) and the channel strip on the right.

4 software instrument channel strip

 

The flow here is top to bottom: first, the sound generator (Grand Piano); then the slots for the effects (compressor, 3 empty slots, and visual EQ); and finally echo and reverb faders. I’ll click on an empty slot and add an Echo effect to the flow, just below compressor.

5 chosing effects

 

And if I want to define the parameters for the effects, I click on their slots and do this on a pop-up.

7 tunning effects 6 tunning effects

 

GarageBand has some special features for guitar recording. So we have different visual representation for a channel strip when we select Electric Guitar for a new track. Let’s see…

8 new track guitar 9 guitar presets

 

The channel on the right shows “guitar combos” as a representation for the effects. The default is Clean Combo, I selected Surf and it brings me a Sustain pedal and an amplifier. I could add more pedals and change the amp, if I wanted to; it is like the sequence of effects on the channel strip, but represented as a sequence of pedals that I would use on a stage! I can tweak the parameters click on the elements.

10 guitar effects 11 guitar pedal

 

But hey, where are the channel fader, and the pan knob? They are on the left, next to the track names.

12 tracks

 

So, important to say, all those effects are pre-fader.

All the channels are then routed to the master track, hidden by default. We can see it by clicking Track > Show Master Track, and now it’s shown on the bottom.

13 show master track 14 master track screen 14 master track

 

And the master track is also configurable, just like that first software instrument track, on the panel on the right. Clicking on Master Track tab, we have the options “Explore” (with presets) and “Edit” (where you can define the effect sequences as you wish). Again, these are pre-fader.

15 master track effects16 master track effects edit

 

That’s it, folks! Thanks for reading, hope it can be useful for you. I’m looking forward for your suggestions and comments.

I usually write in portuguese here, some tales and chronicles about computers, music and trips. If you can read portuguese, go ahead and look at some of my texts, hope you enjoy!

Aos meus leitores brasileiros perguntando “que é isso???”, é um texto como lição de casa de um curso on-line que estou fazendo. Se te interessar, continue lendo.

Hello!

I’m Gabriel Marcondes, a computer engineer from Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, and I play the electric guitar as my hobby. Following my crescent interest in music composition and production, I enrolled in Berklee’s Introduction to Music Production, via Coursera‘s MOOC platform, and I’m writing this how to as the second assignment.

This week, I’ll talk about setting up a project using Audacity. It is a free and open-source Digital Audio Workstation. You will find it doesn’t have all the features and ease-to-use you find on ProTools or Live, but still is very useful for small, simple projects. This is what I do in my personal projects.

So, here is the home screen.

1 home

 

And now we dive into Audacity > Preferences. First, we set up the devices, on “Devices” (wow!)

2 devices

 

I would set the Recording device to my M-Audio interface and select (if I were home, but I’m not in my studio today =/).

Then we go into “Quality” and set the sampling rate to 48kHz, as suggested by Loudon. The default bit-depth of Audacity is set to 32 bits, more than our instructor suggested. I use it this way.

2 sample

 

Audacity has no option about audio recording format (like WAV). It stores the sound in a particular way, split into little pieces (as we will see in the project folder, later), so no worries about this now. You will only care about audio formats when exporting your work.

Now, in Recording, we have some options about the buffer size and latency correction.

2 zbuffer

 

Audacity measures the buffer in time instead of samples. So you have to calculate the appropriate size for what you want. As I always record my guitar using direct monitoring, I never worried about buffer size before.

And finally, into “Projects”, set Audacity to make a copy of imported files (in my case, usually the back tracks, or tracks generated by drum machines).

3 copy

 

Now, I’ll generate a click track (so I have something to save for this example), using the default options.

4 generate track4 generate track 2

 

Going into File > Save Project, and saving the project into a IMP_Course folder, where I chose to save everything for this course, with the name  settingsExample.

5 save project6 save project 2

 

This is the result of the saved project.

7 save project 3

 

As you can see in the second column, Audacity created a settingsExample.aup file, where are the project definitions, and a settingsExample_data folder, where are the sound files, visible in the last column. As I said before, that click track is splitted into various files.

The reflection here is: Audacity is not, or at least does not look like, a top quality DAW. I haven’t looked much into its options, and maybe it’s just because it looks ugly, but I wouldn’t work with this software professionally.

So I recommend you to take a look into several DAWs before making your choice (and that’s what I plan to do on the next weeks), I think the better will be the one that makes you feel more comfortable.

Thanks for reading, hope it can be useful for you. I’m looking forward for your suggestions and comments.

I usually write in portuguese here, some tales and chronicles about computers, music and trips. If you can read portuguese, go ahead and look at some of my texts, hope you enjoy!

Aos meus leitores brasileiros perguntando “que é isso???”, é um texto como lição de casa de um curso on-line que estou fazendo. Se te interessar, continue lendo, devo escrever cinco ou seis.

 

Hello!

I’m Gabriel Marcondes, a computer engineer from Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, and I play the electric guitar as my hobby. Following my crescent interest in music composition and production, I enrolled in Berklee’s Introduction to Music Production, via Coursera‘s MOOC platform, and I’m writing this how to as the first assignment – and I intend to use this space as my channel for the assignments, for the next five weeks.

Now that you know me, and I thank you for your a attention, let’s go into the topic I chose: how to record an electric guitar (or bass) without an amplifier. I’ll show you how I do it in my home studio with my gear.

I have this amazing amplifier, home-made by a work friend, but it has no line-out, only a speaker-out. Its best use would be recording with a microphone in front of the speaker, but I don’t have a microphone, so I’ll use it as my monitor.

0_amplifier

0_speaker

The pre-amp stage is done by my effect pod, a Line6 Floor POD Plus.

0_effectspod

The output of the pod is going into this M-Audio Ozone, my audio interface.

0_audiointerface

Here we have the sound going into two ways: the direct monitor and the computer. The monitor could also be a headphone, but I rather use my amplifier, so I can hear something louder and closer to what is being recorded. All the connections here are 1/4 inch TS cables, except for the Ozone-Computer part, using an usb cable.

If you want to record over a playback or another previously recorded track of your guitar os bass, you might find a good idea plugging your computer’s output into a home theater, so it will be loud enough to be heard while you play. The software of my choice is Audacity, free and open-source, and very easy to use for this basic recording.

So, this is how you do the connections:

1_guitarinput

2_guitaroutput

3_audiointerfacepanel

And this is an overview:

4_overviewb

I always turn down all the volume knobs (and put move pod’s volume pedal up to zero) and plug everything before powering up the gear, so I get rid of that loud clicks.

You see, it’s all very straightforward, and even different equipment shouldn’t differ much from this. Obviously this is not the only way to do it, nor the best, it’s just the way I do with the gear I have. It’s all simple and not expensive equipment (ok, maybe the Gibson Les Paul), yet you can record with very nice quality. Thanks to modern era!

Now, turn on everything, find the better volume settings to avoid distortion, start your DAW, set up the input and output devices, and you’re ready!

Thanks for reading, hope it can be useful for you.

I usually write in portuguese here, some tales and chronicles about computers, music and trips. If you can read portuguese, go ahead and look at some of my texts, hope you enjoy!

Aos meus leitores brasileiros perguntando “que é isso???”, é um texto como lição de casa de um curso on-line que estou fazendo. Se te interessar, continue lendo, devo escrever cinco ou seis.