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Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

A Forum to Discuss NOTION

Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:03 am

I discovered Notion 3 several months ago when I was working on a new Flamenco subgenre and realized that the rhythm pattern was entirely too complex for me actually to play on a drumkit, and after working with Notion 3 for an hour or so without reading the owner's manual, I realized that I know enough about music theory and notation actually to compose music with script, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous!

I have known how to do this stuff for over half a century, but when I first learned it, the only practical way to do it was with pencil and paper, and it required having an orchestra, which made it completely and totally impractical, so I forgot about it until several months ago, which is a bit mind-boggling . . .

Mind-boggling!

The Flamenco project in the new subgenre that I call "Surrealería™" is coming along nicely, and for reference Surrealeria has verses and choruses with a Bulería rhythm pattern but it has a 36-beat interlude pattern, since for the particular song I need a 36-beat interlude for the YouTube music video, where I plan to do a Flamenco Dance and Mime reenactment of The Mayan Story of the Creation of the World™ while wearing ballet tights with an impressive codpiece, pointy slippers, and a Venetian mask, for sure . . .

[NOTE: This is a Windows Media Video (WMV) desktop and audio capture of the Notion 3 project playing the Flamenco song, "Maríta de la Luna y Pablito el Petardo (No Es Tanto Lo Que Es Como Lo Que No Es)" (The Surf Whammys), and it is approximately 6.7MB and runs for 3 minutes and 40 seconds. It was done on the Mac via Screenflow and then exported as WMV format . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Surrealeria-06-22-2010.wmv

The DAW is a 2.8-GHz 8-core Mac Pro with 8GB (8x1GB) memory and 5TB of hard drive space running OSX 10.6.4, and I use MOTU Digital Performer 6.2 for the digital studio . . .

All the instruments are done with Notion 3 and a combination of sound libraries that includes SampleTank 2 (IK Multimedia), which has stellar drums and a lot of synthesizers . . .

After getting the Flamenco song to the point that I can start recording the additional real instruments and singing, I got a bit distracted recently by "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga), since there are no electric guitars on her song, so I decided to do a song in a similar style but with electric guitars, which is coming along nicely, although I have not recorded the real electric guitars yet, since at present I am adding what I call "sparkles", which appears to be a requirement for Pop songs at the dawn of the early-21st century . . .

[NOTE: "Sparkles" are short musical phrases that occur every once in a while at what appear essentially to be random times and serve two primary purposes, one being to add texture and the other being to capture and focus the listener's attention by making strange noises like bells, whistles, and so forth. There are logical patterns for "sparkles", but the patterns are sparse and appear to be random until one actually studies them. Technically, this might be a variation of what in music theory is called "ornament", but perhaps not. In the 1960s, one type of "sparkles" were hand-clapping tracks, but castanets, maracas, and tambourines also are popular "sparkles", as is putting a bit of white noise at top-center, which is done in sections of "Bad Romance" and is pretty strange, really . . . ]

This is the MP3 of the current version of "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" (The Surf Whammys), where all the instruments are done in Notion 3, but the singing is done with microphones and recorded in Digital Performer, where for reference I also record the Notion 3 instruments via using Digital Performer as the Rewire controller of Notion 3, which works very nicely on the Mac once you tinker with it for a while and discover the various Rewire rules . . .

[NOTE: This MP3 is 288-kbps [VBR} resolution and is approximately 10MB, with a run time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds, and The Surf Whammys is one of my pretend musical groups . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Im-Going-Goo-Goo-Over-Ga-Ga-10-13-2010-MP.mp3

"Sparkles" are a big deal here in the sound isolation studio, as is motion in general, since I like to have a lot of stuff moving around within what I call the "Spherical Sonic Landscape™", which is an elaborate vector space with pitch, roll, and yaw that travels through spacetime, really . . .

[NOTE: There also is a Side Plane, but the Front Plane and Top Plane are sufficient to understand the general concept. The three vector planes are orthogonal, and their center point is (0,0,0) which is in the center of the listener's head. Left, right, and top-front are easy locations for panning, but up, down, front, and back are not so easy, although Panorama 3D (Wave Arts) can do it when there is enough space for the required reverberation and echo. For reference, "A" represents "Anterior", and "P" represents "Posterior" in the Top Plane, and the lower-case letters have a similar correspondence. "T" represents "Top'" and "B" represents "Bottom", while "L" represents "Left" and "R" represents "Right". And the numbers represent the hours on the face of a clock, which covers the important dimensions of each vector plane, where the hours actually represent angles rather than time, since time is not shown in the diagrams, although the music and sounds move through spacetime, which adds a time component. Placing sounds in very specific locations is not so easy, but at least there are geometric diagrams that identify the various locations precisely, which is a step forward and helps to conceptualize what actually happens . . . ]

Image
Spherical Sonic Landscape ~ Front Plane

Image
Spherical Sonic Landscape ~ Top Plane

Really!

One of the things that is fantastic about Notion 3 is that I can take a single instrument part and copy the notes to another few identical instrument parts, followed by replacing notes with rests to sequence the otherwise single phrases among the two or more identical instruments, where the next step is to switch to the Notion 3 Mixer and pan each of the instrument to a different location, where for two instruments I pan one far-left and the other far-right, but for three instruments I pan one far-left, another top-center, and then pan the third instrument far-right, such that the notes move back-and-forth in a pattern based on the way I replace notes with rests, which is very easy to do with Notion 3 but is not so easy to do with something like Digital Performer. In other words, Digital Performer can do it, but it requires a lot of work and perhaps some automation, but with a bit of cloning, panning, and replacing notes with rests in Notion 3, it is super easy to do, and it is very precise, as you can hear in "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" if you listen with studio-quality headphones like the SONY MDR-7506 (a personal favorite), since I only do headphone mixes when I am working on a song. Later, I switch to doing loudspeaker mixing for the final version, for sure . . .

For sure!

My current strategy is to do what I call a "basic rhythm section" with Notion 3, and this basic rhythm section then becomes the elaborate "click track" for Digital Performer, where I record whatever real instruments and voices make sense, such that the resulting song is a combination of Notion 3 instruments, real instruments, and real singing . . .

Another advantage of doing it this way is that I can do more orchestration later by switching back to Notion 3, where everything is in time and key, because I started the recording with a Notion 3 basic rhythm section and tuned the real instruments to Notion 3 reference pitches . . .

And the basic rhythm section can be as simple as a kick drum track and some reference pitches for tuning real instruments or it can be very elaborate, so if I already know what I want to do with the orchestration then I can do it, but if nothing comes to mind at first I can record the real instruments and singing and then do the orchestration later, which makes this an excellent and flexible strategy, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)
Last edited by Surfwhammy on Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Admin » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:27 am

Outstanding!!! Glad to hear you're having fun!!
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby kelldammit » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:18 am

way to go!
i've found notion incredibly useful for working out guitar/bass arrangements, as well. the tab/staff implementation and virtual fretboards are fantastic! plus, it's nice to have the tab to refer to 6 months from now when i've completely forgotten what i'd actually played... :D

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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:50 am

Thanks for the kind words! :)

I encountered what appears to be a 51 instrument limit in Notion 3 on the Mac, but after pondering it for a while I realized that I can do essentially the same thing that George Martin did with four-track magnetic tape machines when he was producing the Beatles, but instead of the media for "ping-ponging" and "bouncing" being magnetic tape it is cloned Notion 3 projects, where I keep a few of the basic instruments but replace the other instruments with new instruments and corresponding sound sources, which is working nicely, since by using Rewire to get the Notion 3 tracks into Digital Performer (MOTU), the result is a recorded "soundbite" for the respective stereo track in Digital Performer, which makes the limit on the total number of instruments dependent on the number of stereo tracks assigned to soundbites that Digital Performer can handle, which also is pretty much unrestricted, since I can "bounce to disk" any number of tracks to create a single soundbite that effectively replaces and frees the stereo tracks that were "bounced", albeit with a tiny bit of clearing tracks and doing a bit of what in the computer science universe colloquially is called "house-keeping" . . .

[NOTE: I make copies of everything at each step, so if I need to fine-tune an instrument later, I have its original project file, which basically takes about the same amount of time as recording a replacement track with a real instrument, and for a typical song maps approximately to 10 minutes when I know exactly what I want to change, which is fine with me . . . ]

This works very nicely, and the primary requirement is to have a plan for the song, which for me comes into existence around the time I have perhaps 25 or so instrument tracks, at which point I have a sense of where the song is going, at least to the extent of being able to listen to the existing tracks toward the goal of identifying spaces within what I call the "Spherical Sonic Landscape™" where I can put more stuff . . .

At present, I am adding more sparkles, and this afternoon I added a pair of stereo tracks of "1970 Minimoog" and a pair of "1972 Modular Moog" instruments from SampleTank 2.5 (IK Multimedia), which are in the "Sample Tank 2 XT Sounds" library . . .

The "1970 Minimoog" stereo tracks are doing eighth note arpeggios every once in a while but also are doing far-left and far-right enhancements of the slower counterpoint lines, while the "1972 Modular Moog" stereo tracks are doing rapid but simple thirty-second note arpeggios mostly during the choruses in the last measure, although the frequency increases to once every four measures during the last part of the repeating choruses at the end of the song starting with the second repeated chorus after the double kick drum appears . . .

As noted in my previous post, I am not using instruments in what probably is a "normal" way, but so what . . .

So what!

I like stuff to move around, and while I can make stuff move around in Digital Performer, it requires a lot of work and takes a long time to do, but after working with Notion 3 for a while I realized that I can take the notes for a single instrument and copy them to a few more of the same instruments, followed by replacing selected notes with equal-value rests to cause what was a single phrase of notes for one instrument to be spread over several clones of the same instrument, where each of the cloned instruments has its own stereo track in Notion 3, which then makes it possible to pan each of the instruments in the set to a different location, with the result being that the notes appear in different locations without me needing to do anything additional, which is working very nicely, for sure . . .

For sure!

For example, if I want to have the notes for an arpeggio appear in the sequence {far-left, top-left, top-right, far-right}, then I create three new instruments that are the same as the original instrument and copy the notes from the original instrument to each of the three new instruments, at which point I have four identical clefs with identical notes, all assigned to the same sound library instrument . . .

Then, I replace notes with equal-value rests in whatever motion pattern I want, and the result is that for example the phrase begins with the first note at far-left and then moves to second note but at top-left, followed by the next note appearing at top-right, and then the fourth note appearing at far-right, where I can run the sequence backward or whatever makes the most sense . . .

In fact, there are quite a few permutations of the panning set {far-left, top-left, top-right, far-right} when it is applied to a phrase of notes that are sequenced across several identical instruments via replacing notes with equal-valued rests, which is quite handy for having a bit of FUN with sparkles, which typically are short phrases that appear every once in a while mostly for a measure or so and then disappear . . .

[NOTE: The various pattern stuff is easier to understand when one takes a bit of time to make sense of some of the basic concepts in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition (SoMC), which is very useful when one is mathematically inclined and relates to patterns primarily in a visual way. The sounds, of course, are aural but it is easier to map them to an elaborate set of vector planes moving through spacetime when there are high-level visual guides or whatever one wants to call them, where for example the following tubular bell notes are spread over four clefs where from top to bottom the panning is {far-left, top-left, top-right, far-right} and if you connect the notes by drawing a line with a pencil from each note to the next note, it forms a cosine curve . . . ]

Image
A Series of Tubular Bell Notes Spread Across Four Identical Instrument Clefs in a Cosine Pattern

At present, there are 55 Notion 3 instruments for what I am calling the "basic rhythm section", and there are 4 monaural vocal tracks and 2 stereo vocal tracks, although I did a bit of subgrouping of the drumkit, Latin percussion, bells, and bass, which reduced the number of stereo tracks required in Digital Performer for the Notion 3 instruments, so there are just 36 tracks in Digital Performer, really . . .

[NOTE: This is a headphone mix, which is what I do when I am working on a song, since it is quicker and faster than doing a loudspeaker mix . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Im-Going-Goo-Goo-Over-Ga-Ga-10-19-2010-MP.mp3

Really!

All the instruments heard in this new version of the song are done with Notion 3, although when I finish adding sparkles I will record the real electric guitars, backup harmony vocals, and whatever else appears to make sense at the time, for sure . . .

For sure!

This is a lot easier than I expected it to be initially, and now that I have devised a way essentially to have as many Notion 3 instruments as I desire, it is very practical way to create elaborate songs, since by starting with Notion 3 instrument tracks that are recorded in Digital Performer as soundbites via using Digital Performer as the Rewire controller for Notion 3, I then can record stuff in Digital Performer and add more instruments via Notion 3, as the need arises, which is a very nice and quite flexible way to construct a song here in the sound isolation studio, which for reference is 7' by 12' by 7' and is a room within a room within a room on a fully floated floor, which makes it very quiet, except that two-thirds of the room is filled with the Really Bigger Drumkit™, which is the consequence of not taking quite enough time during the architectural design phase of the sound isolation studio to realize that I really like drums, cymbals, and cowbells, which is fabulous . . .

Image
Really Bigger Drumkit

Fabulous! :)
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:03 am

I added a few more sparkles to "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" (The Surf Whammys) and ran the lead vocals through the Melodyne Editor (Celemony) where I did global pitch correction, for sure . . .

[NOTE: This MP3 is 287-kbps [VBR] and is 10MB, with a run time of approximately 4 minutes and 30 seconds . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Im-Going-Goo-Goo-Over-Ga-Ga-10-25-2010-MP.mp3

For sure!

After finding a video tutorial on using the Melodyne Editor for custom echoes and then listening to the European Single for "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus), which has a virtual festival of stellar custom vocal echoes and very nice set of chord patterns ({Am, F, Dm, E} | {F Am F E} | {Dm Em F G} | {F Dm C E F G E|), I decided to do a bit of work on the basic rhythm section in Notion 3 for the parody I am doing of the Miley Cyrus song, which tentatively is titled "I'm Feeling You Feeling Me Feeling You" (The Surf Whammys), really . . .

[NOTE: This is a Windows Media Video (WMV) of the Notion 3 basic rhythm section, and it is 6.8MB and runs approximately for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. It was done with Screenflow on the Mac, but I reduced the video resolution to keep the file smaller. The audio is good quality but the video is a bit blurred at full-screen resolution . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/FeelingYouFeelingMe-BasicRhythmSection-Notion3-10-2010.wmv

Really!

The tempo for this new song is 136 beats per minute (BPM)--the same tempo as the Miley Cyrus song--which is 17 BPM faster than the "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) parody, and with the faster beat I decided to have a bit of FUN with double-kick drums, which mapped to working on the 6 measure 4/4 prologue (or "Intro" in musical terminology), which doubles as the chorus, for several hours--noting that since I like the instruments for "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" I made a copy of its Notion 3 project file; renamed it; and then used it as the foundation for the new song, which is a lot faster, because all the VST stuff already is assigned and configured the way I like it . . .

I use the soloing feature of the Notion 3 to focus specifically on whatever I want to hear, and one of the curious aspects of using a previously completed song as the template for a new but similar song is that once I got the prologue the way I liked it, I noticed that the music that followed it (which was from the other song) fit nicely and sounded a bit different due to the tempo being faster, which was a bit of serendipity . . .

So, I made a few changes to the "Brass Arp" synthesizer chords and violin section, modified the synthesized pulsating bass, and so forth but left everything the way it was for the other song, which makes this a great way to do similar songs in a consistent style . . .

I suppose that using previously composed songs as templates for new songs is obvious to those folks who have been doing computer-based music composition for a long time, but this is only my third full song in Notion 3, so it is a key discovery from my perspective, and after pondering it for while, I think that there are a lot of possibilities with respect to having a library of templates for various types of things, including sparkles, rhythms, and so forth and so on, which I think will make a bit more sense when I ponder it for a while with respect to devising an infrastructure . . .

The current version of "I'm Feeling You Feeling Me Feeling You" took about 12 hours or so, with most of the time being devoted to working out the "Brass Arp" synthesizer chords, which is the result of relating to chords from the perspective of guitar where there are only six notes and not so many practical permutations, where in contrast keyboard chords can have more than six notes, but it made sense after a while once I focused on remember the basic music theory for chords and identified the mathematical pattern for the double chords that the "Brass Arp" synthesizer needs to play for all the chords to have a consistent overall TONE and so forth . . .

Doing all the measure inserting, content copying, and pasting takes a while, as well, but it is part of composing, and the actual computer stuff happens very quickly, so I am very comfortable with a complete song mapping to perhaps 200 hours of work, if not longer, which actually is about the same amount of time it takes to do a song with real instruments when you consider the time required to play everything in real-time on the fly and so forth and so on, including getting everything setup in the sound isolation studio, tuning instruments, practicing, recording one track at a time, and all that stuff . . .

[NOTE: If a 5-piece musical group works on a song for 20 hours, then this maps to 100 hours for one person, which essentially doubles when you consider studio setup time, audio engineering time, producing time, and so forth, so I am quite comfortable with working on a song for several hundred hours, especially since at present it takes a while to determine precisely how to do just one set of sparkles, which as noted in my previous posts certainly appears to be a mandatory requirement of popular songs, and now that I have noticed sparkles in an immediately conscious way appears to have been a mandatory requirement for decades, going back at least so far as the early-1960s and Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound", which included a virtual festival of sparkles . . . ]

From this perspective, the primary advantages of doing the basic rhythm section and orchestration in Notion 3 are (a) that everything is very precise and (b) that the virtual musicians never make mistakes. Additionally, the sampled-sound libraries I use for the drumkit sound better in some respects than my real drumkit, and I can do elaborate rhythm patterns easily with Notion 3 that would be a bit difficult for me to play on the real drumkit unless I did it in separate sections, for sure . . .

For sure!

And once I get the basic rhythm section and orchestration done in Notion 3, I can ReWire into Digital Performer (MOTU) and record the real electric guitar and vocals, which at least for the real electric guitar gives me a bit of an edge, since my current thinking is that the reason there are no guitars on some of the current hit song is that youngsters do everything on computers and never actually learned how to play a real instrument other than keyboards . . .

In some respects, when it has been nearly half a century since one was a teenager, it takes a bit of work to determine what is current in terms of popular music or whatever one decides to call it, but I have a system that works nicely, and being able to identify a new trend in popular music and then being able quickly to have a bit of FUN with it is outstanding, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:05 pm

NOTE: The link to "I'm Feeling You Feeling Me Feeling You" (The Surf Whammys) was wrong, but I corrected it . . .
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:28 am

I did a bit more work on "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" (The Surf Whammys), where the primary focus was using the Melodyne Editor (Celemony) to do a bit of much needed pitch correction and melody adjustment on the lead vocals, which among other things reminded me that I really need to practice singing along with the melody, since I was a bit surprised by how many notes were off-pitch by as much as a semitone every once in a while, although it was not a complete and total surprise, since the fact of the matter is that I composed the melody in real-time on the fly as I was recording the lead vocals, which mapped to singing the song a grand total of three times, where I use two microphones so that I have a pair of tracks, which mapped to having six tracks of lead vocals, where the first pair of tracks is the melody as it was beamed to me by the aliens from outer space, and the next two pairs of tracks were for doubling and adding a bit of harmony, with the result that I sang the song three times, recording the singing each time, and then I moved onto doing something else . . .

And since a few of the notes in the first rendition were a bit flat, I probably just sang those notes a bit sharp on the third rendition to compensate, but I was not so consciously aware that I was having to sharp notes by a semitone, but after seeing the notes represented as "blobs" in Melodyne Editor and seeing where they were assigned relative to pitch ranges, I was a bit surprised, if only because it had the effect of bursting my bubble with respect to my ongoing view that I can sing at least as well as Elvis and the Beatles, although based on my recent epiphany perhaps not without doing a bit more practicing with a piano where I can focus on hitting the correct notes, but so what . . .

So what!

Once I got the lead vocals pitch-corrected and made a few adjustments to the melody, which is another thing that Melodyne Editor makes possible, the total amount of audio space occupied by the lead vocals in what I call the "Spherical Sonic Landscape" decreased but the clarity and so forth increased, with the curious consequence that this made a bit more audio space available for the instruments, so I made a few adjustments to the instruments, including changing the optical compression for the bass section to a present that does a bit of "sweetening" rather than hard compression with a set limit, and the result is that the bass section pulsates a bit more and has a deeper TONE . . .

And I increased the level of the violin section in each channel by 1db, which makes the violin section a tiny bit more prominent, although it is a tiny change, except that tiny changes tend to have significant overall affect on everything else when T-RackS 3 Deluxe (IK Multimedia) is used on the master output, since everything interacts in ways that in some respects are a bit mind-boggling, where sometimes increasing the level of a higher-pitch instrument makes the bass sound deeper, which basically makes no intuitive sense to me, but it works . . .

[NOTE: This is a headphone mix, which is what I do when I am working on a song, but once I do the real electric guitars and harmony vocals, I will switch to do loudspeaker mixes. At present, all the instruments are done with Notion 3 and are recorded in Digital Performer (MOTU) as soundbites via Digital Performer controlling Notion 3 through its ReWIre interface . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Im-Going-Goo-Goo-Over-Ga-Ga-11-8-2010-MP.mp3

In retrospect, the reason that I decided to start using Notion 3 was to do elaborate Flamenco drumkit rhythms, so it is a bit surreal that I wandered into doing silly DISCO songs, but the result is that I was able to push the limits of everything (Digital Performer and Notion 3) to determine the various rules with respect to the practical number of instruments, tracks, ReWire interactions, plug-ins, and so forth and so on that the 2.8-GHz 8-core Mac Pro (8GB memory [8x1GB modules]) can handle in a practical way . . .

Overall this has mapped to somewhere in the range of 200 to 300 hours of Notion 3 composing, a good bit of which was focused either (a) on remembering all the music notation stuff I learned about half a century ago or (b) on discovering how to get past the apparent 51 instrument limitation of Notion 3, as well as how to make ReWire work, and this often mapped to using Notion 3 for 12 to 18 hours continuously, and while I was able to confuse Notion 3 a handful of times, all I needed to do was to restart it and open the last saved Notion 3 project file, and then everything was back to working nicely, with the sole exception being when I tried to add a 52nd instrument, which Notion 3 on the Mac does not handle nicely, at all, but so what . . .

So what!

Having a Computer Science degree and a lot of experience with C/C++ programming, as well as database programming, I did a few experiments and determined that so long as I limit the total number of instruments to 50 or perhaps 51, then everything is fine, so the strategy is to have a folder where I keep every iteration of the Notion 3 project file for a song, and when I need to add more instruments, I clone the current version of the Notion 3 project file and simply replace some of the existing instruments with the new instruments I want to add . . .

Then, after adding the new instruments and the various notes and phrases, I set the ReWire channels for the new instruments and then do the ReWire thing to get the new instruments into Digital Performer as soundbites, which is a stellar strategy that for all practical purposes makes it possible for me to have perhaps as many as 500 to 1,000 instruments with Notion 3, although Digital Performer tends to encounter one of its limits around 25 to 30 tracks when there are a lot of resource-intensive ("heavy") plug-ins on quite a few of the Digital Performer tracks, with the most resource-intensive plug-ins being AmpliTube 3 (IK Multimedia), Panorama 3D (Wave Arts), and Melodyne Editor (Celemony) . . .

However, the strategy for handling the Digital Performer limitations is to "bounce to disk" some number of tracks and then to replace the real tracks with the resulting stereo soundbite, which just requires one stereo track, thereby freeing the bounced tracks for doing even more stuff as well as making it possible to remove the resource-intensive plug-ins, since what they do has been recorded to the stereo soundbite, and so forth and so on, with the result that with a bit of careful planning, I am convinced reasonably based on my various experiments that I can do a song that has 500 to 1,000 Notion 3 computer-generated instruments in a Digital Performer project that has at one time or another enough tracks to handle all the Notion 3 instruments as well as a virtual festival of real instruments and vocals tracks . . .

I did a screen capture with Screenflow (Mac) that shows the Notion 3 project and Digital Performer 6.02 controlling Notion 3 via ReWire, which I will add to this post as soon as the screen capture finishes exporting to Windows Media Video format, which takes a while, since the video has to be reduced in size and compressed to make the resulting video file a reasonable size, which tends to make the video a bit blurry but nevertheless sufficient for a quick overview . . .

[NOTE: This is the overview video, and it is approximately 13.0MB with a run time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds, where the first 2 minutes are silent, since there is no voice-over, but so what . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga-DAW-Notion3-Overview.wmv

The way Screenflow works requires that I use native Core Audio for the sound, which has the result at present that I cannot do a voice-over explaining what I am doing, since all my microphones have XLR connectors and this requires using the MOTU 828mkII as the Firewire audio interface, which Screenflow does not recognize as an audio source, so there is no step-by-step spoken word stuff . . .

The video begins with a silent walk-through of the Notion 3 project file (score, mixer, and a few plug-ins) and the Digital Performer mixing board and some of its resource-intensive plug-ins. This runs for approximately 2 minutes or so, during which time there is no sound, and then I start playing the song in Digital Performer and show the tracks, some of the plug-ins, and then do a quick bit of track soloing, so the video runs for about 6 minutes and 30 seconds . . .

The Activity Monitor that comes with OS X 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard) is shown at the lower-left corner of the screen, and the percentage of the 8-cores of the 2.8-GHz Mac Pro that are being used, which is interesting to watch, but as you will notice when the song is playing and I activate the Panorama 3D plug-in, there is a tiny interruption of the audio from Digital Performer, which is a clue either (a) that the upper limit of what the entire system can handle is not so far away or (b) that I need to get more memory or to do a bit of system tuning, with another possibility being to get a faster hard drive to use for the various Digital Performer audio files, although currently I am using a 3TB RAID 0 hard drive array (two 1.5TB hard drives), which is pretty fast, really . . .

Really!

However, while it might be nice to have everything happen instantly in every possible scenario, the reality is that it is not necessary in practice, because I start and stop the Digital Performer playback when initially loading "heavy" plug-ins, which takes just a few seconds, and is not a big deal with respect to my workflow . . .

The important thing about the video is that it show a Notion 3 project with 51 instruments, some of which are processed by Notion 3 using special effects plug-ins in the mixer, and it shows Notion 3 being controlled by Digital Performer 6.02 via ReWire, where everything is quite peppy on the Mac Pro, where for reference there are 34 tracks used in the Digital Performer project, but there is a total of 44 tracks, including the Master Output stereo track, although 9 of the tracks currently are not used but are present on the mixing board, which is one of the ways I infer that there tends to be a 25 to 30 track limitation on what Digital Performer 6.02 can handle on this particular Mac Pro . . .

On the other hand, I am upgrading to Digital Performer 7 this week, and it is 64-bits, which should map to it being a lot faster and having a somewhat higher upper limit to what it can handle with respect to the total number of tracks, plug-ins, and so forth and so on . . .

As noted, my initial thoughts were to go Flamenco crazy, but after watching "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) I decided to go DISCO crazy for a while, and while sooner or later I plan to do some "Eleanor Rigby" (Beatles) style orchestration, doing "I'm Going Goo-Goo Over Ga-Ga" has a string section and a lot of other stuff, which makes it very nice with respect to devising a very nice system for doing all this stuff, and if nothing else the video shows that everything is working very nicely and reliably, which is stellar in every respect . . .

I was doing a pair of reference tone and "click" tracks in Digital Performer at the start of a new recording project for a song, but my new strategy is to begin by doing what I call a "basic rhythm section" in Notion 3 and then getting it into Digital Performer via ReWire, where the resulting soundbites become the reference tone, "clicks", and the basic rhythm section . . .

The advantage of doing it this way, even when the "basic rhythm section" is very simple and is just a set of reference tones and a kick drum or whatever for a "click" track, is that if I decide to do orchestration later, then the real instruments are tuned to the Notion 3 project file reference tones, and the tempo of the real instruments matches the temnp of the Notion 3 score, so I can switch from Digital Performer and real instruments and singing to Notion 3, and vice-versa, which is an excellent strategy . . .

There are a few caveats, where for example I cannot change the tempo easily, without redoing the real instruments, and if I decided to add a bridge, interlude, or verse, it would require a bit of copying and pasting for the Notion 3 stuff, but this is not a big deal for me, since I plan everything in reasonable detail before I start doing it, and I have devised a strategy for adding more sections to a song after I have composed a lot of Notion 3 instruments and recorded a lot of real instruments and voices in Digital Performer, which mostly is a matter of doing some elaborate inserting, copying, and pasting, although it is not something I envision wanting to do very often, if ever, but I have done enough experiments to be comfortable with it being a practical strategy . . .

As an additional observation, it is lot easier to do this type of work with an Apple computer, in part because everything literally "just works", and the quality of the Apple hardware and software is stellar, which is very important, because while it is possible to get high quality hardware for a Windows machine, everything coming from different vendors tends to map to a virtual maze of problems with drivers and so forth and so on, which simply does not happen in the Apple universe . . .

And while it might appear that a Windows computer costs less than an Apple computer, this is grand delusion, because by the time you upgrade or special-order a Windows computer so that everything is as near to the quality of an Apple computer as possible, the Windows computer costs more than the Apple computer, for sure . . .

For sure!

I probably should order some type of mini-microphone or simple interface for doing voice-overs, and as I recall the fine folks at B.L.U.E. have a USB microphone that should work nicely for this purpose, since having a voice-over on this type of video is nice, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:49 am

After working with Notion 3 for approximately six months (approximately 1,500 hours), everything is making a lot more sense, which is fantastic . . .

Fantastic!

As noted in another post somewhere, I am defining a formula or system for doing songs, since it is easier to do songs when one has a formula or system . . .

So far, I have done five or so songs, with three of them nearing completion, and when I start a song from scratch the current ratio is 100 hours of work in Notion 3 to one minute of song, but I think this will improve over time, since at present I devote (or perhaps waste) a lot of time trying to make sense of notes that are above or below a clef by more than one or two lines, where (a) notes lower than Middle C and (b) notes higher than High G on the treble clef are a bit troublesome, which is even more the case for the bass clef, since for bass clef I need to remember that the notes not only (a) are two whole-steps higher but also (b) are two octaves lower than the notes on the treble clef, but I think it will become easier the more I work with music notation . . .

[NOTE: For example, C5 (US) on the treble clef is between the 3rd and 4th lines from the bottom of the staff, but C3 (US) is between the 2nd and 3rd lines from the bottom of the bass clef (hence effectively "up two whole-steps and down two octaves two" or in shorthand (up two and down two). Having every clef essentially being inconsistently relative to something different is very confusing for me, and if it were my decision I would have every clef anchored so that C always was in the same location on the staff but relative to the particular octave, where for the standard treble clef, High C (the C one octave higher than Middle C) is in the space between the 3rd and 4th lines where the lines are numbered in ascending order from the lowest line of the staff to the highest line, where for example the bass clef simply would have its "high C" as C3 (US), which maps to the 5th fret on the "G" string of an electric bass guitar or a string bass. Explained another way, the note on the bottom line of every staff would be E and the note between the 3rd and 4th lines counting from the lowest line of the staff upward would be C, where there would be a number next to the clef to indicate which specific C it is on a piano. Done this way, the "bass clef" would have C3 as the note between the 3rd and 4th lines from the bottom, and the "treble clef" would have C5 as the note between its 3rd and 4th lines from the bottom, which is considerably simpler to remember mathematically and geometrically, especially for those folks who play both electric bass and electric guitar, because in standard tuning, four of the strings on these electric stringed instruments are the same except for differing by one octave. It might be strange for most of the other instruments, but for folks who play electric bass, electric guitar, and piano (keyboards), it is an excellent system, which a future version of Notion should be able to do as an option or whatever. And a big part of the problem for me is that I learned to sight-sing Classical music as a child when I was a soprano, so the standard treble clef is very intuitive for me to the point of the mapping being a basic component of my psyche, but I never learned any other clefs even though I played string bass in an orchestra for a while (which I did "by ear", much to the great annoyance of the conductor, since I usually played [i]Rock and Roll bass lines at what in retrospect probably were inappropriate times) . . . [/i]]

My current project is an album of songs that are "inspired" by hit songs done by female singers, and the album is called "Electric Underpants™", which is a pun, since it actually has nothing to do with underpants as the word typically is defined, instead being more along the lines of "undercurrents", "underpinnings", or "foundations", where the general idea is that the songs have what I call a "basic rhythm section" done with music notation and VSTi instruments in Notion 3 onto which I add real singing and a real electric guitar where I play lead guitar solos, which makes a bit of sense when you think about it for a while . . .

[NOTE: The album also could be called "Digital Underpants™", but I like the way "Electric Underpants" sounds, since it is more surreal, although I suppose that "Surreal Underpants™" is another possibility. And "Electric Underpants" has the additional advantage of being a not so subtle pun on "Electric Ladyland" (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), which fits nicely with the electric guitar being The Fabulous Fifty Million Dollar Trinaural Stratocaster® . . . ]

Image
The Fabulous Fifty Million Dollar Trinaural Stratocaster® ~ Custom-Modded for Stereo (Dual Output Channels [TRS])

A few days ago, Britney Spears released her new hit single "Hold It Against Me", which I like, so I decided to have a bit of FUN with the concept, which soon led to a new Surf Whammys song ("Put It On Me"), since among other things I have a strange sense of humor . . .

And this is the "basic rhythm section" for the new Surf Whammys song ("Put It On Me"), where for this version everything is done in Notion 3, since I have not done the Digital Performer, Notion 3, and ReWire step, as yet . . .

[NOTE: This is a headphone mix, hence is a bit "hot", which is what I do when I am working on a song. Later, I switch to doing loudspeaker mixes, but so what . . . ]

http://www.surfwhammys.com/Put-It-On-Me-1-12-2011-N3.mp3

It needs more square wave, sawtooth wave, and pink noise synthesizers, as well as a virtual festival of "sparkles", but it is far enough along to get a sense of the direction of the song, although it will be considerably more Techno, Trance, and so forth while continuing to be annoyingly DISCO with occasional moments of Heavy Metal . . .

Basically, all these young ladies (Britney, Miley, Lady Gaga, et al.) need to be metaphorically spanked, which is the motivating force here in the sound isolation studio, since from my perspective the best way to spank them metaphorically for the excessive use of of Clichéd Double Entendre Nouveau™ and DISCO music is with a series of patently silly songs, even though some of the lyrics for their songs are stellar bits of conventional wisdom at the dawn of the early-21st century, which is fabulous . . .

"I want your everything as long as it's free" ~ "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga)

"Is it love, or is it art?" ~ "Who Owns My Heart" (Miley Cyrus)

" . . . 'cause you feel like paradise, and I need a vacation tonight" ~ "Hold It Against Me" (Britney Spears)


Fabulous! :)
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Admin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:53 am

AWESOME!!!! :D

Love your sense of humor! Keep it up!
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Re: Notion 3, DISCO Songs, and Sparkles

Postby Surfwhammy » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:20 pm

Admin wrote:AWESOME!!!! :D

Love your sense of humor! Keep it up!


Glad you enjoyed it! :)

The ladies are doing superb songs these days, and the lyrics and music are stellar, as is their singing (which typically is heavily processed with AUTO-TUNE, Melodyne Editor, or Melodyne Studio and probably maps to several hundred hours of work per song done by a virtual festival of vocal producers, Digital Audio Workstation [DAW] engineers, and audio engineers) . . .

[NOTE: I already ordered a case of Corn Huskers Lotion®, so that I will be amply stocked when the music video for "Hold It Against Me" (Britney Spears) is released, since Britney really inspires me a lot . . . :D ]

As noted, I learned how to sing Classical music notation by sight over half a century ago, which certainly is a very useful skill to have, since it makes working with music notation considerably easier, but it has the drawback of being focused exclusively on the standard treble clef, which has the consequence of making all the other clefs very strange for me . . .

If I could set the "relative to treble clef" note for the other clefs simply by specifying the scientifically numbered C octave for the note that is in the space between the 3rd and 4th lines from the bottom of a staff, for me this would greatly simplify music notation, and I think that from a computer programming perspective this probably is a reasonably easy option to provide in a future version of Notion, which certainly is easier than doing the programming required to switch back-and-forth among standard music notation and guitar tabs (which I think Notion 3 already supports) . . .

If children learn something about music notation, then my best guess is that they probably learn the treble clef, since (a) children tend to be sopranos and (b) nearly everything in early piano instruction is centered on Middle C through High C, plus or minus a few notes on the edges--basically C4 through C5 (US) . . .

I can deal with the standard bass clef, although it continues to require me to do a rather cumbersome mental mapping, but the other clefs are simply too strange . . .

So, I use the treble clef for nearly everything except bass . . .

However, after reading a few more parts of the "Notion 3 User Guide", I found a way to do exactly what I wanted to do, and a quick experiment confirmed that it works, so this feature already is in Notion 3, for sure . . .

[NOTE: There are times when reading the user manual makes a lot of sense . . . ]

Image
Setting the Treble Clef "Notated C" Two Octaves Lower ~ "Tools" menu | "Staff Settings" menu item | "Notation/Tab" tab

For sure!

This works for VSTi instruments that default to a standard Treble Clef, which is the case with Sample Tank 2.5 (IK Multimedia), and I verified it with one of the Hofner Bass VSTi instruments from the Xpansion Tank 2 "Bass Collection 2" VSTi library, which after setting the Treble Clef "Notated C" two octaves lower maps to Middle C on the modified Treble Clef being C on the "A" string (55-Hz at 440-Hz "Concert A" tuning) of a Hofner Bass, where the 3rd fret on the "A" string is C2 in scientific notation, which is fantastic . . .

Fantastic!

Regarding having a bit of FUN with the ladies, it is a great way to avoid becoming bored with music notation, and their songs are fascinating, with "Hold It Against Me" (Britney Spears) being particularly outstanding in every respect . . .

[NOTE: It is a puzzle type of thing, where the general goal is to be able to do an "inspired by" song very quickly with great attention to minutiae, which the first time I did it took three months, but now is more in the range of a few weeks, which I think I can reduce to a few days with a bit more knowledge and a library of templates and musical phrases, since a lot of these songs really are based on formulas, which makes them easier to do once you identify and map the formulas accurately . . . ]

I did a bit of experimenting with the standalone user interface for Sample Tank 2.5 (IK Multimedia) with the OmniSynth 2 VSTi library for Xpansion Tank 2 (IK Multimedia), and it appears that there are more than sufficient controls and parameters to be able to modify some of the OmniSynth presets to create square wave, sawtooth wave, and pink noise types of synthesizer sounds, where for example there are controls for Low Frequency Oscillators (LFO), Envelopes, Filters, Velocities, and Ranges, as well as a virtual festival of other types of controls and parameters, and if necessary II can switch to the Alesis ION Analog Modeling Synthesizer or KORG Triton Music Workstation (88-Keys) if I need other types of sounds, although these are real instruments, but so what . . .

Image
Alesis ION Analog Modeling Synthesizer

So what!

Doing nearly everything other than electric bass and electric guitar with music notation and VSTi instruments in Notion 3 for the most part is considerably faster and more precise than doing it with real keyboard instruments, at least for me, so my current focus is on learning more about specific VSTi instruments, since my previous focus (music notation for percussion instruments) is coming along nicely, as is having a bit of FUN with the Melodyne Editor (Celemony) for enhancing vocals, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous :)
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