It’s no secret that we hope every issue of this magazine helps you do everything better. This month,
though, we’ve assembled a gargantuan grab bag of tips on everything from setting up your live keyboard
rig to getting the most out of popular DAWs and workstations to songwriting for film and TV. About the
only game we can’t help you up is World of Warcraft—but you’d rather be making music anyway, right?
Efficient Gig Setup
BY STEPHEN FORTNER
Having come up as a weekend warrior in numerous cover
bands, Keyboard’s editor played enough bar gigs, weddings,
and casuals that setup was far less painful once he learned to
follow these rules.
1. Work from upstage to downstage. I used to place all the heavy stuff ,
then connect all the cables. On a tight stage though, this meant making
trips around or under my rig to run cables, squeezing between the edge of
my keyboards and the bass amp or drum kit, and otherwise wasting bodily
motions. Instead, place the upstage-most “footprint” of gear first—likely
your amp, rack gear, and/or powered floor monitors—then run all necessary
cables from them to where your keyboards will go, before you even
unfold your keyboard stand(s).
2. Make snakes. Gang cables together with Velcro straps or zip ties. I
suggest at least two per keyboard stand: one for all connections on the
left sides of your keyboards’ rear panels and one for all connections on the
right. Depending on how much of a pedal person you are, you may have a
third just for running between keys and pedalboard. Color-code connectors
with rubber bands or electrical tape so that plugging in becomes a process
you do without thinking. Audiophile wisdom says to avoid running AC and
audio cables in parallel, and though I’ve never had a problem doing so at a
bar gig, you may opt for separate gangs for power and audio.
3. Carry a good stereo direct box. Because you can flick the ground lift
and kill annoying hum if nothing else, but also so the house engineer can
never tell you there aren’t enough DIs for you to run in stereo. (If there
aren’t enough main mixer channels for you to run in stereo, get a better gig.)
I swear by Radial Engineering’s stuff here.
4. Keep your footprint consistent. The only cable runs whose lengths
should need to vary from venue to venue are that of the main power drop to
your keyboard riser or area, likewise the audio from your main DI or mixer
to the front-of-house input panel. (You are carrying long extension cords and
extra XLR cables for that, right?) Inside your keyboard kingdom, all should
be familiar and repeatable—though you’ll want to build extra length into the
amp/rack footprint-to-keyboard footprint run for larger venues where you’re
able to put your amp or speakers further back to let them “throw.”
5. Secure cables and snakes to keyboard stands with Velcro. If you
want a tidy appearance, don’t “barber-pole” cables around the stand’s legs or
X-members to take up slack—they’ll really fight your tired, impatient self
when it’s time to tear down.
BY JIM ESHLEMAN
Arranger keyboards are so different from
most synths and workstations that they require
their own approach to performance.
These auto-accompaniment instruments
provide a “one-man-band” experience and
can have many functions, from educational
tools for beginners to advanced recording
features that rival those in studios. But at
their heart, all arrangers have styles: short
drum/bass/accompaniment patterns of
one or two measures of music—usually
from many eras and cultures—that follow
your chord changes in real time.
1. Mixing and editing styles. Styles often have
subdivisions that mimic song sections, i.e., Intro,
Verse (A), Variation, Chorus (B), and Outro/
Ending. There are also transitions or fills for getting
from A to B and back. To begin customizing
your styles, use the arranger’s mixer
to change volume levels and alter or delete
a style’s instruments. Then try exchanging
parts to create new styles—take the bass pattern
of one, the guitar riffs of another, and
the drums of a third. Mixing and matching style
segments will get you comfortable with creating
your own styles from scratch.
2. Split points and chord recognition. The
split point decides which section of the keyboard
the accompaniment will follow while the
chord fingering settings determine if accompaniment
chords will be chosen based on one
finger, two, or other combinations up to the
entire keyboard. Trial and error is usually required
to get the desired results. One- and twonote
settings (e.g., add the key a half-step up
to change major to minor) are fine for novices,
but with “full keyboard” settings, transitional
notes from the right hand can often change
the style chording in undesireable ways. So I
choose the middle of the road: a “fingered on
bass” setting which reads only the left hand
with the lowest note selecting the bass. This
often works best.
3. Change chords ahead of the beat. Even
with modern microprocessors, there’s still a splitsecond
needed for an arranger to decide what
chord it will assign to the accompaniment style.
For greater accuracy, try playing left hand chord
changes slightly ahead of the beat. Once you
become good at it, the difference will be imperceptable
to most listeners and “the band” will be
more likely to get the chords right.
4. Give yourself a hand—or a foot!
Performing live on an arranger can be daunting—
you usually have to switch song sections
within styles while playing with both hands
and controlling other functions. A MIDI pedalboard
(of switches—not the organ kind) can
make this task easier. Every manufacturer
offers dedicated options (such as the Yamaha
MFC-10 or Korg’s EC-5 for its PA series) but
almost any arranger can allow pattern start/
stop, style variation switching, or effects to
be controlled by standard MIDI commands.
Happy arrangers need happy feet!
5. Arrangers in the studio. More than just for
entertaining, arrangers make great songwriting
tools, and many higher-end models offer multitrack
song-production, not to mention integration
with various DAWs. Yamaha offers voice editing
software for the Tyros family, as does Korg
for the PA series. MIDI channels are assignable
for multiple left- and right-hand parts as well as
accompaniment instruments within styles, and
you can often assign voices to separate outputs.
By setting the arranger as the master MIDI clock,
you can sync your DAW to what amounts to a
vast MIDI loop library.
Revitalize Your Jazz Repertoire
BY ELIANE ELIAS
Brazilian jazz pianist Eliane Elias is known for her oftenunconventional
choice of repertoire. Here in her own words
are Eliane’s top tips to help you expand yours.
1. Make lists of tracks that move
you. If I’m in a store or a restaurant—
wherever I am, I make sure to write
down what I hear that draws me in. And
if I don’t know what it is, I ask. [The iOS
and Android app Shazam can listen to a
song; identify the artist, title, and album;
and keep a list of tagged tracks for you. –Ed.]
I keep a list of songs from all genres of
music that I instinctively relate to and
can imagine myself performing.
2. Listen intentionally. Because
I’m always traveling, I’m lucky to be
exposed to all kinds of music almost all of the time. But if you’re not always
on the move, make it a point to go on “listening expeditions” to check out
artists and musical genres that you wouldn’t collide with otherwise. I also
do musical reconnaissance on Pandora all the time.
3. Change the style. What’s the point of performing a piece of music the
same way it’s always been presented? Experiment with stylistic changes to
songs you’re thinking of covering. For example, take a swing-feel tune and
make it Latin or Brazilian. I do this on a number of tunes, including the
famed jazz standard “They Can’t Take Th at Away From Me.”
4. Change the key. One thing I have done ever since I was a student is to
play everything in every key on the piano. Having facility in all 12 keys
allows you to recognize the particular sound each one has. Some keys sound
warmer, and some sound darker. So changing a key can inject a different
feel into even the most familiar material.
5. Add lyrics. Try writing words to music that’s missing them. On my
2011 album Light My Fire, I wrote my own lyrics for the song “Stay Cool,”
with music by the famed jazz trumpeter Kenny Dorham. This will expand
your creativity whether you’re a singer or not.
Korg Workstation Workflow
BY RICHARD FORMIDONI
Whether you’re still playing a classic Triton, a new Kronos, or almost
anything in between, Korg workstations all behave in similar
enough ways that product manager Rich Formidoni’s five favorite
tips are required reading for operational ease.
1. Safety pin it. Ever notice that safety pin icon in a drop-down menu on any touchscreen Korg workstation? It keeps the menu open, even after you’ve
selected what you want. This way, you can quickly perform your next operation without having to re-open the menu, which is helpful during deep editing.
2. Double-duty Compare. When you’re editing a Program or Combi, the Compare button switches back and forth between your edits and the saved version
of the sound. In Sequence mode, it serves as an undo/redo tool, so you can make “before and after” comparisons while recording or editing.
3. Choose your control. There are often several data-entry methods on a Korg synth or workstation. On the Kronos, for example, the value slider is great
for quickly going to either the top or bottom value of a parameter. The data wheel is great for hearing the effects of gradual changes as you play. The up/
down buttons are best at making precise, incremental changes. Lastly, use the number pad and Enter button when you know the exact value you want.
4. Lock the stick. A familiar sight on a Korg keyboard is the X/Y joystick. Players who are used to a conventional, non-springy modulation wheel
sometimes think they’re at a disadvantage because the joystick is spring-loaded on both axes. However, in many Programs and Combis, SW2 (the button
just above the joystick) locks the position of the joystick Y-axis—and the ribbon controller if the model has one. If this function isn’t pre-assigned to your
favorite sound, it’s easy to program.
5. Effects primer. On most current Korg workstations, effects can be used in three roles: IFX (insert), MFX (master), and TFX (total). IFX can be applied
to timbres or tracks on an individual basis, with the ability to chain and route more than one timbre/track to the same IFX. MFX operate on a send basis,
so you can send varying amounts of each timbre or track to a single MFX. They’re good for reverb, chorus, or other effects you may use often. TFX are
always on, and affect everything. This should be the last link in your chain, for a stereo compressor, limiter, or other kind of mastering effect.
Get Your Song in a Movie or TV Show
BY ROBIN FREDERICK
Robin Frederick, head of A&R
at Taxi, former A&R director for
Rhino Records, and author of
Shortcuts to Songwriting
for Film and TV, shares
her best tips for breaking
into this growing market
for bands and songwriters.
Get more at robin
1. Focus on a common experience. Unlike instrumental underscore,
songs in film and TV are mostly drawn from artists’ albums. They exist before
the scene is ever written. Which begs the question: If you don’t know
what scenes your songs may be used in, how can you write a song that will
work? Many scenes feature similar emotional situations: falling in love,
falling out of love, conflict, celebration, or facing challenges, to name a few.
Use one of these as the central lyrical theme and your song will be more
likely to find a home.
2. But don’t get too specific! Avoid detailed stories in your lyrics, as they
might conflict with what’s onscreen. This includes specific places, dates,
or names. “I love you, Ashley” will confuse viewers if the heroine’s name is
Emily. Writing too specifically about a romantic breakup confines your song
to that situation, whereas lyrics about loneliness or sadness could work in
scenes about other kinds of loss. Let the script tell the story while the song
expresses the feelings.
3. Study how songs are used in film and TV. The best uses often occur
near the end of episodes of today’s top TV dramas. In shows like Grey’s
Anatomy, House, and The Vampire Diaries, songs are used to underscore
a peak emotional moment or give continuity to a closing montage. So yes,
I’m telling you to watch more TV.
4. Music must emotionally support the lyrics. Music tells the listener
what to feel. When lyrics and music are in conflict, it undercuts the emotional
impact of the song. Faster tempos generate excitement, raising the
viewer’s pulse rate. A mix of major and minor chords emphasizing the major
has a more optimistic feel than emphasizing the minor. A vocal melody
that relies on the three notes of an accompanying triad will feel uncomplicated,
honest, even naïve, while one that features notes outside the basic
triad will tend to feel more ambivalent and complex.
5. Make your whole song strong. I sometimes hear songwriters ask,
“Why should I worry if my verse or bridge is weak? They’re only going to
use ten seconds.” Not so. Many film and TV uses are two minutes or
more, and those are the ones you want because they pay more royalties.
Busy music supervisors won’t take time to look for the good bits. More
importantly, they look for songs that move them as songs. These are the
ones they keep in their personal playlists and remember when the right
scene comes along.
BY CRAIG ANDERTON
Though I’m a big proponent of getting your music professionally
mastered, these tips have proven just as valuable for pre-mastering
as for when you have to master the project yourself.
1. Save all of a song’s plug-in processor settings as presets. After
listening to the mastered version for a while, if you decide to make “just
one more” slight tweak—and the odds are you will—it will be a lot easier if
you can return to where you left off . (For analog gear, take a photo of the
panel knob positions.)
2. With loudness maximizers, never set the ceiling to 0dB. Some CD
pressing plants will reject CDs if they consistently hit 0dB for more than
a certain number of consecutive samples, as it’s assumed that indicates
clipping. Furthermore, any additional editing—even just crossfading
the song with another during the assembly process—could increase the
level above 0. Don’t go above -0.1dB; -0.3dB is safer.
3. Halve that change. Even small changes can have a major impact—add one
dB of boost to a stereo mix, and you’ve effectively added one dB of boost to every
track in that mix. If you’re fairly new to mastering, after making a change that
sounds right, cut it in half. For example, if you boost 3dB at 5kHz, change it to
1.5dB. Live with that setting for a while to determine if you actually need more.
4. Bass management
the vinyl revival.
must be centered
and mono. iZotope
Ozone has a
widener, but pulling
the bass range
width fully negative
collapses it to mono. Another option is to use a crossover to split off the
bass range, convert it to mono, then mix it back with the other split.
5. The “magic” EQ frequencies. While there are no rules, problems
involving the following frequencies crop up fairly regularly. Below 25Hz:
Cut it—subsonics live there, and virtually no consumer playback system
goes that low. 300–500Hz: So many instruments have energy in this
range that there can be a build-up; a slight, broad cut helps reduce potential
“muddiness.” 3–5kHz: A subtle lift increases definition and intelligibility.
Be sparing, as the ear is very sensitive in this range. 15–18kHz:
A steep cut above these frequencies can impart a warmer, less brittle
sound to digital recordings.
BY DAVE WEISER
Dave Weiser isn’t just a senior software
engineer at Kurzweil. He’s a bona fide
vintage keyboards fanatic and a heck
of a player. We asked him for five things
that make him love his day job, and he
sent us these useful tips.
1. Intuitive Entry. All PC3 Series instruments
include this feature for assigning controls to
parameters, as do the legacy K series ’boards. On
any PC3, PC3LE, or PC3K, go to the DSPMOD
page. On the left column you will see settings for
parameters like pitch, filter frequency, resonance,
and so on. Move the cursor to the parameter
you’d like to control—let’s say filter cutoff . Now
move the cursor to the right column to “Source
1.” While holding the Enter button, simply move
the desired controller—the mod wheel or a slider,
for example, and it’s assigned.
2. Search. The Search function, found in all PC3
and K series boards, lets you to type in a word and
the keyboard will do its best to find a matching
object from the mode you’re in (Program, Setup,
etc.). Hold the Enter button and press “0” (zero)
on the keypad. This opens a dialogue where you
can type in, say, “Jaco.” Hit Enter. You will be taken
immediately to program #110, “Jaco Fretless.” This
can be very handy for finding a type of sound, like
“Oboe” or “Flute,” in a large list of presets.
3. Set controls. This feature in all PC3 series instruments
quickly captures the values of any realtime
controls like knobs, sliders, and switches.
Select any program and hit Edit. Use the soft buttons
at the bottom of the screen to page to the
right until you see the “CTLS” and SETCtl” tabs.
Now adjust the desired controllers and hit the
SETCtl soft button. Your settings are now part of
the current Program, which you should save.
4. Info and Reverse Info. On any PC3 series
instrument, while playing any program or setup, hit
the INFO soft button at the bottom of the screen
and you’ll see a list of all active controllers and the
parameters to which they’re assigned. Instead of
having permanent labels for controllers like “Chorus”
or “Filter Frequency,” assignments are customized—
you’d probably never need “Distortion Drive”
control on a Clarinet. Reverse Info sends a message
any time a controller is used, listing the parameter
affected as well as a realtime value for its depth.
For example, on a typical synth lead sound, move
the mod wheel and you’ll get a message that reads,
“Vibrato Depth: 45” and the number will change as
you move the wheel. The PC3LE has Reverse Info
enabled by default. To enable it on a PC3 or PC3K,
go to the Master page, find the Display parameter
in the right column and select “Ctls.”
5. Easy Audition. Hit the Play button while in
Program mode and you’ll hear a short example of
how the current sound was meant to be played.
Okay, you probably don’t need to be told how to
play a Rhodes or Clav patch, but I find it helpful
when auditioning drum kits, especially since
there are so many in the machine, and more on
the way in an upcoming ROM expansion.
Image-Line FL Studio
BY JIM AIKIN
Image-Line FL Studio is so packed with features I could easily
write a hundred tips.
1. One wheel to rule them all. My keyboard only has one modulation
wheel, and I need to use it no matter what plug-in synth I’m playing. Here’s
the solution: In the menu at the upper left corner of the Fruity Wrapper,
select Browse Parameters. Scroll down in the Browser until you see “MIDI
CC#1.” Right-click this and choose Link to Controller from the pop-up
menu. The Remote Control Settings box opens. Click the Omni checkbox,
leave the Auto-Detect checkbox active, and wiggle the mod wheel. The
Omni checkbox assigns the mod wheel to whichever instrument is active.
2. Make Unique. In the pop-up menu for each pattern in the Playlist is the
“Make Unique” command. This clones the Pattern while leaving it in place.
After cloning, you can freely make edits to the pattern without worrying that
the edits will be duplicated elsewhere. If you duplicate a pattern by shiftdragging
it, it won’t be unique: Any edits will propagate across all copies.
3. MIDI out and back again. The MIDI Out Generator is handy for sequencing
multitimbral plug-ins: You can put each of the plug-in’s channels
on a separate line in the Step Sequencer. Click the gear wheel button in the
upper left corner of the plug-in’s Fruity Wrapper box.
In the Settings tab, choose a unique input port that
you’re not using for anything else. Create MIDI Out
Generators for all of the channels you’ll be using with
the plug-in, and set the Port and Channel parameters.
Whatever you record for the MIDI Out Generators
will be played by the plug-in.
4. No mix-up. Tucked away in the drop-down menu
in the little Channel Settings box for each plug-in
instrument is the Assign Free Mixer Track command. Th is is a quick way to
get each instrument onto its own mixer channel, thus eliminating any possible
confusion over send levels and other mixer settings.
5. Mapping formulas. Right-click on any knob or
slider, choose Link to Controller, and use the Mapping
Formula box to change the shape of the controller
response. MIDI control data runs from 0 to 127, but
FL Studio maps this to a range of 0.0 to 1.0 before it
arrives at this box. Enter the formula “1 - Input,” for
instance, hit Return, and you’ve inverted the controller
response. The little square graphic shows the new
response curve. Uncheck the Remove Conflicts box
and you can use a single MIDI slider to jam on five or
six parameters at once, each responding in a different way.
5 Sonar Power Tips
BY CRAIG ANDERTON
1. Loudness maximizer in disguise. To convert the Sonitus:fx Multiband Compressor into a maximizer, load the “Full Reset” preset to defeat any compression.
Then, click on the Common tab, and enable Limit. Turn up the Out field above 0.0; in limit mode, the red clipping light indicates when a signal
is being limited. You can typically increase the Out parameter to 6dB (and sometimes more) without audible degradation. The ceiling is automatically
clamped to –0.1dB.
2. The Analyst multiband envelope follower. The Analyst plug-in isn’t just a spectrum analyzer—enable Auto and Write automation, and the Analyst
will generate five automation envelopes for the track in which it’s enabled: below 500Hz, 500Hz–1kHz, 1kHz–5kHz, above 5kHz, and an average level.
With slower computers, you may need to enable “Lo” resolution and nudge the envelopes a little earlier to line up with percussive peaks.
3. Transparent compression. Putting two compressors with low ratios (1.5:1 or below) in series gives compression
with no audible artifacts—and the VC-64 Vintage Channel is ideal for this. Choose the “Mix and Master”
effect routing, which puts compressors C1 and C2 in series. Set them both to an initial threshold of around
–5.00, a ratio of 1.5:1, and use the defaults for the other parameters. You won’t hear much difference if you
bypass one compressor or the other, but when they’re both enabled, the result is nice and transparent.
4. Secret vocoder. If inserted correctly, the Pentagon I synthesizer
can be a vocoder. Right-click on a track’s FX bin and go
to Soft Synths > Pentagon I. Click on the Pentagon I logo, and choose “Voice Modulator = On.” Assign the
track input to an interface input with a microphone connected, turn the track’s Input Echo on, and select
the Pentagon I patch you want to vocode. Create a MIDI track and assign its output to the Pentagon.
Start playback, play MIDI notes, talk into the mic, and the vocoded sound will appear at the Pentagon I
5. Phase shifter construction kit. A phase shifter sweeps notches, and the ProChannel EQ can emulate
that effect. Set the four parametric filter frequencies about an octave apart, and Q to maximum. Enable Automation Write for each frequency knob, and
also assign each of these to a group so that moving one filter frequency knob moves them all together. Start playback, and vary a frequency control to
sweep the notches—just like a phase shifter. Also try sweeping narrow peaks, and combinations of peaks and notches.
The following power tips about four popular DAWs—and one music notation program—
were provided by the instructors at Berklee College of Music Online, and can
be found next to even more tips in the Music Production Handbook, available on
our site now. To learn more about the renowned music school’s distance courses or
to try one on for size, visit berkleemusic.com.
BY LOUDON STEARNS
1. Back away from the mouse. Key mapping,
once configured, gives you single-key access to
Live’s most important functions like looping, draw
mode toggle, click track, and punch recording.
Once you configure your set of key mappings, go
to the preferences. There is an option to save the
current project as your default project, so those
mappings will be there for every new one.
2. Quick A/B comparison. When mixing, make
sure that changes to effects like compression and
EQ are really helping the track. Say you have an
EQ in a track and you want to try out some new
settings. First duplicate the eff ect (Command-D
on Mac, Ctrl-D on PC). Turn the first one off using
the effect’s power button. Enter key mapping
mode (Command-K on Mac, Ctrl-K on PC), and
map both power buttons to a single QWERTY
key, then exit key map mode. Now if you hit that
key, the effect that was off turns on, so you can
hear which version you like better.
3. Go parallel with racks. There are four types
of Racks in Live: Effect, Instrument, MIDI, and
Drum. Group effects using a key command:
Command-G on Mac or Ctrl-G on PC. Instrument
Racks can layer multiple soft synths to
create huge, thick pads. With Effect racks you
can split the audio into separate frequency
bands, letting you, say, put a delay on just the
highs and keep the low end mono. With Drum
Racks, each incoming MIDI note has its own
instrument and chain of effects, so your snare
could be sampled and run through a compressor
and the kick be could be created with a
third-party synth. With MIDI effect racks, you
can create complex arpeggiated patterns by
stacking multiple arpeggiators in parallel with
other MIDI effects.
4. Be modular and documented. Clips, Racks,
Tracks, and Presets can be shared from project
to project. Right-click on the title bar of any of
these objects and you can assign its color, name,
and custom info text that shows up in the help.
In the Live Browser, you can look inside other
projects, grabbing individual tracks or clips and
dropping them into your current project. Also,
look for custom info text in the Live library presets—
many of the patches give you hints at the
best way to use them.
5. Try sound design. One of the coolest Live
effects, Corpus, creates a “talking” synth. It’s a
pretty long process, but the end results are worth
the time spent.
Avid Pro Tools
BY ANDY EDELSTEIN
1. Save your favorite screen layouts. Using
view presets (via Memory Locations) and Window
Configurations (accessed in the Window
menu), you can store and recall your favorite
screen arrangements for tracking, editing, and
mixing sessions. Create a set of presets for various
tasks with customized layouts, control settings,
and track displays.
2. Know how to watch your recording levels.
The waveform displays in the Edit window are
not a good indicator of acceptable levels— tracks
recorded too hot can appear to be fine. Instead,
use your track meters when setting input levels,
and make sure they never display inputs in the
3. Create a preset library. Rather than building
session templates from scratch, save your favorite
setups in dummy sessions and use the “Import
Session Data” command to pick and choose whatever
you want. For example, you could import
from a drum track session that contains ten of
your favorite kick configurations, another ten for
snare drums, and so forth.
4. Use groups to reduce screen clutter. Use
the groups function to switch between a set of
simplified screen views rather than scrolling
around to locate tracks. Create a set of groups that
account for all the tracks in your session, making
sure each group is small enough so all of its members
can fit on screen. In Mac OS, simply Ctrl-click
on any group name to show only those tracks.
With Windows, right-click on the group name,
then select “Show Only Tracks in Group.”
5. Punch in mixes to update bounces faster.
Route your mix tracks to a bus that feeds a new
audio track, then record on that track while playing
through the mix. After the first pass, you can
punch in subsequent updates only in sections
where changes have been made, rather than rerecording
the entire song. When finished, consolidate
the mixed Regions (or Clips, as of Pro Tools
10) and use the “Export Regions [Clips] As Files”
command to almost instantaneously generate a
bounce with the desired format, bit depth, and
BY ERIK HAWKINS
1. Work fast with templates. After creating a
project with your favorite elements— devices,
patches, most commonly used effects, audio
tracks—make the file read-only so you don’t
accidentally overwrite it. Then, make it the
Default Song Template in Reason’s General
2. Use individual outs for max control. Many
devices feature individual outputs, including
Redrum, Kong, NN-XT, and Dr. Octo Rex. Learn
how to assign sounds to these individual outs for
maximum control over each signal in your mix.
For example, when you assign the drums in Kong
to its individual outs, you can add EQ and compression
on the Main Mixer to the snare drum
but not to the kick, or parallel reverb to the low
tom but not the hi-hat.
3. Use combinators for sound design. Combinators
offer a quick and easy way to build your
own sounds without needing to know how every
synth parameter works. By starting with a mixer
in the combinator, you can easily mix and layer
instruments and effects for a monstrous sound.
After you cook up something you like, save the
combinator patch for quick recall.
4. Use master bus effects. DJs often run an
entire stereo mix through an effect—such as
tempo-synchronized filters and delays—to add
extra drama to their mixes. You can recreate
this effect in Reason by inserting effect devices
such as the PH-90 Phaser and the Alligator Filter
Gate, in the Main Mixer’s Master section, at
its main output. Then, automate the effect’s Bypass
button and some of its parameters to turn
up the drama at specific points in your song.
5. Use ReWire for third-party plug-ins.
A common complaint about Reason is that it
doesn’t work with third-party plug-ins—this
isn’t entirely true. When you ReWire Reason into
a ReWire-compatible DAW program such as Pro
Tools or Logic, you can process Reason’s output
through third-party plug-ins. In fact, up to 64
stereo outputs can come from Reason’s Hardware
Interface device and be plugged directly
into the DAW program’s mixer.
BY ROSS RAMSAY
1. Be ready in a flash with templates. Start
by opening a new empty project and then adding
the elements that you most often use. Once the
setup is complete, go to the file menu and select
“Save as Template.” Your templates are available
in the “More” category of the project assistant
when you start a new project.
2. Customize your work environment. In
Cubase’s preferences, you can set your knobs to
move linear or circular, choose text input on left
click for entering data, adjust the color and line intensity,
and make other interface tweaks. You can
also create workspace setups that call up the size,
position, and content of your Cubase windows.
From the Window menu, open the Workspaces
submenu, select “New Workspace,” and enter an
appropriate name. Create different workspaces
ideal for tracking, editing, and mixing.
3. Use key commands. The default key commands
are listed in the various menus as well as
in the manual, and they’ll expedite everything
you do. Select the tool you need by hitting 0
through 9, open the mixer with F3, toggle the
transport out of the way with F2, and so on.
4. Use VST instrument channels to get the
most out of HALion Sonic and other multitimbral
plug-ins. Open the virtual instrument
window from the devices menu (F11) and assign
your virtual instruments to the rack. Any
MIDI track can now be assigned to play the virtual
instrument, and you can activate multiple
channels of audio routing to the mixer right
from the window.
5. Create multiple arrangements of your
song fast with the arranger track. Record
your basic parts (such as verse, chorus, and
bridge) and add the arranger track from the
project menu. On the arranger track, outline
each section with the Pencil tool (create and
name as many sections of any length as you
need) and make an arranger chain by adding
the events in the order you want them to occur.
Create multiple arranger chains to compare different
forms of your song. You can even use the
arranger for triggering sections in a live performance.
[Not unlike an arranger keyboard with its
style variation buttons! —Ed.]
BY JONATHAN FEIST
1. Get to know
the Selection tool.
You can access this
tool quickly from
anywhere by just hitting
your ESC key.
This gives generic
editorial control over
many types of notation
to move something,
choose the Selection tool and just drag it. To edit
it, use its contextual menus (Ctrl-click in Mac,
right-click on PC), or if you need deeper control,
double-click it to activate the tool that created it.
2. Optimize your notation input. Use a MIDI
keyboard plus QWERTY keyboard shortcuts for
notation input. It’s dramatically faster than using
just the computer keyboard, particularly for entering
chords. Even the smallest, cheapest MIDI
keyboard will be fine for Finale work.
3. Use shortcuts. Memorize, customize, and use
the keyboard shortcuts (metatools) for instrument
expressions, articulations, and other tools. In selection
palettes, these shortcuts are generally in the topright
corner of their assigned shape. Customize what
key serves as the shortcut by holding down Shift and
the key you want to become the new shortcut.
4. Know how to control notation elements.
There are essentially three places to check for
figuring out how to control notation elements:
the Main Tools palette, the Document Options
window (Document menu), and the specialized
menu that becomes visible when you select a
tool. Nearly everything important can be found
in one of those places. Then, the Utilities menu
is a great source of mind-boggling shortcuts that
don’t exactly map to specific tools.
5. Use the right tool for the job. Don’t fuss
too much with getting performance-quality playback.
Finale is a notation program first and foremost.
Other products, such as Digital Performer,
Logic, and Pro Tools are optimized for producing
audio, and you’ll be much happier using the right
tool for the right job.
***Download Berklee's full Music production Handbook!