A Lullabye For Waking Up – Slept In

Click To Listen: Slept In – improvisation by David Watson

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=1651546660/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/

Sort of a reverse lullabye, for those times when you want to be awake, but not very, and the tendrils of almost-forgotten dreams are floating around you and you don’t want to turn on any lights or move fast or grab caffeine.

An improvisation — I began with the main phrase and had an idea where the first 8 bars might go, then I plugged in my electric piano to Garageband on my iPad and followed the music. Post-production involved a little bit of editing to tighten some timing lost through MIDI transmission (or perhaps my langourish playing) and removal of just two bars in the middle that were fine but unnecessary.

It’s a great way to start the day when you can. Relaxed. S-l-o-w-l-y. From one non-morning person to you.

—–David

P.S. Conveniently on my Bandcamp page for your solid free streaming needs. You are welcome to buy it too, of course, or hire me to come to your house and play it, but not in the morning.

 

 

 

 

A Lullabye For Waking Up – Slept In was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Capture Creativity Quick

So one of the difference between successful people and — let’s say less successful people? — isn’t the ideas. It’s sharing them. It takes a lot of work, but we can take the first step very easily.

If your goal is producing creative content, jokes, stories, music, art, whatever…. the trick is to capture the inspiration when you have it even if you can’t devote time to it when it first arrives. It doesn’t have to be finished; you are writing a note to your future self. It can be a sketch or fragment, it just needs to last long enough that you can work on it more, or remember enough to build on it, even years later!

I’m going to talk about musical creativity, but this works for all sorts of inspirations. ’80s pop star John (Cougar) Mellencamp wrote the lyrics to one of his hit songs on the shower door with soap. Who knows how many books and businesses have been built on the backs of bar napkins? I’ve chanted things to myself all day while avoiding just writing them down, kept a notepad by my bed — though now I’ll actually write notes to myself on my phone with a stylus –- which may or may not be better than my previous habit of just getting up for an hour in the middle of the night to write whatever song started when my head hit the pillow.

Countless songwriters have sung into tape recorders over the ages or scribbled down notes . With my first camera capable phone, I would record one-handed the melody that had come to me in 15 second video clips. Sometimes, like this example, I angle my iPad on my music stand so that I can see where my fingers were later.

The improvement on this is that now as soon as I’ve come up with the fragment of a song on any instrument, I turn on the electric piano and record the phrase and following improvisation via MIDI direct into a computer. (GarageBand on iPad works pretty good too in a pinch.) Not only does this give me the exact notes I played in the very improvisation I am building on, but it means that I can edit them, fixing glitches in my spontaneous phrasing, or creating a complete arrangement on top of the original sketch and eventually moving the first take out of the mix completely.

So much easier than my early attempts with cassette tapes. Heck, I once spoke the first chapter or so of a book I never wrote into a cassette recorder while hiking, that’s hilarious to listen to. (You don’t know if I’m pausing because I needed to breathe or I didn’t know what to say next.)

Anyway, my point is this applies to anything that you want to capture organically and move into the future as a more polished product. You don’t need to rely on your memory, and you certainly don’t need the conceit that if you forget it later, it wasn’t that good an idea. Don’t be a baby: write it down or capture it, and let your future self figure out that sometimes it’s crap and sometimes it’s not.

And if you end up with too many fragments of stuff to get to, oh darn why is that a problem? Learn to filter through it and work on your favorite thing until you have something done, then climb back on the pile and see what’s next.

—–David

P.S. For the record I often use S-Note on my aging Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for writing things down, and I love Evernote but now that it is free for only two devices at a time, I am trying desperately to use Microsoft OneNote which I find much more cumbersome and harder to search. It seems like OneNote wants you to have everything local before you can search, where Evernote searches in the cloud so you can pull down what you are looking for.

I really wish there was a reasonably priced plan for Evernote that gave me more devices but the tiny amount of monthly bandwidth that I really use. The upgraded plans are still too much of a stretch for the mostly casual user.

Capture Creativity Quick was originally published on Creative Uploads

GarageBand IOS iCloud Bug trashes the local original file

Just a little public safety note that I discovered, and I am not particularly angry yet, because for some reason I had made a back up before I tried to upload my file to keep a back up safe.

Creative uploads iOS GarageBand iCloud bug music

There seems to be a bug when using iCloud to backup a project file in GarageBand iOS that destroys your original local copy while also failing to create the backup.

So I use Windows PCs primarily, so I know that I cannot back up my GarageBand files directly to it. There is some evilness going on where Windows sees the song’s  .band back up file as a folder, and I have never seen a way to get around it. That means if you make a back up by having GarageBand create one for iTunes, then you have to sync with iTunes on a Mac in order to see it correctly and get it off of the iPad.

So generally I create a back up on iCloud. And this recent instance I had first copied the file that I wanted to back up inside GarageBand iOS, because I thought I might do some additional editing on it but I wanted to keep the original version safe.  So I trigger the iCloud backup and it spun for a little bit and then gave me this error message: it couldn’t back it up because it was damaged or in an incompatible format. In fact what had happened is an 8-kilobyte file was created in iCloud and it also overwrote the original project file ON THE IPAD.

If I had not made a copy, my work would have been destroyed. After some experimentation and troubleshooting — with many copies, thank you very much — I discovered that it was happening when I was uploading to the subfolder I created in iCloud for my music; it’s called garagebandmusic. No fancy spaces or anything. 

When I copied the GarageBand project file to the main folder file it uploaded successfully. At this point I am not moving it inside iCloud to the folder that I want to use, because I don’t know what the bug is. But I will be hooking my iPad up to a Mac as soon as possible and copying everything off again to have a safe back up.

If you don’t have space on your device I would suggest at the very least making a high-quality copy of your song and mailing it to yourself, or making “stems” which is exporting each track separately from the mix, by muting each track in turn and creating a full length audio file for each track individually. So tedious, and that’s how I used to have to make a backup of all my songs before the iCloud feature was added, because it let me use the tracks in something else, remix later and have some flexibility, although I did lose the ability to edit MIDI data that way, since it was converted to the final audio file.

It’s better than losing everything though.

—–David

P.S. If you are writing music for video or film, stems are terrifically useful alongside the final mix, because you can steal a chord from one section, repeat a bridge with cleaner edits, even create new interludes right in your editing software when an edit changes just a little. Imagine the flexibility you have with time in film applied to the musical layers. This is great if your composer can’t help in a time crunch, or even if  you are the composer.

I used these tricks when I made a short film for Phoenix Comicon a few years ago.  I actually wrote and recorded most of the music I used while still writing the script, before I had even shot anything. It came to me in moments of inspiration during the screenwriting and script editing,  so I composed and recorded a mini soundtrack as a suite, basically. 

In video editing, I found some lengths didn’t fit perfectly. Rather than re-record everything to fit my new desired timing, or worse, leaving timing in place on the film but forcing it to match the music despite the visual rhythms’ own desires, I could pull out pieces, or use shorter bars, vamps and stingers exactly how I wanted. And all on GarageBand iOS, with no iCloud or project backup available at the time.

P.P.S. It’s called Take Me 2 UR Leader and it was a final selection for the Film Challenge that year, not top prize or anything but a rare group. Plus I made a movie in 30 days where I got to handle everything but the acting roles (well, I did do one). I will tell you that’s great fun but collaboration is really great too.

GarageBand IOS iCloud Bug trashes the local original file was originally published on Creative Uploads

Music Making Needs Control: GarageBand iOS 

creative uploads music GarageBand songwriting

I really like Garageband iOS on my iPad. Lately it’s been improved to the point where the annoyance of not being able to do something critical has been replaced by the smaller annoyance of needing to learn where they have hidden how to do some things.

Did you know that if you long press on the Undo button it pops up the option to Redo? Why would they hide that? There’s a perfectly good space next to the Undo button where a reversed arrow would have fit! Seriously made me mad, and now that I know, let me make you mad so it can stop driving you mad.

And volume control. For ages I have battled uneven volume in a single track. Usually vocals where I just sing a few phrases with a little more gusto. The workaround was to pick a level in between that you could live with, or create another track and split the different volume tracks between them, louder clips on one with the main volume brought down, and then a boosted track to bring quieter audio up to balance.

Now Apple has included Automation controls to add a volume level path to audio tracks as they play. I think Adobe used to call them rubber bands.
This feature overrides your ability to use the regular volume slider, so get that about where you want it for the majority of your track first. Yes, this means you should already have a rough mix worked out, if you want to work more efficiently.

To activate the Automation, you tap the instrument icon on the desired track, then the yellow lightning bolt type icon below it (reference the photo). This creates the first flat audio band, set to the current volume level. You can pull it up and down carefully and it will show you the decibel changes, but this pulls the straight line between points and doesn’t work in pencil edit mode.

When you slide over the pencil lock control in the upper left into edit mode (bright red), you can tap on the line to create additional points, or long press on existing points to move them up, down, or sideways. Experiment on your own. Remember you need two points for a volume transition, but it can be a slow fade or really close  together for a jump. (Great for taking down a sound without cutting the track apart.

And remember you have Undo and Redo buttons when you screw up. You will screw up. TIP: Don’t try to swipe around in tracks to different parts of the song by touching the activated track. Just don’t. 

When done with the editing you can slide the pencil edit off. But you also need to click Done in the upper right to close the Automation control and get back to other controls.

I used this feature extensively to mix and duck audio in the track I posted for my wife this Valentine’s Day. Hear my Simply Need song free on Bandcamp. It made it easier to get an acceptable mix under deadline and tweak things at the last minute.

Enjoy your free time! Or use it to make more stuff, that’s cool,too.

—–David

P.S. GarageBand is free if you bought an iOS device that runs it anytime in the last few years. Now if you want to convert it to another format, well, that requires a Mac since you can’t open or extract from the file on Windows. But using GarageBand on a Mac (also free, the software not the Mac) you can move it off the iPad and not have to keep everything you created on a device that might just die or get stolen one day! (Yikes! Lived that fear.) With Logic (about $100) you can work on your composition in a much more full featured (professional even) audio software tool. 

P.P.S. If you have a friend with a Mac and work in Windows, they can use Logic to actually unpack the file to get to the midi and audio stems, which you could then import into your own DAW (digital audio workstation). It’s a little bit complicated but might be worth it if your music is trapped on an iPhone and you want it in another format for future use. You cannot copy the file to Windows and move it though, you have to sync to the Mac (or maybe use iCloud).

Music Making Needs Control: GarageBand iOS  was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Make Music. I Simply Need To.

Usually I just fail to record it, or I will make a simple demo that I don’t share. But my wife deserved a love song and I thought I would be grand about it, instead of quiet.

So this time it ended up on my Bandcamp page! Click for a free listen.

Creative uploads music GarageBand recording songwriting

As I said on her Facebook page,

“Embarrassing Valentine’s Day Outpouring of Love, Commence!

A new song shared on Bandcamp for your listening convenience and public embarrassment (free unlimited streaming!). Sorry, no cheesy video this time.”

Here’s a little background on the secret production, 31 years in the making as it turns out. (Though I’ve only known her for 23 …)

My Tumblr post To-all-valentines-that-simply-need

—–David

P.S. It’s still stuck in my head and not the first time one of my songs has done that to me. Fortunately I think it’s kind of funny when people complain about ear worms to have had it happen to you with a song no one else on the planet has ever heard.

I Make Music. I Simply Need To. was originally published on Creative Uploads