Thursday, September 22, 2011

Helen Keller on Bass

<------ Helen Keller and President Eisenhower

Practice makes perfect and the point of Drew's story about his experience with a teacher that was appalled by his bass holding posture was a great start to class - he referred to himself as looking like Helen Keller on Bass to this dude lol Basically, I got a good moral from the story - try a little harder and practice more. I really should practice piano and start trying to learn another instrument (the bassoon .... just kidding, obviously the Guitar for my namesake) and just practice all the time because I know that I could do it.


This week was more about practice and preparation than anything. On Monday, we watched some great film scores from the previous MPA 306 class to get a better idea of what to expect and what videos to look for for our project.
I chose to find multiple dance videos on YouTube and cut them up and piece them together to make a five minute video of dancers. I love watching ballerina's and dancers dance because it is something that I don't do on a normal basis such as singing....

I really like the moral of the piece. It starts out so serious and then you realize that she starts dancing instead of going through with the surgery.
I like it!

It might prove to be a tad too long though. I'm not quite sure because I see more music video to this opposed to real time motion sound effects except for the beginning hospital scenes.

So, the assessment has been moved to Monday which is nice. I was in the lab from 2pm to 6pm today which was nice. I came up with the prettiest and coolest chord progression as I practiced my MIDI AUX AUDIO matrix a bunch of times and my EVENT OPERATIONS window stuff too.

Let's go over the keystrokes we know so far and some new ones I got to remember.

Shift  N - Create a New Track
 = - Toggle between the mix window
 A - Select all
Option = - Toggle between the MIDI editor window
R and T - Zoom in and zoom out
Escape - Toggles between the tools like the smart tool
3 (keypad) - Record
Space bar - Play/Stop/Stop Recording
Option Click - Zeros out any faders or scroll bars
Option (Keypad) 3 - Event Operations Window
 E - Split region
 (keypad) 9 - Bring up the video window

So, the Event Operations window.... Option (Keypad) 3
There are several drop down selections to choose from including Quantize, Velocity, Duration, Transpose, Input Quantize, and Step Input.

1. Quantize - Change the grid to fit the piece you are working on. Program Dependent: The option you  choose it dependent on the the style of the music. (i.e. tempo, time signature, swing etc.)

2. Velocity - You can select all ( A) the notes (unless you only want a few selected) and drag the little velocity spokes down in the MIDI editor window or you can change all in the Event Operations window under Velocity and drag the scroll bar.

3. Duration - You can select all and use the trimmer tool to lengthen or shorten the notes in the MIDI editor window or you can do the same thing in the Event Operations window under change duration.

4. Transpose - Really the same as I said before.... select all and drag with the move tool in the MIDI editor window or transpose in the Event Operations window under transpose.

5. Input quantize - This is pre-production quantize and will quantize the notes as you play them or as the MIDI messages are sent to the virtual instrument.

6. Step Input - depending on the scale of the grid you are using and the settings that are selected, step input will literally input the notes you play as you play them without having to press record and whatnot.


If you enable the keystrokes on the Event Operations Window under Step Input, the keypad will do magic! Keypad number 1 selects the whole note, 2 the half note, 3 selects the triplet option, 4 the quarter note, 5 the eighth note, 6 the sixteenth note, 7 the thirty second note, and 8 the sixty forth note.

Next, I kind of have a slight panic attack when... okay here's the story, one of the kids in my class asked if you could quantize audio. I'm shaking my head and laughing my ass off internally thinking "what a dumbass, really?"then Drew is like "yes." WHOAA hold up, what?! Yeah, blew my mind and then I felt bad for laughing at Bobby in my head. Sorry dude. Good question lol There's this thing called Elastic Audio or something that you can quantize live audio with. This is revolutionary. I can't believe medical scientists can't cure cancer and nerdy Pro Tools techies are quantizing audio.

And apparently, Drew likes grooves that swing no matter how strange and lame they start out sounding!


Drew told us a pretty awesome joke so I thought I would post some good one's I think he would really like :)

How many Bass players does it take to change a lightbulb? 1...5...1... (1...4...5...5...1)

How do you make a double bass sound in tune? Chop it up and make it into a xylophone.

Did you hear about the bassist who was so out of tune his section noticed?

How many string bass players does it take to change a light bulb? None, the piano player can do that with his left hand.

Celene Dion walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Why the long face?"

Did you hear that Celine Dion is now an organ donor? Yeah, when she dies, her heart will go on.

My firewire drive that hasn't come yet and I was astounded when someone explained to me how large the drive is! My computer is going to be okay!!!!! yay!

Anyways, here's a great example of what I can do with lame garageband, a microphone, and the iSight camera on my five year old macbook! Enjoy!

<------------ Firework Cover by Stevie Rae


Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

The ability to zoom in and out on a picture, video surveillance camera, PDF file, archived newspaper articles in the library, Google Maps street view, or even just on your computer screen with the nifty Ctrl Scroll trick is a great thing these days. Makes life a lot easier.

Unless ProTools decides to automatically zoom in on your audio track and scare the shit out of you as you look upon a fat block of audio. Let me just say that I was pretty upset as I sat in the lab last Thursday for about an hour and a half trying to fix my levels and kept seeing this and hearing absolutely nothing...

<------------------ Absolute Poppycock.

So, class comes on Monday and we all go through all of our recordings (that were all outstanding by the way! Shout out to Power Rangers shredder, Porn Star Singer, and Carmel Gangster) and we come to mine and I am crossing my fingers that its not something I did.

He clicked a damn button in the top left hand side of the screen and BOOM. The audio goes from retarded block of bologna to a simple, quiet waveform of my voice. Oh man, I was pretty pissed that neither I, nor anyone else could figure this out since Thursday :(


Yeah, you heard me.

Oh wow, Drew just emailed me with encouraging words about my Capstone paper I kind of broke down thinking about yesterday and earlier today and it feels really nice to get approval every now and again :) Even more motivation to do better! Kind of like my string arrangement of Moon River!

Back to my notes: Getting ready for a big QUIZ/ASSESSMENT on Wednesday.
Must be able to touch on.....

  • Starting up ProTools
  • Recording Audio with a microphone
  • Creating a new track 
OMG, that's what I wanted to talk about! I made a mental note to say in my blog that Shift  N not only makes a new track in ProTools, it also makes a new folder on your Mac Desktop!!!!! Who'd have thunk?
  • Clearing vs. Deleting tracks
  • Piano Plugins Insert
  • Bussing Audio
  • Creating an Instrument track
  • Step input quarter notes (C Scale)
  • Chopping Regions -  E
  • Moving Regions
  • Manipulating Regions
  • Smart Tool
  • MIDI Auxiliary Audio Matrix
So, I drew a MIDI Auxiliary Audio Matrix, but I'm not sure I got it quite right.....

Not sure, but at least its pretty :D 

In order to get this going, you have to create a MIDI track, Auxiliary track, and an Audio track. Add in a click track as well because this kind of MIDI recording is set in stone, "you have to commit to it". Set the MIDI track to Mini Grand and you have audio. Auxiliary channels will automatically default to A 1-2 but under Sends > Bus > Bus 1-2 select Bus 1-2. Do the same for Audio track and boom you can record MIDI into audio. Its like Magic. 

So the hours of Lab Operation are the same as business hours.

M-TH 8:15 am - 4:00 pm
F 10:00 am - 2:00 pm 

One of my classmates made a great project and used something called the Telephone Effect which is achieved by making a High Pass Filter and a Low Pass Filter put together with the mid range turned up. The reason this is how the telephone sounds is because that bandwidth is the best for our ears.

Pitch Shifting instruments is a really cool effect apparently and I must try it sometime.
How this is done is through AudioSuite > Pitch Shift > Semitones

FYI - If the key strokes aren't working in ProTools, then you probably don't have the Keystrokes button turned on. Its up in the top right hand of the scroll bar. 

MIDI stands for Mmmmm I Dig It....  Just kidding, Musical Instrument Device Interface!
MIDI doesn't make sound because it is simply a message that the program plays. 

So a MIDI message is 3 different bytes combined. 2 data bytes and 1 status byte. The first byte indicates whether the note is on or off and the channel number (#1 = 0000), the second indicates what note it is (#6 is middle C) and the third indicated the velocity on a scale of 1 to 127. All of this is in binary.

MIDI Tracks are used with Auxiliary tracks to monitor and play back audio that MIDI triggers!


Get more sleep because tired, hungry, and bitchy doesn't look good on me hahah

Drink more water because its good for me and I can tell I'm dehydrated all the time.

CHEW YOUR FOOD, because I'm sick of choking all the time!

I hate that zoom tool because... just because. 

The End
~ Knuckle Head

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Broke is the New Black.

Yes. Unfortunately, I have no money and if it weren't for this required meal plan I would probably die of starvation. I really am a starving student.

First of all, I spent the entire weekend working my ass off (it literally hurts) at a winery to try to make some $$ for bills, tuition, books, firewire, course code, etc.. And I did not make what I thought I would. If it weren't for my amazing neighbors that bought the wine I was illegally paid in for my services, I would have been one pissed off cookie. On the other hand, I walked out of the winery with some new connections, friends, and great experience! And you can't put a price on that.

I forgot to post this picture of my colorful notes of the BACK SIDE of the Digidesign MBox in my last post....
Once again....
Oooooo Ahhhhhhh

Important Shortcut Commands:
Create a new track -  Shift N
Toggle between mix and edit -  =
Record - 3 on the keypad
Toggle transport -  1

If you're wondering how I got the  symbol, its pretty awesome - Shift Option/Alt K


Today, I took at least 4 pages of notes. If you haven't already noticed, I AM a visual, hands on learner lol
So... Inside the Protools Session Folders you're going to find...

        • The protools file
        • Audio files folder - holds audio files from your session
        • Region groups files folder - holds region group files if they were created
        • Fade files folder - all fades are saved as individual files in this folder
        • Session backup folder - user defined time spaced backups are saved here
        • Video files folder - if video files were used
        • WaveCache.wfm - a graphic representation of the waveform on the screen
Let's talk about the Settings > Playback Engine
H/W or Hardware Buffer Size - the lower the #'s are for recording
Host Processors - There is a 2 processor option. Use it.
CPU Usage Limit - You can dictate how much CPU will be used from protools (i.e. when using other software, lower the usage)

The rest of the drop down options up at the top of the screen are File, Edit, View, Track, Region, Event, AudioSuite, Setup, and Windows.

I know were not going to get into it yet, but when you use AudioSuite to apply non-realtime manipulations, it uses less processing. 

Window > Workspace - Here you can audition audio to see if you want to use any of it! 

Click Track > Preset > Marimba 2 because it is the least obnoxious of the presets! 

We learned how to change tempo and regions and I don't feel like I have to reiterate those because I understood the processes pretty well! 

Track > Click Track > Mix Window - Click on the box that says Click and you can change and edit the accented and unaccented beats if you wanted.

Another fun Key Command is Option Click - will automatically zero out a fader!!!!! Brilliant. 
and Control Scroll with the mouse will zoom the entire screen in and out!

This is my drawing of the transport and all its pretty buttons that all do different things. 

Prescroll was awesome and postscroll is not really that cool. Kind of dumb actually lol 

The transport can be expanded and minimized as well.

This is HUGE: Inserts > Plugins > Instruments > Ah damn. There they are! Along with EQ, Dynamics, Modulation, Other, etc. 

Apparently the rules of my life must change for this class. 1. Don't write shit music 2. Don't talk to strangers 3. Don't Die 4. Look both ways when crossing the street unless its a ONE way street people. 5. FILE MANAGEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I think I understand. The firewire is on its way.

More Key Commands!  E will split a region and rename them according to the original name and is turned into a subgroup. Option Click when is the zoom tool will zoom out and click will simple zoom in.
-OR- you can use R to zoom in and T to zoom out. Badass

Delete > Yes - Forever. Remove > Yes - No longer in the file.

Next is the awesome Smart Tool. Yes, it really is smart. I love smart people so thank you Protools for keeping up with it!

So the Smart tool is awesome because when recording with this tool selected, when the mouse is at either end of the audio, it will turn into the TRIMMING TOOL, when on the upper half of the audio line, the mouse becomes the SELECTING TOOL, when under the line, the GRABBER TOOL comes through, and when in the upper corners, the FADER TOOL steals the show.


Note to self: Anything backwards sounds fricken sweet and HE WILL LIKE IT. Duly noted.


This week has been hard on me. I am struggling to stay afloat financially and I can't afford at least 30% of my books. I made it through last semester without them, this semester shouldn't be different.

And as I work up the money to fund my retarded expensive education, I will be flyin high!

Like I said before.... Broke is the new Black.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Keep Calm and Eat a Damn Cupcake.

You heard me, enjoy the little things in life because life gets hard every now and then and that cupcake will get you through your shitty day. Wednesday was a stressful day if anyone recalls and everyone really needed that cupcake.

What are.....

DAW: Digital Audio Workstation
INTERFACE: between protools and any audio or signal being sent
ADC: Analog Digital Converter
AD/DA: Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog

Latency was a peculiar subject. I think of latency as the annoying echo that makes it impossible to record backup vocals on a track.

There are three types of microphones: Condenser Mic, Ribbon Mic, and Dynamic Mic.
All condenser mics require 48v of phantom power.

Phantom Power? Oh, its a charge that is sent from the input source to the mic to power it.

This is my amazing picture of the Digidesign Mbox.

Oooo Ahhhh

So... Panning. Stands for panoramic which was invented in 1942 by


The DI or Direct Input slot is used to plug in instruments such as bass and guitar so that they don't have to be miced... mic-ed.... microphoned... amplified hahaha instead of being directly inputed....

We also went over an XLR cable: X=model L=latch R=rubber seal

Line level refers to keyboards and hand held audio devices.


Music Technology courses are like cheerleading. No one really knows how hard this stuff is and how most colleges don't consider it a real major until recently. The cheerleaders ask me to join the CSUMB team (I cheered for 10 years) and its like crack to me. And in the last few weeks, I have realized that Music Recording is what I love the most :) CRACKKK

I can't wait to start recording my shtuffffff ! Chelsea and I are co-recording tomorrow at 11am yee yee

In conclusion, take life and this major day by day.
Keep calm and record something revolutionary...
After you eat the damn cupcake :)

Picture taken in my dorm.


If You're Going to be a Bear, Be a Grizzly.

Introductions are in need.
Yo, I'm Stevie Rae Stephens

I am a Junior at CSUMB, I transferred last semester, it was a pain, this was my third college in three years, music recording major, singer/songwriter, I'm a security guard at the BBC.

I just went to type "must" for the second time and instead typed "music" a second time. This is where my head is. I knew this semester would sucker punch me in the stomach at some point. That point was today actually.

Let's backtrack to before I knew what the hell was going on in my life. 


Yeah.. A for effort.

Sampling? Why yes, sampling is discrete episodes over time. The higher the sampling rate, the less choppy the audio will sound. Basically, the line will become closer to the waveform as the sample rate goes up and there will be less interrupting blurts of silence. 

The Nyquist theory? For accurate signal reconstruction, sampling frequency should be twice the bandwidth of the source.... Thus Cd's are recorded at 44.1 kHz

There is no such thing as Bit Rate or Sample Depth. So don't get confused.

Bit Depth determines the accuracy of the amplitude measurements per sample. Samples are assigned values of bits. 

SATURATE THE BIT DEPTH... this seemed to be a confusing phrase. If I understand it correct, it just means that we should use up as much of the assigned bit depth as you can to be able to capture the dynamics of whatever you are recording. But I could be wrong.

We will record at 24 bits because anything more is a waste :) 16 bits allows for a dynamic range of 96 db and 24 bits allows for 144 db...

This was the first class in the last 3 semesters that remotely terrified me. It was great :D Bring it on.
2 years ago at Montana State University, I was studying music technology as well, and I was a beast. 

  • If you're going to get A's, get a 4.0
  • If you're going to be called a crazy Californian, live up to the expectations
  • If you're going to spend time recording music, SPEND ALL YOUR TIME.
  • If you're going to take notes, use all the freakin colors. Get that shit laminated, they were so good!
  • If you're going to learn one program, learn them all.
  • And if you're going to pay a fortune to learn it... Learn it until you're a Bing commercial. 
  • If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly. 

When did that stop being me? I have no idea, but I'm back, I'm crazy, and about to do work.