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Road Rally 2015! Quick Tips on Exporting Audio from Several Popular DAWs

This brief blog post, written to accompany my Collaboration Nation panel appearance at TAXI Music’s 2015 Road Rally Convention, provides some tips and how-tos specific to the technical aspects of collaborative composing and producing.

Ideally: Establish up front a common sample rate and bit depth for everyone involved to use on the project, and stick to it.

How to Export Audio Tracks – Concise How-tos for a short list of popular DAWs

Logic Pro X: File > Export > All Tracks as Audio Files (Command-Shift-E)

Ableton Live:

  1. Select the tracks to be exported (or deselect for all)
  2. File > Export Audio/Video (Command-Shift-R)
  3. In the window that opens, Selection area > Rendered Track menu > All Individual Tracks (or Selected Tracks Only)

GarageBand: 

  1. Before recording, go to GarageBand > Preferences > Advanced and set Audio Resolution to Best. This gives you 24-bit.
  2. Per track you need to share, solo it, then Share > Export Song to Disk…, uncheck Compress, then click Export. This gives you the full-resolution file.

Reaper: 

  1. Select the tracks to be exported
  2. File > Render… (Option-Command-R)
  3. In the window that opens, Render menu > Stems (selected tracks) or Master mix + stems.

Point being, not using the same DAW as another writer is not an obstacle. Not at all.


Off we go!

It’s been a staggeringly long time since I last wrote for Composing Kitchen. I could wring my hands about it, beat myself up about it, shut it down in defeat and resignation… but I’d rather try again and see what happens this time.

Karen and I are in the midst of a big upheaval: We are relocating, bit by bit, from Albuquerque to the Baltimore/DC area to be closer to some of my aging family members. In short, I don’t feel right about being this far away as they reach the need for care. I want to be there and be helpful — and Karen, huge-hearted as she is, essentially insisted that we go. And so off we go.

We decided this in August. Because Karen’s last job search took about six months, she jumped right in with enthusiasm – and her first two applications earned her interviews, and one of those an offer. She’s now with a right-minded, woman-owned small business that aligns very well with her personal values, judging by what we have seen so far. So she’s been gone since October 3. Meanwhile I’m holding down the fort, coordinating renovations to the house before putting it on the market, working my various jobs (composing, teaching music technology, freelance writing/editing) and exploring options in the Baltimore area.

Karen is living with my sister and paying her with excellent cooking rather than rent. For me, it’s very sweet to know that Karen is still connected with me through my family, and I’m so glad that she has my sister for company rather than being completely alone in a new part of the country on top of starting a fairly high-pressure new job. We’ve reminded ourselves many times already that plenty of families – in the military, particularly – deal with far more painful and dangerous separations every day, and we’re keeping it in perspective.

So a ton is going on for us right now, but there’s also a ton of wonderful stuff that’s happened since I last wrote and I intend to feature some of the highlights here. The short version? I got so busy with composing, and having a great time with it, that this blog fell by the wayside.

The original point of Composing Kitchen was to write about how Karen’s and my career shifts were working out in hopes of providing help, inspiration or at least the occasional knowing laugh to other musicians, artists, career-changers and attempters-of-new-things in general. So that’s what we’ll focus on.

Off we go!


A real workout: Reps within reps

I’ve written a lot here in Composing Kitchen about something not terribly flattering: self-doubt. I always just put it out there on the table because I figure if you’re reading this, you’re probably considering (or already) re-engineering your life, and let’s face it: That is scary stuff. You might feel like the proverbial 98-pound-weakling facing one of those sweaty WWF guys.

Me against myself

From the outset, self-doubt has been my most well-muscled opponent. And to hit my goal of a new piece of music every day, I’ve had to wrestle it down every day. I’m happy to say I’ve bulked up pretty well.

Sure, I still get butterflies when I enter my studio: What will I write? Will I perform the parts well? Will I record and produce it well? But over time, I’ve built up much more confidence — faith, maybe —  that I will, eventually and ultimately, come up with something worthwhile.

I think that has to do with reps: just doing it, over and over again.

It’s clear that the types of writing I’ve done the most come pretty easily now. Song form, with repeated sections, causes just about zero jitters. But for the last month or two I’ve been creating the soundtrack to a really sweet indie film called Roswell FM, and although many scenes work well with (and the director prefers) song-style backdrops, other scenes require through-composed music, meaning it has no recurring sections but instead changes moment to moment to support the action/dialogue. Not as easy.

Even so, my work on Roswell FM has been like a mini-study of how this reps thing works. Scene by scene, I gained a little more confidence about each phase of the work: Interpret the director’s comments and my own gut to determine what the scene needs; choose the right musical feel to achieve that; and then compose, perform and produce it pretty close to how I hear it in my head.

Each one of those steps is huge! The nice thing is, though, that in between film jobs I’ve done that last chunk so many times that I’m faster and more skilled with it than ever. And experience leads me to trust that the others — the interpretation part, and the more demanding skill of through-composing to a scene — will also get easier with repetition.

So what’s the lesson here? I think it’s twofold: First — and this one isn’t news — take that big, daunting project that you have in mind and break it down into sub-steps. But then figure out the specific skills required for each step. Are there some skills that you can boost outside of the “big project” context by doing, doing and doing some more, to the point that they get scratched off the list of worries? If you’ve got a screenplay in mind, are you writing something to sharpen your dialogue ear every day? If your goal is a photo exhibit, are you shooting and shooting every chance you get?

Break it down and say, “Bring it on! More reps! The more the better! Grrrr!” And pose like a WWF guy.

Grrrrr.


The Big Day

I am one day away from my first wedding shoot. Saturday is the day. The anxiety dreams have begun in which I’ve already filled my memory cards, have forgotten my tripod and am alarmed when the wedding ceremony begins in the swimming pool.

But in reality, I think I’m ready. I rented a lovely 85mm prime lens and have been practicing with that and with my flash. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I simply don’t have time to master everything I would like to master in terms of technical skills before the wedding date. So I’m turning my thoughts toward the things I do well.

Test shot with the 85mm rental lens

Again, I’m grateful that I have been learning and applying editing techniques in Photoshop. I would certainly prefer to take photos correctly the first time around, but I’m glad I have such a powerful editing tool to help in case I don’t capture exactly what I’m after.

Here’s what I’m taking:

  • Nikon D5000. It doesn’t have a full-frame sensor, but it’s what I’ve got. I’m comfortable with its controls.
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. This lens allows me some versatility and range, but it is heavy, so I’ll need to use it in bright conditions with fast shutter speeds or with something to stabilize it.
  • 85mm f/1.4. This is the rental lens and probably what I’ll use during the ceremony and for the posed shots. It’s really great for portraits, does well in low light and gives lovely Bokeh or blurred/out of focus areas to the image. The closer focal range will allow me to be further away from the ceremony and still get some nice, close shots.
  • 35mm f/1.8. I’m taking this because I have it, so mostly it will be a backup lens, but it is a really sweet little lens that I use a lot for food photography. It is also great in low light, so it might come in handy for things like shots of the wedding cake or other food shots.
  • 18-55mm f/3.5 and 50-200mm f/4-5.6. These are my kit lenses. I’m taking them as backup and hope not to need them, but they’re there if I do.
  • Two flashes: one manual and one with TTL metering capabilities
  • A whole bunch of AA batteries
  • A whole bunch of memory cards
  • Tripod
  • Stepstool
  • White foam core for bouncing light if necessary
  • Two camera batteries and charger
  • An “assistant.” Basically, my lovely spouse is going to follow me around, hold stuff, and keep an eye out for sweet moments I might be missing if I’m focused on something else.
  • A list I found online of “not to miss” wedding shots

A lot of what I’m packing I might end up not using, but I don’t want to be caught without something I need, and I absolutely don’t want any dead batteries or lack of memory storage.

another 85mm test shot

All that’s left at this point is to pack up the car and get there, then do what I do: take pictures. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m thrilled. A big day for the bride and groom. A big day for me too. It will be beautiful, I’m sure.

Here I go!


New Year’s Day

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Every year on new year’s day I try to do something related to the intentions I’ve set for myself in the coming year. This year, I simply set out on a walk and made an effort to try to see things in my neighborhood differently. What I discovered were textures I’d never seen before, colors hidden on old boards and rusted metals, trees made more interesting my simply shifting my angle of looking at them.

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I want 2012 to be a year of expansion. I want to keep growing my photography skills, building followers on my food blog, and broadening my creative endeavors. But I also want balance.

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I think today was an excellent beginning. By doing nothing more than seeing with fresh eyes, looking at things differently, I turned the familiar into something brilliant. Here’s to a wonderful and inspiring 2012.

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The Cost of a Portland Getaway

morning run along the esplanade

Now that Carla has left her corporate job, we’re supposed to be watching our spending. We now earn less than half what we earned before, and that means making changes to the way we live and how we spend our money.  And yet we’re seeking a balance. We don’t want to feel trapped, like we can’t go out for breakfast or buy a new pair of jeans. And we love to travel. So we’re trying to choose wisely when we spend money, and we’re noticing that “value” is taking on a different meaning.

view from the Portland MAX

 Last weekend we traveled to Portland, Oregon. It was a total splurge: club seats for the Women’s National Soccer Team game against Canada, and a hotel room in the heart of downtown. We both knew we would have fun, but we also both wondered if the trip was justified in any other way. It was.

view from our jog along the waterfront

This trip to Portland became so much more than just a fun weekend away; it did something tremendous for my spirit. I challenged myself to take great photos, and felt inspired to do so by the urban landscape. I watched my heroes excel at a sport that I love (from really great seats, I might add), and the experience renewed my determination to do my absolute best at everything I do. I ate really good food and found vegetarian and vegan options everywhere we went. Everywhere. And probably most meaningful, Carla and I shared some great conversations about where we want our careers to take us, how we feel about living where we live now, and where we might like to be one day. In short, we spent some money to get away and then allowed ourselves to have a great time and explore not only a new city, but new perspectives. I came home feeling more inspired than ever to drive myself toward my dreams. That is worth the money.

Brunch at Mother's Bistro

 I think sometimes if you can just get away from your normal day-to-day grind, you can glimpse the bigger picture and get a sense of how you really fit into your own life. You can see what you love about your life at home, what you would change, and in which direction you’re moving. And you might get to have a beer at a cool local brewery to boot.

microbrews at Bridgeport Brewing Co.

So we might be pinching pennies a bit now to make up for what we spent in Portland, but we have no regrets. We’re learning that while it’s vital to buy groceries for the week and pay the mortgage, nurturing our spirits is just as necessary.

 

And to see more pictures (especially of the delicious food we ate) check out Buried Carrots

shopping in the Pearl District