Blog Post #6 – The Final Frontier

Welcome to my final blog post update of this year’s in-depth project. I have to admit, time flew by way faster than I expected. I’ve learned so much these past few months, and I can’t thank Anja enough for giving me such an amazing educational and fun experience. Since my last post, we have had a couple of meetings and got a lot done. On March 21st, Anja taught me all about MIDI instruments. MIDI is basically creating sounds by using digital instruments instead of recording audio. The great thing about MIDI is that you can adjust the notes and tempo to exactly how you want it to be, even after recording it the first time. I learned all about how to use MIDI in Pro Tools First, though it would be a very similar process in any other software. Since Anja is very cool and professional, she has a bunch of very expensive MIDI instruments that sound very good quality. This is a huge advantage for me in our next meeting!

On April 11th, we finally got started on the big final project. Anja had asked me to send in an audio recording of one of my original songs so that she can guide me on how to start editing it. However, by now you can probably guess that I had a bunch of annoying issues with Pro Tools First. I tried everything, from restarting to redownloading the program, double-checking all my equipment was working, but no matter what I did the playback quality was so unbelievably quiet and scratchy, it was almost impossible to work with. However, I ended up sending in a very rough recording from Pro Tools, and I made a promise to myself that I would re-record it before the final presentation. During the meeting, Anja asked me about what I had envisioned for this project, and I told her all about the kinds of instruments and vibes I wanted to include in the song. Anja was editing my song in her own program, Logic Pro, which is much more user-friendly. Though I was not directly editing the song, we talked a lot about the process of creating the sounds that I wanted and watching her apply the skills she had taught me in previous meetings to an actual song was very educational. We also got to use some of Anja’s fancy MIDI instruments! By the end of the meeting, admittedly I was pretty emotional. We had a very rough draft of the chorus of the song, with piles of strings and ambient sounds creating a dreamy sound to my original song. Seeing my vision come to life was the most exciting part of this entire project so far, and I absolutely cannot wait to continue working on it.

We had a bit of a problem when it came to sharing the file with me, since I don’t own Logic Pro. However, I quickly found a solution by asking my grandma if I can borrow her MacBook once a week and using the 90-day free trial of Logic. That way, Anja will be able to share the project file with me and I won’t have to work in Pro Tools anymore! Epic!

To sum up the past four weeks, I started out by learning the fundamental tools to navigate and use Pro Tools first, which included a rundown of the basic functions, how to insert audio files, how to insert effects, and how to set up equipment. After that, Anja started teaching me the most important part of music editing – mixing sound. This included a lesson on EQ and a lesson on Compression. Our next lessons were more about adding effects to sound, such as reverb and delay. After that, I learned about MIDI files and how to use them. We also had a meeting just to talk about songwriting and the creative aspect of making music. Finally, our most recent meeting was used to start working on the final song project that I will present at the end of the year.

Now, let’s talk about How To Have A Beautiful Mind in chapters nine and ten. In Chapter nine, De Bono talks about concepts and practical ideas. He describes concepts as capturing “the main ‘essence’” of an idea (p. 118). Some examples of concepts that we talked about in our last mentor meeting were the concept of composing a complete song, which included everything that I had learned up to that point in one overall process. Another concept would be the concept of balancing sounds, which can give different effects depending on what you are going for. An example of this would be when Anja recommended balancing out the low and high sounds by adding some airy ambient sound effects over top of the strong bass.

In Chapter 10, De Bono talks about ‘alternatives’ and how generating alternatives can open up more opportunities and ways of doing something. There is no one way to go about something, and looking for alternatives can help to find better possible solutions. Some alternatives that my mentor and I have talked about during this project have mostly come up when faced with a problem. For example, when talking about how to proceed with my final project that is currently in a Logic Pro file, the original plan was to export all the audio files as recordings that I could insert into Pro Tools First. However, we quickly changed that plan to continue to use Logic Pro by acquiring a MacBook and using the 90-day free trial. Another alternative we decided on was while we were experimenting with different MIDI instruments in the final song. We were stuck with the decision of putting either guitar or piano in one part of the song. The alternative solution we came up with was to include both and possibly alternate between the two in different parts.

Finally, let’s talk Learning Centre. My final project will consist of three different parts. Part one will be a brief written description of my project and what it’s all about. This will be the hook for the rest of my project and will be written directly on my blog post. The second part will be a process video, including snippets of our Zoom Meeting recordings, an explanation of some of my written notes, and a full in-depth description of my process in learning music editing. The final part will be my final completed original song, which I will either upload as a video file or a simple audio file. I will aim to make my presentation fairly short and won’t be explaining every specific detail of my project for the sake of saving time. I will mainly be focusing on the process of creating the song, and the issues and solutions that we created during this project. In the end, I am hoping that the audience will be entertained by the music I produce and be inspired to create their own original material. Learning the technical and arguably less fun parts of your passion can lead you to accomplish so much more than you originally could, making the entire process totally worth it. That is the message I hope my audience will take away. I will also be responding to all comments on my blog post.

That’s all for now! Thank you for sticking with me on this journey so far, and I look forward to In-Depth night!

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