Digital Artifacts

Within my digital skills module I have been developing a number of skills during and not during scheduled lectures in order to hone my skills in areas I may not be particularly strong in. This is to help my general progression within my education this year and also help me when i get into a work environment.

I decided to choose softwares I am fairly familiar with but I chose skills within these softwares that i felt i needed to improved in order to get a stronger grasp on the overall software.

Logic Pro X

I have been using Logic Pro X for a number of years now, mainly just as a hobby, because not a lot of my modules include an in depth look into sound or music. I would say that I a amature compared to music sofware enthusist but i have picked up a few techniques over the years.

I have always been confident in my ability to create simple songs using all your typical instruments such as bass, piano or drums, but what I particularly struggled in was vocals. I have tried a number of times to include vocals into my track, but to no success.

Tired of not being able to add one of the core elements into my tracks, I decided to conduct some research in order to help me finally achieve this goal, of adding vocals into one of my tracks.

The first step was to find a voice sample that was at a similar BPM ( beats per minute) as my track that I had already created. This Proved to be a rather difficult task as my song had a very off beat rhythm to it.

In the end i couldn’t find a vocal sample that fitted my song so i thought the best course of action was to edit the speed of it later on down the line to fit the track.

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Selecting The Scissor Tool

A very important tool for editing any kind of sample within Logic Pro X is the scissor tool. It actually took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to discover this tool, but this way mainly due to the fact i didn’t really use samples in my earlier days of using the software. The idea of this tool so you can cut off and separate any section of an audio sample. Here I simply cutting the beginning section of the sample and deleting the rest that i didn’t want to use.

There is another method in cutting audio down into the sections you want and that is to simply drag the edge of the box to the section you want, removing all the unwanted audio. The dragging method is what i use to use before learning about this scissor tool, but i decided to stick to the scissor tool because i feel like it is a lot more accurate at making the exact cut you want to make.

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Selecting Around To Cut

I tried to just addthis slightly edited via a simple cut into my track but it didn’t really fit the speed of the song and ended up sounding very out of beat with the rest of the track. After struggling for quite some time trying to incorporate this vocal element into my work I decided that i needed to edit the sample further perhaps by pitch changes and the speed at which the sample plays at.

I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to edit the pitch in order for the clip (in my opinion) suit the song better. Now this can be done in a number of ways, in which i could of done this. I experimented with two different way in how i could achieve this. I first tried to use the tool known as flex. After selecting flex you can choose flex pitch in the side menu in order for you to see all of the different notes that are in that particular sample. You can then adjust them accordingly in order to make the notes of the vocal fit the music’s notes. This tool is actually used by a lot of professionals in order to auto tune singers whitin songs.

While trying to use this method I felt like it was a bit complex and I kinda got lost in the depth of the flex pitch tool, so i decided to simply add a small pitch shift at the start of the audio sample.

This can be done very simply by clicking on the region drop down menu and changing “fade in” to “speed up”. I kept adjusting the volume of pitch change until I Felt it sounded about right. As you can see from the front of the image for the audio sample, this added a curve, which represents the audio pitch change at the start of the sample. (this is also known as a speed fade)

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Editing Pitch

After playing the track through a couple of times i felt as if a pitch shift needed to be added to the end of the audio clip as well. This done in a very similar way as the pitch shift at front except for you change “fade out” to “slow down” and then adjust the volume to your liking.

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Editing Audio Sample’s End Pitch

After playing around with the pitch for quite some time i still felt as if the audio sample was not in beat with the song itself. Although changing the pitch can help you sink the audio to the track it still wasn’t within the same rhythm.

For quite some time I felt stuck in the progression of creating this track with vocals. This was until I was over a friends house who also uses logic pro X in his spare time showed me a technique that allows you to chop up the audio sample in a way that makes it into essentially an instrument, which is where I particularly excel in.

This is done by putting the audio sample through a gate called “ES1” and what this synthesizer can do is run audio through it in order to edit the sound of the audio sample.

In order to do this you need to create a new audio track and then click the instument menu and select “ES1 synthesizer” in stereo.

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Making A New Software Instrument

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Selecting ES1 Synthesizer

This then brings up the  Es1 interface which allows you to make adjustments to a large number of areas of a particular track or instrument.

The first step was to sort out the Oscillator on the top left  side of the interface. After playing around with the mix style for quite some time i realised I wanted the audio to sound like it has a lot more bass , so I  put the mix levels to sub in order give the audio a lower sound to it.

The next part is key in order make the audio sample play through this Es1 gate and that is done by changing the bottom left oscillator switch to “EXT”, which stands for external. This ensures that you can put your vocals through the ES1. You then have to select which external source you want to be put through the gate. This can be done by selectiving the “side chain” drop down menu and clicking on whatever the audio sample is called, in this case “Audio 1 – InTheAir 04”

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Adjusting The Oscillator

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Selecting Side Chain Audio Sample

This allows you to run the audio through the synthesizer and any editing that is done on Es1 will then be applied to the audio sample. You can adjust a number of things such as the filter with the cut off and the other switches around the filtering section but the main reason that I Am using the Es1 for is the ability to change the volume ofthe audio via Midi notes.

Midi notes (seen in the bottom middle)are one of your main tools in creating music. Midi notes are the symbol for keys played on the piano roll window in the bottom of the screen. This essentially gives you ability to play any instrument or even vocals in this case through a peianoike setup.

How this works is by having the pitch on left side going vertically and rhythm or speed going horizontally. As time progresses you can play different pitches of an instrument or vocals in order to make a melody or beat. Putting different types of these together create a song.

Because i set up the audio sample to go through the Es1 i can now play the vocal audio in a certain pattern in order to get a change in speed and pitch. This allowed me to sync the audio sample with the song and make it play in beat with each other.

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Midi Notes

Finally happy with the rhythm and speed at which the audio was going that finally suited the track i just need to make a few final touches on the ES1 to get it to sound the way i wanted to.

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Final Setting On ES1

Over all I am happy with progress I made during this project of improving my music track. For quite some time i was unable to progress with it any further and in solving the problem i came across a number of way in which to improve my work. 

Compression into two channels

I’ve recently learnt a new technique within Logic Pro x that makes vocal and other audio samples come out a lot clearer and crisper. This is done by putting the vocals on a new channel which is done on the mixer tab at the bottom and selecting a new bus.

Capture

Creating a new bus

This doubles the amount of output on a certain audio sample of your choosing and makes it a lot louder. After doubling the channel i felt as if the vocals were a bit overpowering and dominated most of the track. i tried to dull down the audio within the channel itself but i didn’t feel as if it was enough to quieten down the vocal audio, so i decided to add a simple compressor onto the vocal audio clip.

This done by clicking on the tab just under the bus tab and then by selecting dynamics then compressor stereo.

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Adding a compressor

This will bring up the compressor interface. Here you can change many different levels of the audio with a number of settings in the form of switches. My main goal for using this compressor was the dull down the intense vocals due to the fact that it was now being played through two channels instead of one. In the end i added very heavy compression. A note to add here I am not compressing both channels of the vocal audio sample just the one so it has a nice combination of an uncompressed audio sample and a compressed one.

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Another important factor that I feel is important is to make sure that your compression doesn’t go too high as seen in this image it has only gone up to about -3, which I feel was a sufficient amount for my track. If you add too much compression it can sound very robotic or quiet.

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After playing around with settings for quite some time i felt very happy with the outcome. I feel as if the compression on one of the channels just adds that little bit more depth into the vocals that the track really needed. This is very useful technique if you ever feel like you need to bring out an element of a song just that little bit more.

Vocal mastering

An important part about creating a song is ensuring that the EQ has been mastered correctly. I usually add my EQ after compression just so you know what the audio will sound like after compressed it. If you add EQ before you compress the audio you will probably have to go back and change the EQ again because you don’t completely know what the audio will sound like after being compressed.

You can add a EQ onto a sound the same way you add a compressor but this time you click on EQ and then by choosing the kind of EQ you want, I chose the Phaser EQ because personally that’s the one I find easiest to use.

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After selecting your EQ it will bring up a image of what is essentially a wave. A EQ allows you to boast of cut a certain audio sound in a number of ways. You can change the low range of audio on the left side of the wave and high on the right side of the wave and you can of course edit the middle sections of the sounds as well.

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There are a number of complex things you can get from using a EQ, but I am fairly new in using EQs so I don’t completely know how to do these techniques. I do understand it however but I haven’t been able to put it into practical work just yet.

I tend to use the presents that Logic Pro X provides in the top left drop down menu on the EQ interface. They have a large number of presets for different instruments and sound that you can use.

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I feel like this is an area I really need to improve on in order to create better tracks and songs. I have started watching a number of tutorial videos to help me achieve this.

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