Saturday, January 5, 2013

Year End Clearance

 Into the Abyss

     Greetings and Salutations!  The year 2012 is over, we survived, we're still here, and for a lot of us; "same ol' stuff, just another day".  So let's move forward into time and space.  In the meantime, I would like to share my year end with Y'ALL.

     I took a gig (drummer), for New Years Eve, at an old and funky casino on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.  No big deal?  This was the second music job I played since June of 2012 and of the whole year.  Because of the disease itself, condition, and collateral damage caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), my playing days are (I thought) pretty much over.  The pain, limited motion of my hands and feet, the strength and endurance and even anxiety about the whole situation is impacted by RA.  In short, a very big deal.  My commitment to my self, not to "kill" myself, my great musician/friend/Bro, who offered me the opportunity, the other people in the band and the music itself.  For the past few months, I have been feeling better (a relative term), and the job starts at 5 PM, over at 9 PM, meaning I could be home well before midnight.  Plus, it was this kind of gig that I've played OH so many hundreds of times:  "Hi, we are here, tucked and out of the way in a tiny little space by the slots, playing music VERY quietly and non-intrusive,  in this shitty old and smokey smelling casino, just in case you might happen to walk by and exclaim "Hey there's a band!" on your way to play the nickel slots - gig.  You know the job, so, I said yes!

     Because it was New Years Eve in Tahoe and even though I allowed myself plenty of time, what was a 45 minute drive took me an hour and a half, putting me a half an hour away from start time and I still had to unload and set up my drums, sigh.  Oh yeah, I was stressed and anxious.  First thought were about WHY am I doing this, is it WORTH it?  Oh, shut up and get to work!  Whoops, I forgot my bass drum pegs, those little straight spiked thingy - dingeys that prop up and anchor the bass drum.  Without them, the bass drum could slide ahead or even roll over, or both, NICE!  Sigh.  Well, somehow, I was ready to go at 5 PM, with drum cases propped up on both sides of the bass drum to keep it from moving.  Good ol' muscle memory kicked in and took over.  I relaxed, my technique was there, my volume was just right, no over-playing and I knew all the songs being called.  I DID it!  And it was just like I never left.  For that I'm very grateful.  For the little bit of extra money I was able to contribute, I am grateful.  For a few laughs in a shitty and smelly old casino with three friends, while people totally ignored us, I am grateful.  And yes, even though it took me three days to recover, I'm grateful.  All in all, a good ending and great beginning to a new year and obviously, opportunities.  I certainly can't say that I will be able to play the next gig, but, HEY!  I'm going to get the call.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Massive Media

 It's a Jungle Out There!

I've started a new post many times now, undecided as to what to write, bummed out that I'm not pumping these things out.  So what's more important?  Blogs or new compositions?  Posts or songs on YouTube? Tweeting, or finding more sites to link the music to?  And on and on, and so forth, etc...It depends on who you ask, I suppose.  A person in marketing; INTERNET Exposure!  A composer; More SONGS!  It's the chicken and egg deal, got to have music to in order to market, got to have marketing or no one will hear...Wow!  "things" have sure changed for those of us from previous generations.

Lables, labels...I am a singular-non-signed-inner-dependent-the whole band-non-pop or rap-musician-and/or composer.  Have to have labels these days so people can identify the music.  Have to have an identity for the music,  so people won't be confused.  Can't have people thinking for themselves.  Why do we need to have someone label and name it for us? It's the lemmings syndrome, follow the pack, Don't Think For Yourself.  Even more important is the style of music.  So many styles, it's unbelievable!  "So, what kind of music do you write?"  " and bass-trance-rock, or something like that."  "Oh, OK, yea, that's good, ever sold any of this stuff?"  "Hell no!  who would buy something that doesn't have a clear and concise label?  I can't understand your music.

And then there's the many, many media sites where you can upload your music, so people can hear your songs.  More and more sites each day.  The artists' product gets lost in in the site, because there are hundreds (or more) of other artists, trying to "pimp their stuff".  Of course, you have to link it to all of the social media sites because, maybe, just maybe, someone might help you out.

All of this, too, in hopes that a music library would sign you and add your music to their catalog of hundreds or maybe thousands of songs by artists trying the same thing, get the music placed, TV or film, or somewhere.  Key words here:  placement, licensing, mechanical, synch, royalties, money.
My brother Michael thinks it would be great to release a CD titled:
Trying Desperately To Be Noticed!  

But, you know what?  I love it all, the ins and outs of it, the whole deal.  Give up?  NEVER!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Where Does This Stuff Come From?

 How Do You Do This Stuff?

Since I have started posting my music to you tube, a little history and perhaps some friendly teaching would be in order.  I enjoy teaching and mentoring and believe that the more we know, the more choices we all have to grow.  That is, if we so choose.

These "spacescapes", as I call them, aren't just random drag and drop sounds inserted here and there.  In fact, I have a real idea of what I am intending to design.  For instance, the title:  The Aeon Mines, is about mining on an asteroid in deep space.  So, the foundation must have audio components associated with mining;  background noise, industrial sounds, clanking and grinding, pulse.  Then, come the emotions that accompany being around, or, working in a mine;  tension, fear, heaviness, perhaps anger? futility, resignation, and etc.  In my "spacescape" Aeon Revolt!, the miners have had enough and they are fighting back, emotionally that is.  This approach to sound design and composing come from my many years of studying film scoring and composition. 

Where it All Comes Together

Right now, my favorite software for designing these kinds of spacescapes  is Ableton, a great software program that is very friendly to just about anything I ask it to do.  Plus, it comes  with lots of  instruments, dynamic processors, and filters.  It also allows me to use virtual instruments from my other audio programs as well as their processors.  If you want to just add prerecorded sounds (samples), the dragging and dropping can be accomplished as the piece is playing, as well as adding and effects that are in the Ableton program.  Again, it's not the only software I use but, for these audio environments, it works best for me.

So, I may start with a beat, particular rhythm, or a chord, or a sound, and I fool around with it and let it Happen. That's important, letting it Happen and not giving up on it too quickly.  Loop it (repeat it), listen and feel, add another instrument or synth to it, does it help?  Which organic sound (sample) would compliment?  and so on.  The next thing I know, I have more than a few tracks, some midi tracks some audio, and I'm focusing on the emotional side of it.  I make corrections to chords or melodies or where I want that particular sound.  And so it evolves.  I also make longer pieces, so when it ends up being licensed ( Oh Please God!),  there are many possible edit points to go in and out of.

Eventually, I have what I call a complete piece.  Then, I work on the individual tracks.  The ones written in midi need to be converted to audio.  After all of that is finished, I start applying EQ and effects.  I may pick and choose from Ableton, Cakewalk X1, Sound Forge, or Adobe Audition.  Each one of these has their own flavor to add, if I choose.  I may throw on some other samples also.  IMPORTANT.  I do NOT believe in using sounds that don't belong to me.  That is, I have purchased the software and have a legal copy or, the particular libraries.  The royalties will have been paid, and my INTEGRITY is intact.  If it isn't my sample, I make a point of altering in some way, the sample by changing the EQ, or adding some kind of dynamic like compression, reverb, chorus, etc.,  reverse the sample, cut it up in pieces.  To me, there is nothing worse than hearing samples that EVERYBODY else is using.  So, unless it's an obvious sound that I want you to hear, like a big ship horn or helicopter or something like that, I'll process the sample.

OK, almost done, check the individual tracks for volumes, too much?  too little?  do some panning and cross fading and whatever little tricks that I may like to apply.  Then I mix it down, export it, burn a CD and try it on other speakers, or in my car.  This will tell you quite a bit if you cross check it with different speaker systems.  Many times I have gone back to the drawing board after I listened to my piece elsewhere.

It's then copyright time, registering the piece (if applicable) with BMI, bringing into Adobe Premier to add visuals, checking, checking always checking that it's all good, making the "movie" and uploading to You Tube or wherever.  The uploading part is a whole other story that I talk about some other time. 


Ronny Belair
p.s.  really, let's just get along and accept each other for who we really are.

p.s.s.  The Aeon Mines piece was composed in total on my Alesis QS.8 in midi, altering  and tweaking the programs, and edited before turning into audio.  No other samples were used.
one more p.s.  link to you tube:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dmitri's Advice

Today, my good friend and bro, Dmitri stopped by for a visit.  As we have been in business together years (video gamers), he asked what I am now composing.  Frustrated, I said nothing new,. but, what is it  about these Outer Space/Ambient/Experimental pieces that I so love.

Hey!  Dee, said, check this out.  And, sure enough, we compared my stuff with trailers and scores that are already "out" in the world, hmm...

That's all I needed to hear.  I believe it's time for me to share with the world , my music and my journey into the music.

Ronny Bee