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June 25, 2007

Filed under: music»recording»production

Arpeggios and Pedagogy

The next couple of days are all about the WBI Learning Week event--and more specifically, for my part, they're all about the expert interview podcasts. I wrote this theme on Friday for the podcasts, and then spent about an hour over the weekend beefing it up and remixing it. The defining feature is a three-octave arpeggio of a chord that I can't entirely place (I think it's a C major with a flatted 7th, the components are C, E, G, and Bb). I also hooked a drum map into the arpeggiator, latched the whole bunch, and then split the keyboard so that I could play the string accompaniment on the rest of the keys. It was a surprisingly effective way to put together a tune, and something I would have probably never done on my little two-octave keyboard.

Frankly, I'm writing more music nowadays on synth at work than I am on bass at home, and I still feel like my theory knowledge could be stronger (see limited chord knowledge above). So I have decided that I need to relearn how to play keys, and I might as well brush up on my reading while I'm at it. One of the video editors has a Yamaha DX27 that he brought in and abandoned, and I may see if he'll let me borrow it until I can save my pennies for a synth of my own. Next stop, Ben Folds transcription book.

In case you are wondering (you probably aren't), the arpeggios, string pad, high-hat, and kick in the theme are the X-Pand! synth--in fact, they're all on the same track, thanks to that split keboard trick and X-Pand's multi-voice patches. The indian flute, tamborine, cabasa, and choir are all Sampletank SE. I have to work around the bargain-basement palette of these two plugins most of the time--for example, I wanted the swells at the end of each phrase to be muted trumpets, but neither synth does them well, so instead they're a combination of choir and cello section. I imagine it would be interesting next year if my successor starts looking at soft synths come purchasing time, but it wasn't a priority this time around.

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