2017 – Year In Review

As 2017 comes to a close, I wanted to take a quick look back and go over everything that’s happened in this crazy year.

I’ll follow this up with my usual “My Favorite Stuff of” post with my favorite movies and music and stuff like that, but this is about me and my career. What did I accomplish? Lets make a list…

THIS THING RULES: Sonic Zest String Theory

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules! This time we’re revisiting Sonic Zest, a company I’ve covered three times before. This time I’m taking a look at String Theory. While the name might not immediately tip you off, this Kontakt instrument is all about a palm-muted Telecaster guitar. It’s made up of 323MB of samples and 4 patches: Tele Pad, Muted Telecaster, Muted Bass and Bass Arp.

The Demo song “Through The Trees” used the first three and a couple sounds from elsewhere (just the percussion and the keyboard). Lets take a listen.

THIS THING RULES: Galaxynth

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules! This is a really interesting one, as it’s a unique rompler from a small, new company called Heart of Noise, that is quite frankly, unlike anything else I’ve ever played with. GalaXynth is the name of it, and it’s a little hard to review, but very cool and worth checking out.

Before we dig into what makes Galaxynth so unique, check out the demo, “Machine Eyes” which was made all in GalaXynth except for the main drum beat.

Picking out presets is kind of pointless with a product like this, since the goal of GalaXynth really is to experiment. There are presets that I used, and it does come with lots of samples to play with… But its the way in which you mess with and most importantly, combine those samples that creates the sounds that you work with.

Heart of Noise says that GalaXynth is a highly advanced “auditory synthesis” modeled after the human ear. That may sound like a lot to take in but what it comes down to is mixing and morphing any of the 100+ instruments included in very natural and smooth ways. In the simplest of terms, there’s a box that you drag instruments into and depending on where they are on the X/Y axis as well as how close they are to one another changes the sound of the overall instrument you’ve created. It’s as simple as dragging instruments on and seeing how they mesh.

Of course like any good synth, there are further tools at your disposal to further tweak the sound including 7 high quality effects and intuitive performance knobs. The whole thing has very low CPU usage and practically zero load times. I did run into a few crashes though with certain combinations of sounds which was a little disappointing. After mentioning it to the company they pushed out a patch which actually seemed to fix it, so hopefully those crashes don’t raise their heads again, because it’s a fun, unique tool to experiment with.

One other thing about GalaXynth that’s perhaps a little disappointing is that you can’t use your own samples. I suppose the complex nature of making all these sounds mesh together would make that quite hard to plan for, so it’s somewhat understandable. And thankfully, GalaXynth is expandable with Soundbanks that Heart of Noise continues to make available including the Pop Stars Vol. 1, Future House, Classic.FM and Neon Dreams packs. Hopefully they’ll continue to add more. Don’t be scared off though, the initial purchase has enough instrument combinations to really provide a seemingly endless array of possibilities.

GalaXynth is available to buy from Heart of Noise for $99 (there is a free demo available). It’s definitely a product in its own category, but I think it’s different enough to be worth a look.

My Comedy-Rap Stuff

So this will probably surprise most of you who know I’ve been steadily trying to shed my comedy-rap past as I build a career for myself composing serious music and scores for films… But I’m going to talk about my comedy-rap stuff for a minute.

This Thing Rules: iZotope Neutron

Welcome to a new edition of This Thing Rules! This time we’ll be taking a quick look at iZotope’s NeutronOne of many pieces of software I’ve been meaning to review for some time now.

Before we get into the actual review, or even check out the demo, I wanted to give you a little back-story.  I was recently looking for a certain older track I needed to go back to and edit for a project, and in the process, I found a remix I had started of my own song “Into The Black” from An Unseen Sky. On the companion album, Another Sky I did my first ever remix of my own work, “Forgotten (I Almost Remember Remix).” But I had completely forgotten (get it) that before creating that remix, I had already started on a remix for “Into The Black.” So when I found it just recently, it was a total surprise… And especially a surprise because it was pretty good! Then I had the idea of using it as the demo for iZotope’s Neutron mixing plugin, since it’s not an instrument and is something that needs to be added in the mixing phase, and voila! We’ve got ourselves a new This Thing Rules blog and demo! Here’s the track, “Into The Black (Undiscovered Remix).”

I’d imagine for those of you who actually listen to my albums, that was a pretty cool thing to hear. I know it was for me haha… A long lost remix of one of my more popular older tracks.

So since Neutron is a mixing plugin, we’re not going to go into the creation of the song much, except to say that when I first started the original version of “Into The Black,” it actually started life as a demo for iZotope’s Breaktweaker drum synth. Pretty cool how it’s all come around.

Every DAW comes with a suite of effects for mixing, and if you’ve been making music for a while, you no doubt have a ton of other software that you’ve added to your arsenal over time… Maybe even some of it from iZotope themselves… So why would you want yet another option? Well the promise of Neutron is basically a virtual mixing assistant. The real question is whether or not that virtual assistant works… The answer? Well, I’m not 100% sure yet.

At its core, Neutron is a plugin you can add to an instrument track or a bus and then click a button to make it start “listening” to your music. It will then decide what kind of instrument or music is being played and what should be done to make it sound its best and fit better into the rest of the mix. Surprisingly, it usually not only gets its right, but has some rather impressive results. There are times where it’s way off base, but for the most part, it’s really on point.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s time to quit your music production school just yet. While some people may look at this as a way of lazily letting the computer do all the work, that’s not at all how I see it. For me, it’s more of a great starting point. Like any preset in a synth, this is like a preset for mixing. Sure, experience might be able to tell me to cut certain frequencies on a guitar with EQ or add some compression on a kick drum… But this is progress and technology creating a new way of doing things, and doing them faster. Not only that, but in my mind, you’re getting the most out of Neutron if you don’t just settle for what it decides to do.

Using Neutron’s decisions as a starting point can be incredibly helpful. Not just in the process of making your music sound its best, but in teaching you where you should be looking to do it yourself. EQ is EQ no matter what software you’re using, and if Neutron decides to adjust your piano in a way that ends up being a really good idea… You’re going to look and say “Oh… THAT’S how you make it sound like that” and remember it for next time whether you’re using Neutron next time or not. And of course, anything Neutron does, you can then adjust from there all within the software with a full featured set of tools.

Now like I said towards the beginning… I’m not quite 100% sure yet whether Neutron as an idea completely works. Partially, that’s because I’m not the best mixer in the world (or composer or masterer or player for that matter, but that’s another story haha)! But even without the wild virtual assistant options, just as a mixing tool, it’s quite full featured and can get you great manual results. What I can tell you for sure though, is that Neutron’s tricks are impressive and I believe definitely a sign of things to come in the future.

Neutron is available from iZotope for $249 and an advanced version that lets you break out each of the separate Equalizer, Compressor, Transient Shaper and Exciter effects as their own plug-ins is available for $349.

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on theABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

THIS THING RULES: Ample Sound Guitar M & Bass Upright

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules! It’s been a long time as I’ve been crazy busy releasing my 3rd album Head Like Fire, but I’ve got almost a dozen products to review and I should hopefully be banging out one after another over the next few months. The first one up is actually two in one, and both of which I used quite a bit on my new album. They also both happen to be from a company I’ve reviewed before. Today I’m reviewing Ample Sound’s Guitar M II and Bass Upright. Lets start out by checking out the original demo I made, “By The Moonlight.”

In “By The Moonlight” the only sounds you’re hearing are these two products from Ample Sound, and drums coming from other software. I have one looping bass line that I created in Ample Sound Bass Upright II and then four different layers of Ample Sound Guitar M II.

Starting with the Bass, this software lets you create a pretty much perfectly realistic sounding upright bass sound. The library was meticulously recorded with 4.26GB of samples taken from every fret of the upright bass. There are 6 articulations – sustain, mute, natural harmonic, hammer on & pull off, legato slide, slide in & out. The bass has a great, smooth sound to it, and of course the software has many features for allowing you to dial in that sound exactly how you need it, as well as quickly switching between those articulations.

The Guitar M II is sampled from the Martin D-41 Acoustic Guitar, and it sounds beautiful. As with their TC II guitar that I reviewed previously, this guitar can sound as real as you want it to as long as you put the time in to play with its features. There’s a tab player that can load in tablature to play for you, and tons of adjustable features to get this to sound like a real guitar. In “By The Moonlight” I am playing some layers with individual notes on the keyboard to create melodies, and some I’m using the Strummer feature to automatically strum chords for me. Strumming also has an extremely natural feel and is fully adjustable to get the exact speed and style you want. For another example of just how realistic this thing can sound, check out this short demo video direct from Ample Sound’s website (I didn’t make this one):

Ample Sound’s Guitar M II and Bass Upright II are both available directly from Ample Sound at http://www.amplesound.net/en/purchase.asp. Guitar M II costs $169 and Upright Bass II costs $149. This company makes a whole host of different kinds of guitars, and their engine makes it very easy to get great sounding results, so really, any of their products are highly recommended.

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on theABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

… Like Ashes

… Like Ashes,  my new album of bonus tracks from the sessions of Head Like Fire and remixes of songs from that album is now here for all to enjoy for FREE.

This album, as you already know from reading Part 1 & Part 2 of my … Like Ashes blog series (you did read them, right?) is made up of 8 bonus tracks and 5 remixes. You can stream it or download it EXCLUSIVELY for FREE on my Bandcamp profile. It’s also embedded right here in this blog post.

I hope you enjoy the album. If you do and you haven’t already, consider checking out some of my other music including the album Head Like Fire which … Like Ashes is a companion piece of, or check out my first two albums, Echoes In The Dark, and An Unseen Sky. All three are available wherever music is sold and streamed. And PLEASE share. Sharing is the best way for my music to get heard by more people, so SHARE! And if you really love what you hear and want to help out, leave a good review on the music store of your choice (iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby)… Any of the albums, doesn’t matter. The more reviews I can get on the albums in the store the more the albums get noticed in a sea of millions of albums and songs (I think 43 million songs on iTunes last I heard? or was that Spotify? I’m not sure haha, but it’s a lot).

Thanks for the support. New music coming… Well, probably soon, but at least you have these 13 new tracks to keep you busy until then haha. And make sure to check out the blog post about the … Like Ashes Remixes to get links to check out the amazing musicians who contributed remixes to this project! Support independent artists!

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

 

…Like Ashes – The Remixes

And now we begin part two of this blog series about … Like Ashes – the Remixes (check out part one on the bonus tracks here).

Over the course of three albums (and three companion albums) I’ve now had 13 amazing musicians remix my work. Every time it’s such a unique and interesting experience, getting to hear somebody else interpret and change music that I created. This time around, I feel like the remixers created some truly awesome stuff, and I definitely hope that a lot of people actually get to check these remixes out. Here’s the list.

…Like Ashes – The Bonus Tracks

As is now the tradition, now that … Like Ashes has gone out to all the people who bought my album Head Like Fire and the people who followed the very simple instructions in my … Like Ashes Blog Post (which you can still do!), it’s time for me to take a look back at this collection of bonus tracks & remixes in a two-part blog series. First up is the bonus tracks…

1. Journey – At one point “Journey” was the opening track of Head Like Fire. It was always the opening track of my playlist of songs that were going to maybe or maybe not end up on the album, but once I started really finishing songs, I just couldn’t get it finished in a way that felt like a finished song. So when it became time to put together … Like Ashes, it was the first track I went back to, and I think it came out perfect. It’s unlike most of the songs normally on my album with the irregular drum patterns and more cinematic feel, but I love it.

2. Sage – “Sage” and “The Land of Nothing” are both songs that I really liked as I was making them but I held both of them back a) becuase they didn’t feel finished yet, and b) because they sounded too much like a few of the other songs that did make it onto Head Like Fire. As a matter of fact, they kind of sound like each other too. But I think they’re both really solid tracks.

3. Clearview – “Clearview” was one of the first tracks I made after finishing my previous album An Unseen Sky and its companion piece Another Sky. Clearview is actually the name of one of the elementary schools I went to back in Pennsylvania haha, but there’s really no reason for the name. I just thought it was a cool name out of context from it being a school. To be honest this is probably my least favorite song on the album, but it’s still a great track when driving and I’m glad to have it.

4. Home – This is one of my favorite tracks on this album. I actually have a music video idea for “Home,” although I don’t know when and if I’d ever manage to get it filmed. I just love the groove of it though and then the way it builds and then the big 80s dramatic guitars at the end. Love this song.

5. The Land Of Nothing – Again, pretty much everything I said about “Sage” applied to this song too. This one took a lot of work to get right, but once it was good, I was really happy with it. I like the alternating layered drums a lot.

6. Crystalize – This probably is my favorite track on the album. It’s also been selected to be on the Zia Records “You Heard Us Back When” Compilation CD (making 3 years in a row for me after they previously included “Shadows on the Ceiling” and “Burnout”). The distortion, the drums, the breakdown in the middle, the way it all comes back in. It’s just a killer groove that I’m really happy with.

7. The Precipice – I really, really love this song. It reminds me of another track of mine, “The Master” from Another Sky. They’re kind of companion pieces in a way. The funny thing about this one is that when gathering up unfinished tracks, I totally forgot I made this. It wasn’t nearly as complete as the finished version you’re hearing now, but still, it really gave me an awesome surprise shock when I hit play and was like “wow, when did I make this?!?” haha.

8. Scarecrow – Once upon a time, the name Head Like Fire was going to refer to a full album of songs with big heavy industrial guitars like this song, “Burnout,” and “Devil.” But then as more and more songs kept happening in a wider variety of styles, I kind of abandonded that idea. There’s a few more beginnings of songs that I might eventually go back to, but “Scarecrow,” was the most complete, and also the song I was originally ending Head Like Fire with, so I decided to end the bonus tracks portion of … Like Ashes with it.

And that about does it. Next week I’ll post the 2nd part about the remixes, and then I’ll release … Like Ashes on my Bandcamp page as a completely free album. But if you want it free and early, there’s still time to get a copy. Just check out the announcement blog.

-David

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

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