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Julie JD - Recording with Midi

Julie JD
March 08, 2011

Music is an ever changing business. For example at least 20 years ago, it was all about getting signed with a big record company. Now a days it's all about doing it yourself. And let's face it, it can be frustrating, especially if you're trying to record on your own. Which is why I have some tips for you this week. My first tip would be taking advantage of your resources. If you can't find it in a book, you'll find it on the internet. It also doesn't hurt to be a regular at your local music store. The people there are also very helpful. Sometimes they offer classes and free clinics about home recording, songwriting promotions and lots of other helpful music stuff. Most of the staff do music related work outside of their jobs, like producing and performing, so it doesn't hurt to get into a conversation about it.

When you're a soloist you don't have a session band on hand to fill in the background. So that is why there is midi. Midi stands for musical instrument digital interface, that just means, that through the magic of an electronic keyboard you have samples of musical instruments literally at your fingertips. Anything from drums to violins, and yes even piano. Midi can be a life saver, helping you to easily build beats and beautiful melodies behind your vocals. Midi is easily used as a drum machine, but whenever you do this you need to quantize. This aligns whatever you play to a certain beat and note value. So by quantizing drums it will shuffle the note to the nearest sixteenth note for example. I know it sounds kind of confusing, but it provides a more beat-accurate timing of sounds. Depending on the type of program you're using, there are special features in your quantizing menu. Such as q-swing, this adds a bit of delay to make it more like a swing song. Even a q-flam, which is great for midi guitars, this separates the notes of a chord to make it sound more like a strum, because no person plays all strings at once. The beauty about midi is that you can play four bars of music and just copy and paste it through the rest of the song.

Midi helps you build a band around whatever you've played. So by having a vocal track with a basic chord progression you can fill in the background. When building your band it's good to start at the chorus. The chorus is like the peak of your song, where you have all instruments playing at the same time. So you can put in your drums, guitar, piano, shakers whatever you want. By using your basic chord progression as a guideline, use the relative chords (major, minor, augmented etc) to write the parts for your other instruments. then you can copy and paste it throughout the whole song and at certain parts of the verses just cut out the instruments you don't want. It may be difficult at first, but once you get some practice at it, you're building a whole orchestra in a matter of minutes.

- Julie JD -