10 Tips for Using Virtual Instruments for Composing and Music Production : Part I

Jim Pfeifer

Jim Pfeifer

One of the best aspects computer-based recording is the wide variety of Virtual Instrument plugins available for music production. Virtual Instruments are essentially software modules that provide additional instrument sounds that can be purchased as add-on modules for your computer recording software environment (a.k.a. DAW – digital audio workstation).

Tip #1:  Before purchasing a Virtual Instrument plugin, make sure to check the supported plugin formats of your DAW software

Virtual Instruments use a variety of standard formats for “plugging into” your DAW environment. The most popular plug-in formats are:

  • VST(Virtual Studio Technology, supported on both MacOS and Windows),
  • RTAS (Real Time Audio Suite),
  • AU (Audio Units for Apple OS X Core Audio)
  • ReWire (an inter-application communication engine developed by Propeller Head Software).

When buying a Virtual Instrument plug-in, make sure to check the supported formats with your DAW manufacturer’s website to be sure that the plug-in supports one of the data formats supported by your DAW software. As with most other software purchases, it’s very difficult to return it to the store after you have opened the box.

Writing Music for a Women’s TV Talk Show

One of the aspects of our hyper-connected world is that media is everywhere. Stop and notice how many things you interact with every day where music is a part of the experience:

  • Turn on your phone and a musical icon is played as it powers up
  • receive a call and a ringtone is played
  • play any video game and hear music used throughout the game
  • watch a Youtube video and see a pre-roll video ad – with catchy music accompanying the ad,
  • tune in on any of the hundreds of cable TV shows and hear music in their opening theme, commercial breaks, segues from scene to scene, closing credits, and all through the show to enhance the mood of the scenes unfolding.

The reason that music is used in so many experiences like this is that music = emotion.   If you want to connect with people on an emotional level Continue reading

Do you want to be a parrot or do you want to learn how to talk?

Parrot-pianoMusic is a language that touches the human soul.   Everyone has experienced those times when they’ve heard a song that seems to hit them at the very core of their being and bring chills to the back of the neck.   None of us can explain why certain songs do that for us.  It could be the sound of the drums and guitars, the strings,  the way the bass line grooves, the melody, the painful feeling in the singer’s voice, the lyrics .. or any variety of reasons.  We only know that our “soul” responds to the music in a deep way, as if something came along and woke it up.  For a moment, we are consumed by the music, almost inside of it as if we ourselves are singing the song from the inside while we hear it.  We feel the music completely.

As music creators we strive to make music that touches people in this way.  If music is a language then it only makes sense to treat it as such and attempt to understand  “why” various musical approaches seem to carry more meaning, or affect the listener in some way more than others.   This is why I’m such a big believer in Continue reading