Tips for Windows Users

Here is a workflow tip for all Windows users…

I don’t know about you but I know as a Keyboardist and Producer, there are a gazillion-and-one details that I must know.  Seriously, these are must know things like progam mapping, controller re-mapping, Scales, intervals, inversions, Midi, yadda, yadda, yadda.  My head would explode if I had to try and retain all of that data in my brain, yet I need some way of referencing this data quickly and easily…

So, without further ado, here are my lifesaving tips:

Custom Toolbars and Shortcuts – Using Custom toolbars and shortcuts, I can access anything on my computer without having to leave whatever screen I am working in.  I set the toolbar to automatically hide itself so that it doesn’t get in my way while working.

Some of the things I reference are:

Manuals – Every manual for every piece of hardware and software I own, can be accessed from one menu on my toobar.  Windows uses those expandable, accordian, type menus so you can put your shortcuts into folders, into folders, into folders.  I probably have a thousand different manuals I can reference with one quick click of the mouse.








I also have one for Stand-alone instruments, which I can launch with a click and another for applications I use often while working in my DAW.








Another of my best kept secrets is a little Microsoft Application called One-Note.  One-Note is a Library in and of itself.  Like any library, it contains books, which contains, Sections, which contain Chapters, which contain pages.  You can have as many as you need of any of these to organize all of that information and it is very adept at accepting different formats (.pdf, .jpg, .bmp, .png, audio, and even video).  You can assign tags and labels, highlight and write notes.  Absolutely an amazing piece of software.

Some of the things I store are Tips, like this one, Articles, Troubleshooting notes, and all of that stuff I mentioned at the beginning…


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Upright and Grand

I posted a second mix of the piece I am currently calling Pretty Song/Gentlenss.  The difference??? I used a Grand Piano plugin as opposed to the Upright Piano.

For those who aren’t piano savvy, an Upright piano is generally suited for smaller rooms, in which they are placed with its back against the wall.  The sound comes from the rear of the piano and the wall acts as an extension of the piano’s soundboard.  This extends the volume, as well.  The strings are placed vertically in an upright and on a real nice one, the sound will improve with age…

A Grand Piano by design, is capable of housing longer strings, which adds a richness to the timbre that an upright doesn’t have.  Using the lid on the Grand helps to direct the sound to the desired spot, depending on where it is placed in the room.

Grand pianos obviously require more floor space than an upright but are usually suited for large rooms or stages.  They are considerably more expensive than uprights and many players prefer the action better.  Since the keys are longer, the leverage is better….


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Sunday, PT II

Just to clarify, this day of the week approach I only use when I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.  If you’ve got something going, by all means continue and don’t move on just because it is not Wednesday!!!  There is nothing more satisfying when a project flows smoothly from start to finish….

So, on that note, I dug deeper into this piece and decided the original ending was a bit, or maybe very, sloppy.  I think it is because when things aren’t filling in exactly as planned, I sort of have a tendency to just want to get it finished, which of course, is not the way to publish any work of art….

So, instead of the original fade-out ending, I would try and resolve the ending into something more conclusive.  To do that, I extended the piece to make room for an Outro of some sort.  Two weeks, between mixes and I still don’t feel 100% good about it but it’s getting closer…

A wise man once said, “A mix is never finished.  It is just settled for.”  Or maybe that was in a fortune cookie….

So, here then, is an alternate ending, if you will, of both versions…

E. Piano in Intro

No E. Piano in Intro



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In my last post, I spoke about my approach to getting out of a rut.  This is an example of a project I began and ran out of steam before finishing.  I am still uncertain that it is in fact finished but this is the 2nd time I have gone into it and came out still not sure, so I suspect I will be revisiting this track again sometime in the future.

In the first take, I created this Intro that sort of sounded like Steely Dan (Or, at least in my head!!!)  Then I couldn’t seem to coax it along, probably because I am not Donald Fagen, so I shelved it.

When I returned to the project, I decided to remove the Electric Piano from the Intro and I kind of liked hearing the Cajon and some of the other percussive instruments in the Intro.  I still haven’t made up my mind whether to use the Piano in the Intro…  The result being I have (2) rough mixes (One with the EP in the intro and the other, the same track without the EP in the intro).

Maybe you can help me decide….

Don’t forget to V-O-T-E !!!

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In a Rut? What’s Today?

This tip is geared mainly for Keyboardists, though parts of it might apply to other instrumentalists or musicologists:

Often there have been times when I start working on a project only to find I cannot finish it or worse can’t even get it started.  Hours spent on a project that will never make it to the “Masters” folder.”

The name of the project may be something like “My New Project – No. 14.”  It is likely the next time I open the project will be when I am cleaning out my hard drive…

I developed a unique modification to my work-flow in that when I run across these situations, I name the file for whatever day of the week it is… So I wind up with 7 folders each named for a day in the week.  Next time I am drawing blanks, I just open up the folder of whatever day it is and revisit whatever it was I was working on at the time.  In addition to this, I start each new project from scratch (I don’t use any project or track templates).  This works because these files are not created sequentially, as their is a 1 in 7 chance, depending on the day of the week.  Chances are, I will have moved on from whatever it was that was originally stuck in my head and the result is I will have a bunch of different projects and configurations.

So what exactly is the benefit?  Well for one thing, chances are better I will revisit an idea rather than abandoning an idea.  Eventually, the 1 in 7 chances will bring me back.

Also, and this is where this system really pays off, is that I will have a bunch of different project and track templates, since often I may come to a dead end after creating a bunch of different instrument templates w/ dialed in effects.  Even if I never finish a project, the hours spent on creating different track templates is not wasted.  More often than not, I can climb back into the project with a refreshed approach…

Try it!!!

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