Skyypilot- Composition- Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 8)

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Skyypilot- Composition- Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 8)

In Part 8, we’ll cover:

  • Export/Import Wav files of Sub mixes
  • Recording Guitar in Waveform 9 with Amplitude 4
  • Choosing Guitar presets/Rendering Wav files
  • Playback

Export Wav files of Sub Mixes

Now,  in Part 8, we will free up some of the computer’s resources by exporting sub mix wav files of the Drums/Percussion group and the Sample Tank 3 group.   First, solo the Drums/Percussion sub mix and select “Export” then “Render to file”.  I usually render to 24-bit file.  Disable the  Waves Studio Rack in the master bus before the render, or you’ll double-up on it later.   Make sure you put it in  the project  “Export” folder so you can easily locate it.   (Hit “T” after choosing the original sub mix track location to place the new track directly below it).  Next, Import the file to the empty track.  Also, add the Aux Sends (1&2) to the track, as we’re keeping the effects Aux Returns separate.

Let’s get all of our levels and panning set for the Sample Tank 3 sub mix.  We will then do the same thing in soloing, rendering, and importing  this instrumental sub mix  (minus the channel 1 Drum kit which is in the Drum/Percussion sub  mix).  Add a new track (“T”) below the sub mix track to import the ST3 wav file into.  After its import, I inserted Waves J37 to warm it up a bit.

Recording Guitar in Waveform 9 with Amplitude 4

Next, we’ll use IK Multimedia’s Amplitude 4 to record rhythm guitar into Waveform.  The  cool thing about Amplitude is that if you don’t like a sound AFTER the fact, you can still change it!  We’ll record the part with a pre-selected preset on Amplitude.

Choosing Guitar presets/Rendering Wav files

Then, we’ll add 9-yes, 9 Tracks underneath the  guitar.  Select the first guitar wav file, then in Properties at the bottom right “Select all Clips in the Same Track”.  We’ll then “Render Selected Clips” at the bottom of Properties.  Before doing this, however,  be sure to disable the Studio Rack in the Master bus.  The new wav file is created on top of the original, so just drag and drop it into one of the newly-created empty tracks.  I inserted  an IK Multimedia TR5 Classic EQ, along with a Waves ADT effect (for some phase-shifting).  Go back to the original track with Amplitude 4 and pick another sound.  Select all in track, render new wav file, and drag and drop to an empty track below.  Fill up all the rest of the added guitar tracks with different-sounding rendered files.

Well, we obviously don’t want all of those identical guitar parts with different sounds all playing at the same time, so now is the time to mix-and-match the parts to our liking.  The clips can be broken up by selecting, then hitting the / key.  This splits them at the slash.  From there, we can shorten by dragging the ends, lose sections as we go, etc.


Now that the parts are chosen, let’s hear the playback!  Be sure to click here for the companion YouTube video (added soon).  This is starting to take some shape…Back to work on Part 9!

Author’s note:  I have not been compensated for any products mentioned above.

© 2018 J. Mark Witters






Skyypilot- Composition- Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 7)

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Skyypilot- Composition- Production of “Unforgotten”– (Part 7)

In Part 7, we’ll cover:

  • Creating Wav and MIDI files in Finale 25.5
  • Removing Unneeded  Clips
  • Importing Wav and Midi Files to Waveform 9
  • Adding Plugins
  • Freezing Tracks and Playback of results so far.

Creating Wav and Midi Files in Finale

Starting  Part 7, let’s create Wav and Midi files in Finale.  Then, we can import these files into Waveform and use them. Select Export, then Audio file.  Put it into the project folder so we can locate it easily.  Next, select Export, Midi file and Save Midi Files as Separate Tracks, then OK.

Removing Unneeded Clips

The basic sketch tracks we started are now unneeded.  Out they go, and are hereby replaced with the Finale midi score!  They came in handy, but their usefulness is just a fond memory… Remove the sketch clips by selecting then hitting backspace.  This removes the clip and not the track  shell itself.

Importing Wav and Midi Files in Waveform

Now,  we will import both Wav and Midi files we wrote into Waveform.  First, let’s go to the bottom of tracks listed,  and add additional tracks by going to the tracks listing on menu, check Add  Several Tracks, and add 16 tracks. Then, add 10 more the same way.  This should suffice for now.

Go to the Import Menu, choose Import Audio/Midi and pick the Wav file we made from the Finale score.  Check to make sure it lines up with what we have in Waveform thus far.

Next, let’s import the midi file from the same Import menu.  It will ask if you want to  “Import tempo and time signature changes  from the midi clip”.  Just Ignore because things  stayed the same throughout.  It will ask “Convert to Expression or Separate Clips”  Pick Separate Clips”.

Once the tracks are added, check each added part for the midi channel and drag and drop each to its corresponding track. ( I changed a couple of instruments from the original Sample Tank 3  multi setting while working in Finale, so I saved it as “Unforgotten Waveform”. )


Adding Plugins

I wanted to add a second drum effects bus to the Drum-Percussion Submix, so I added a Aux Send to that Submix and assigned it to the second bus (#2).  Punch “T” and add a Aux Return (#2) to the new track.  Now, we’ll designate the Waves H-Reverb and the Flutterdrum  setting. Adjust the rest of the Drum-Percussion Submix again with the added reverb.

In the Finale orchestration, I added 5 additional staves, so chose four different plugins- Zebralette (Free Plugin from u-he),  Tyrell N6 (also from u-he),  Waverazor (from Tracktion), and Collective (comes with Waveform 9).  I made selection of the instruments for each (the Waverazor is on two tracks, one written, one played).

Freezing Tracks and Playback of Results so Far…

I had to freeze tracks to save enough computing for playback and recording the video.  Select Track 1.  Now, Hit shift/control and Track 54, choosing all tracks.  In the Properties section at the bottom, pick Freeze Tracks.   I, then want to play what is down so far, so here goes…  See you in Part 8!

Author’s Note:  I have received no compensation for products mentioned in this article.

© 2018 J Mark Witters

Harness The Awesomeness of YouTube!

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Harness the Awesomeness of YouTube!

Howlin Wolf

Okay, YouTube had a minor glitch  yesterday.  I mowed my lawn while it was being fixed. Next, it was back up and I could once again do my thing.  Just the afternoon before, Beth and I listened to two hours of the Best of Howlin Wolf while blogging, and such.

Born Chester Arthur Burnett, Howlin Wolf wrote and performed many of the all-time blues classics.  “Smokestack Lightning”, “Killing Floor”, “Spoonful”, and so many of  Wolf’s songs were a huge influence on 1960″s rock music.   I was introduced to his song “Spoonful” on the Cream “Wheels of Fire” album- my very first!  Hubert Sumlin was his long-time smokin’ guitarist, and the cornerstone of his band.  This is must-hear music!

My Skyypilot YouTube Channel

I (along with many, many more) have started a YouTube in the past year.  Making videos (and blogging, for that matter) seemed like the furthest thing from my mind.  Now, I see that it’s something that very much interests me, so off I go.

In my still-in-progress  video series- “Skyypilot-The Composition and Production of Unforgotten“,  I had some questions about time stretching on my new Waveform 9 recording software.  Tracktion has a YouTube channel with a tutorial on Waveform 9 Time Stretching . Problem solved.

Also, with YouTube, you may upload and edit selections, make playlists, etc in the Creator Studio section.  It’s a great platform and it’s free!

Any time I look for a technical solution, I search YouTube for videos, and most of the time, I can find it.

Favorite Channels

Below are some of my favorite YouTube channels for both information and entertainment.  These are all completely unsolicited:

  • Think Media – Great tips and tricks for online video.
  • Aimee Nolte Music – Clever, informative tutorials/reviews, personal stories, and live concerts from gifted jazz artist.
  • Munrows Retro – Well-crafted music videos from songs of decades past.
  • Thebestdream I Had – Looking for groups from the 60’s that you did’t know existed?  They’re here…
  • David Hoffman – Fascinating clips from the amazing, prolific documentary film maker.

In all, YouTube is empowering a many people to do many things that were unthinkable a couple of short years ago.  It’s an exciting time to be alive!

© 2018 J. Mark Witters




Never Listen to the Critics

Never Listen to the Critics

What Do They Know?

Critics are everywhere.  You’ll see them on television, print, internet, etc.  There’s always someone better, more qualified to look down on us and shake his/her head in disapproval.   Too bad!

I could never “fit in”, so after a time,  I just didn’t worry about it.  No, I’m not in a conventional band.   I don’t “play out” and I’ve never played  covers, a  (Never even learned “Stairway to Heaven” :).   Even though “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”,   all one can do is be the best person one can be, and let the chips fall.


True ground breakers succeed from failure- a lot of it.  Without the countless failures before their successes, Thomas Edison and Les Paul would not have shaped the recording industry as we know it today.  It is so easy just to throw up your hands and quit.  You are never a loser unless you quit.  Even now, I discover music recorded by bands I’ve never heard.  Most is garbage, but I find a lot of hidden gems, as well.  Why didn’t I hear these records before?  Because for many, it was just easier to throw in the towel than to soldier on.  The BeatlesCreedence Clearwater Revival, Frank Zappa, and so many others were told  “no commercial potential”  and stayed the course anyway.  When you get to a certain point of rejection, what difference does another one make?

The Ultimate Solution

What it gets down to is this: Do what makes you feel alive.  Only you know the answer to that.  Do it the very best you can at that moment, learn from the many mistakes you’ll make, rinse, and repeat.  You are personally in charge of your own happiness.  The critics don’t care.  They aren’t you, and who made them in charge?

© 2018 J. Mark Witters

Skyypilot- Composition-Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 6)

Skyypilot- Composition-Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 6)

skyypilot logo small
skyypilot logo small

In Part 6, we’ll cover:

  • Drum/percussion submix
  • Setting up  Drum/percussion  Aux send/return; Plugin for  Return effect
  • Mixing Drum/percussion submix and Effects Levels
  • Adding Drum fills
  • Additional Orchestration, Playback

Drum/percussion submix,

Since we last met, I made a submix of the drum and percussion tracks in Waveform 9 so  I can control their overall  volume.  Therefore, I’m adding two additional tracks first, by selecting the last percussion track (track 9), and hitting  “T”  twice.  Next, I change the track destinations by first selecting  track 1, then while pressing Shift+Control, pick track 9.  This selects tracks 1-9 at once.  At the bottom of the screen under Track Properties, choose Track destination from the default (1-2) to the newly-made track 10.  This will combine outputs from tracks 1-9 to track 10.

Setting up  Drum/percussion                     Aux send/return; Plugin for  Return effect

Now, we want  to add some overall depth, so for the most control, we’ll use the other added track (track 11) for the Aux send/return chain.  First,  add an aux (auxiliary)/send before the volume fader on the Drum/percussion track by dragging a Waveform 9 plugin there, and picking aux/send.  Next, place an Aux/return plugin before the volume fader on the effect channel (track 11).  Finally, choose an effect .  I’ve got Waves H-Delay (Hybrid delay) with a slap back insert placed after the aux/return in the channel 11 chain.

Mixing Drum/percussion Submix & Effects Levels

Well, now we want to get the overall Drum/percussion levels adjusted  going into the submix.  Then, adjust the amount of slapback effect we want in the effect channel 11.

Adding Drum Fills

From there, I went back through the Drum Loops and broke them up with fills. Make sure you make copies of midi track 1 and move them to track 2 where you have the Drum Core 4  kit.  Doubling midi kits is a favorite trick.  Let’s hear what we’ve got so far…

Additional Orchestration, Playback

I ‘ve orchestrated (bare-bones, mind you) the next section, so let’s return to Finale 25.5 and check it out.  See you on Part 7!

Watch my YouTube companion video on:  The Composition and Production of “Unforgotten” (Part 6).

I have not been compensated for any products mentioned above.

© 2018 J. Mark Witters

Skyypilot- Composition-Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 5)

Skyypilot- Composition-Production of “Unforgotten”    (Part 5)

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Part 5 (Finale 25.5)

In Skyypilot- Composition-Production of “Unforgotten”- (Part 5), we :

  • Setup Rewire in Waveform 9,
  • Set up and format Finale 25.5 for project
  • Select plugins for Finale score
  • Discuss the use of Midi in Waveform 9                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Starting today, I will be publishing a text blog version along with the video blog   (Skyypilot-Composition and Production Of “Unforgotten”- Part 5).  Any products mentioned are those I use. I am not being compensated for any implied or real endorsement.

Set-up of Rewire/Finale into Waveform 9

To integrate Finale directly into Waveform 9, first of all, drag the plug-in selector to the track I added [by hitting  “T”] and selecting “Rewire” from the Waveform plugin list.  In the “Properties” menu at the bottom, choose “Finale”. From there, we can open the editor, instead, let’s put that on hold for now…

Set-up and Format of Finale 25.5                   

I’ve used Finale for over twenty years and have seen it add 64-bit processing, along with accepting plugins, rendering wav and midi files, and now, Rewire compatibility.  Rewire allows remote control and data transfer between Finale 25.5 and Waveform 9.

We’ll start with opening up a new document in the stand-alone version of Finale and giving it 16 staves, the number of instruments  loaded into our Sample Tank 3 multi-instrument VST.  Next, make sure that Finale is being played through the VST by selecting “Play through VST” on the Midi/Audio menu.  Further down the same Midi/Audio menu, select “VST Banks and Effects”. In the Bank 1 menu, choose “Sample Tank 3”, then, open up the edit menu to the right of that tab to open Sample Tank 3 VST.  Go to the Multi menu and select the “Unforgotten” Multi I saved at the start of this series. If you remember earlier, we dedicated each pair of the sixteen instruments to their own outputs, hence making 32 total. 

Since we’re using Finale as a stand-alone, switch to the Mix tab at the top of Sample Tank and to the bottom of each channel’s faders to select 1/2 for every channel so they all output together. Finally, we’ll make this a separate Multi preset we’ll call “Unforgotten Finale” retaining our flexibility.


Go over to the left of each Staff and right click on it (with “Staff”  menu selected). Choose a clef for each staff, along with the staff instrument’s name.  Next, under the “Windows” menu, select “Score Manager”. Under “Device” tab, make sure they all have Sample Tank 3 chosen.  On the right side, pick the midi channel of your staff’s instrument. Since channel 5’s “Glamour EP” has two clefs- treble and bass, so it has two staffs.  Under the “Play” settings, since we want select the BPM (beats per minute) to match the 106 chosen for the “Unforgotten” Waveform 9 tempo select 106. Also, we want to “start at current counter setting” for editing purposes.

Select Plugins for Finale Score

Now, we’ll return to the “VST Banks and Effects” under the Midi/Audio Menu.   Go to the bottom to the Master Effects and select two Waves plug-ins I like to use:  the EMI TG12345 channel strip, and the J37 tape saturation plugins.  I chose a couple of presets I like and will adjust levels after entering some notation for playback.

Use of Midi in Waveform 9

Now, we will open up the “Unforgotten” project started in Waveform 9 and compare the original voice-leading (block chords) beside the notation I’ve entered on Finale.  Until next time,I will compose more in Finale and return soon for an update.

Starting today, I will be publishing a text blog version along with the video blog   (Skyypilot-Composition and Production Of “Unforgotten”- Part 5).

Any products mentioned are those I use. I am not being compensated for any implied or real endorsement.

© 2018  J. Mark

Music Adventures Now-Technology

Just Do It!

Starting Out

Technology can prepare anyone  to complete a journey.  You must take the first steps and the momentum will keep you going.  

While growing up, I discovered the joy of music and that it has only grown over the years.  I knew what I wanted to hear, but how do I create it? Technology is the answer.

Well, I knew yours truly was not the most gifted of musicians, so my task was to exploit my God-given talents.  I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I wrote poetry of all sorts  (mostly  drivel, but you have to start somewhere!).   I spent my early years learning trumpet, then music theory. Then, I started to learn guitar and put together a lot of stuff (Listened to James Taylor, Miles Davis, the Beatles,  Frank Zappa, and everything in between, so you can only imagine what I came up with!)  

In 1971, I went  to college when synthesizers were first coming out. There was a synthesizer room you actually had to schedule to use! I was able to figure out how to use patch cords (!) to get my acoustic pick-up-mounted guitar to play through an  ARP 2600 synthesizer, unheard-of in my limited sphere.  It was then I decided I wouldn’t become a music teacher, and left to pursue my adventure.  

This was 1973, and did not want to play in a cover band, nor could I find like-minded people, so worked night blue-collar jobs obtained a basic 4-track studio, instruments, and started writing and recording my original music.  It wasn’t pretty, but a start, nonetheless. A lot of isolation, but it was a learning experience for me.

Listen with Open Ears

Along the way, my ears were kept open to all music.  My natural limited-attention span would not let my chosen form of communication be boxed-in.  Rock, jazz, classical, Motown, blues, avant-garde, folk, and everything in between were all part of that gumbo.  Maybe  I didn’t know what I was doing, but kept at it anyway.

I studied “Music Business” in the mid-eighties and knew I wouldn’t fit into any of that mess, so kept my head down and learned Windows,  Finale music notation, VST, and midi-sequencing.  All this kept me busy through the nineties.  Technology is starting to work its magic!

Keeping my ears (and mind) open, I was asked by our daughter (Kerri Hirsch Upton)  to produce her drum/vocal band Spiral Rhythm’s first CD, so I did.  It was recorded right in our living room.  Ric Neyer and Kerri wanted to form an offshoot band from Spiral Rhythm, so  Skyypilot was born.  I joined Spiral Rhythm, and met Steve Collins (he literally built the stage we played on), who had a band named Moonstruck.  He needed a second guitarist, so I joined them for a time. Some nights, I would play three consecutive sets with three different groups!   Steve was a great guy who encouraged me to keep recording, so  I did!

What Technology Brings

Using an early Roland 16-track digital recorder, I recorded the first seven Spiral Rhythm albums, the first three Skyypilot albums, and “The Balance”, a fine album by Heather Jinmaku.  Since 2006, I have been recording all material “in the box” (on computer).  

Technology has been huge.  Now, I can use plugins for a tiny fraction of the cost (and space) of the original hardware.  I have software that replicates pretty much everything the Beatles used on their Abbey Road recordings.  I have software (Amplitude 4) that lets me record a guitar part with dry signal, then manipulate it in any way, then back to original if I don’t like the amp or effects. My music can be released online and streaming almost instantly.  

I decided to make my own Skyypilot music videos, so I subscribed to Videoblocks and began editing downloaded content using Windows Movie Maker.  I set up a website and just started blogging, so it is always a work-in-progress.  No longer doing the blue-collar thing, I am now diving into even more challenges.  One can try to prepare, but there’s nothing like going in there and thrashing it out.  You learn from your mistakes, believe me… Just do it!

Authors note: I received no compensation for any products mentioned above.

© 2018   J. Mark Witters

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