This past week was quite a stressful one for me. In addition to all the tests and projects that come with the end of a school term, I had to complete the ProTools Proficiency Test.
This test is designed to make sure students are competent with the DAW software and know signal flow before they are allowed into the school’s studios. It is timed (10 minutes) and in front of a panel of faculty.
I am proud to say that I finished in 9 minutes, completed all the tasks, and passed with a 92% The faculty graded each task on a points-based system evaluating several things including the use of short-cut keys, organization, and the ability to comprehensively answer questions while keeping on task.
If you are interested, here is a summary of the exam from the syllabus:
Pro Tools Proficiency Test (PTPT)
This exam is the Mid-Program Assessment for the Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Production. All students must pass this exam before they can take any advanced courses beyond AU200. Failure to pass the PTPT will result in a failing grade in AU200 regardless of other assignments, quizzes, and/or projects.
In front of a jury of at least three Audio Production Instructors each student must complete the following tasks within ten minutes.
- Set up a new Pro Tools session in the correct format and in the correct place on the Hard Drive.
- Import the track provided using the workspace window.
- Program a drum beat using Reason that is appropriate for the track provided.
- Record two vocal takes into a playlist and edit the two takes together on a compilation playlist.
- Insert 1 type of dynamic processing and apply appropriately.
- Set up a time based effect and apply appropriately.
- Write appropriate automation.
- Perform all the necessary steps to create a Redbook CD.
[also: proper breakdown of equipment, though that part is not timed]**
** I added this part because it was on my evaluation sheet, but not listed in the syllabus.
Now that the PTPT is behind me, and I am no longer focused on knowing all the ProTools short-cuts, I am free to play around with Ardour. Already, I have tried using ProTools short-cuts in Ardour and have made some really wacky things happen. For example I made my Ardour session completely disappear with no distinguishable way to recover it other than shutting down and restarting the computer.
Since one of the points of this blog was to document my experiences with Ardour, I hope to be able to post more often about it now that no longer have to worry about failing the PTPT due to incorrect short-cuts. Imagine if I made my session disappear during the exam!?!
Today, I am using Ardour to record the vocals for my final project in AU200 (the PTPT class) but the final project must be mixed in ProTools since that is the focus of the class. Still, it logs a few hours on my open source DAW and gets me that much more comfortable with it.
I have been swamped lately. When I have not been writing out the Circle of Fifths or memorising ProTools shortcuts for school, my husband and I have been revamping my website. The new site is not live yet, but it is going to be very different and I am very excited about it.
Another event that has me nearly exploding with excitement: I will be attending the 54th Grammy Awards this Sunday.
I have mentioned it on all my other social media, but have neglected to post about it here. I will be sure to post a wrap-up upon my return. I may have a scoop about what happens during the commercial breaks, or perhaps an anecdote about running into someone I admire.
If you want live coverage from an insider’s perspective, follow me on twitter.
I tweeted the other day that I will be doing a presentation for my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) class about Ardour, and that I plan to put all of that info right here on this blog.
The professor put up a list of DAWs to choose from, and of course, Ardour was not on there… and he had never heard of it… he asked how to spell it. Ardour is what I have in my Linux-based home studio, and becasue I am not super familiar with it yet, I figured this assignment would be a great excuse to spend hours looking this stuff up.
So, I need to find some solid information on this product. I have a list in my head of all the statistics I will need to do a side-by-side comparison with ProTools, the DAW we use at school.
Sure, I will admit it: part of me just wants to be able to stand in front of the class and gloat about how my free software is superior, but Ardour does not make this easy! I mean, in some ways, that is much to my home studio’s benefit, because Ardour claims to be able to handle whatever you give it as long as the hardware can support it.
But how do I present this information? I am going to look like a used car saleswoman. “Oh yeah? ProTools 10 finally records at 32 bit? Well Ardour can record at 160 bits… if your computer could handle it!” At least I can say Ardour supported a 32 bit floating format long before ProTools.
And because there is no box to flip over and read, I am having a hard time finding other stats. Can you really record an unlimited number of tracks at a time? Can I individually mic an orchestra and say “GO!”? Again, depending on your hardware… blah blah.
Oh Ardour, you are making this a difficult assignment! I am a musician, NOT a computer nerd. Well I guess I am a computer nerd-lite by necessity, but I just want to play my piano and sing and get a nice recording of it.
The assignment is due Thursday. I will try to have it posted shortly there after.
In my Survey of the Music Industry class we mostly focus on the basics of how the music industry works. We have covered copyright and publishing, and how the money flows from labels to the artist and from consumers to the artists and labels. It has been very interesting and I have learned a ton.
We also spend time on current events in digital music news. SOPA comes up regularly and I did not really get a good grasp on its consequences until I read an article today on techdirt.com that was posted by the EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation.)
It is not a short article, but one that I feel is very important for musicians and fans of music to read.
Let me sum up why: Legal action was taken against a music blog which “leaked” new songs by artists. The source of the leaks? The artists and labels themselves. Excited to promote a new song and create some buzz, the folks who owned all the rights gave the music to the blog. The domain was seized, was shut down, and was accused of taking part in criminal copyright infringement.
No, actually they were not infringing upon copyright… and a lot took place to cover this up.
Be careful out there folks.
This is why SOPA is a bad, bad thing. Shooting first, and asking questions later only leads to trouble.
I had to listen to this for a class assignment, and I am telling you, it messed with my head more than anything ever has.
It is called “Virtual Barbershop” and you MUST be wearing headphones for it to work.
This technique is called binaural recording. From wikipedia: Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments. This effect is often created using a technique known as “Dummy head recording,” wherein a mannequin head is outfitted with a microphone in each ear. Binaural recording is intended for replay using headphones and will not translate properly over stereo speakers.
You cannot tell me that that guitar player is not in the room with me, and well, I will not say any more.. you MUST listen for yourself!
I am now in my second quarter studying Audio Production at the Art Institute of Washington, and I am in two classes where we will be using ProTools rather heavily. As you know from previous blog posts, when my Mac died, my husband persuaded me to have the new set-up be Linux-based. (see “Setting Up a Linux-Based recording Studio (a Preface)” for the reasons why I agreed.)
Problems with the Ardour plug-ins aside (mystery!), the two look pretty similar at the start of things, but I have not really done any editing on Ardour yet to know if the two are parallel.
Here is my problem: next quarter, I have to pass a proficiency exam in order to move forward with my major. I will be seated in front of a computer with four professors standing over my shoulder as I load up ProTools and be told to do various tasks while I am being timed.
So I kinda sorta need to know ProTools inside and out. Hey guess what? There are about a billion forum entries on various websites and all the authors say they could not get Linux to run ProTools. I can’t tell if it is a software or hardware problem. Many laughed that Windows still cant get ProTools to run properly (some of these were a few years old though.)
One of my professsors stated that ProTools is the industry standard. He said that I need to know the lingo in order to communicate with other professionals and to get a job – that no one will follow me if I speak in Ardour terms.
Is this correct!?!?! Are they THAT different?
We are going to try to load it onto the desktop that is partitioned to run Linux and Windows Vista. I will not be able to record onto it (the room is too loud with various computers running in there – including our server) but I will be able to edit on it. If it runs. I have some hope it will work because there was a comment on the forums that said ProTools actually seemed to like Vista over 7.
Any comments on this would be appreciated!
Thanks so the new feature on facebook, I learned that two years ago yesterday I was “go go go.” Well that makes sense as I was planning a wedding, but it made me think about how much I have done and how much things have changed in the last few years.
In the last three years I:
- Quit my job (a career I had for 13 years)
- Moved across the country
- Planned a wedding
- Got married
- Threw a killer Halloween party (including making serious paper mache decorations like mounted elf heads, and a troll foot umbrella stand)
- Started volunteering at my local nature center
- Organized and put out a Holiday Compilation album for charity
- Helped plan a Yule Ball
- Suffered through my Mother’s death
- Concurrently recorded TWO CDs (in a span of about six months)
- Played the LARGEST show of my life (in front of several hundred people)
- Went on tour – Ohio down to Texas up to Chicago and back down to Ohio with many stops in between
- Completed NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) Which means I wrote a 50,000 word novella in the month of November
- Moved again (this time East instead of North)
- Went on a mini-tour from Virginia down to Florida and back
- Decided to go back to school for Audio Production and am 1/2 way through my first quarter now
Am I missing anything?
Wow. That is a lot of stuff accomplished. Go me! Go go go!
Sorry for the lack of posts. It is mid-term time. Though… my midterm project for my video class was due in week 4. (I guess that professor is confused when it comes to math: the half-way mark of 11 weeks is 5.5.)
But anyway… now I am swamped. I am overwhelmed. I have a list next to me with 9 things on it due Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Here, I will give you an funny performance video to watch from my tour last Fall with Snidget. This is perfect example of me being me. I am a ham and not afraid to make a fool of myself.
Enjoy “Witherwings serenades a Barnes and Noble in Texas with ‘Malfoy.'”
There is so much to do before this mini-tour! It went from a full-fledged tour to a mini tour becasue I decided to go back to school. This school stuff is getting in the way of getting ready for tour! *phsaw* Priorities! 😉
So I am making a to do list for the next few days:
- Oil change and official recording of mileage. (Hey you, self-employed musicians! Are you aware that July 1st was the start of the increased rate you get back for mileage on your taxes? Get your car’s miles documented ASAP!)
- Make sure all four bands are on board for the proposed show itinerary. (ie. order of bands and the idea of playing two sets rather than one long one.)
- Check in with my band for Saturday’s show (I am SO SO SO excited to be playing with a full band!!!)
- Double check that the chords the guitar player figured out are, in fact, the correct chords.
- Make sure everyone got and looked at the chords for the other songs.
- Pull out that awesome new Zoom H4n Handy Recorder (Check! Woot!) and see if/how it works to record ambient sound while running my keyboard directly into it. I would really like to be able to record Saturday’s show. Recording directly from the sound board and being able to capture audience reaction would be fantastic! (…but only if I can control levels. Need to find a manual on-line.)
- Call the Taste to find when they want us to sound check. The restaurant part of the place is open all day. The art show portion of our event starts at 7, but the concert doesn’t start until 9.
- I need to communicate this to all the musicians. *side note: THANK GOD for smart phones. I have been doing so much of this communication (emails, facebook messages etc.) on the train to and from school.*
- Figure out what the heck I am going to wear. I hate this part. I can never just find something at the store when nothing I own seems to be working out. At least I know I am going to wear the sparkley new bracelet I bought a few weeks ago JUST for Sat’s show 🙂 I feel no pressure when deciding what to wear for house concerts or library shows, but involve a stage, lights etc – and now I gotta glam it up.
- Email reminders to my professors that I will not be in class on Monday. I am glad they find my excuse acceptable, but there will be consequences for missing material. I hope my hard work the rest of the quarter makes up for it.
- Make sure the ipod is loaded up for all the shows. As for Saturday, organize the parts of my set not being played on piano or by the band. I have already made several versions of set lists. I guess I either need to pick one or load all of them onto the ipod.
- Back-up my ipod. It is sometimes acts flaky – like starting the song 15 seconds in. *grrr*
- Create a wrock play-list for intermission. Get permission from those bands.
- Find/borrow/purchase a FUNCTIONAL car charger!!!
- Organize my merchandise.
- Practice, practice, practice!
Okay. Is that it?!?
Well, I made it through my first week. I made it to all of my classes, and I got my starter kit with all sorts of really awesome professional goodies. Among other things, the kit includes ProTools 9 and a Zoom H4 Handy Recorder. *drools* Trust me, I am paying for that stuff, but it seems free when it goes onto the tuition bill rather than coming out-of-pocket.
Things I learned this week:
- There is a whole lot of math involved in sound and hearing.
- This seems to be a male-dominated field.
- I enjoy going to class but forgot how much I hate homework.
- Being a self-employed, independent musician made me forget how many douche-bags there are in the world.
- I am so going to make friends with the video students and make a killer music video ASAP.
- I spent 5 hours on homework today alone. Have I mentioned I hate homework?
- A lot has changed since I last attended college – I turn my papers in on-line. What!?