Bryan Baker
Bryan Baker
@bfbaker
  About
  • Followers 2
  • Following 1
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  Joined October 20, 2013
  Bio

Hello, I'm Bryan Baker. I flirted with music and recording when I was a kid. Experimenting with portable reel-to-reel recorders, then doing 8-track collages and silly kid stuff. Got my first 4-track in college and soon after found Option Magazine around 1983. A few years later I started publishing a zine called GAJOOB featuring home recording artists. I never talked much about my own recordings in the zine, but I like making everything from rock songs to crazy sound experiments. I do a lot of the latter at tapegerm.com. I'm just getting into Logic Pro now and still exploring and having fun. Hit me up for a collaboration or something. You'll find me on Apple Music and elsewhere as Blind Mime Ensemble. 

  Equipment
MacBook Pro, Logic Pro X, iOS apps, lots of soft synths, Korg Wavestate, Arturia Microfreak, Native Instruments Komplete Collectors License, Burns London Steer electric guitar, StingRay Classic Ray24 Bass, Yamaha acoustic guitar, basic budget drum set, Roland Octopad percussion, Rhode NT1, Shure SM57s, SM58.
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Blog

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 Review


By bfbaker, 2021-07-18
Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 Review

I've had an M Audio Code 61 MIDI controller for several years and have recently been looking at a replacement. 

My first keyboard was an Alesis QS 7 and its 76 keys was always sufficient for me. 61 keys often felt limited even though I'm not an expert keyboard player by any means.

Lately I found myself looking at getting back to having a hardware synth, maybe even something in the flagship range like a Yamaha Montage, Korg Kronos or Roland Fantom. I was really tempted by the MODX as well. I had it my Guitar Center cart more than a couple times.

But I kept coming back to the fact that my home studio workflow is built around soft synths and I really have way more than I need there. Too much, in fact. But I still find things I want to add to the arsenal. Today it's Native Instrument's Glaze and Skybox Audio's Hammers + Waves that are must haves.

I also ran into the keyboards on those flagship 88-key models are all weighted action and I prefer semi-weighted. I liked the action on my Code 61.

So, in the end, I went with Arturia's KeyLab Essential 88 controller and, so far, it was the right choice for me.

It feels solid and looks great. Guitar Center had a limited edition black version in stock; not that I really had a preference. The keys feel like the Code 61, but a little better. The knobs and sliders are plastic but solid. No complaints. The only items in the box were the KeyLab, a USB cable and some quick starter sheets. I thought I was missing something, but its USB-powered so that's all that's needed. I have it plugged into the port on my old 2015 MacBook Pro with no problems. 

Out of the box, it was easy to set up and get it registered on Arturia's website, as well as download the included Analog Lab V collection. I brought it up in Logic right away and lost an hour playing around with the presets. The sounds come mapped to the KeyLab's knobs and faders and that is very cool. Not so much with Native Instruments Komplete Collection. I was thinking maybe a NI keyboard would have been a better choice at that point; but I figure I can get to mapping without too much hassle (I hope).

So far so good. I would recommend this controller if your workflow and preferences are in line with mine. I'm happy. 

Affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3z824ek

Getting Your Homemade Recordings on Apple Music and Elsewhere in 2021

I've essentially been away from music promotion for several years after having been involved by way of publishing a magazine and music website from 1987 to now. I haven't been actively reviewing new music for many years, although I've been working on developing music websites and publishing (mostly) archival content as time allows between the day job. From time to time a new album crosses my path, but I've not been exposed to music PR for a long while now.

Over the last year or so, I've put a little more attention on my own music and have just recently started efforts toward getting some of it into distribution on the streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and others and I've discovered it's gotten very easy to manage your own music and make it available online. Here's my experience in 2021.

First I tried landr.com. They have been an online mastering service and have just recently become a distributor. I was tempted by their mastering service which is $299 for unlimited mastering and albums because I don't really know what I'm doing. But I decided to bypass their mastering which drops the unlimited price to $48/yr. I set up a couple albums. The interface was OK. I like how you can drag songs into the page and rearrange and delete them as you create an album. Entering actual information was sort of flaky on my mac in safari. It took much longer than it would have if I didn't have to keep re-entering information that kept clearing out. Once I completed an album I got an email confirmation and then the next day I got an email saying the album was on hold for sample clearance. I sent them an email indicating that there weren't any samples needing clearance that I was aware of and asked them for details on which tracks were being flagged. I didn't hear back for several days.

In the meantime I read a good overview of distribution services here: https://aristake.com/post/cd-baby-tunecore-ditto-mondotunes-zimbalam-or and decided to give DistroKid a shot. They are cheaper. I chose the $40 Musician Plus option which gives you unlimited albums for up to 2 artists. Their interface is not as pretty as landr, at first glance, but it turned out to be much, much quicker. They also let you add lyrics and more kinds of contributors if you want; even after the fact. Their email confirmations are more verbose. My album has 14 tracks and they sent 14 emails confirming that each song was successful, another that the artwork was successful, another that the album passed muster and was sent off to the distributors. It's now the next day and I got an email that my album is on Deezer. By default, DistroKid distributes to Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play/YouTube, Amazon, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, iHeartRadio, ClaroMusica, Saavn, Anghami, KKBox, MediaNet, Instagram/Facebook.

So far, DistroKid seems worthwhile to get my crappy homemade music into Apple Music and elsewhere.

Posted in: Business | 0 comments

Loopers and Songwriting


By homemademusic, 2018-09-05
Loopers and Songwriting

I find working with loopers can be a helpful tool for songwriting.

Check it out on Amazon .

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Posted in: songwriting | 0 comments

Finding Old Lyric Scraps


By homemademusic, 2018-09-01
Finding Old Lyric Scraps

This morning I was looking for my clipboard so I could fill out a jury notice I received in the mail yesterday.

It was on top of a stack of old mail which is sitting on a table in my bedroom which holds a rack of old outboard effects and whatnot. Clipped to the clipboard is roughly 25 sheets of ruled paper, the top paper consisting of the start of a song; one verse (pictured).

The lyric reads:

So sad, so sad
I'm so sad
Don't know if I
Can be the same again
Oh, please, Lord, send him back

Judging from the chords notated above the lines, I was most likely writing and singing this on guitar, but I don't really recall doing this. My memory is not full of detailed, linear scenes from the past. It's more like brief flashes that might piece together to form a slice of time.

So this lyric could be one thing or it could be another; I'm not sure.

It could be written around the time I wrote Dear, Charlie. It could be about the same event, but from the perspective of a wife or lover losing a loved one to suicide. Charlie is words from a man taking his life to his child.

However, since it's on the clipboard, I think it was written at a later time and probably about something else. The inspiration behind a song often doesn't linger around, waiting for you to capture it. It's here and gone. You have to put in the work to keep it framed within the words of of song by completing the song.

Posted in: songwriting | 0 comments

Crystal VST Instrument


By homemademusic, 2018-02-24
Crystal VST Instrument

Crystal is a semi-modular software synthesizer featuring both subtractive synthesis and frequency modulation (FM) synthesis. It offers abundant modulation control with over 90 parameters which may be modulated, multi-stage envelopes with graphical editors, extensive tempo sync of envelopes/lforates/delay times, built-in effects for chorus/flanging/comb filtering/echoes, and a band splitter for effects processing by frequency band. Not only that, Crystal has wave sequencing, granular synthesis, program morphing, MIDI learn, and imports soundfonts. The musical applications for Crystal are literally boundless.

Website: http://www.greenoak.com/crystal/about.html

Posted in: plugins | 0 comments

u-he Triple Cheese


By bfbaker, 2018-02-24
u-he Triple Cheese

Winner of the 2006 KVR Developer Challenge , Triple Cheese is a unique-sounding freeware synthesizer plugin. Triple Cheese doesn't use any of the classic synthesis techniques – substractive, FM or additive – but various forms of comb filter i.e. very short chromatically tuned delays. The three cheese modules in a row either generate their own signal, or process the output of the previous module.

FREE DOWNLOAD https://www.u-he.com/cms/triple-cheese

Download the user guide .

Posted in: plugins | 0 comments

New Methods


By bfbaker, 2016-05-31
New Methods

I've started down a new path exploring new recording methods with an iPad Pro 9.7 Inch.

It's a different approach for me, coming from very basic DAWs like Bias Deck and ACID. Before that I was on 4-track, so this has been a long time coming.

I guess I've always created in phases. I made 100's of recordings on 4-track cassette in the 80's and 90's, tapering off as GAJOOB became a focus and then the beginning of homemademusic.com as an online store and shortrun CD distributor.

Between 2003-2005ish I found another groove and recorded on an OS9 iBook and Bias Deck DAW. I was luck to get 16 mono tracks (basically an 8 track recorder). No MIDI, no extras. I was also using ACID by Sonic Foundry in conjunction with most of my Tapegerm collaborations. 

Stems: All My Love


By homemademusic, 2013-11-01
Stems: All My Love

I've made all of the multitrack stems for the 2003 recording of my song, "All My Love," available for download. I'd like to hear some different creations resulting from something sourced from these stems. I have them as a project at tapegerm.com as well, which has resulted in a few creative takes -- I love hearing that!

DOWNLOAD STEMS

Posted in: collab | 0 comments