Notes from the Shore

Work, marriage, kids and music

Takin’ It Live

I’ve actually been working, lately. A quick update before I get to the meat of this post:

This is My Father’s World: I’ve finished arranging and rendering the strings, and am in the process of tracking the wind instruments, but I got sidetracked by…

Going Home (Postlude): This will be the final track on the project. I woke up with the concept this past Memorial Day weekend at 5:30 in our hotel room (with my family) and started writing it down in Finale. It sat for months, stewing in my brain, until I finished writing it two weeks ago. It’s a piano/soprano sax light jazz sort of homage to Vince Guaraldi, and I’ve begun tracking it. That is also on hold for:

A live gig!

Now, some may take issue with calling visiting a church to lead a congregation in worship a “gig”, but in essence that’s what it is. A little background:

We often have difficulty finding a good church to attend when we’re out of town. When you have young children who are used to a specific type of kid’s program, it can be hard to find something will come close to that. the church also needs to be large enough that visitors don’t stand out like a sore thumb.

This past Easter we were in Dubuque visiting my Grandmother. Dubuque does not have an abundance of churches employing contemporary worship. This visit we decided to try out the local Assembly of God. It mostly met the first criteria with a decent children’s program, but was definitely small enough (80-100 congregants per service) that we were noticed. Not to worry, they were, of course, very nice. They also had a great worship band where four different members led songs during the service.

As is my practice, I left each of my CDs with the music director and he contacted me through the website! The long and short is that I am leading worship at the Dubuque Assembly of God in Dubuque, IA, on Sunday, October 19. How that matters to this blog shall follow:

In addition to leading the band and congregation during their praise time that Sunday morning, I will be performing a piece of special music during the collection. I’ve been wanting to make a way to play songs from my new project live, and this seemed the time to make it happen. It all seems simple enough in theory…

Song selection was a snap. I only have three songs from the project completed, and only one used my WX-5 wind controller. I wanted to use it to take advantage of the real-time control over volume and timbre it affords. It’s also really cool-looking and memorable. So, the song Be Thou My Vision was a lock.

There was a problem with this, however. The vibrato on the track was programmed in after-the-fact, using continuous controller messages for rate and depth. My skill on the WX-5 is not such that I can perform vibrato live. So, I needed to do something to create a controllable vibrato on stage.

SFZ to the rescue! Through trial and error I was able to take the English Horn sample I used for the recording, and added controls for “automatic” vibrato. The vibrato (pitch and volume at the same rate) fade in starting 0.5 seconds into the note. I then tie them to breathe control (CC#2) to increase depth and rate at higher values. By blowing harder I can make the vibrato speed up and deepen. The effect needs to be relatively subtle, though.

Since I can’t use Sonar on more than one computer (darn Cakewalk), I mixed a new version of Be Thou My Vision without the lead line and rendered it to audio. I then brought this into my old DAW, Power Tracks Pro Audio, which is on both my desktop and laptop. The mix sans lead occupies Track One, and the sfz player with my edited English Horn samples occupies track 2. Viola! I can play along with the track.

Now, all I need to do it practice…

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