Site Updates

Some of you may have noticed a few subtle changes at SMARTassMusic lately.
We’ve implemented a great deal of improvements to the site(s) over the past few weeks as well as some high quality royalty free music of course.

For our USA visitors you now have on a US server so that it loads even quicker for you. We’ve compressed a lot of the pages to help loading times and implemented a rather cool new music category menu. This looks like the previous one but should be much better to use – it’s certainly a lot more fun, give it a try!
In addition we’ve resolved some login issues that we were having with AOL customers and generally improved the overall ease of use of the site.
For UK visitors you have your own which is hosted in the UK and faster loading than the previous versions. The information from one site is duplicated to the other so you can login and purchase from either server.
Our stock music packages are more flexible now so that we can offer collections of entire tracks on our front menu. We’ll be putting more of these royalty free music collections together over the coming weeks. I should point out that they’re also great value as you get 2 free tracks!

We’re continuing to improve the site and more than happy to hear from you if you have any thoughts of how we can do this.

Happy music hunting..:-)

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Tight Deadlines and Halloween looming

smartassmusic.comWe’ve been involved with some interesting projects lately.
I had a call for more arranging for the Sugababes forthcoming album. We’re used to short deadlines but I emailed back at 10am asking when this was needed by and left to take my dogs out. When I returned I noticed that the producer had asked for the track by “late lunchtime”! It was done but I can’t say it was the most relaxing work I’ve done.
We’re also arranging a great deal of music for Sky TV but it’s confidential so that’s as much as I can say about that.
With the Autumn quickly approaching I thought it would be a good idea to add some Halloween music to our Royalty Free site. I added a fun Halloween track in a hip hop style with some spooky sound effects, harpsichord and church organ (listen) but also a couple of more serious tracks which I really like:

“Dark Skies” is a dark, eerie orchestral piece with a piano stating the main melody. This would actually make a great backdrop for any slightly eerie (Tim Burton style) video.
The other piece is “Shadows”, which is very much in the style Danny Elfman with strings, celesta, choir and a descending harmonic pattern. This is eerie and sweet at the same time. See what you think.

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Job Done….almost

After an huge amount of work programming the virtual orchestra (with live guitar, kit and flutes), things are nearing completion for Marnell Tanner’s new Christmas Gospel album, having  just spent 2 days recording the backing vocals -and I have to say a huge thank you to the vocalists-they were superb.
I’d asked Emer McParland to find me some sight reading singers and she assembled and led a fantastic team for the six part vocals arrangements which we had written. So a huge “thank you” to :
Emer PcParland, Sam Shaw, Louise Clare Marshall, Yona Dunsford, Iain Mackenzie, David Combes, James Spilling.
Each of these great vocalists has worked extensively on sessions and from the first few notes I knew it was going to be good. In fact it was so good that we hardly double tracked any vocals and bare in mind that we’re emulating a gospel choir here. It was such a big sound with the six voices and because they all read the parts and recorded together, we got the overspill from each of the 6 mic’s, making it sound even bigger.
My job is nearly done on this project now and it will go on to be mixed next week. Some really lovely music, though and Marnell is sounding great.

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What’s Going on?

I’m exporting loads of audio at the moment on the other computer, so this gives me a chance to let you have an idea of what exactly goes on here!
We had a last minute job come in last week, which was to write the horn arrangements (trumpets and saxes) for a new track by the “Sugababes“. I was lucky to get 2 of my favourite players to record for me-Scott Garland (Jamiroquai, Barry Manilow, Spice Girls) on saxes and Graham Russell (Shirley Bassey, Jamiroquai, Paul McCartney) on trumpet. They did a superb job-especially as the track was tuned up a quarter tone! The track’s not released for quite a while but I think it’s going to be a definite number 1 in the UK (………….that bit isn’t down to us :-))

We’re finishing off a Christmas Gospel album for Marnell Tanner at the moment so I’m preparing everything to go into the studio for the backing vocals session. I’m rather excited because we have 6 session singers who have all done, TV and film sessions so we should be in a for a good couple of days.
We’re recording at Derek Nash’s “Clown’s Pocket” studios and Marnell has come over from the US to record his vocals and supervise mixing. Derek is a great engineer who worked for the BBC for 20years but he’s also a top session saxophonist so he can hear exactly what’s going on musically and read the score! Coincidentally, I have a jazz gig with him this week – fun!

PS as I’ve got no time to write for the library right now-if you have any superb quality music that you’d like to submit, please do HERE

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Virtual Instrument Techniques for Pro’ Results

virtual instrument tips

If you search through many royalty free music libraries it won’t take long before you come across cheap midi sounds from the past 20 years of computer recording. With the sophisticated virtual instruments available today this need not be the case and with enough care, these instruments can sound impressive, musical and even move you.

Here’s my tips to getting the most from virtual instruments:

Always Think of How The Real Instrument would Play :
You should learn as much as you can about the real instruments that you are emulating. Think of how the musician might physically play a certain phrase as well as the range of the instrument and which register sounds weak or particularly strong? What type of articulations suit the instrument and perhaps where it may be positioned on stage. You should include the inaccuracies that might occur with real instruments. It’s easy to make computer music sound too precise and in real life, this isn’t always the case. The individual instruments of a string section won’t start or end a phrase at exactly the same time-it shouldn’t sound messy, but it should include a human element.

Realistic Strings: (more…)

Posted in: Audio, Music, Royalty free music, Tutorials

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Want to be a Better Musician?

Every musician would love to be better but when we’re learning, it’s difficult to know exactly how to go about improving, aside from simply practising for hours.

These tips come from years of experience as a professional musician and are intended to cut out wasted hours of practise and make the best of your natural ability.

To become a good musician takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication.
Here’s 10 ways you can make yourself a better musician and as well as cut the practise hours!

Here’s my tips to making the most of your natural ability:

1.Transcribe Music: Most musicians groan at the thought of transcribing music and it can be a tedious task but it’s probably the single most important skill you can develop, apart from practising your own instrument- in fact, it might even be more important! Since all your muscular movements are guided by your ears when playing (or should be) it’s vital that your ability to recognise pitch, rhythm and structure are as good as you can make them.

Over time, transcribing music will refine your ears and your ability to understand music. It will make you more confident when you perform, as you’ll know exactly what’s going on just by listening. My advice is to get a simple audio editing program so that you can easily loop a bar (measure) at a time and then listen with headphones and notate each note that you can hear. When you’ve finished you need to go back and fill in any gaps.

2. Know How to Practise: (more…)

Posted in: Music, Piano Technique, Tutorials

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Hi and welcome to our SMARTassMusic blog!
I’ll be adding various articles, tutorials and general info’ here every so often but please feel free to suggest a topic if there’s something that you’d like some advice on.

If you want some background information on SMARTassMusic please have a look at the “about” page where you’ll find some detailed information regarding  who we are and what we do.

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