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Top 5 Ways to Mix and Record in the Comfort of Your Own Home at a Fraction of the Cost

Example of a professional production environment
Example of a professional production environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Want to write music and mix audio but don't have access to a professional music studio? With music technology and audio editing software costing less each day, you can design your own professional home music studio for a fraction of the cost of mixing at a professional music studio. Starting out you will need a few essentials.

1. Every professional musician needs a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
I love working with a computer that allows me to run about ten music, audio, graphic design, and video programs simultaneously without a hiccup. Add to that easy-to-use music software that yields professional results.  Today there are so many great apps and programs available that soon most musicmaking will be completed on "the cloud". Until then, be sure to get a high quality computer that can run your music without slowing down. For those that work in multimedia, like myself, you will have to spend more money on better processing power and be sure to get a backup hard drive for all of your projects.

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2. Even mediocre music software works magic in the right hands.
If you end up blowing all of your money on your studio computer and don't have any cash left over for music software like Pro-Tools or Logic Studio, do not fear. The internet has hundreds of free, shareware, apps and inexpensive music software programs available. Some simple programs include the free audio editing program Audacity, Apple's Garageband, Fruity Loops, and Acid, not to mention hundreds of apps that are making music easier and easier to produce.

While having better audio software will give you better music, in the end it is your musical talent that will make great music. I spent the two years after my undergrad composing in my makeshift home studio using only a free MIDI program, Quicktime, and the original archaic version of Garageband. In that time, I had a couple of film soundtracks make it to the top ten of Miramax's Project Greenlight, Turkey's Cinema for Peace, and the New York Independent International Film Festival. Really, it's you that makes great music.

3. You need top-notch headphones and/or studio monitors.
Depending on what you can spend, you can opt for professional studio headphones or studio monitors. Headphones will cost a fraction of the speaker cost, but you don't want to spend all day jamming with headphones on. You might damage your ears. If you can't afford studio monitors, then just make sure you take a break every hour while mixing. 

4. Your music studio needs instruments.
Depending on the type of music you write, you might decide to go with a live recording setup, a MIDI setup, or a hybrid setup. Do you record your vocals live and play the acoustic guitar? Then invest in a good mixer, microphones, and sound insulation. Do you work in post production and MIDI? You might only need a controller. I have a Malletkat, keyboard, and mic with pop filter, all to record the hundred percussion instruments I have lying around the house. I also have a guitar, but haven't mastered that instrument yet.

5. Location. Location. Location.
Ideally, your home music studio is a separate room or building that is well-insulated from any outside noise. Realistically, your music studio might be in your living room or in the garage. Make the most of your situation. Try to record during quieter times of the day or night, kick roommates and family out when you need to record live, insulate the room as much as possible, and turn off any unnecessary devices like the air conditioner.

Once you have set up the basic home music studio, you can start adding audio software and hardware to your setup. Remember that you, and not your equipment, determines how awesome your music sounds. Happy mixing!



Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1

Feel like writing an opera is only for big name composers with big budgets? Or are you willing to take the plunge and create a work in one of the most compelling and cutting edge musical opera?

Almost two years ago I embarked on the largest musical production I have created to date -  Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. After writing the award-winning Creation Oratorio and dozens of multimedia works, I wanted to combine my love of the audio and the visual into a single large scale work. 

Find a Great Dramatic Story
You need a strong story to write a compelling opera. Fortunately you can easily borrow from thousands of public domain works and modernize them. Think of West Side Story (just a contemporary version of Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet).
Many great operas use Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm, and Biblical stories, all of which include interesting characters, strong themes, and action.
Libertaria borrows heavily from messianic stories, but is set in the future and changed…

Free Classical Sheet Music and Free Opera Downloads @ Scribd

Sheet Music (Photo credit: jayneandd)Awhile ago I decided that I would upload the bulk of my music scores and sheet music to sites like Scribd, the Petrucci Music Library, and for free sheet music downloads. Some musicians told me that it was ridiculous to give away my music. The truth is that I don't depend on music publishing sales of my scores, and I would rather inspire a young piano student, percussion ensemble, opera singer, grandma, bored music student, or music teacher to play and study my music than hold on tight to my copyrights and let my music scores collect virtual dust on my hard drive. 

The Petrucci Library, Scribd, and all have dozens of free music scores available for choir, vocal solos, piano, percussion, orchestra, opera, multimedia works, and more. You can see a short list of available free sheet music by checking out the Scores page.

You might want to check out scores to my modern opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, an exciting sci-fi o…

What is Blue? and other Post Postmodernist Thoughts

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)One of my many hats is online university instructor. I teach courses in Media and Music History. In my Media in American Society class, we discuss many aspects of media, including truth in media, media conglomeration, marketing, advertising, and the like. 

Today my students had an intriguing discussion/debate online about news and partisan politics. The debate was a healthy one, with some students claiming that they see all sides, others describing their favorite political pundits, and others lamenting the lack of authenticity in the media today. In the end, the fact that there would be no answer to today's questions, largely due to the lack of authenticity and the inability to trust anything in print, online, on a TV, spoken by a political leader, etc. etc., I brought up a short discussion on postmodernism, postpostmodernism, and its effects on American culture. 

Here is a small snippet that I thought would be …

Got the Election Blues? Animated Sci Fi Musical Showing TODAY in Buffalo New York 3:15pm EST at the Screening Room Cafe 3131 Sheridan Drive, Northtown Plaza Amherst, NY

Got the Election Blues? Animated Sci Fi Musical Showing TODAY in Buffalo New York3:15pm EST at the Screening Room Cafe 3131 Sheridan Drive, Northtown Plaza Amherst, NY Libertaria The Virtual Opera At the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival

What the critics are saying about Libertaria: The Virtual Opera: “One of my favorite things about this story is its odd apocalyptic tone and strong sci-fi/fantasy foundation. The dark quality that comes with it is the cherry on top.” –
“...As a story, it is very much in line with the good-vs.-evil sci-fi tradition, with the added bonus of a plucky female heroine…There are a good many percussion effects in the #opera, and its tone is primarily quite dark and sinister, very much along the lines of a contemporary video game score.” Palm Beach Arts Paper Music Critic Greg Stepanich
Based on the "groundbreaking" and "epic" animation sci-fi film

How to Make Epic Film Music: Getting Started

SONG FOR THE FORGOTTEN ROSE - Beautiful Piano Solo Classical Music

In this beautiful romantic classical music work  a forgotten flower finds redemption when she is rescued by a traveler. Composed by award-winning composerSabrina Pena Young for her wedding day. Dedicated to Nathan Young.  Scores are available through the composer's website ( and the Petrucci Library. ASCAP. Pena Young Publishing.


In the Garden of Life

Midnight hid the scarlet Rose

Wilted and torn, she cried to the Heavens

Petals upturned, imploring of God,

The Grace shine down from the Mountain

In this land journey a stalwart traveler

Alone, he had conquered roads forgotten

This path had led him through hills and valleys

His search for beauty

And God, looking down upon his creation

saw what they could not see

Hope in the hands of the Great Orchestrator

in the form of a rose and a man

Buried in the shadows

The wanderer stumbled and fell on roots he could not see

Lying among weeds

His eyes alighted on Beauty

For there, near h…

Haiti Disaster Relief Efforts Hurricane Matthew Needs Blankets, Sheets, Pillows, Donations as Death Toll Rises

New Missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are collecting NEW blankets, pillows, sheets for Haiti. Send to: New Missions
2500 Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, Fl 32809 Financial Donations Additional Information: HELP HAITI: In the wake of #hurricaneMatthew please continue to pray. We have these ways you can help #Haiti now:
1. Donate
2. Pack shoebox gifts
3. Collect pairs of new sneakers
4. Send new pillows, blankets, and sheets  New Missions is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, serving in Haiti since 1983 and the Dominican Republic since 2000. Your financial gift is tax deductible.
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