[Trombone-l] Other uses for DAW technology (pedagogy)

Craig Parmerlee craig at parmerlee.com
Mon Apr 27 21:31:03 CST 2020

Three have been several posts recently about using computer programs for 
the purposes of creating multi-track recordings. This is relevant today 
because most of us are sheltering at home, and might be inspired to 
produce a quartet, octet (or whatever) ourselves.

I'd like to mention a few other uses of the technology that aren't 
broadly known.

Certainly recording oneself -- or a student -- is an excellent way to 
get unbiased feedback.  Recordings don't sugar-coat anything.  I highly 
recommend that all players record themselves regularly.  And teachers 
should consider using recording as a key part of pedagogy.  I don't 
there is anything remarkable or controversial about that.

Digging deeper, there are tools (i.e. plug-ins) that work with all the 
DAWs that can be a real revelation.  One important area is intonation.  
One can learn  a lot about their intonation simply by recording and 
listening.  But you can go a step beyond that. There are various 
pitch-correcting tools available as plug-ins. The most advanced one, 
IMHO, is Melodyne by Celemony.  This product analyzes a recorded track 
and identifies individual notes, displaying them as "blobs".  You can do 
amazing manipulations to those blobs, including pitch correction, 
changing pitches altogether, cloning notes to make harmonies, shortening 
or lengthening notes, increase/decrease volume, reduce or exaggerate 
vibrato or portamento, and many other things.  And amazingly this is all 
very transparent with only slight artifacts often completely inaudible.

 From a pedagogic standpoint, something I find very revealing is a 
Melodyne feature where you can select an entire range of notes and then 
use a slider to bring the notes closer to the pitch center. By moving 
that slider, the student/user can see those blobs moving around.  The 
blobs that move the farthest are the ones that were play most out of 
tune.  It is a humbling experience.

Likewise many of the DAWs can analyze the audio and accurately plot the 
"transient" (i.e. attacks) of each note.  If you are performing with 
tracks that use a metronome (click track) you can visually see how 
accurate your timing is.  And to take it one step farther, if you use 
Melodyne, there is another slider that moves the blobs closer and closer 
to the completely "quantized" timing.

These ideas aren't for everybody.  But some people respond well to 
visual feedback.  And if there is anybody who might want to incorporate 
that in their teaching as we wend our way back to "normal", this could 
be a time to learn some of those techniques. I'd be happy to share ideas 
and experiences offline if anybody is interested.

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