Melodyne: Tuning Vocals… and Tuning Guitars, Keyboards and Other Things During the Mix


This post will most likely find a much smaller interested audience than my last post, which topped half a million readers (craziness!). This time I’m talking to that unique demographic of people who spend countless hours in the engineer’s chair at a recording studio. So, for the 12 people who will read this, I’ve discovered a wonderful program called Melodyne.

For years, I’ve been involved in vocal production for studio projects. I am always striving to get the best sound, as any engineer would do. Some musical styles call for that slightly out of tune floating-around-the-pitch sound. I am not involved in much of that. My stable of projects either have a full band with a lead vocal and background vocals that need tuning, or a complete a capella song where everything needs tuning.

For years, I’ve used a program called Autotune. Most people have heard of this, since it was popularized by its overuse, resulting in robotic voicing. I believe Cher was one of the first to do this back in the 90’s. It’s so popular it has resulted in a slew of iOS apps that achieve the same result for the fun of it. Too much.

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What Happens When an iOS Fanboy Buys an Android Tablet

Nexus7I fully admit I am an avid, Kool-aid drinking fanboy of Apple products. I have used 2 different iPads in my past couple of jobs, going from an iPad2 to the 3 with the retina display. I am on my 3rd iPhone. I’m still using my 2008 Macbook Pro and it continues to run like a champ in 2013 and I just recorded a new album on my 2006 Mac Pro Quad and it never even hiccuped. Apple just has great quality products that deliver consistently excellent results.

Since I’ve begun working for myself at Moyers Design, I had to give up my iPad3 and have been without a tablet for over a year. I got to the point that I needed a tablet in order to fully function as a mobile professional. The trouble was, I didn’t have $350 to drop on an iPad mini. After some exposure to the Android operating system (you can read my account of that in this post), I decided to give it a try for about a third less in total cost.

This Apple fanboy bought a Google Nexus 7.

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The Secret Weapon Most Small Businesses Don’t Know and Should

Google Places

I am constantly amazed at the number of small business people I run across who do not know about one of the greatest online tools available for marketing. When I mention the words “Google Places,” I usually get a blank stare in return. For all of you reading who just mentally shrugged, let me share a bit.

Google Place is a free service of the search giant. It is, in essence, your business listing for Google. As of mid-2011, Google owned over 65% of all searches, more than double of Bing (14%) and Yahoo (16%) combined. When someone does a Google Maps search for a business, the results that come up are populated by Google Places. Click on one of those little pins on the map and the page that comes up, hopefully chocked full of info, is a micro-version of their Google Places page.

What makes Google Places so important?

Here’s a few good reasons:

  • Search engine results pages (SERP’s) give priority to Places results. Google Places will come in at the top of any given search, thus raising the possibility of being found by targeted customers.
  • If someone is searching for a product along with a location name, the chances of conversion are much greater. You’ve probably got a buyer on your hands.
  • Even if your website is well optimized, it will always appear lower in the results. Organic search results appear further down than Google Places results.
  • It’s likely you will see an increase in customers, as Google Places brings in targeted business.
  • And last but certainly not least, it’s free!

Mobile Friendly

According to a recent study, 95% of smart phone users are searching for information about local businesses from their phone. This demographic of users tends to act quickly with over 80% taking action on their search results within one day. 77% of these people call or visit the local business they discovered in their search.

Google Places is designed to automatically format for mobile phones. If you have a Google Places page, this gives you the greatest mobile impact with the easiest interface and greatly increases the chances of customer conversion.

It’s Already There, so Claim it!

Here’s the thing. Google Places automatically generates Place pages. There are over 5 million out there now. Only 2.3 million have been claimed by actual businesses. That’s leaves over 2.7 million Place pages that are unclaimed and basically devoid of information. If you have not claimed your business Place page, you are leaving potential customers out in the cold. Not only will they have a harder time finding you, there will be no helpful information when they do.

If you claim your page, you have the ability to add location information, pictures, contact info, special deals… just about any kind of marketing you care to do.

Google has even integrated Google Places into Google+. Anything you add to your Place page will be reflected within their social media site. That’s nothing to sneeze at, either.

How Do I Claim It?

Simple. Go to and they will walk you through the process. It involves Google sending you a verification postcard, so it doesn’t happen overnight. Overall, it’s a painless and fairly quick procedure and VERY much worth the effort. If you still don’t think you have time, I can do it for you. In the words of Stargate, “Hey, it’s what I do.”

Does your business have a Google Places page yet? Have you seen any results?

Top 15 Posts for 2012

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. It’s a good time to look back and see what has worked and what hasn’t. I read a post from Michael Hyatt this morning that offered a good suggestion. Pull up the year’s stats and see what you top, most-viewed posts were. This kind of thing can be very helpful in determining the direction of posts for the next year.

He was right. It was rather intriguing. My stats are nowhere near as large as his (he ranges from 60,000 to 200,00 per post), but they still tell me something. Here are my top 15.

  1. Is Chinese a Language of the Tower of Babel? (306)
  2. Photoshop Tutorial: Adding Grass to an Image (192)
  3. Here’s a Good iGoogle Alternative (179)
  4. Acappella Memories: Kathisophobia or I’ll Stand, Thank You (173)
  5. Acappella Memories: The Seat of Questioning (170)
  6. Acappella Memories: Entertaining Angels Unaware (149)
  7. Acafest 2012 Review (143)
  8. Acappella Memories: Alvin! (142)
  9. Lose 10 Pounds Without Really Trying (142)
  10. Acappella Memories: Duane Adams at Acafest 2012 Pt. 2 (132)
  11. Acappella Memories: Grounded in Texas (130)
  12. Arranging (129) – this one is actually a page, not a post, for those of you who know the difference.
  13. The Power of Introverts (129)
  14. Acappella Memories: The Original Well on my Way (109)
  15. Acappella Memories: Duane Adams at Acafest 2012 Pt. 1 (107)

I removed the “About Gary” page, which actually fell at #2 on the list.

So what does this tell me? First, it seems there’s a great interest in the mysteries of history as they pertain to the Bible. Who would’ve thought that the Chinese/Babel connection would’ve come in first? I will need to explore more topics along this line.

Next, 2 of the top 3 posts were about productivity. Looking at the top 50, I could see that it placed very strongly as a topic. I should do more productivity.

But obviously, the thing that easily stands out the most is the number of top 15 posts that were Acappella-related. 9 of the top 15 were about my time with Acappella. I guess I need to brush off the cobwebs and revive more memories.

If you have a blog, have you checked your top posts for the year? It’s rather revealing.

Control Your Facebook Privacy Settings in a Few Easy Steps

Facebook Privacy

UPDATE: Within a week of my posting this article, Facebook started pushing its new privacy settings, which are showing to users that are logging into their profiles. The most important change is the shortcut to the privacy menu, which now appears in the main toolbar on the top of Facebook. Furthermore, it is now easier for users to set individual settings and check who can access their photos and various other data inside their profiles. And now back to my regular post.

Facebook has become one of those sites that people love and hate at the same time. It’s a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in years. At the same time, it’s one of the most invasive websites out there in regards to privacy.

Most people don’t realize the steps that Facebook takes to target their ads at the right person. Every scrap of personal information you publish is available to them for this use, unless you take steps to keep that from happening. It takes more than some nebulous statement posted on your status about how everything you post is “private and owned by you.” That’s laughable. Don’t fall for that ruse. When you clicked the “I agree” box during your initial sign up with Facebook, you voided that right. All that’s left to you is to attempt to control how they use the information you gave up as a member of Facebook.

The settings are there, hidden deep within your account settings. You still have the ability to assert some level of control. Facebook makes it as hard as possible to find them. Nothing stays the same for long. Menu options change. Locations of settings change. To quote a famous character, “it’s tricksy.”

The following information is borrowed from an article by Kim Komando and the original article can be found here. I will quote her throughout, make a couple of corrections (even the Digital Goddess makes mistakes), and add some pictures.

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5 Reasons Linux Might Be For You

Linux Distros

Linux. No, it’s not a character from Peanuts. It sort of sounds like a sneeze when pronounced forcefully and quickly. Whatever your ideas about it, it’s probably not what you think.

For many years, Linux has been the computer operating system most associated with the nerd culture. Since 2000, Linux has run a distant third behind Windows and Mac OS. No one really wanted to mess with it for several reasons, like:

  • I don’t understand it.
  • It’s too hard to use with all that command line stuff.
  • I don’t know how to install it.
  • I don’t even know where to get it.
  • I don’t know which one to get.
  • I don’t want to loose my software.
  • Why? What I have works fine.

For the most part, all of these would have been valid arguments. I would argue that they are valid no longer. As time marches on, the open source community of Linux programmers have done a valiant job of making Linux approachable by the common man. Not only approachable, but easy to use and fun. After a small learning curve, I would argue that Linux is just as good as any other operating system, and better in some cases. Let me address some of the complaints listed above.

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iPhone vs Android

android vs iphoneIf you have read any of my other posts, you’ll know I’m an Apple kool-aid drinker. Card carrying and proud.

Recently, I ran across a new phone service called Solavei. It’s an interesting service, based on the T-Mobile network. It’s only $49 monthly for unlimited voice, text and data. Plus, if you sign up other people, Solavei pays you back. There’s a very real chance to have a completely free phone service and even make some money back on top. You can read more about it here.

But I digress. Solavei is still integrating iPhones into the service. They work, but not at full capacity. Consequently, I thought I’d give an Android phone a try. My son has a Galaxy SII Skyrocket and I’ve been watching him play with it. Then, my father-in-law upgraded to a Motorola Droid Razr M and I helped him set it up. These two events combined whetted my appetite to try the dark side. I bought a Skyrocket like my son’s phone.

The rest of this little article is about what a die-hard iPhone guy thinks of the Android operating system. If you want to skip on elsewhere, the short version is that I like it. If an iPhone is a 9 on a 10-point scale, I’d give Android a 7.759.

Want more info. Okay.

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Photoshop Tutorial: Adding Grass to an Image

This tutorial was prepared in Adobe Photoshop CS3. Yes, I am that far behind.

I live in West Texas where good grass is a rare thing. Most yards are balding brown, some even downright dirt. It’s no surprise to me when someone asks me to add grass to an outdoor shot they need.

I’ve never written a tutorial, but I thought I would give it a try. For those of you who have a newer version of Photoshop, I’m sure the concept is the same though the tools may be different. Also, I’m sure there is an easier way to do this, probably much easier than I did it. If you know of a way, tell me about in the comments below.

I was given several pictures of the same general area that needed to have grass added. I did the same to all, but I’ll stick with this one for the tutorial:

Original Dirt Shot

Original Un-edited Dirt Shot

The first thing I noticed was that this was apparently shot with a wide angle lens. Any grass I add will need to reflect that same stretched, graduated look. I also see that there’s some extraneous stuff that can be trimmed, such as the dirt on the sidewalk at the bottom and the bit to the left of the lamp post. Trim away.

The next step, at least for me, was identifying a good clip of replacement grass. All I needed to do was search “grass” under Google images. I was presented with much more than I could have ever looked at in one setting. Give it a try and see what comes up.

I needed a wide angle shot that included some depth of field without losing focus. Anything with sky was out. I also needed it shot from the correct angle, 20-30 degrees down. That eliminated a lot. I also needed something that would fit the area, which meant fescue. Lastly, it needed to be pretty big so that I would not have to worry about enlarging it (which never turns out good for resolution). This is a reduced version of what I ended up using:


Grass image used for replacement

Now that I had my replacement grass, it was time to get rid of the dirt… which is something my wife says pretty often. [Read more…]

The Wonderful Wacky World of Websites

TRS-80People often ask me how I got into doing websites. I suppose, since people associate me with vocal music, they don’t see a connection with my musical life and my life of coding. That’s probably because there isn’t one.

In my Junior year of high school at Monterey HS in Lubbock, I was presented with a new path for math. I could either go the usual route of calculus and trig, or go into something brand new called “computer math.” I had no desire for calculus, so computer math it was. This was 1979 and I walked into a new world of coding in Basic and working on Radio Shack TRS-80’s with cassette drives for data storage. The logic of Level 1 Basic was attractive to my musically-oriented mind, and I quickly picked up on the language.

Fast forward through college (with no computers) and into my first year of teaching. I bought myself a Tandy 1000 computer with the old 5.25” floppy drives (I had two!) and a 300 baud modem. One year later I upgraded to a 1200 baud modem and that was blazing fast… unless you compare it to my current cable modem which gives me 30 MG down. How times have changed.

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14 Online Tools for Independent Musicians

Independent MusiciansI follow a good number of music blogs. It seems that bad news comes out of L.A. or Nashville on a weekly basis. The record labels are scrambling for ways to monetize their artists and sales of physical media are plummeting. Strangely though, sales of vinyl LP’s rose 10% last year, but that’s another blog post.

As I’ve mentioned on previous posts, the tools available online to independent musicians are quickly making the labels obsolete in many areas. I wish I’d had these resources available when I worked in the industry. So, here’s a quick overview of some of those tools. This is not an exhaustive review, but it’s a good starting point.

If you are an artist or a member of a band and have not made use of at least a few of these resources, you are missing the boat my friend.

1. Discmakers. I have already done a review of these guys and I still think they are a great tool. You can read it here.

2. CD Baby. These guys have been around a long time and are very good at what they do, which is being your very own personal distribution system. You supply them with a few copies of your new CD and they will make it available all over the place. They will sell the CD’s for you as well as distribute them into all the major online sales forums like iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, etc. They’ll also get your music inserted into the various streaming sites, e.g. Spotify and others. They offer other package deals and services as well. Highly recommended.

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