Live Music: Tin Man

Continuing the songs recorded at A Beautiful Mess in Lubbock, one of the questions I got asked a lot that night was about my harmonies. It’s pretty obvious I have pre-recorded tracks for the band (all of which is me), but the harmonies… how did they match so closely?

That’s probably because I generate them live. No, it’s not Tibetan throat singing. When you watch the video, look at the little blue box by my right foot. That’s a TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic. It’s a magic little box full of musical voodoo.

My guitar and microphone are routed through that box. It constantly analyzes the chord structure that’s being played. So when it comes time for harmony, all I do is choose the harmonic structure I want (one above one below, two on top, two below, 3rd above, etc) and just punch the button. At that point, that magic little box will take my voice and match it to the harmonic structure I’ve chosen while tuning it to the chord that I’m playing on my guitar. Voilà! Perfectly matched harmony (as long as I play the chord correctly).

So here’s a chance to hear the harmony, America-style.

Live Music: Ain’t No Sunshine

I’ve recently been having some fun putting together tracks for live music. I’ve been known for my contributions to the a cappella world for years. Sometimes the instrumental side of me gets a little covered up.

I’ve found it quite relaxing to build tracks in my spare time (yes, I’m learning what that is now) and do some gigging here and there. Not too much… just an occasional live thing.

I played recently at A Beautiful Mess. No, that’s not my studio. That’s a really cool antique store in Lubbock. Michelle Hammond, the owner, has decorated is so nicely, with a bajillion antiques, that you don’t want to buy anything lest you destroy the ambiance of the place. Thankfully for her, many buy anyway.

I recorded a full set of 18 songs. Here’s the first. Hope you enjoy!

OnSong: All You Need is a Tip Jar

If you know me or have been following me, you know I’m a kool-aid drinker for Apple. I am most definitely a mac fanboy. To be truthful, I really believe they’ve earned their spot in my hall of undulation, along with Key Lime Pie,, WordPress and MOTU Digital Performer.

Due to my job situation, I’ve been without an iPad since the first of the year. I honestly didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I have a new iPad now (version not-called 3) and it’s most certainly nice to have it back. It makes information so much more accessible and I’m looking forward to using it in my new position at work (more on that in a future post).

OnSong AppThere is one app that I’ve realized I could not really replace without an iPad, and it’s a great app for live musicians… especially solo artists or small acoustic groups. It’s called OnSong. This cheap little app (only $7.99) is the perfect songbook and chart folder replacement. You can download the lyrics and chords to just about any song you can find online, or simply enter your own. Once you’ve got your library built up, it’s all available at the swipe of a finger on your iPad.

You can set up playlists or set lists. Set the length of the song and hit the play button just as you start the song and the lyrics will automatically scroll for you as you go. Are you using special lighting? Change the appearance of the song from black words on white background to white words on black background so it won’t light you up. Need to practice? Link a song from your song library that will launch when you hit the start button. You can play along and follow the lyrics as you go. Maybe you’ve got accompaniment tracks? Link those up with your audio out. Now you’ve got a confidence monitor and a track player all in one.

There are many more features that you can check out. One I really like is the ability to sync your set list with the other members of your band (as long as they have OnSong). Everyone can see the same charts moving together in unison. This thing will even project lyrics for your audience if you wish.

I would venture to say that, as a musician, this is probably the most important app I own. Pair that with a good iPad stand, like this one here, and you’re good to go for a night of music.

All you need now is a tip jar. 5 stars. Go get it.