Review - Spitfire Audio - Eric Whitacre Choir - Special Event

Over the last couple of years Spitfire Audio have become one of the most prominent music technology companies producing a series of outstanding sample instruments ranging from the epic Symphonic Orchestra and Hans Zimmer Percussion to the fragile and intimate Olafur Arnalds collections and the Albion Tundra Orchestra.



As the online community surrounding Spitfire Audio and prominent vlogger Christian Henson grows, mid October saw the announcement of the second ’Special Event’ held by Spitfire Audio this year following on from the February launch of Hans Zimmer Strings at Air Studios. This time the venue of choice was the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and in the days leading up to the event all hints from the teaser videos and social media comments pointing towards the long awaited release of the Eric Whitacre Choir.



I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the event and made my way down with fellow North West based composer Tom Hunt. The event followed a similar structure to the Hans Zimmer Strings event with a drink reception on arrival and a chance to chat with fellow composers and attendees before Christian Henson and Paul Thomson took to the stage to give some background information and insight into the process and journey undertaken to complete this product.



Next came the arrival of special guest Eric Whitacre who joined Christian and Paul onstage to give his thoughts and insight into the product, letting slip that the renowned Spitfire Audio Evo Grid would be a feature of the product. What followed was a truly unique experience as we were led into the Planetarium for a live performance of ‘Lux Aurumque’ and a cover of the Nine Inch Nails track ‘Hurt’ set to projections of stars and images from the promotional campaign. To close the evening, Paul presented an overview of the product, which like the Labs series and Hans Zimmer Strings runs in its own dedicated plugin.



Spitfire Audio - Eric Whitacre Choir is available now and retails at £549 with an introduction price of £399 available until Thursday 8th November. For more information visit www.spitfireaudio.com

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Guide to Field Recording

Capturing your own field recordings can be a fun and exciting way to add unique sonic characteristics to you music, create your own sampled instruments and support video projects. You can capture audio using a range of equipment from your smart phone to competitively priced handheld sound recorders; here are my top ten tips for capturing quality recordings: Read More…

Hidden Features of Logic X

Last week saw the release of the latest Logic X update, and while the programme hasn’t seen a full version launch since 2013, the incremental updates since have seen the addition of significant features including the outstanding Alchemy synth, the ChromaVerb effects plugin and the Studio Strings instrument. With this in mind, what better time to delve into some of the hidden features of Logic X. Read More…

The Art of the Album

A few months back I wrote a short essay titled ‘The Joy of Record Shopping’ in which I eluded to my love of the album format. In this article I’m going to take a deeper look into the ‘album’, considering its importance in popular culture from different perspectives. Read More…

Creative - 5 Music Ideas for the Weekend

Bank Holiday weekend is here meaning everyone gets an extended 3 day weekend. Trouble is, the weather is set to be typically ‘British’ with the first signs of Autumn on the horizon. This got me thinking, why not use the extra time this weekend to immerse yourself in music. Here are a few ideas to consider: Read More…

Professional Development - Podcasts

With so many resources available for professional and personal development it is often difficult to know where to start and how to find the best material. There are lots of excellent resources available including video tutorials, podcasts, self help books and blogs but personally I have found great value in listening podcasts. Read More…

Recommendation - Contemporary Film and TV Soundtracks

Something a bit different this week, here are 5 of my favourite pieces of contemporary film and TV music: Read More…

Professional Development - Quick Productivity Tips

Following on from the last article which featured an in depth look at Productivity, here are some practical tips for you to try: Read More…

Professional Development - Productivity

In this essay I am going to discuss productivity and I will cover areas including what productivity means to me, how I manage my projects and the art of reflective practice. Read More…

Interview - Leeds College of Music - Alumni

Recently I returned to Leeds College of Music 10 years after graduating…to find out more about what I do you can read the interview with the alumni team here:

https://www.lcm.ac.uk/about-us/alumni/alumni-profiles/michael-denny/

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Essay - The Joy of Record Shopping

This weeks article is something a little different; a personal reflection titled ‘The Joy of Record Shopping’. Read More…

Music Production - Toolkit 4: Sample Magic, Music Radar and Original Drum Hits

Welcome to the final part of the Music Production Toolkit series where I am looking at some of my favourite and most frequently used plugins, virtual instruments and samples libraries.

This week we are looking at drum hits, and when I am starting a new project one of the first things I consider is the drums and percussion needed. I begin this process by auditioning individual sounds and building my own palette of individual hits as a kit in Battery, Native Instruments drum sampler. Choosing the right sounds is important to me, particularly when working in ambient genres as the percussive elements are often exposed and pla
y a vital role in establishing the overall texture and aesthetic. While I utilise samples from a wide range of sources, lets take a look at 3 of my frequently used approaches.

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Music Production - Toolkit 3: Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate

Welcome to the part 3 of the Music Production Toolkit series where I am looking at some of my favourite and most frequently used plugins, virtual instruments and samples libraries.

This week I am looking at Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate, a huge collection of 87 Native Instruments products including soft synths, effects, and sample libraries. While the contents of this pack can be overwhelming, there are a number of key tools within this collection which have become essential to my composition and production workflow. Here is an overview of 3 of my favourites, Kontakt, Battery and Massive.

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Music Production - Toolkit 2: Spitfire Audio - Olafur Arnalds Felt Piano / LABS

Welcome to the part 2 of the Music Production Toolkit series where I am looking at some of my favourite and most frequently used plugins, virtual instruments and samples libraries.

The main focus this week in the centrepiece of the Spitfire Audio - Olafur Arnalds Composer Toolkit, the Felt Grand Piano. Over the last 10 years Spitfire Audio have become a huge name in the world of media composition and music production and have produced some beautiful libraries, my favourites being Chamber Strings Professional, Albion V Tundra and the LABS range (more on that later).

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Music Production - Toolkit 1: Logic Step FX

Welcome to the first part in a new series called Music Production Toolkit where I will be looking at some of my favourite and most frequently used plugins, virtual instruments and samples libraries.

First up is Step FX, a plugin added to Logic X version 10.4 earlier this year. Despite it being around 5 years since there was a full version update, Logic X still presents incredible value for money and alongside Step FX recent free incremental updates also include the powerful Alchemy synth, the exciting ChromaVerb plugin and updates to legacy features in the software including the user interface of popular instruments and effects.

Step FX Logic
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Creative - Red Dog Blog - Songwriting Techniques Summary

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I have been working with Red Dog Music Blog to create a summary article about the series, both parts are online now:

Part 1: http://blog.reddogmusic.co.uk/2018/05/08/part-1-songwriting-and-composition-techniques/

Part 2:
http://blog.reddogmusic.co.uk/2018/05/17/part-2-songwriting-and-composition-techniques/ Read More…

Songwriting Techniques 10: Collaboration

For the final post of the Songwriting Techniques series we are going to look at different approaches to collaboration. Read More…

Songwriting Techniques 9: Technology

Advances in technology have had a huge effect on the music industry and there are lots of resources available to assist and develop your songwriting. For the penultimate article of the Songwriting Techniques series the theme is ‘Technology’. Read More…

Interview - Red Dog Blog

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I
was recently interview by Red Dog Music about my creative process, the gear I'm using and whats on my pedalboard, you can read the full interview here:

http://blog.reddogmusic.co.uk/2018/04/10/sunday-spotlight-michael-denny/

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Songwriting Techniques 8: Lyrics

In part 8 of the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Lyrics'. This week I have 10 ideas for you to get you started on your next lyrical masterpiece. Read More…

Songwriting Techniques 7: Instrumentation and Orchestration

In the latest article from the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Instrumentation and Orchestration’. Before we move on to this weeks 5 points to consider lets clarify the difference between instrumentation and orchestration.

Instrumentation is the term used to describe which instruments are used in a track. This could be a list of the instruments used, or they may be grouped into common ensembles such as ‘string quartet’ and ‘rock band’.

Orchestration is the term used to describe where each instrument or group of instruments is used in a track. For example, the piano may be played throughout the duration of the track, with strings and guitar only added during the chorus sections. Varying the orchestration throughout a piece gives the music a shape, keeping it interesting for the listener.
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Recommendation - Piano Day - Thursday 29th March 2018

As its Piano Day I thought I'd share one of my favourite piano led tracks, enjoy!

Radiohead - Videotape


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Songwriting Techniques 6: Structure and Arrangement

In the latest article from the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Structure and Arrangement’. It is important to understand the function of the different sections of a song and how they can be built up and combined to create a finished song structure. Below is a list of common sections: Read More…

Songwriting Techniques 5: Rhythm

In the latest article from the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Rhythm’. The bass and drum parts form the foundation of the track and a strong rhythm section can make all the difference to your track. In this post we will be looking at how these sound sources can used when composing in various genres, here are this weeks 5 ideas of how to get your bass and drums parts working effectively together: Read More…

Songwriting Techniques 4: Harmony

In the latest article from the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Harmony’. Harmony is the term used to describe the chordal elements of a song, and a harmony is created when 2 or more notes are played simultaneously. Here are this weeks 5 points for you to consider: Read More…

Review - Spitfire Audio - Hans Zimmer Strings - Special Event

Spitfire Audio - Special Event
Air Studios, Hampstead
Wed 28th February 2017

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In the world of film, TV and media composition Spitfire Audio have established themselves as one of the market leaders producing exceptional and inspiration sample libraries. Alongside their products the company have an outstanding online presence with tutorials, interviews and Christian Henson’s vlog channel which have all contributed to an ‘Apple-esque’ hysteria surrounding the company. With this in mind, it was no surprise that when Spitfire announced that they were holding a ‘special event’ at Air Studios in London that tickets sold out almost immediately despite no one really knowing what they had purchased tickets for!

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Spitfire Audio - Special Event Read More…

Songwriting Techniques 3: Melody

For the third instalment of the Songwriting Techniques series the topic is ‘Melody'. In many genres of music the melody is arguably the most important element of a track, its 'the tune', and the part we often remember, sing and hum back to ourselves. There are lots of approaches to writing melody and some key points to bear in mind when composing, here are this weeks 5 points for you to consider: Read More…

Review - Output - Analog Brass & Winds

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In this article I will be reviewing Analog Brass & Winds, the latest virtual instrument from the groundbreaking music production company Output. I will also be showcasing how I have utilised the instrument into the latest release from the Becquerel project.
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Interview - The Making of Sample Magic - Ambient Textural Toolkit

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I was recently interview by Sample Magic about the making of my Ambient Textural Toolkit sample pack, you can read the full interview here:

https://www.samplemagic.com/journal/2018/02/making-ambient-textural-toolkit/

You can hear the demo and buy the Ambient Textural Toolkit pack here:

https://www.samplemagic.com/details/2009/ambient-textural-toolkit
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Songwriting Techniques 2: Songwriting and Composition Challenges

For the second article in this series the theme is ‘Songwriting and Composition Challenges’. Sometimes its hard to know where to start, particularly when embarking on a new project, but one way to get started on a new project is to set yourself a brief and guidelines. Referring back to these can help you stay on track and keep you focussed on the end goal. With that in mind here are 5 challenges for you to try:
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Songwriting Techniques 1: Getting Started

Songwriting Techniques is a new 10 part series on The Audio Tapes where I will be sharing songwriting and composition tips, techniques and ideas for you to try. Each week will have a different theme and will include ideas for you to consider.

For the first article in this series the theme is ‘Getting Started’. We all have a tendency to procrastinate and often the hardest part of a task is actually getting to work; with that in mind here are this weeks 5 tips:
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Recommendation - Top Tracks of 2017

Every day in December 2017 I posted a track recommendation on my Twitter account, here is the list of all the tracks and the summary from Twitter for each. I hope you enjoy the selection and let me know what you think. Read More…