Category Archives: Audio Specific

Bubblecano! Writing & Recording a Game Themesong

This week on Twitch we’re promoting the launch of Adobe Animate CC, a re-brand (and significant update) to Flash Pro CC.

We’ve got an amazing array of guests who are showcasing their amazing talents/techniques, tips & tricks. As part of that showcase, we got Grant Skinner and Mike Gaboury to create a game live-on-stream (entitled ‘Bubblecano’) and my task was to compose the theme and all the game music.

Here’s a first listen at yesterday’s live recording (just a rough mix).

I wrote this in about 10 minutes, and everything you’re hearing was played and recorded live-on-stream…

“Bubblecano” – words and music by jason a. levine

Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble
Ani Mate, the shaman great
Saving friends from a fiery end
Bubble bubble bubble bubble
Watch out for the red-hot lava
Blow your bubbles to the sky
Save your peeps and save the day
A lesser shaman wouldn’t try
Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble

You can watch the actual process of the recording (as well as the creation of the game itself) by going to the VOD on the Adobe Twitch channel. The recording session begins around the 7th hour (approx 07:15 into the stream)

Be sure to Follow Me on my Twitch channel for regular streams on audio, video and imagery.

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Adobe Audition’s Elusive Loopology Content!

If you’re a Creative Cloud member and Adobe Audition user*, you probably didn’t know that you have a library of over 15,000 royalty-free soundeffects, loops and music beds to accompany your music/audio/soundtrack creation needs.


With the release of Adobe Stock in late June, we’re hoping that soon they will offer audio and video.

In the meantime, you can access and download all available audio content at the link below:

Adobe Audition Loopology Content, Sound Effects, Music Beds and More

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*note: please read the EULA attached with this content!

The CreateNow Tour Comes To A Close: But First…VO Recording Technique Guide

The last show of this tour is about to begin (literally, in :30 minutes, as I sit in the hallowed halls of the 601 Townsend building in San Francisco)

As part of tonight’s final presentation, I’m doing a little spot on Voice Over mixing/sweetening, and thought this doc that I created for MAX last year might be a good resource.

Voice Over Recording & Microphone Guide

Essentially, it’s a guide to the various types of microphones and things to know/look out for when choosing the right mic for the job, whether it’s web-type audio, vocals (music) or anything in between.

I’ll be writing a wrap-up of the mega tour in the coming days, so till then…

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Short&Suite Season Finale: Converting Audio Files to Different Bit Rates/Sample Rates

Well, it’s hard to believe that the ‘season’ is already over, and as such, I’m already prepping the next round of ATV videos for the next season of Short & Suite.

The final episode of this series deals with using the Convert Sample Type dialog in Adobe Audition CS6, highlighting when and how to use it.

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How To Make Your Audio Broadcast-Safe (ITU-R BS.1770-2 & EBU)

Over the last year I’ve had numerous requests for ‘…a plugin that would allow me to instantly conform my audio files to a particular loudness standard.’

The good news is: we have this feature built-in to Adobe Audition. The not-so-good news is that while I’ve shown this feature several times (in various tutorials), it’s always been part of another video (which makes it extremely hard to find, even for me!).

So, I’m happy bring you a standalone video on how to finalize your audio, in compliance with common Broadcast Standards using Adobe Audition CS6…

What’s also really cool? You can use Audition’s Match Volume feature to normalize dialogue tracks, compute average loudness across a host of music/underscore files, and instantly normalize (either peak or RMS) to any given value. Oh, and there are even MORE loudness options available to you as well (in a drop-down menu)

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New Short&Suite: How To Bounce & Mixdown in Adobe Audition

This week’s new episode features bouncing and mixdown options in Adobe Audition CS6. Learn when to bounce/comp tracks together, and when/how to access the various menus for performing those operations. Along the way, I’ll show you the various ‘final mix’ options for creating mono, stereo and 5.1 mixes simultaneously…even exporting track stems from a master multitrack session.

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New Short&Suite Tutorial: Sidechaining In Audition CS6

Well, 2012 is coming to a close, but as promised, here’s the next new episode from my recent sessions at AdobeTV. This one, a very cool new addition to Adobe Audition (and a highly-requested feature for many versions now) features how to use the Dynamics Proceessor in a sidechain, allowing you to use a trigger (ie, a voice-over) to automatically ‘duck’ music underneath it (without doing the previous, manual method of drawing envelopes).

Blog on…and Happy New Year!

The Anatomy of a Song – Writing “Sabi Sabi”

Over the past few months I’ve been writing lots of songs. This isn’t really uncommon, as music is (and will always be) my first love, and writing is just part of the territory.

And with each song I’ve written over the years, while the format that the ideas are captured on may have changed (ie, back in the 90s, I used to carry around a little mini-cassette recorder, followed by a ‘micro cassette recorder’ for melody/lyric ideas; prior to that, it was just a pad and paper) the overall way that the tunes come together hasn’t changed at all. In fact, all of my ‘best’ ones (the ones that finally make it to the proper recording stage) have all been composed almost exactly the same way. This typically involves either ‘dreaming up’ the entire melody or lyric (just as McCartney did with ‘Scrambled Eggs’ which became ‘Yesterday’) or simply coming to me whilst doing something else.

SO…I thought it might be cool to share the work-in-progress recordings of my latest track entitled, Sabi Sabi. In true fashion, the tune came to me while sleeping, en route to New York from South Africa. Unlike Pirate Teeth (where I actually began singing the lyric on the plane into my iPhone so I wouldn’t forget it) this time I had just arrived at my hotel, opened my ‘voice recorder’ app, and let loose. Again, formerly micro-cassette, now iPhone; it’s what 17 years later in technology will do for you.

Now, before I begin detailing the process, I must say that the song was without a doubt inspired by one of my long-time favorite artists from Africa, Nigeria specifically…Fela Kuti. My first exposure to Fela came in 1988, when a friend of mine and I stumbled upon a recording by Ginger Baker (of Cream fame) where the vocals and additional instruments (minus drums, played by Ginger) were all performed by Fela and his group, the Africa ’70. The album was called Stratavarious (1972), and it’s still in my collection today (and remains a favourite). Following this initial taste of the magic and power of the original ‘Afro-beat’ creator, I went on a quest to find (and purchase) every Fela album I could find…and he made many. (note: if you search the blog for some of my ‘FAME’ posts, an old record store in Amsterdam, you’ll see pictures of where I purchased remastered Fela CDs over the years).

Here’s another classic from 1971, purchased shortly after I found Stratavarious

In any case, Fela’s music continues to be in an almost daily rotation for me, and he truly inspired this song (and many others I’ve written).

Here’s the very first ‘idea’ of the song, recorded 26 June 2012:

Sabi Sabi 01-The Idea

As is often the case, what follows the original idea (which in this case was more rhythmic, with a minimal amount of words and melody) is a series of ‘pieces’ of the tune. Days later, I was envisioning a ‘bridge’ (also known as the ‘Middle Eight’) and without having any words at all (save for ‘Africa’) I thought of three separate harmonies that I wanted to sing. Here are those harmonies, recorded while grilling outside in 43c heat:

Sabi Sabi 02 – The Harmony

As I continued to hear the harmony in my head, the words (once again) came to me while sleeping. This time, I basically had the whole middle-eight written (note: it’s called the middle eight because it’s effectively an 8-bar phrase, which in this case, is repeated twice…and it naturally falls in ‘the middle’ of the song). I scribbled it on some note paper and began, acapella, singing into my echoey hallway:

Sabi Sabi 03 – The Middle 8

Immediately following that, and still without a defined ‘key’ for the song, I sat down at the piano and literally worked out what would be the accompaniment for the lyric I had just sung. Note that I took the key I sang it (which happened to be Eb) and this became the key of the tune. With piano and vocal:

Sabi Sabi 04 – The Middle 8 with Music

Over the next few weeks, I continually worked on the lyric for the verses, but I needed to ‘feel’ the groove to really get inspired. I was making my way up to San Francisco (to record some videos for AdobeTV) and had a chance to visit my friend and fellow collaborator Fred Fung at his studio. Fred is an accomplished percussionist, drummer, dulcimer player and literally has just about every type of drum you could think of. He also had a bass.

Having just recorded the middle eight at home and essentially establish the key, Fred was able to tune all of his drums (basically in fifths, creating a kind of ‘sol do’ resolution) so that all the percussion would resonate in the same key. We mic’ed up, plugged in, and without separation I began to sing to him what the groove should be. He laid down some amazing percussion parts while I played live bass and sang (again, largely mumbling words, as I still didn’t have them completed yet)

Here’s a shot taken last year, better look at the drums:
Percussion variations
We would eventually overdub a few different parts on several different drums (against my bass/vocal track) and all of Fred’s percussion was kept. In the end, I wound up replacing the original bass part (with my Rickenbacker Bass) and re-sang the vocals, keeping a few ‘snippets’ here and there…but they were there as a guide until the end of mixing. Here’s the original first take where you hear me telling Fred how the groove should feel:

Sabi Sabi 05 – Tracking Session

And here’s the ‘final groove’ with replaced bass part, an added shaker (coffee can with dried pinto beans and rice) and the addition of Dunbek and Djembe:

Sabi Sabi 06 – The Final Groove

Following the groove assembly, I spent two days over a weekend (prior to leaving for IBC in Amsterdam) recording all of the additional parts which included Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes Suitcase ’73 (Fela often used electric piano and electric organ, so it seemed fitting for this piece), several lead vocal tracks and about ten backing vocals. Here’s what the final middle-eight sounds like with new leads and mixed BGVs:

Sabi Sabi 07 – Final Middle Eight, Lead & Background Vocals

Something else you might find interesting about the rhythm track is that it DOESN’T contain any ‘western’ Drum Kit. None. All of the percussion instruments are African/Indian hand drums (played either by hand, with mallets, and in one case an actual pedal)…but no hi-hats, no cymbals, no toms…all percussion.

The journey of creating this track (as a tribute to one of my favourite places on Earth) was truly a memorable one. The single (with some recently created artwork) is NOW AVAILABLE on iTunes, Amazon, and everywhere else.

Lastly, here’s a look at the final assembled session in Adobe Audition CS6

It’s nearly impossible to see at 500 pixels wide, so here’s a larger version from Flickr.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside-look at my creative songwriting (and recording) process. I’m actually thinking about making the master tracks available for a remix, possibly hosting a remix contest. The winner would have their remix released under my label (BoodahJooMusic) and it would be featured in my upcoming music show, Just Play Music. But until then…

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Adobe Audition for Mac (BETA) is Here! Come and Get It!

5 months ago, I was finally able to tell you about Adobe Audition coming to the Mac (one of the longest-standing requests since I started working for Syntrillium, makers of Cool Edit, nearly 11 years ago). And since then, I’ve been able to ‘sneak’ the latest (private) Beta in different cities around the globe during some of our recent Masters Tours and Video Days in different regions.

But tonight, I’m proud to announce that Adobe Audition for the Mac is available in Beta at Adobe LABS!

In the spirit of getting the uninitiated familiar with the application, I created two new tutorial videos (strictly tutorial–no demo) on some of the basic things to get up and running: multitrack recording and spectral frequency editing.

The good news is, the actual editing and recording functionality of this “new” version are very similar to the classic (currently available) version on the PC; so if you still need more help, you can find additional tutorials on my Vimeo channel as well as Adobe TV.

Please be sure to drop me a line and let me (us) know what you think about the Beta.

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Adobe Audition is coming to the Mac!

Hello, my friends! Well, it’s literally been years, years that I’ve waited to be able to say that Audition is coming to the Mac. It’s been a long time coming (and perhaps, the #1 most-requested ‘feature’ since I started with Syntrillium back in 2000) but here we are, and the future is looking good. Below you’ll find two preview videos focusing on different elements of the application. The first video deals mainly with the interface and general functionality of the app; the second showcases some of the effects processing, noise reduction and mastering capabilities. If you want to be notified as things progress, be sure to sign up on the Adobe Labs page.

Until next time,
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