Nestled among our high-tech tutorials are nearly two dozen fascinating artist interviews by Randy Alberts, many with full-length MP3 songs you can download. In this episode of Digital Media Insider, we unearth some of those hidden treasures and explore the surprising technology behind them. (DMI 03-16-2007: 12 minutes 18 seconds)

Production Notes

Most of the music examples started as MP3s. One song was a streaming file I captured with Ambrosia Software WireTap. I extracted the Animusic soundtrack by opening the movie file in QuickTime Pro and selecting Export→Sound to AIFF. Next, I imported the audio files into Peak, tightened them up with cuts and fades, and then normalized their levels.

I then recorded my voiceover with a Rode Podcaster USB mic into BIAS Peak as a 16-bit, 44.1kHz, mono AIFF file. I used Peak's editing tools to delete the false starts and tame mouth noises.

Next, I imported everything into Ableton Live (newly upgraded to version 6), where I arranged the music examples around my voiceover and the theme music. I compressed and enhanced the voiceover with Izotope Ozone. Finally, I rendered the mix to an AIFF file, converted it to an MP3 in Peak, and then used iTunes to clean up the ID3 tags and add artwork.


Animusic's proprietary software maps MIDI notes to 3D animations. Each note in the piece seems to be triggered by a flying ball. You can see video clips in our article, "Inside Animusic's Astonishing Computer Music Videos."

I produced the Digital Media Insider theme music in Live as well. The opening sound effect is a compressed mouth noise spliced onto a tone cluster I generated in Native Instruments Reaktor. The main groove is from Steinberg Xphraze. (Jim Aikin turned me on to both virtual instruments in his article "My Five Favorite Soft Synths.") The piano is from the Garritan Personal Orchestra, which I discovered when we interviewed Gary Garritan. Then there are a few percussion samples dredged from my hard drive. Altogether, the theme took just six tracks. Effects processing was courtesy of Live's default plugins and Freeverb.

Source Articles

The Angel

The Angel splits her time between DJing and studio work.

The Angel with Digital Wings

Fusing hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, movie soundtracks, and cutting-edge digital workstation technology, The Angel creates music that's essential listening.

Inside Animusic's Astonishing Computer Music Videos

Composer Wayne Lytle's custom software transforms musical notes into jaw-dropping 3D animations. The resulting DVDs have sold tens of thousands of copies. Watch clips here and learn how Lytle turned his digital pipe dream into a thriving business.

GrandMixer DXT Scratches Deep into Digital

The drummer who introduced vinyl scratching to the world, GrandMixer DXT, reveals how to add expressive rhythms to digital music production.

Roger Manning, Jr.: The Digital Cookbook

The analog virtuoso behind the Moog Cookbook, Beck, Jellyfish, Imperial Drag, countless ads, and soundtracks shares his tasty digital production tips.

Moog Cookbook

Roger Manning Jr. and Brian Kehew of the Moog Cookbook play ancient synths in hilariously creative ways. Is that a Speak-n-Spell guitar?

Roger McGuinn: 8 Drives High

Former Byrds guitarist Roger McGuinn was shot down by the same record companies that grabbed nearly all of the profits from his hit songs. Now he builds his own computers, records at home, and sells directly to fans.

Carmen Rizzo: Synthesizing the World

If Carmen Rizzo performed in a circus, he'd be the best juggler. It's amazing how this Hollywood-based producer, composer, and remixer keeps artists, songs, technologies, concerts, films, studios, continents, and even trustees aloft. Appropriately, one of his remixes appears this year on Cirque du Soleil's 20th Anniversary CD.

Johnny "Juice" Rosado: Digital Public Enemy

Chuck D's right-hand man explains the high-tech (and surprisingly low-tech) secrets behind the Public Enemy sound, then shares a track from the group's upcoming album.

Adam Williams: Massive Guitars, Micro Computers

The former Powerman 5000 guitarist reveals how to make huge guitar sounds on a home computer—without waking the neighbors—then shares loads of MP3 examples.

More Randy Alberts articles

David Battino is the audio editor for O’Reilly’s Digital Media site, the co-author of The Art of Digital Music, and on the steering committee for the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IASIG). He also writes, publishes, and performs Japanese kamishibai storycards.

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