Digital Performer offers a variety of effects in addition to sequencing
and editing features.
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MOTU Digital Performer
performing miracles after all these years
Erik Hawkins and Victor Owens
Performer, Mark of
the Unicorns flagship sequencer, has been around for a long time.
Today, however, Performer is not just for MIDI sequencing but for digital
audio, too. Digital Performer is packed with pro features sure to please
even the most jaded music producer.
Every so often, vocalists just cant cut their harmony parts. Maybe
theyre having an off day, or maybeperish the thoughtthey
just cant sing that well. If this happens to you, dont worry.
Digital Performer can help cook up killer, natural-sounding harmony parts
from a single lead line.
Grab the lines for which you need to generate harmony parts from the lead
vocals and copy them to a new track. Highlight one of these sections and
open up the Spectral Effects window from the Audio menu. Using Spectral
Effects, you can not only change the pitch of the soundbite but its formant
content and tempo as well. Adding a few cents to the pitch interval and
varying the tempo by a few fractions of a percentage point changes the
harmony part just enough to make it sound like a different take, not a
clone of the lead.
Once youve built all the harmony parts and have a perfect blend
between their volumes and pans, its a simple matter to bounce all
the tracks down to a stereo pair. This is important if, for example, you
have a 12-part harmony and need to free up some voices. Highlight the
regions of the tracks you want bounced and select Bounce to Disk from
the Audio menu. Choose Split Stereo for Channels and Add to Sequence for
Import. The soundbites produced in the bounce are automatically inserted
on a new stereo track and should be perfectly aligned with the lead vocals
(assuming you didnt move the source harmony tracks, which, incidentally,
can now be turned off).
Looping samples is simple. However, trying to get a loop thats at
one bpm to fit into a sequence thats at a different bpm can be a
major pain. Too many programs lack an intuitive way of changing a samples
bpm using time compression/expansion. Digital Performers soundbite
tempo mapping features make this kind of operation a breeze, and its time
compression/expansion algorithms sound rock-solid.
Begin by making sure your sample is trimmed to a perfect loop, or at the
very least, that it ends on a beat. (Although you can tempo-map fractions
of a beat, to the tick, whole beats are less hassle). Select the soundbite
and choose Set Soundbite Tempo from the Audio menu. Here, you specify
the number of beats in the sample and Digital Performer automatically
calculates the soundbites bpm. The reverse also works: If you know
the tempo, enter it, and the samples number of beats magically appears.
With the beats and tempo figured, the soundbite is easily matched to the
sequences bpm via the Adjust Soundbites to Sequence Tempo command,
under the Audio menu.
Digital Performer Version 2.7just releasednow also supports
Mackies HUI hardware controller. This means no more mousing around
(pardon the pun) trying to execute fades with your trackball. Simply select
HUI as the controller in the Control Surface Setup window (under the Basics
menu), and you get total remote control over every facet of the mixer.
This includes everything from faders to pans, sends and even plug-ins
on the inserts for both MIDI and audio.
Erik Hawkins is a musician/producer working in Los
Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Victor Owens is an independent
producer and the owner of Digisonic, a fully equipped audio production
facility in Berkeley, Calif.