What Music & Video Software Programs Do You Use

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I know this subject comes up within discussions, but I thought it would be nice to have a discussion devoted to this subject, easy to find!

    Please tell us what computer programs you use for your music and video. These would include slowdown/transcriber programs, video editing, etc. Go into detail of what you like / dislike about them, how easy (or difficult) they are to learn to use, approximate cost, where to download them... anything you can think about! These would be sources not only for recording, but also, for learning.

    Also include any online sources (ABC converters, etc) that you may use, and why you like them!

    Also, while you're at it, if you have any tips for how YOU learn a new tune, go ahead and talk about that!
  2. Susanne
    I suck at reading music, but notation is a good way for me to understand a tune, along with a recording. But I usually learn a tune by ear, using a recording (usually a video, but mainly because they're so easy to find on You Tube).
    Since I suck at reading music and don't have a great deal of patience, I have difficulty to learn a tune note by note, so I listen to a recording to get a tune into my head, then try to play along and make my own thing with it (but that suits the chords, of course). If the tune is easy that probably means that I do learn the tune note by note, but with bluegrass tunes - NOT.

    I use http://www.concertina.net/tunes_convert.html to turn abc files into notation in pdf/gif/midi (I usually only look at the pdf, but listen to the midi if I can't find a recording). I don't like abc software to download to the computer, I've never understood how to use them, and why should I when there is c.net?

    I rarely slow down music, since I rarely aim at learning a tune exactly as someone else plays it.

    I use Apple iMovie '09 to record and edit videos, but usually record with the Panasonic video camera and then use iMovie. It's a nice little video editing software for Mac, included in the iLife '09 package that you can buy for your Mac (not expensive, at least I think iLife 08 cost about 90 dollars..including 5 programs) even if you don't have the latest OS. Pros probably wouldn't like it, they would probably think it's too simple and limited, but it's good enough for the stuff that I do.

    I sometimes use Tabledit, but find that the tunes for Tabledit (from Mandozine) usually are too complicated and.. see the above about patience and learning tunes note by note... I'm not very fond of Tabledit. It requires too much scrolling up and down through a tune.

    About learning tunes..........I learn best by ear and I think You Tube is the best teacher You can find most tunes there. I guess a slowdowner would be good for more complex tunes but I don't know any for Mac and those I've tried for Windows haven't been good. I use sheet music instead if there is a phrase I'm incertain about how to do..
    I think the best way to learn is to listen to the tune, over and over again. When it's in your head you can try to play it, one piece at a time. This usually works for me. Then I try to play along with a recording to see if i got everything right (and then I'm referring to phrasing, timing etc, I don't care if I play a different version).
  3. CelticDude
    For transcribing music I use ABC2Win, and I also have, but rarely use, Finale NotePad. ABC2Win's big advantage is that you can have multiple tunes on a page; obviously a necessity when creating medleys. It does cost $20, but it's a lifetime license (ie. use don't have to pay again when he updates), and well worth it. NotePad was free, and is fine for single tunes, but not so shareable. Also lacks a lot of control over formatting. After joined this group I also downloaded the TefViewer for printing out tabs. (If anyone is using the full version, TabLEdit, I'd love to hear reviews of this.)

    I learn mostly from music notation, although it's easier after I have listened to the tune enough that I can hum it.

    I use my digital camera to record the videos, and Windows Movie Maker if the video needs editing. As has been noted, the sound quality is not so great this way, especially after YouTube is done with it, but does create usable videos without buying anything I didn't have anyway.

    I have been playing with multi-tracking using a Tascam DP-02cf PortaStudio. I like this a lot, although it only has 2 simultaneous inputs, which would be a severe limitation for recording a band (not an issue for me at the moment). I believe it's possible to take the sound file from this and sync it with a video, although I haven't figured this out yet. So, for using sound files I've done the "slide show" videos. (In the future I may find an mp3 hosting site and link to that.)

    So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
  4. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    For most of my videos I use a Logitech Quickcam Vision Pro recorded directly to Quicktime. I've recorded one video with my digital camera. Can anyone tell which one? For multi-tracked videos I use AudioDesk 2.1 through a MOTU 828. Mostly I play the prerecorded parts through my monitor speakers and play live to Quicktime. Occasionally I record everything using AudioDesk and bounce that down to an MP3, import that into iMovie and then add some photos.

    For learning tunes I try to find notation, tab is too hard. If I can't find notation I will pick it out by ear and then write it down. If I don't write it down I will forget it in a week, my brain is like a sieve. I use the Print Music version of Finale to notate all the tunes. Once I write it down I play it over and over and over until my limited memory absorbs enough for me to video.
  5. OldSausage
    For slowing down audio: Transcribe! $50. This does a great job of slowing down and/or transposing music to other keys and works on almost any audio file. It's my number one tool at the moment for learning new tunes, practicing old ones, and working on timing. It lets you play along with great musicians at whatever speed you want to go, so I use it for about 80% of my practice time.

    For editing tab:TablEdit $60. TablEdit also handles converting ABC to tab and has many other useful features.

    Recording audio:
    Sonar Producer Edition, I think the street price is now around $500. It's great for multitracking, and also has good eq, compressors and mastering software that can make the end result sound reasonably professional.

    Recording video:
    Windows Movie Maker for Windows XP. $0. This is fine for doing basic stuff, I sometimes wish I had a copy of Adobe Premiere which I used to use a lot back when I was a multimedia guru. I use MovieMaker to capture the video from my web cam. I don't do much video editing, except to remove tedious sequences of me clicking buttons or making false starts at the beginning and end.

    How I learn a new tune
    This depends a little on what recorded versions are available, but usually I start by combing iTunes for a version that I like and is in the style I like to play. I listen to it a few times, and then I'll work out what the chords are, and I will usually write out a very basic chord chart at that point. For me, it's really important to understand what the chords are first.

    Then I'll play the music and try to figure out the tune. If it's a fast piece I will usually slow it down with Transcribe to about 50% speed to make sure I catch exactly what the musicians are doing. I will also spend some time just improvising along with the track and getting a feel for the groove. If I really like what the mandolin is doing in the track I might try to work out exactly what they're playing, but it really depends on the material, some tunes are more straight, while other demand a looser, improvisational approach. If I have time I also try to work out more than one way of playing the tune, perhaps try it in different octaves, work in my current favorite licks and so on.

    I wasn't able to just learn by ear straight away, I started out working from downloaded tab, and then began to transcribe very slowly by writing down every note in TablEdit, going back and checking it in Transcribe! over and over. At first it would take many hours to do that, but after several months of doing it regularly it gradually became easier as my ear developed, to the point where now I usually don't need to write it down at all and can learn it quite quickly, at least for most fiddle tunes.
  6. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    I use the excellent program Reaper (www.reaper.fm) for my recording, into a laptop running Windows XP. This program can be downloaded free and had no restrictions on it, but there are two licences available and I opted to buy the cheaper personal/small business use one. It is only $60 and is great value with regular updates etc.

    I use the Edirol UA-25 usb interface which has two inputs and phantom power, and for midi input a simple M-Audio KeyRig 49 keyboard which I use to play synth sounds, bass, cello, etc. The lack of inputs is not so far a problem as I tend to record with only one or two other folk or on my own. Our accordion player had a midi expander system on his box and he can record into this set-up too via the midi-in connections.

    For recording I use Samson CO1 or CO3 mics or a T-Bone SC-400 and a pair of Behringer C-2 matched stereo mics. I like mics! They are all cheap models but suit me fine and we have recorded vocals, accordion, concertina, guitars, mandolins and octaves, banjos etc and I am quite pleased with the results so far. The Behringers are also used in our band when we play live for miking the mandolins and octaves.

    I tend to learn tunes as most of you do - by listening and from the music. I read and use standard notation but also use tab to instruct young learners. In Celtic and Scottish music I feel it is essential to learn the tunes and feel comfortable playing from memory rather than from the score. We play at times with fiddlers who seem to come in two kinds - those who play from memory/ear and those, often in fiddle orchestras, who seem to need to have the music in front of them. This makes jamming and free sessions rather fraught at times if we stray from the written notes! To each his own!

    As a closing thought, one of the things I love so far about this site is the sheer diversity of knowledge, talents and playing experiences which so many people bring to it and the willingness eveyone shows in sharing what they know and in encouraging others. Long may this continue, and thanks again from a wet and windy Scotland!
  7. Ken_P
    I feel kind of low tech, which is very unusual for me! My recording process consists of a Canon digital camera and my dining room table! I don't edit the videos at all, just keep trying until I get a take that I'm happy with. From there I dump it to my computer and upload it to YouTube. For any multitrack recording I use Audacity, which is an open source audio recorder that makes multitracking really easy. I use some decent stealth mics for the audio input, which sound good but aren't ideal for computer recording because the levels always come in too low.

    As far as learning the tunes, tabledit is my primary tool. I usually just look at whatever files are up on mandozine to get a feel for the tune, and then start working on the particulars of my arrangement on my own. I can usually get the basics of a tune down in 15 minutes, and then I start thinking about what I can do with it. For some of my more ambitious creations, I use Finale to write out my ideas. I had to do that for a few of my arrangements where it got too long or too complex to keep all in my head at once.
  8. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    For video I'm using an iSight camera (Thanks Mike!) and the iMovie program on my laptop. I'm just using the microphone that's built into the camera - would get better sound if I had a dedicated microphone set up instead.

    I've just discovered how to slow down tunes using Quicktime (opening the mp3 up in Quicktime rather than iTunes) and have been having great craic using that - working on "I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave", "The Sligo Maid", and "The Starry Lane to Monaghan" right now. The quality of the sound does degrade a wee bit, but it's free and it'll do the job until I buy The Amazing Slow Downer or Transcribe.

    I like to listen to several different versions of a tune, either from my own collection of CD's, or from iTunes, or Youtube, to get ideas for ornamentation and variations.

    I try to avoid tab because for me personally I find that if I use tab I have a harder time committing the tune to memory. I much prefer ABC's but only really use them as a loose guide and prefer learning tunes by ear.

    For audio for recording mp3's for my myspace page I use a Zoom H2.
  9. Susanne
    Cool, I didn't know that Quicktime could slow down stuff!! But I know there are a lot of new features in the new Quicktime, that I haven't checked out yet. I'll have to do that!
  10. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    all you have to do is go to your itunes music folder, click on the file for tune you want to slow down to highlight it, then go to File, and scroll down to Open With and choose Quick time. Then you go to Window and scroll down to "show A/V controls" and you'll get a control panel that lets you slow down the speed of the tune!
  11. chrisblack
    I'm into FREE software, so I use:

    Video & Sound Recording -Debut Video Capture Software (I never got Windoze Movie Maker to work properly).
    ABC - ABC Navigator
    Sound recording only -Audacity...

    I've no flashy microphones or anything. Both my microphone and my webcam are the standard Acer thingys on the laptop... This all leads to my video recordings sounding and looking a bit raw, but it gets the tune across.

    I've also got my little Acer Aspire running Ubuntu 9.10 (FREE software again and a very stable operating system), however Linux is a little behind when it comes to sound and video recording. I run the Linux versiojn of Audacity for sound recording, but have to use Wine (Windows Emulator) run ABC Navigator for my abc's.. The other down side to Linux is, there is no decent Linux based video/sound capture software (yet - but I'm sure there will be soon)..

    To learn a tune (I've said this elsewhere on the forum) - I learn it bar by bar - but before I do that, I tend to spend time listening to other people play it (not necessarily watching them)... I sing it in my head, whistle it to myself so that it sinks in and then get out the dots... I used to learn by Tab, but am doing my best to sight read now, which is slow going - but then learning a tune can be slow going, so it doesn't matter that much.

    I will also try and get a copy of the tune down onto my computer (from CD usually, or live recordings), where I slow the tune down using Windows Media player, to around 50%, which is a good speed to learn it by ear, if I can't find the dots, or I don't know the name of the tune (as with the 100,000 west cork/ sliabh luachra polkas out there!!).

  12. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    hope you haven't been washed away there in Cork, Chris! My mum rang me this morning and was saying how there's terrible flooding all round us (we're about 30 minutes from Ballinasloe) but that Cork had got the worst of it.
  13. chrisblack
    Hi Jill

    It certainly put pay to my weekend - I was due to travel up to North Mayo/Sligo on Thursday to meet up with a bunch of musician friends from the UK, who I meet up with once a year, but the roads were too bad to travel, so I've missed out on 4 days of music... ah well, it will be on again next year...

    Luckily Bantry escaped the worst of it, but Skibbereen, Macroom, Bandon and all the routes to Cork were impassable... I was watching the news on RTE and my usual route into work through the city was shown - at least 3 ft under water!

  14. Eddie Sheehy
    I've been in touch with my family and they're not too badly off, except my niece in Ennis has no electricity... Stay dry!
  15. Susanne
    I'm thinking that my former home town Clonakilty must be very badly hit... there's water everywhere there, that's usually one most charming thing about the place...
  16. KeithMcIsaac
    For learning tunes:

    Before joining this group I never really used ABC notation but now I'm using it for almost every tune. I'm using ABCNavigator. I like it because it'll display the standard notation, play the tune, and you can easily slow it down, loop sections and repeat sections. I find being able to loop and repeat tricky bits at reduced speed particularly handy. Also, it's free. I've been able to find multiple ABC's for EVERY tune I've looked for at JC's ABC Tune Finder.

    I also have TEFview for tab files but I've only used it for one tune so far and it's not as easy to use in my opinion. I like tab notation just fine and might use it more but my standard notation reading needs practice so I'm sticking to it right now.

    I also have a pile of books in standard notation. The handiest one for the tunes covered in this group has been "The Fiddler's Fakebook".

    To slow down actual audio tracks I use Winamp with The Pacemaker and Loopmaster add-ons. Together they let you slow down and loop MP3s. They work OK and it's free.

    For Video Recording:

    I just use my JVC Everio camcorder with its built in mic. I think I payed about $300.00 for it about a year ago. I didn't buy it with recording music in mind but rather for doing family videos. The quality is OK I guess. I don't really edit the videos much. When I do it's just to trim the length and I use the software that came with the camera and is really nothing special. Windows movie maker would work just as well I think. One thing I need to get though is a tripod so I don't have to keep putting the camera on stacks of books to get the correct field of view.

    Audio recording:

    I haven't really done much audio only recording. I have a Presonus Inspire 1394 firewire audio interface and a bad mic. I bought the interface a couple of years ago but haven't really used it much. It came with Cubase LE software but, again, I haven't used it enough to really comment on it.
  17. Susanne
    I used the Presonus interface before I lost the Cubase CD I was very happy with it, it worked nicely and was easy to use. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a good soundcard that doesn't cost too much.
  18. CelticDude
    Question for those who multi-track by recording a backup, then play it while video recording yourself playing the melody: do you find that you need to turn the backup tracks up a lot to get them heard on camera? I did, and found it very tough to play to that way. Is syncing the sound track to a video especially hard?
  19. OldSausage
    Well, I have done it that way, and I think it's very difficult to play well if the backing is too loud. Syncing the sound track to a video is easy especially if you give yourself a signal to work from - visibly loudly tapping the instrument or desk gives you an audio-visual cue, and is easier to manage than a real clapperboard.
  20. SteveJ
    For slowing down audio : Amazing Slow Downer
    For Entry : ABCedit and Various abc command line tools

    Recording audio:
    Audacity (Can be used to slow a tune down also).

    How I learn a new tune
    I look around for an ABC file that I like. I will play through all the versions a couple of times (I'm pretty good at sight reading). I will enter the chords into Band in a Box to practice. Then I will look around for a recorded version I want to transcribe to be posted. I am on the lookout for interesting riffs or interpretations. Alot of times I will just transcribe something someone played here or mix someones A parts with another B. I can't play mandolin by ear yet but I haven't been playing that long (under 2 years). Eventually think I will be able to because I can already play Trumpet and Flute by ear.
  21. Don Grieser
    Don Grieser
    Transcribing: I use Transcribe! to slow down mp3s/audio and QuickTime to slow down videos.

    Recording Videos for YouTube: I just use the webcam/mic built into my MacBook Pro. I record into iMovie and export from there.

    ABCs & Learning Tunes: I have BarFly for abc's and the full TEF. When I learn a tune, I like to hear versions of the tune. Then I use a written version and see how that compares to what I've been listening to. Sometimes I'll learn a note for note version by one of the masters to see their approach to the tune. Sometimes I'll just take a written version of a tune and come up with something that fits the way I play.

    MultiTrack: I have both Reaper and Logic Express. Since Reaper is not as fully developed for the Mac, I've been using Logic Express more often these days. I do like the sound of the plugins better in Logic Express. I have an Apogee Duet firewire interface that sounds wonderful and a few nice mics.
  22. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Step-by-step procedure as I do it:

    1 - Convert ABC to standard notation on the concertina website. Since I learned to play violin from notation as a boy, this comes natural.

    2 - Practise the basic melody slowly, ignoring any ornaments in the notation, until I can do it without the notation. This is the big step into celtic tradition (rule #1: nothing is written down). Now I have a slow raw version.

    3 - Replace sequences of notes by double stops or delete notes where it enables speed-up while leaving the character of the tune intact. Try adding hammer-ons. The objectives are 1. to make it session-worthy (I must be able to play it fast and loud) and 2. to emphasize what the OM is good at.

    4 - Practise until the playing is sure and reliable.

    5 - Pick a quiet time (no people inadvertently gatecrashing the recording session) and record: Mac Mini with an IceCam + IceCam recording software and a pair of Soundman natural head mics + iMic adapter. Do not imagine Barb watching this (in fact, better not imagine anything at all). Repeat until a satisfactory version is obtained. There is a big uncompressed .mov file now I can check with Quicktime.

    6 - Start the Xilisoft video converter and make a .avi file that is quite robust against YouTube compression.

    7 - Upload the .avi to YouTube
  23. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Hey, Betram, it's nice to know I've got a mention in your process... even if it's NOT imagining me! HAHAH
  24. GTG
    Looks like John Kelly and I use a lot of similar stuff.

    For the purposes of this group, I've done virtually no editing whatsoever - just recorded video using a cheap webcam and the software it came with, and cut to length. I've started dabbling quite a bit with home recording using Reaper on an XP machine (just as good as the high-priced software, and only $60 for a license (can demo for 30 days for free), with excellent support), and also have an Edirol UA-25EX interface. Acoustic mando sounds great through the K&K Silver Bullet, plugged into the interface. I do MIDI with a classic '80s synthesizer, a Yamaha DX7s, which is good fun for bass lines and such, although it's easier to sound like a dance club than an acoustic anything. The Mann EM5 emando goes through a Boss GT-10 effects processor and then into a Fender Pro Jr tube amp. I still need to get a good recording mic for the amp...
    Lots of fun toys there. One of these days I'll actually combine the grainy webcam images with a nice edited audio file.
  25. Kyle Baker
    Kyle Baker
    I use Tabledit for my .abc files to learn some harder tunes, otherwise I use my ear.
    I record using a program that came on my laptop called Cyberlink YouCam. The Mic sucks on my laptop, so I got a CAD u3 USB condenser mic. It works great, but the house has to be dead quiet or the mic will pick up everything.
    Then I do my small editing with windows movie maker.
  26. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Ok, I've got a question. I use the free TefView to read the Tef files from mandozine. Once I figured out how to adjust the settings to my liking, it's a great way to print out notation (I guess in addition to TAB, but I use notation), and it's also good to use the slowdown playback ability when learning tricky tunes.

    But, I haven't explored any further. What I'd like to know is if it's possible (if so, with what program), to copy and paste the ABC I find, into a TEF program, so that, not only can I print out the notation (which I can do using concertina.net), but also, so that I could utilize the slowdown playback function? Most tunes, I can do just fine with finding ABC, copying and pasting into the concertina.net covert-a-tron, and printing out the notation for my binder. But, some really difficult tunes, it really is handy to slow them down, and playback ad nauseum, till I've got the tricky parts!
  27. chrisblack
    Barbara - I'd try using ABC Navigator - you can paste in tunes and play them back at varying speeds - loop particular sections of the tune etc...

  28. dj coffey
    dj coffey
    I use a Mac - Snow Leopard has Quicktime X which lets you record audio/video. My video is a Blue Eyeball (not sure I entirely like it, but it does the trick).

    For slow down software, I have Amazing X, but only use it if I'm dying to learn something and notation is not available. On the other hand, I would really like to improve my ability to play by ear and integrate some of the cool things other people do with their tunes, so I guess I'll have to get back to it!

    For more ambitious stuff, which I'm just really getting into doing, I have Logic Express and a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the Pachelbel Canon featuring me on all parts (feels so narcissistic, but kindof fun) using that set up. That is really my first attempt at something like that.
  29. TDMpicker

    If you buy the full version of TabEdit is allow you to import ABC files (and other formats) and then
    fully manipulate them like you do a tef file. This is what I have been using when you post an ABC file. The full version has some other nice features as well over the free viewer.
  30. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Ok, I've got a question for Mac users. I am using garageband, photobooth & imovie (came with my imac) I've recorded multitracks on garage band, and have a usable rendition. If I want to end up with a video, that I upload to youtube, what is the best way? I've done one, and I videoed myself playing along to the garageband created tune, then I edited the video in imovie, then I imported the movie into garage band, and muted the audio from the movie, and tried to sync the audio and video up. I didn't know if importing the garageband audio into the imovie maker would work.....
  31. dj coffey
    dj coffey
    I've not tried it yet, but a quick google on "importing external audio into imovie" comes up with this:

    External Audio File

    In iMovie, go to File > Import.
    Browse to the audio file that you would like to insert and click Open.
    Select the sound clip in the Timeline and drag it to frame you want it to play at.

    Not sure iMovie can cope with a Garageband project itself - you may have to export the audio to some other format (MP3...)
  32. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Well, I just made another movie.... instead of trying to sync video of me playing, I opted to take the garage tune project, import it into imovie, then I just used photos from my vacations this fall. Added some titles and transitions..... I'm uploading it to YouTube now, and will post it shortly. Not enough time right now to see about doing an actual video... I need to start packing for my trip to Texas!
  33. Eddie Sheehy
    I download the ABC - usually from TheSession.org - into ABCNavigator and print off the Notation. I then transpose the Notation by hand into Tonic Solfa (d,r,m,f,s,l,t,d) humming the tune as I transcribe. If it sounds strange I listen to the midi or whatever has been already posted. I sometimes will check out the Tab for fingering. I then practice the tune while memorizing the notes. Since I store it in my memory as Tonic Solfa the tune is now key-independent and I can easily play it in a key other than it was written if the fingering is awkward. Sometimes I'll run a tune through on a tinwhistle to work out intricate phrasing. For recording and video I use I-suck - this is a utility which lists all the I software that I don't have - which is just about everything. Actually I use a Sony digital camera to record usually in one take. I offload the vid to my PC and use the supplied software to trim the start and end - it doesn't allow for merging and cutting. If I have more than one tune in a single take I can cut one of them and save it off then repeat the process for the other ones... I sometimes use Roxio to join two tunes together. I have no software or hardware to record multiple instruments - though I wish I had since I have a lot of instruments...
  34. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Yes, Eddie, you DO have a lot of instruments! And we love hearing them all!
  35. joni24
    Hi, I'm new to this group, just found this excellent discussion. Since the above replies are all 4+ years old, I'm wondering if technology has brought some new programs and tools to the forefront. I'm specifically looking for good (and low cost) video editing tools. Currently I am testing out recording with my iPhone and then uploading to my Windows 8 laptop. Would love to be able to add titles, fadeouts, selective cutting and merging like most of you can do!
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