Mike Robinson Land

Free recording software… Audacity vs Reaper

Posted in Recording Talk by mikerobinsonland on December 13, 2009
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Ok so you want to do some digital recording but don’t have the money to buy pro tools or other costly DAW. Well check out these two programs that wont cost you a thing.


If you want to record something as simple as possible, check out Audacity. There really isn’t any learning curve at all.

Its audio engine is pretty good.

You can multi track however it can be a pain to do. If multi tracking is what your planing on doing i suggest you look else were.

Audacity does not support MIDI.

You cant really complain much about this program since it is completely free.

Supported by Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux

Download can be found here



Reaper is a shareware program developed by the same guys that made win amp. Reaper asks for $40 at the end of its trail period, however it will stay operational even if no money is payed.

Reaper is better then audacity at multi tracking. Its audio engine is on par or close to par as the big boys. It also supports a lot of plugins.

Reaper is vary stable. The software designers frequent the Reaper forums and provide code updates as soon as a problem is encountered.

Reaper does support MIDI however it isn’t extremely great at it. Its good enough to get your feet wet though.

There is a bit of a learning curve to master the program.

I highly recommend this program.

Supported by Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows

Downloads can be found here.



Cadence rules… What chords sound good after another?

Posted in Music Theory by mikerobinsonland on December 9, 2009
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So know you know how chords are formed. You also know how chords are modified to fit diatonicly within a giving key. Now you might want to know the next step to creating your own chord progressions…Well then you should know about cadence rules.

Cadences rules are basically a guideline as to what chords should good after another. Remember though this is just a guideline. My motto is if it sound good well that’s all that matters.

So let get on with it…keeping it simple in the key of C.

I ii iii IV V vi vii

C Dm Em F G Am Bm

Ok  say your on a chord where can you go next…

I chord can go to any

ii chord can go to any except I

iii chord can go to any except I or vii

IV chord can go to any

V chord can go to any except ii and vii

vi chord can go to any except I and vii

vii chord can go to any except ii and IV

Pretty short one today… untill next time



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How are chord progressions formed?…Harmonizing a scale

Posted in Music Theory by mikerobinsonland on December 7, 2009
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So now you know how to build basic Triads, you might ask how do we build chord progressions. It really is just as simple.

First you need to decided what key you want the progression to be in. What parent scale you uses depends on what key you decided to choice.

Diatonic– Means basically to stay with in the bounds of a parent scale. So if your playing in the key of C the only notes that are diatonic are C,D,E,F,G,A and B.

To keep things simple lets build a progression in the key of C.

When learning how to build major triads we took the Root, the 3rd and the 5th. We practice the same thing here, only when building progressions we use the same parent scale for every chord to stay diatonic to the key. This process is called harmonizing the scale.

Here is the C major scale…

-The first chord we take the Root, 3rd, and the 5th

C D    E F    G A    B

We are left with a C major C, E, G. We call this the I chord

-Next we build the II chord…same process only we are starting with the D.


II chord= D minor D,F,A

-III chord…same thing again starting with the E.

C    D E F G A B

II chord= E minor E,G,B

-IV chord

C D    E F G A B

III chord= F major F,A,C

-V chord

C    D E    F    G A    B

V chord= G major G,B,D

See its not that hard… Two more left.

-VI chord

C D E F    G A B

VI chord= A minor A,C,E

-VII chord

C    D E    F G    A     B

VII chord= B major B,D,F

So to play diatonicly in the Key of C we use the following chords

I= C major C, E, G

ii=D minor D,F,A

iii=E minor E,G,B

IV=F major F,A,C

V=G major G,B,D

vi=A minor A,C,E

vii=B major B,D,F

Notice im using lower case roman numerals now, for minor chords. This is a common notation to show a minor chord when talking about chord progressions.

This same process is used for all major keys. The outcome is always I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii

Try it in another key.

Coming soon Haromonising the minor scale and 7th chord harmony

How chords are made…Stacking 3rd’s

Posted in Music Theory by mikerobinsonland on December 6, 2009
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Want to know how chords are made? Well then this lesson on stacking 3rds might answer your questions.

Basic chords are called Triads.  A major triad is created when you take the Root the 3rd and the 5th intervals of a scale.

So to create a C major Triad we must first look at the C major scale.

C Major scale= C D E F G A B

We then take the ROOT which is a C

Next we take the 3rd, which is the 3rd note of the scale, in this case an E.

Finally we take the 5th note of the scale, which is a G

Play all three notes at the same time and you get a C major Triad.

Now lets do a G major triad. We will use the G major scale this time.

G Major scale= G A B C D E F#

We then take the ROOT which is a G

Next we take the 3rd, which is the 3rd note of the scale, in this case an B.

Finally we take the 5th note of the scale, which is a D

Play all three notes at the same time and you get a G major Triad.


But how are minor chords formed? Well that is just as simple.

With a major triad we used the Root, the 3rd and the 5th. The only difference with a minor triad is, we use a flat 3rd.

So you just take your 3rd note and drop it by a half step.

So our C major triad C,E,G                                  becomes C,Eb,G

A G major triad G,B,D                                           becomes G, Bb,D

That wasnt so hard was it?

Which DAW should i use?

Posted in Recording Talk by mikerobinsonland on December 6, 2009
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If your new to digital recording, you may be overwhelmed with the different choices in recording software out there.

Really the question isn’t “which is the best Digital Audio Workstation?” The question should be “which DAW is the best one me?”. Here i will do a comparison of some of the top DAW”s on the market.

First up

Apple Logic Studio

  • 192KHz/24 bit
  • No limit on tracks
  • Includes many other great programs with purchase (MainStage, WaveBurner, SoundTrack Pro 2… etc)
  • Opens OMF files
  • Mac program

Logic is a great all around program ,especially for the price. This DAW is packed full of plug -ins and virtual interments.

Logic is know to have some freezing problems.

Full install of Logic 8 requires 50+ gigs for all samples and libraries.

Logic is a perfect program for someone that wants to  make pro sounding music quickly  and without much hassle.

*Logic Pro screen Shot

Next up

Pro Tools

  • 96KHz/24 bit
  • Maximum of 18 inputs/18 outputs at a time
  • Max 32 voices (expandable to 48 tracks via Music Production Toolkit)
  • Includes very solid plug-ins, and 2 free VIs (Xpand and Structure Free)
  • With purchase, can upgrade to Factory Bundles, which include more and better plug-ins
  • Low Latency Monitoring Mode (disables plug-ins/sends on recording tracks)
  • will not open OMF/AAF files unless you purchase upgrade
  • Price includes interfaces with varying I/O depending on price
  • Compatible with both mac and PC

Pro tools has a high learning curve, compared to Logic. Although compatible with mac i have heard of problems with updates.

Pro Tools is great with recording and editing audio files. However it really lacks when it comes to MIDI work, although it is improving on that aspect with each new release.

Pro Tools is the industry standard when it comes to digital workstations. If you plan to work in the recording industry, and have the money, I would highly recommend Pro Tools.

*Pro Tools screen shot



  • 96KHz/24 bit
  • Tracks only limited by computer, and up to 96/24
  • Comes with 4 new instruments, and over 60 plug-ins
  • “Control Room” feature in the DAW lets your control monitor mixes and talkback
  • Professional Notation options (plus great MIDI editing)
  • Surround Sound support

Cubase is sometimes overlooked but it really is a good overall program. Decent audio editor very good Midi editor.

The learning curve isn’t to steep on this program and it is a ton of fun to play around with all the available VSTs.

If you plan on doing alot of MIDI editing then Cubase is the program for you. My personal favorite.

*Cubase 5 screen shot

Tips on buying your first electric guitar. pt1

Posted in Guitars,Newbies by mikerobinsonland on December 4, 2009
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With the recent popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I can only assume that there will be quite a few people hitting the stores for an electric guitar, this holiday shopping season.

A couple things to consider…


Music intending to play

Experience level

1. Buying an Amp

If you do chose to purchase a electric guitar you will also need to buy a guitar amp.  One thing i have learned over the years is a nice amp can make a crappy guitar sound good but a crappy amp will make a good guitar sound bad. However this isn’t the final word on budget allocation, only a something to consider. I plan on contradicting my lesson learned by recommending the opposite.

A good choice for a amp regardless of experience or preferred music style is a Vox Valvetronix. The valvetronix comes in a 15w, 30w, 50w and 100w. I recommend either the 15w or 30w for beginners. Know that if you do land on the 15w you might have problems playing over a drum kit.

The cool thing about the Valvetronix is it comes with 22 amp models ranging from the latest high-gain types to hard-to-find boutique and vintage amps. So all music genres are covered with this choice . Another great thing about this amp is that it comes with 12 built in guitar effects.

The new Vox Valvetronix’s run $265 for a 30w and $200 for a 15W

To save even more green, i defiantly recommend going used. I recently bought a 50W used at a Guitar Center for less then what a new 30w costs.

-Mike Robinson

In pt2 i will give you some guitar recommenations. Single coil vs Humbuckers.