Towards the end of last year I decided to try out a demo version of Steinberg’s Dorico Notation Software, as I had heard great things about it from some of my friends at Chigiana. I loved it so much that I bought a full version once the demo expired. How I wish that I had been able to use it while I was in Berklee’s program. It’s so much more enjoyable to work with than Finale, on so many levels. 

While I found some great tutorials on YouTube and Groove3, it wasn’t the same as doing a real project, from start to finish. For this I chose to create a project that would combine a few things I had been wanting to do for a while. 

First, notate a full orchestral score in Dorico, while using Note Performer (which I hadn’t really used yet). Secondly, analyze and recreate some of the scores in composer Ryan Lynch’s “10 ESSENTIAL Orchestral Scores You Need To Study” list. For this project I chose to focus on Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G minor.  

Based on the original score found on IMSLP, here is the version that I created (first five minutes of the piece):

And here is the audio via Note Performer (and some processing in Logic using UAD’s Studer A800, SSL G Bus Compressor, Fairchild 770, and Ozone 9): 

Below is the analysis that I put together, based on Ryan Lynch’s template:

Overall, I really enjoyed this project as it helped me to get more familiar with Dorico while giving me an even deeper appreciation of just how great Mozart’s music is. Just amazing!


I was working on putting together a new orchestral template last night and realized that I was maxing out my system’s CPU and RAM. This file was bringing my entire system to a crawl. It was late so I decided to go to sleep and come back to it the next day.

After waking up, I still felt a bit defeated and bummed out that I wouldn’t be able to use all the cool things that I put into this new template. I started to think of how I could salvage the work I had done in the way of alternative workflows. I enlisted my wife in an impromptu brainstorming session and she started asking me questions about the need for this type of template and what it would provide. I then described the time it would save and how I might consider having different versions of the template for different phases of production (e.g. a version with ensemble patches for general writing, fuller version with individual instrument parts & limited articulations and another version for mixing).

Then something that I had completely forgot about occurred to me: Freeze Tracks. I wasn’t sure if my plug-in supported this functionality so I rushed to my computer and opened the massive file to find out. To my relief and astonishment, it worked!

I’m so stoked as this will most likely be my go-to file for the next year or more. Should be a huge time saver, allowing me to get right to work on ideas, not having to build a project file up every time that I want to do something with orchestral instrumentation in it.

Thanks for being awesome (again), Logic/Apple!

For anyone interested, here’s the template file that I put together:

Is This Thing Live?

I had been wanting to get more familiar with Ableton Live for quite a while and the 2019 Spring Concert was the perfect opportunity to do just that. While I love Logic Pro X for writing and production, I was intrigued by the idea of the scene based approach Live has for performance and wanted to see what I could do with it. 

Fortunately I found this excellent tutorial on Groove3: It got me up to speed really quickly and before I knew it I was putting together the entire concert in Live.

I found Live to be a pretty straight forward (but deep) and well thought out application. It’s feels “fluid” in it’s workflow and very robust. I am looking forward to using it more in the future, particularly for coordinating music with visuals. Thanks Ableton!  


I’ve been a Logic Pro X user for a few years now. Previously, I was a sworn Pro Tools devotee for years (in large part due to the amazing time I had working at Digidesign in the late 90’s). While the earlier versions of Logic felt anything but logical to me, I have really come to love the latest versions of Logic Pro X. I feel it’s a fantastic app for writing and production.

I love the layout, signal flow/routing, EQs, compressors, virtual instruments (especially Drummer), arrangement tracks, comp tracks, extensive MIDI and audio editing tools, Flex editing and (for the most part) Smart Tempo.

Now, I still have a few pet peeve’s here and there. One being that Smart Tempo doesn’t always do what you think it should with odd time signatures. Try to get the session time signature of 6/8 onto newly recorded tracks… Smart Tempo defaults to 4/4 and converting & getting everything to sync up can be a chore. Aside from that, most issues I’ve had were easily solved with a quick Google search.

I recently realized how much I enjoy working with Logic Pro X as I was preparing for the 2019 Spring Equinox Concert and album. Thanks Apple!


Absolutely love the sounds I can get out of Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere. Fat synth basses, warm pads, beautiful textures, fantastic rhythms from it’s arpeggiator, extensive synthesis editing and signal processing. With over 14,000 built-in sounds, audio import/processing, 500+ synth oscillator waveforms, wavetable synthesis, granular synthesis, 57 effect processors, FM/Ring modulation, 34 filter algorithms, performance mode (stacked or layering), 20 oscillators and 8 LFOs per patch, 12 envelopes and substantial HW synth integration it really does feel pretty limitless.

That being said, Omnisphere seems like a bit of a memory hog. It crashed a number of times when using it within Logic Pro X (crash logs submitted). It’s a bummer when it happens but to be fair it appears to be due to switching between Logic files that have a lot of other plug-ins instantiated as well.

I found a really useful course on that helped me get up to speed using it just in time for the Spring Equinox concert and album: Learning Omnisphere 2.

If you want to add an amazing sounding software synth to your set up then this is it!


I’ve owned Native Instruments’ Battery for a few years now and hadn’t done much with it until recently. Partially because it was bundled with NI Komplete and I wasn’t really sure how it worked. But also due to the preconception I had that it was mainly for electronic/dance music and wouldn’t suit what I was trying to do. Then I stumbled onto this course on Learning Battery 4 and it made perfect sense to me. I began to think about how I could use it on my songs.

It’s a fantastic plug-in that allows you create custom kits either using your own samples or from a large built-in library of instruments. It also has extensive editing, routing and processing options.

I ended up using Battery on a couple of the tracks for the Equinox Album – “Dew Drop” and “Frost”. One thing I loved doing was taking Drum MIDI files from Superior Drummer and pumping them into one of the kit presets in Battery like “Telefon Tel Aviv Kit”. This gave a humanistic style of playing to a drum machine sounding kit. Really great!

Superiority Complex

I’ve had Superior Drummer for about 10 months now and I have to say it’s quite an impressive piece of software. Actually, it feels like the type of virtual instrument/drum library that I imagined having way back in 1999. That being said, it’s a deep and powerful program that can be intimidating at first, making it hard to feel comfortable with.

While I used it on a few projects (“On and On”“Lost Thoughts”, “Nets”) it wasn’t until the the Spring Equinox Album that I really got to know it well. This is in large part due to a fantastic tutorial on Groove 3 that Luke Oswald put together: “Superior Drummer 3 Explained”.

The course is very thorough, clear and well produced. It not only helped me to understand the ins & outs of the software but to also appreciate how superior it truly is when compared to other virtual instruments I’ve worked with in the past.

It has fantastically recorded samples of a wide variety of kits with close/overhead/room/ambient/bleed/surround mic options. Extensive editing power for custom tailored sound design, getting instruments just the way you want them. A great groove library with excellent search and “Tap 2 Find” functionality (which I love) with a powerful grid editor. It’s fully extensible for additional sample and/or drum MIDI libraries. Has a built in mixer with extensive routing options, great sounding effects and excellent sounding presets (personal favorite is “Ludwig Classic Default”). All this makes it super easy to bring up a great sounding drum track rather quickly.

Even though I don’t see myself using Superior Drummer on everything I do I’m really glad to have it available to me.

Thanks Luke Oswald, Toontrack and Groove3!

Guitar Toolkit

I really like this app. I’ve had it on my phone for years and work with it almost every day. It’s well thought out and pretty extensive in it’s feature set (tuner, metronome, chord/scale/arpeggio libraries).

While I mainly use it as a metronome I love the chord finder functionality. Just select the notes of the chord you are playing on the virtual fretboard and the app will tell you the chord name(s) that it can be. This was something that I had wanted for a long time and it’s now on my phone. Super useful!

What a Rig!

As much as I love my tube amps they just aren’t practical to record with at all hours of the day and night, so I’m super glad to have Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig to get my ideas down. I particularly like the “Country” presets for clean parts, “Dual Vintage” or “Massive Wall of Rock” for crunchy rhythms and “Eric John Son in Manhatten” or “God’s Love” for leads.


I’ve been using this app “Capo” as part of my “Hearing and Writing” transcription assignments. A bit pricy but works really well for what I need. In addition to being able to slow things down while maintaining pitch and spectrogram analysis, I particularly like being able to navigate forwards and backwards in a song using key commands so that I can really zero in on a passage without having to look at the screen.