New cover song online: I’ll make a man out of you

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Hey all,

I’ve uploaded a new cover song!

This one is a bit special – I fell in love with this song because of Peter Hollens’ cover (check it out here). After watching the actual movie with my boyfriend, this became sort of “our” song. (Yup – not your regular romantic love song!) So this one is for you, Paul!

 

Cover of “I’ll make a man out of you” from the Disney film Mulan.

Music and lyrics by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel.
Original song performed by Donny Osmond.
Cover performance and production by Charlotte Bax.

Special thanks:
• Peter Hollens for inspiring me to do this cover;
• My love Paul for infinitely humming this at home and making me laugh every single time you scream “moon”;
• Friedemann Findeisen for giving me some mixing tips on my previous cover, that I could immediately put to use in this song 🙂

I’m open for musical collaborations, just shoot me a message 🙂

Photo by Marije Leferink.

That awkward Christmas dinner music business conversation

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That awkward Christmas dinner music business conversation • CharlotteBax.nl

So, it’s Christmas. And I thought it would be fun to schedule this post 2 days early, so you have something to read when you flee to the toilet to have just 5 minutes to yourself. (Man, I really sound like I hate Christmas now…)

Come on, you know just as well as I do that I’ve written and scheduled this blog post days ago, because who wants to sit in front of a laptop when you can stuff your face with too much food and hot chocolate while listening Christmas songs? (See, it’s not *all* hate! I do love some parts of it!)

And at the moment of writing, I sure as hell know that I will have that awkward Christmas dinner conversation at least once. Some random family member I haven’t seen in a while asking about me and my music, in such a way that you just know they are expecting interesting stories and big name dropping and newspaper reviews of your latest premiere and pictures of dozens of award ceremonies and shit.

This is not reality. Only for the best 1% or so. The guys who dedicate their life to music and work more than 12 hours a day. Me not so. I prefer to have some kind of social life. Eating Christmas dinner at a dinner table instead of a mixing table. And I have a very lovely boyfriend who likes the fact that I sleep at home every night and not on the couch in the studio because I worked way too late.

It all started when I went to the conservatorium to study. Everyone and their mums and nanas wants to know how that works and what you’re doing. So the classic conversation went a bit like the following:

“So what do you study?”

Me: “I study MediaMusic at the conservatorium in Enschede. Composition, music production, songwriting and sound effects.”

“Oohhh conservatorium!” [I know that word! But I didn’t listen to everything else you said.] “That’s music, right? You must be very gifted! So what instrument do you play?”

Me: “I don’t do any instrument, I study composition: I write and record music.”

“So with real notes! Do you write it all by yourself? That must be very difficult!”

Me: [Kind of fed up with the whole conversation already] “No, I copy Beethoven and then I sign with my own name.”

*awkward silence*

Every Christmas, every birthday party, every family gathering or party that was sort of “sitting in a circle, eating snacks and cake and talking to the people next to you” was like this. And the music business conversation hasn’t much changed since I graduated:

“So how’s music lately? Do you have a job already?”

Me: “I’m self-employed. An entrepreneur. There’s not really 9 to 5 jobs for a composer. I produce music and sell that on a stock music website called AudioJungle where people can buy it to use for their film or game project. I also have some income from advertisements on my blog and occasionally a commissioned piece of music. But business is slow: people have to get to know you exist. But that’s the startup phase, you can’t expect to earn a full-time salary in only a short time when you’re working in such a niche. It’s gradually improving though.”

“So what do you do all day?”

Me: “Well, basically everything I do is computer work, not really interesting. And then once in a while I try some chords on the piano. Or someone comes over to record a part. And of course some paperwork because that comes with every job.”

*disappointed face*

I guess people don’t really get how much the idea of work and income has changed since the digital era. Even I would never have thought I’d make my money on the internet by selling stock music and writing some blogs and selling ad space, this kind of thing just didn’t exist a decade ago! And you can’t expect people suddenly to know everything about these new jobs gradually appearing with improving technology and communications.

But what I DO find annoying, is that most people still have VERY old-fashioned ideas of working in the music (or any creative) industry. They all think it’s sitting at an ancient grand piano being a virtuoso writing symphonies with a quill on parchment. Going door to door from orchestra to orchestra to sell your new quirky and modern piece of music that nobody actually want to listen to (only the reviewers). Like all composers are stuck in the 1800s.

It’s kind of tiresome. But not all bad. It at least inspired me to write this blog post 😉

 

Do you have this kind of conversations with relatives or family friends you don’t see that often? Share them in the comment section, I love a good laugh! 😀


Disclaimer: The official term for the figure of speech used above is “rant”. It is meant as a satyrical and slightly sarcastic way of putting some thoughts and emotions in perspective, hopefully to the mere enjoyment of the reader.

How to layer ambients and make them loop seamlessly in 6 steps

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How to layer ambient sounds and make them loop seamlessly all on 6 steps • CharlotteBax.nl

 

I love recording ambients. When I’m at a new place, I ALWAYS listen to how it sounds – preferably when it’s silent. Okay, it’s never *truly* silent – even when there are no noisy humans around (and even that could be an interesting ambient sound) there’s always some kind of sound.

For instance, when I started working at a bar, I noticed how it sounded when there wasn’t a party going on. No people. No music. Just the airconditioning, the fridges and some humming from appliances in the background when you turned them on.

Sometimes, you instantly have the perfect sound. Other times, it’s not really interesting on it’s own, or you need to layer some of your recordings for this or some other project.

It’s just like layering sandwich toppings, to be honest: cheese on it’s own is a bit boring, and neither does ham or ketchup. But when you combine all 3 flavours, you’re in for a nice lunch!

What do you need for ambient layering?

Seriously, there’s not much you need for layering sounds:

  • Ambient loops with parts you like. And then I’m not talking beginning/middle/end, but low/medium/high frequencies.
  • A sound editor that lets you cut sound files, and has a fade function and an equalizer. Audacity for example should work just fine. I use Logic Pro because I already have it.
  • The ability to distinguish low sounds from high sounds.

So how do you layer ambients?

1 – Choosing your basis

Chances are there is a sound that’s more or less what you’re looking for. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s almost there! Let’s use that sound as our base layer.

Always make sure you work with the best quality audio possible. You can always reduce file size (and thus quality), but you can never add it.

Also, in this tutorial, the sound files you start out with, don’t necessarily need to be looping sounds. Just mak sure they are lengthy enough to loop them in the end.

2 – Listen

Play the sound and listen carefully. What is it you love in the sound? Is it the rumbling bass, or the screechy high parts? And what is your sound lacking?

3 – Search for complementing sounds

When you have decided what your base sound is lacking, go search for sounds that precisely fill in that need. Drag them into your sound editor and line them up with the beginning of your first layer.

4 – Some basic EQ-ing

Of course there are parts of your complementing sound layers you don’t need, or that clash with your original sound, for example more or different low frequencies. Put an equalizer (EQ) on each channel and use the high and low shelf functions to reduce some of these frequencies.

Sometimes you can be quite rigid and really cut out the entire bass or treble section, but more often than not, you have to be a bit more careful and just make them less loud.

5 – Choose your length

How long should your ambient loop be? More than 2 minutes is often unnecessary. Sometimes one of the sounds is a bit shorter. That’s okay, you can make a shorter loop. Cut your layered tracks all on exactly the same length.

6 – Loop it!

How to layer ambients and make them loop seamlessly in 6 steps • tutorial by CharlotteBax.nl

Okay, now this is a bit difficult to explain, so I made a little drawing for you, which makes it easier to understand. You have to cut off a section at the end and drag it to the beginning. (And don’t worry, for multiple layers it works exactly the same.)

First add fade outs to the cut off sections: loud at the beginning, staying loud, still staying loud, and then quickly but smoothly turning silent.

Then add fade ins to the original longer sections. Don’t let them stay (visually) linear, but let them have a little downward curve in the middle. The end of the longer section will remain untouched.

Now play your creation on loop mode and check if the end loops seamlessly into the beginning. If the beginning sounds like it is raising or declining in volume, fiddle a bit with the “dip” of the fade in section.

 

 

It’s my birthday, so you’re in for a treat! – Free sheet music download

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It's my birthday, so you're in for a treat! Free sheet music dowload (limited) • CharlotteBax.nl

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday, happy birthday,
Happy birthday to me!

Today it’s my birthday! Whoop! I’m 26 already! (But sometimes I still feel more like 6 😉 )

No blog post today, because I’m way too busy with eating birthday cake, unwrapping presents, having dinner at a nice restaurant with my parents and drinking craft beer (probably). That’s all very demanding in energy, so hey, cut me some slack!

BUT…

Of course I have a little treat for you.

Years and years ago, my sister played in a folk band. They played all kinds of music, from Irish folk to balkan music, Yiddish dances and much more. One song was so beautiful, it stuck in my head and never left: She’s Like The Swallow – a sad lovesong.

I’ve always wanted to make my own harmonic arrangement, and for you I made this sweet SATB version!

This donwload is not available for free anymore. You can buy it in the webshop!

This download will only be online for the remainder of August, so grab it while you can! If you’d like to receive more of these goodies in the future, just sign up for my newsletter.

I hope you fall just as much in love with this melody as I did. Enjoy!

 

My encounter with the worst kind of hater ever

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My encounter with the worst kind of hater EVER • CharlotteBax.nl

When you’re trying to accomplish something, you’re bound to run into some people who don’t like you or what you’re doing.

Some of them have some good advice that is actually useful, some have a different taste in music and just really want you to know that your music is actually nothing like that, and then there are downright haters, who just want to make someone feel bad about themselves without any reason at all.

During my Platonica crowdfunding campaign I’ve experienced some of this myself as well. There were friends who just were very polite and said they weren’t into my kind of music, but wished me lot of success. On the other hand, I’ve met probably the worst kind of hater possible.

We all know the kind of hater that just writes ugly words in the comment section of your Youtube videos about how your music sucks and that they did dirty things with your mom. We all know these guys are just pathetic losers who have nothing better to do with their life, right?

Well, I met a hater of a totally different caliber. It was on a music related forum, and it started out with a polite personal message: He noticed that I didn’t gather many funds for my project, and offered some advice. Sure, I’d love some honest and useful critiques and a great conversation with someone.

What I got back, was a total massacre. The message was even lengthier than my regular blog posts and started with a paragraph in which he told his true intentions: not to critique me, but to burn me down to the ground. I haven’t read the message fully, just scanned it.

It hurt.

At some points he may have been right – however this was my first campaign ever, and sure, I was bound to make some rookie mistakes. But those few point were buried in so much hate speech, so much unnecessary verbal diarrhea about how bad the name and concept of Platonica were, because he thinks platonic love is boring, so much ignorant speech about the costs of producing albums… Yes, if you are a songwriter with just your guitar or produce electronic music, then maybe you can pull of a €1000 attic room production. But not when you work with lots of other real people, who just like any other person need to be paid for their work. If he’d read the story he’d know what all the money was for.

And yes, I cried. Even though I knew – I rationally knew – he was just a stupid hater that knew nothing about me or my project, I cried. It felt so bad – someone who offered help, useful feedback, and then just wrote hundreds and hundreds of words of hatespeech…

It doesn’t matter if it is someone familiar or some total stranger. It doesn’t matter if it are just a few words or pages full of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your face or on the internet – hatred hurts. Especially when someone just tramples your dream, something you work really hard for to get going.

And deep down you know it’s all bullshit you shouldn’t care about. You know they don’t know better. But at that moment, it hurts.

Whenever you find yourself in such a situation, just cry. Cry it all out. And then go back you what you were doing. YOU love what you are doing, and so do countless other people! Never let those few haters control your mind, or what you want to do most in life.

Cry for a few minutes. Share your story with someone to get the load off of your chest. And then get over it. Just like me.

Have you as an artist / creative ever encountered haters? Spit it all out in the comment section!

 

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