Frequently Asked
Questions


Q. How do you create your music? You must have a huge studio. Do you use real musicians?

A. I actually work from a very small space, because all of the instruments and outboard sound equipment live inside a computer. I physically use a midi-controller keyboard, the computer keyboard and the mouse, a volume pedal and piano sustain pedal.

I use software known as a digital audio workstation, and record my performances on the midi controller keyboard, along with the pedals and modulation wheel, pitch bend wheel, etc. I record each track individually and can alter my performances after it's been recorded if necessary. Then I mix all of the tracks together into a stereo file, ready to listen to or download.



Q. How do you get your violins and other instruments to sound so real?

A. The sounds I use are actual samples of real instruments. By samples, I mean notes. Someone has played a note on an instrument, and by pressing the correct key, I play it back. But the source of those sampled notes is important.

For example, the violin sound you hear on my recordings comes from a famous violin, the Vesuvius, built by Antonio Stradivari in 1727. The sounds were recorded in the rich acoustic environment of Auditorium Giovanni Arvedi, Cremona. Chromatically sampled notes, phase-aligned velocity crossfades, performance-captured vibrato, a wealth of articulations, and mixable mic positions enable me to produce highly expressive, realistic violin and cello sounds in my recordings.

The video below comes from the provider of this virtual instrument, and explains in detail how they came about recording this amazing instrument which I now use as my violin of choice.


If video won't play, click the link to view on youTube.

Q. I heard parts that were clearly not played on a keyboard. The girl singing on 'The Meadow' was obviously not played by you, but sung by someone. How many other people's performances do you use?

A. I never use other people's performances, and yes, the young woman's voice on that track was played by me. She sang only single notes in a studio, and it was provided as a digital 'instrument', which I played via a keyboard. I chose the notes, created the melody, and therefore made her 'sing'.

Here is a brief video demonstration of how I created that vocal track...


If video won't play, click the link to view on youTube.

Q. You call yourself 'BowLord', yet I don't think you would know what to do with a real violin or cello. How do you expect people to take you seriously if you only press buttons and someone else's recordings are played?

A. I don't 'press buttons' to create violin or cello parts, and I would never use someone else's performance. I play each note on a keyboard, including the velocity in which each note is played, how the pitch-bend wheel is set, and by moving the expression wheel to recreate the sound of a bow being pushed harder or lighter against the strings. Even such subtle elements such as vibrato are contolled by me.

Here is a little video to compare Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G as played on keyboard by me, and as played on a real cello by Yo Yo Ma...


If video won't play, click the link to view on youTube.

Q. I heard choir voices near the end of 'Epicland' that are clearly singing something. How is that even possible on a keyboard?

A. These digital 'instruments' have come a long way. To answer your question, the developer provided a built-in sequencer so that you could choose syllables for the choir voices to sing. Each time you press a key or a chord, not only is the associated note played, or 'sung', but the next syllable in line will cause that note or chord to be 'pronounced' that way.

This video will demonstrate...


If video won't play, click the link to view on youTube.

Q. Where does the background music come from when you play cello or violin? Are those background tracks you purchase?

A. I play every note you hear, including all background instruments. I will start by recording the first track, then while listening to it, I'll record the next instrument until all the tracks are ready to be mixed down.

The recording software permits me to delete or change tracks or parts of tracks until I am happy with the results.

This video will demonstrate...


If video won't play, click the link to view on youTube.

Q. You must have an amazing keyboard. What brand is it? I'd like to be able to create the same sounds.

A. I'm actually using a relatively inexpensive midi-controller. It sends messages into the computer such as which note I am playing, how hard I have pressed the keys, and whether I am using the control or pitch wheels, etc. The keyboard itself creates no sound at all.

From there, the computer uses this information to play whatever sound I have it set to play. For example, if I have it set for a piano, you will then hear an actual piano where each note was digitally recorded, yet I have to play each note back by playing on the keyboard. The software also records my performance and I can add tracks to it, which is how I create my music.

The sounds you hear are called 'virtual instruments' and are purchased to be used with my recording software, whether it's a piano, a drum kit, a human voice or a symphony orchestra.



Q. Do you get writer's block? How do you constantly come up with new melodies? Is there a process you use that I can learn from?

A. I usually hear a little melody in my head, usually just single notes playing a simple tune. This sometimes happens as I awaken, as there is more contact with the subconsious mind when we are in between being awake and asleep.

Once at the computer, I will record these simple notes with a piano or similar instrument, just so I don't forget the tune. Often, while I do that, I hear variations in the melody, or it continues past what I began with. I will continue recording these additional parts as well.

By now, I often imagine the instrumentation and may add symphonic instruments, or replace the piano with another instrument. This is when the actual piece of music begins to develop. I will continue until I have a finished piece of music. The entire process often takes place in just hours, or it may take days. Sometimes after listening and working on improvements, I'll just delete the whole thing if it's not up to my standards.