Video – Counter Melody in 2 Steps

The video below demonstrates a quick and easy method to compose a counter melody.

Starting with a main melody, chord progression and bass line, to compose your counter melody do the following:

1. Find missing chord tones. Examine the melody and bass line to find any missing chord tones from each chord. If the current chord is a C (C E G), and the melody is playing a G (and then perhaps other non chord tones), and the bass is playing a C, the missing note is E. Use E as your counter melody note. Use a whole note or other long note for now. If the melody is playing multiple chord tones (perhaps both E and G) choose a chord tone to double. From the rules of harmony, it seems that the root (C) of the chord or the fifth (G) are the ones recommended to be doubled.

2. Add rhythm. Having worked out what starting notes to play for the counter melody, now consider the rhythm. The idea is to have the counter melody resting or holding a note while the main melody is busy, and have the counter melody busy while the main melody is holding a note or resting. Using a missing chord tone for the counter melody in step 1, was a starting point. To add rhythm to the counter melody, other notes from the key can be used to move form one chord tone to the next.

The above two steps are demonstrated in greater detail in the following video:

Write A Great COUNTER MELODY In Only 2 Steps – (by Ryan Leach)

Video Editor – Shotcut

To reach a wider audience, I upload my music to YouTube. To do that, I need to make a video to accompany my music. After using various other tools in the past and having done a lot of research and watching reviews and tutorials, about a year ago (2020) I started using Shotcut and have been doing so ever since. It’s free, has a helpful forum, plenty of YouTube tutorials and is under active development to keep improving it.

I’ve found it easy to use for slide show style videos, merging video clips and for an unintended application: cartoon-cutout-style animation. Any video I’ve made since July 2020 has been made with Shotcut.

See my Shotcut videos here: Virtual Playing YouTube Channel


Pirate Chase
by Paul Battersby

A short digital cutout style animation of two pirate ships chasing each other around the world featuring an original composition made specifically for the video.

Sea shanties are apparently popular at the moment so that gave me the idea to make a pirate inspired video, although the music is more along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean than a sea shanty.

This is the first time I started with the video. Usually I make the music first. This time, the entire video was complete before there was any music. I wanted to try to “score to picture” as would be done with a T.V show, cartoon or movie. I wanted to treat the video as if it were locked – unable to be changed, and the music was forced to adapt as needed. It was challenging but I was eventually able to make it work.

YouTube video

Knights Fight
by Paul Battersby

I wanted to try something with an epic sound, using taiko drums. I originally planned to use the music for a sports themed video or a pirate or viking fight, but upon completion it felt more like music for knights fighting so I made a cutout animation of 2 knights fighting who learn that in the end, sometimes the way to win is to recognize the futility of the fight.

YouTube video
Audio only

All By Myself
by Tom Tognaci, Paul Battersby

A sad, heartfelt song about being alone after a breakup. I liked this song so much that I took a chance and completed my tracks, before Tom even knew I was working on it. Fortunately he liked what I did and granted permission for this new version to be shared.

show / hide lyrics
All By Myself
Lyrics by: Tom Tognaci

(Verse 1)
I deal with the loneliness
Like combing fresh cut hair
I convince myself that I’m alright
I can deal with the solitude
And the echo from upstairs
Now that the ghost is gone, I’m alright

I’d rather be alone and by myself
Than to be alone, while being with someone else
All by myself
Stowed way up high on some dusty shelf
All by myself
Just me, an island, unto itself

(Verse 2)
Some nights I reminisce
Back and forth in this old chair
Is it worth the lament? Is it really fair?
Black and blue is the emptiness
With a woman who can’t care
One thing that stands out, now, completely clear

(Repeat Chorus)


(Verse 3)
Some nights I reminisce
Back and forth in this old chair
Is it worth the lament? Is it really fair?
All I need is my poetry
And the music that I play
To stretch these untamed wings and fly away

(Repeat Chorus)

Tom Tognaci original composition, lyrics, vocals, guitars
Paul Battersby 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, string bass, percussion (all from Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library), bass
Visit Tom Tognaci at SoundClick

Multiband compressor – Xfer OTT

Xfer-OTT multiband compressor

Xfer-OTT multiband compressor

Available from Xfer Records (and a variety of other places) the free,  OTT (Over The Top) plugin is a multiband compressor. Practically, for me, this means it cleans up any mix on which I use it. If you want to hear how much mid frequencies are muddying up your mix, just drop this plugin onto the master mix, then toggle it on and off.

There is much more to this plugin than that and for the best results, this should be adjusted for each individual mix. In my opinion, for the best results, apply instances to different groups of tracks and not on the master track at all. For example, I might use an instance for the drums, a separate instance for vocals, another for all other instruments (as a group) because each of those tracks or groups of tracks will sound best with a different configuration of OTT.

I’ve listed the steps that are shown in the video, as a reference for use after watching the video. The video that follows, does a very good job of explaining how to use OTT and making it easy to understand how to get good results for your mix.

  1. Adjust the high, mid and low frequency bands. In other words drag the black bars in the middle of the brown and green areas in the middle of the OTT plugin, to the left or right to get the desired boost or cut from each frequency band.
  2. Adjust the upward and downward compression dials at the bottom of the plugin.
  3. Adjust the time dial at the top of the plugin.
  4. Finally adjust the depth dial at the top of the plugin.

A few other things to consider when using this plugin.

Don’t be fooled by a volume increase. Ensure that the volume of your mix is the same with or without the plugin enabled. Louder can sound better even if a plugin isn’t doing anything other than increasing the volume. You want to ensure the tone is better, not just that everything is louder so be sure to adjust the output gain when comparing the mix with and without the plugin enabled.

When you first enable the plugin, your mix might sound worse, but literally after a few seconds spent on step 1 above, you’ll hear an instant improvement.

The following video explains and demonstrates the above steps.

OTT by Xfer Records Overview – by SoundShockAudio

Fall Back Into You
by Barry Onyett, Paul Battersby

After discussing this song and how Barry hates the mixing process, I agreed to do the mixing and replace his temporary drum track but he also gave me permission to add anything else I felt might enhance the song so I made a few changes, made a few cuts and added a few things.

Barry Onyett original composition, lyrics, vocals, lead guitar, rhythm, guitars, bass, video
Paul Battersby flute, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello (all from Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library), drums, producing/mixing
YouTube video
Audio only

Vocal Harmonizer – Pitchproof

Pitchproof - vocal harmonizer

Pitchproof – vocal harmonizer

From the Pitchproof web site:

Pitchproof is a free audio plug-in that can shift the pitch of the input. The effect is meant to combine old styles of pitch shifting with the quality you expect from modern plug-ins. The result is this pitch “pedal” simulation that has most of what is great about guitar harmonizer pedals, and still preserves the signal’s integrity.

I use it as a vocal harmonizer. With a few added tricks, the effect is sufficiently convincing in a mix. In isolation it can sound like chipmunks but use the tricks below and blend it appropriately with the lead vocal and you have instant harmony. As outlined in the video below, do the following to improve the quality of the harmony.

  1. Create a new harmony track in your DAW
  2. Create a send from the main vocal track to the harmony track
  3. To the harmony track, add the following plugins:
    • Pitchproof (set to 100% wet, 3rd harmony, key of your song)
    • a pitch shifter, (to shift the formants by about -54 cents – helps reduce the chipmunk effect)
    • an autotuner, (set to autmomatic pitch correction in the key of your song)
    • an EQ. (use high and low pass filters to include only the bulk of the harmony wave form)
    • reverb (to place the harmony track behind the lead vocal)
  4. Pan the harmony track to put the singer to the side of the lead vocal.
  5. Adjust the volume of the harmony track to blend with the lead vocals

The following video by MusicTechHelpGuy demonstrates the above tips.

Create Vocal Harmonies with Pitchproof – by MusicTechHelpGuy