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Beginner wants to create MUSIC!


Shawn

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Hello,

 

I've been listening to electronic music for over a year now... and I've recently developed an interest in creating some of my own. I'm absolutely fascinated by the idea of producing live - real time music on the fly - having control of the beats and sound at my fingertips, vs. spinning or tweaking music that others create.

 

So - I'm thinking about investing about $500 to get started. I'm an absolute beginner.. I mean, I used to play the sax in high school, and a tiny bit of piano during my elementary years, heck, this is the first time I've even looked up information about this stuff. So - what I want to know is where do I start? I'd thinking about purchasing a cool arse used keyboard/synthesizer and getting some software/hardware for my computer (I'm a EE and a computer geek so this is good).

 

I want my initial investment to be something I can build upon if I realize that I'm really into this, or I find that I'm good at it, but I also want it to be something fairly easy to use. In my free time during the next year or so I don't want to be learning extremely complex software features - I want to make MUSIC - so I guess I'm looking for recommendations on powerful equipment and software with a fairly easy learning curve and documentation/websites that are designed for beginners like myself.

 

Should I put the entire investment into a good synthesizer? Which one? Where will I get the best deal? I'd like to be able to store short sections of music/beats and repeat them... finally sending the information to my computer and making Mp3's someday if I get good...

 

What types of features should I be looking for if I'm purely interested in techno music?

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being an EE myself, I have recently begun diving into the mysteries of MIDI http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif. I can't say that I'm happy about it. For me it feels like I've been restricted from MY kind of music I want to make to make music that my sequencer wants to make. This is perhaps only a phase, and I'll probably be as good MIDI-musician as I was a "Tracker-musician"(read Fruityloop-musician).

 

Well, ok. You wanted to know what you need. Let me explain some stuff first. MIDI is for hardware. If you are seeking to invest in some serious expensive equipment, we're talking >$1000 here, then it's the right choice for you. Before you start buying stuff though, I'll explain how expensive it will turn out.

 

1. Keyboard , at least 200$ for a good MIDI-keyboard.

2. synth, 1000$-2000$.

3. sampler 200$ (or more, not sure on prices here)

4. sampling-CD's (where all the sounds come from) 100$-500$

5. computer (which you already got)

6. professional soundcard 550$ (Hammerfall)

7. sequencer (Cubasis) 80$

 

well it sums up to: roughly 2200$, (buying a synth cancels buy of a MIDI-keyboard).

Oh, a little bit expensive perhaps?.

 

Ok, the alternative way, software.

1. Keyboard , at least 200$ for a good MIDI-keyboard.

2. sampling-CD's 100-500$

5. computer (which you already got, at least a Pentium2 500Mhz preferrably pentium III/Athlon 1000Mhz) more power needed here cause the softsynths.

6. professional soundcard 550$(Hammerfall)

7. sequencer (Cubasis) 80$

8. Software synth & sampler 500+100$ (Reaktor 3.0+GigasamplerLE)

 

roughly 1650$

There are ways of cutting it down even more but, the professional soundcard is a must for recording audio, I myself is using SBLive, but that's soon to change.

 

Alternative 2.

1. Keyboard , at least 200$ for a good MIDI-keyboard.

5. computer (which you already got, at least a Pentium2 500Mhz preferrably pentium III/Athlon 1000Mhz) more power needed here cause the softsynths.

6. software synth/sampler/sequencer Reason 400$.

7. SBLive.

 

roughly 600$.

(50$ extra for the SBLive!)

This is a great startupkit. Reason has an OK synth (good for beginners),Ok sampler, easy interface (gosh it's the best), and it can be sync'ed to Cubase (but you don't need that yet). Use the hacked ASIOLive! drivers to get 12ms latency on your softsynths and you're on a real budget-system-rocket!. It's got limits though, no VST-support, no AKAI-CD import, but the next version should include these. There is a demo to download.

 

.. what, you want it even cheaper?.

1. Keyboard (optional)

3. sample-CD's 100$-500$

5. computer (which you already got, at least a Pentium2 500Mhz preferrably pentium III/Athlon 1000Mhz) more power needed here cause the softsynths.

6. software synth/sampler/tracker Fruityloops 3.0 99$

7. SBLive.

8. softsampler 99$

 

total: 300-500$!!!

 

Well ,this isn't a professional system, but give it a try, it has something called "slides" that's exclusive for this program only, it's standard MIDI, but there is no way you can do it as easily in Cubase as here. (for other peoples reference, see my other article about the new VST-standard) Fruityloops really knows, how to bring new revolutionary stuff into computer-music. There is demo to download.

 

There are a lot's of pros and cons to these systems, but you're a nerd http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif so you know how to look for them on the internet.

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beginners keyboard:

Roland

or Evolution mk149

 

sample cd's are cd's packed with samples. These samples (sounds) are put inside banks. Opening these banks in a sampler will show you a list of several different instruments to choose from. Each of these instruments contains several samples of the same instruments,but at different tones. That is, a complete piano could be sampled, one sample for each note, and then put inside a bank. This will become a huge bank therefore you usually sample, say, every third note only. If you then play a note in between one of these sampled notes then the sampler picks the closest(in terms of pitch) sample and speeds it up, thus creates a higher note. This doesn't sound as natural as a complete sampled piano of course.

 

The market for these sample-cd's arent the biggest -> high prices. Cheaper variations are Soundfonts, downloadable from Soundblaster.com. THese are not that bad, but not for professional use.

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If you're interested in electronica and you already have a computer, a super fast and cheap way to get going is with a small but complete MIDI controller (like the Roland PC-300, with a built-in interface) and a copy of Reason by Propellerheads Software... an amazing piece of work. Check it out here...

 

http://www.propellerheads.se/index.php3

 

Maybe it won't suit your needs, but if you want to build dance tracks from the ground up, this program can not only make it fun and easy, but can teach you a lot about how synth hardware works.

 

- Jim Bordner

Jim Bordner

Gravity Music

"Tunes so heavy, there

oughta be a law."

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I second Jim B's suggestion. If you have a late model Mac or PC, you should check out Reason. It's got most of what you need in a single program. You can always add other stuff later, but Reason will take you much farther than almost any single piece of hardware, and it's not very expensive. You may be able to download a trial version from the manufacturer .
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Shawn - for an example of some hardcore techno produced completely in Reason (no hardware involved), check out my son's page at mp3.com...

 

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/200/aiden_bordner.html

 

...and listen to "Look To The Future." It's slamming, and it was done with a Roland PC-300, a PowerBook and a copy of Reason. As was "Two Kay One," the progressive trance track just below....

 

- Jim Bordner

Jim Bordner

Gravity Music

"Tunes so heavy, there

oughta be a law."

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