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Love and hate, my sequencer.


RABid

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I have been with Sonar for a while and the relationship seems to be stagnating. Im not sure who to blame, me or Sonar. She has everything you could want. Intelligence, sophistication, soft instruments. If she has everything I wan, why are my eyes start to wonder? The other day she caught me looking at pictures of Band-In-A-Box. Sometimes I think I would prefer a partner that is a bit more simple and pleasant.

 

Ok. Bottom line. When I start a new project and want to quickly sequence a few tracks Sonar needs a bit overwhelming and distracting. It may be fine for finishing a project, but I dont enjoy using it in the early stages. Comfort and enjoyment are important to me in the early stages when the creativity is flowing. Distractions and delays are a killer. Is anyone else having this problem with Sonar or any other sequencer? I have considered the following alternatives.

 

Getting a different package. Emagic, DP, Cubase,

Installing Cakewalk 7 and using it for building sequences.

Looking for the easiest and most comfortable keyboard sequencer. It could be my Fantom, or maybe a Triton.

Getting an outboard hardware sequencer and putting it between my keyboard and my XV-5080 for quick writing.

 

Once I have the basics done, I dont mind transferring to Sonar and finishing the project. I just dont like starting there. Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions?

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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i use Cubase, but this suggestion will probably work for any DAW.

 

spend a day making "start songs". set up Sonar with your common midi setups, plugins, routings, & levels. some of my start songs have a few tracks of simple drum beats, i can pick one that works, mute the rest, set a tempo & go!

 

save your start song (SONAR: drums; SONAR: recording; , etc) and start SONAR each time by choosing a start song. immediately "Save As...", so you don't accidentally "Save" and lose your template.

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Man, it's becoming abuntly clear that I am living in the past.

 

I write some words on paper (or word processor), or I pick up a guitar and start humming a melody and playing chords, or I sit at the keyboard humming a melody & playing chords. If it's something worthwhile I click on the tape machine and record a scratch harmony track and sing the melody over it. There's always time later for detailed arrangement...

 

Do you really need the sequencer and everything else to capture your basic ideas? (Not a flame, just wondering and perhaps suggesting an alternate work method)

 

Originally posted by wager47:

i use Cubase, but this suggestion will probably work for any DAW.

spend a day making "start songs". set up Sonar with your common midi setups, plugins, routings, & levels. some of my start songs have a few tracks of simple drum beats, i can pick one that works, mute the rest, set a tempo & go!

save your start song (SONAR: drums; SONAR: recording; , etc) and start SONAR each time by choosing a start song. immediately "Save As...", so you don't accidentally "Save" and lose your template.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

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I agree with wager47. Templates are great time savers in the long run. On the Mac, I save templates as "Stationary Files." This prevents them from being overwritten and creates instead a new untitled copy of the stationary document to start work with. I don't know what the PC equivalent of a Stationary File is, but I imagine there is one.

 

I also like coyote's way of working. By the time I power up all of my gear and set the computer up for sequencing, the original inspiration is sometimes lost. I have a cheap cassette deck by my piano for times when I just want to jump right into an idea.

 

One other note on the computer issue: Digital Performer, while being a great program, is Mac only. So, unless you want to buy a Mac, you'll have to rule it out. Sorry Robert.

Enthusiasm powers the world.

 

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Most of what I write is instrumental. If lyrics pop into my head I write those down without worrying about melody. I think part of my problem is overload. When an idea pops into my head it immediately evolves into a full production idea. Suddenly Im trying to get multiple parts down before I forget how the melody blends with the cords or how the bass interacts with the drums. Then I get frustrated because everything fades before I can get it down. For some reason I seem to have lost the ability to simplify the idea back down that it can be recorded in an efficient and fruitful manner.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Robert,

 

My suggestion is not to change - you'll eventually run into the same problem on another sequencer - but rather to streamline your system to work the way you like to work.

 

Do you have a common palette of sounds that you like to start with (piano, pick bass, acoustic guitar, B3, and a particular drum kit, for example)? Do you have common preferences for tempo, time signature, editors you like to have handy, etc? Favorite drum patterns or comping patterns? Try setting up some SONAR documents where this stuff is ready and waiting for you. How about your synths and samplers - can you set them up to default to your favorite patches? The key is to minimize the time from inspiration to recording. Technology should be an asset, not a liability. Hope this helps.

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I'm with you...

 

I use Sonar now, but I really miss Opcode's Vision. I used to be able to put together arrangements quickly, trying out different things in different orders, because they had this great modular approach whereas most other sequencers are very linear.

 

In the end I'd almost always "capture" (Visions process of "writing" out the songs into a single linear sequence.

 

As for how I write, it changes with the tune. Some tunes come to me at a piano or other instrument, while others I hear in my head first and have to transcribe (to paper or to sequencer). I definitely use the computer to help me arrange, but not as often to write (except as a recorder for my ideas).

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I dunno.. I use CWPA 9 and I don't see it as much of a block to get started with ideas.

 

The template definitely helps. It took me a total of about 8 hours to create a proper template, but it's great. It resets all my gear, all the stuff is laid out logically, instrument definitions, etc.

 

As far as just sketching ideas, a lot of times I like to use the GM sounds in my pc88mx. They are a bit vanilla and boring, but I can acess them quickly, I know what they sound like, and I can put it together quickly. Hey, if it sounds good with the gm sounds, can bet it sounds good once I start using 'proper sounds' :P

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Originally posted by wager47:

i use Cubase, but this suggestion will probably work for any DAW.

 

spend a day making "start songs". set up Sonar with your common midi setups, plugins, routings, & levels. some of my start songs have a few tracks of simple drum beats, i can pick one that works, mute the rest, set a tempo & go!

 

save your start song (SONAR: drums; SONAR: recording; , etc) and start SONAR each time by choosing a start song. immediately "Save As...", so you don't accidentally "Save" and lose your template.

This is a good idea... I use Sonar also and find that it's tough sometimes to just jump into it with an idea. I've been thinking about the templates thing myself, but I end up distracted and don't force myself to spend that day creating them. :idea:

 

Anyway... for what it's worth, Sonar will let you "Save As..." a template file for just this purpose. If you save the file into your specified Templates folder (set in the options), it will show up in the list when you choose File->New.

 

-- jeff

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some times its hard to just sit down and map out a template because you may not really be in the zone at the time, one thing that really works for me is building up templates over a period of time. You know you need different things for different kinds of music

or projects and the best time to organize what you need is when you are working on some thing that provokes all of those needs to come to thought.

 

another way is to go through your projects and look for the common items you use, its a quicker way to get the same benefit of knowing that you really did need those things and set them up as a template.

 

but anyway it just sounds like you haven't had the time to make Sonar reflect your way of working. to me its very fast, i understand what you mean by when you get an idea it turns into a full production

(thats cool) this is where the computer really shines

because playing into a tape recorder or what ever might get the idea down but what about capturing the moment and performance, Sonar makes it possible for me to keep anything i lay down and use it for the final production, no re-recording the performance unless i just want to because its already there, this saves alot of time in the longrun especially for someone like you who realizes the big picture all at once. so all you really need to do is set Sonar up so that it can keep up with you and you'll probably love it. also the little things like changing the color of stuff really helps alot.

 

peace

 

ps. sonar boots alot faster than my vs1680 did, i used to turn that thing on and go make coffee... :thu:

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Originally posted by Rabid:

The other day she caught me looking at pictures of Band-In-A-Box. Sometimes I think I would prefer a partner that is a bit more simple and pleasant.

 

Band in the box gives you grooves to work with . There is alot of software that can get you on your way . Fruity loops , rex files ....etc ....

 

Hearing your frustration is why I love my arranger keyboard . I have grooves ( arrangements) to work with . I can alter , edit and remix the arrangements (like acid) to give me something to work with .

Why an arranger ?

Each part of the 307 styles are basically sample loops . 307 styles with multiple variations !

 

Triton's and Motif's are nice , but the arpegiated drum loops are not very musical IMHO . My arranger keyboard gives me mulitple variations to the drum loops.Intro's , ending's and fill in's to each of the 307 arrangements .

 

Yamaha makes a PSR series keyboard that provides arrangements (styles) that respond to chord changes . You may kind one of these type keyboards to give you something to work with !

 

Once I find my groove to fit the feel and lyrics of the song , I can record directly onto the hard drive on my keyboard ( in realtime) !

It is now a midi file that can be tweeked !

I could walk into a studio and play each part of the sequence track by track right off the onboard hard drive !

 

Once I get the idea a little more concrete , I start playing the sequence onto my Tascam 788 .

 

My arranger keyboard also allows me to sing right through the keyboard ( vocal processor) !

 

It's perfect for song writing .

 

You may find a Yamaha PSR series keyboard may do the trick . dano/ketronguy .

www.esnips.com/web/SongsfromDanO
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After giving a lot of thought to my frustration and when it started I think I have narrowed down the problem. Starting in June I replaced almost everything around me. I upgraded both computers to newer versions of Windows, Win2K and WinXP replaced my old friend Win98. Cakewalk 8 evolved to Sonar. SoundForge and Acid both jumped to the latest versions. Reason, Reaktor, GigaStudio and a few other software synths joined the mix. My XP-50 and XP-80 were replaced by a Fantom and a Karma. Replaced two rack synths with an XV-5080 and E-mu XL-7. Changed mixers to a Tascam MM-1. Banished my Yamaha RM1x, Boss DR660, E-mu ESI-32 and Korg Electrib R to the closet. So..

 

Every time I sit down I feel like a stranger in my own little bedroom studio. I have not taken the time to learn my equipment. Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery and going out to buy one of everything in the keyboard market? Well, forget it. I will never do this again and warn anyone else not to do it. My new rule is to never by something new until I am fully comfortable with my current gear. The best thing for me right now may be to take my Fantom to the side and become one with the machine. Learn all the sounds and all the tricks. Once I can sequence on it without having to concentrate on the sequencer, and when I no longer have to grab the manual for anything, then move to Sonar and do the same thing. I am going to totally ignore the software synths until I am comfortable with the hardware. So for now, me and my Fantom are moving into another room where we can sit in front of a window and just communicate with each other.

 

Of course, the problem may be that I am worrying because I have blown what could have been a down payment on a house for a pile of electronics and software. But, to each his own castle.

 

Robert

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Originally posted by Rabid:

The best thing for me right now may be to take my Fantom to the side and become one with the machine. Learn all the sounds and all the tricks. Once I can sequence on it without having to concentrate on the sequencer, and when I no longer have to grab the manual for anything, then move to Sonar and do the same thing.

 

good plan, man.

 

...Banished my Yamaha RM1x, Boss DR660, E-mu ESI-32 and Korg Electrib R to the closet.

 

can i rent your closet?

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