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Got myself a laptop and need some guidance....


Darcy H

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Hey all, my work decided a needed a laptop, so I got myself a Dell Inspiron 600m, with extra memory, RAM, etc. and a PCMIA 24 bit soundblaster card....now what do I do? :D

 

Do be more specific, the sound card came with Creative Wave Studio and Smart Recorder, so I can mic my amp (with just a little Sony electret condenser mic) and do some basic cleaning up of the tracks, which is all I really wanted to do....make some backing tracks for myself, etc. but I'm starting to see more potential.

 

When by myself, I typically jam with a Zoom RhythmTrak-123, but generally select an existing bass/drum pattern and just change the key/tempo as required. It's capable of much more but attempts at programming anything beyond a measure is lost on me, but it does have a Midi input.

 

So can I write backing tracks (bass and drum tracks)with some sort of software and somehow input that into my drum machine, or just skip the drum machine and just use the laptop? And how would I go about that?

 

Can I use my existing sound card, which takes the only available PCMIA slot (it has optical in and outs), or do I need some sort of USB midi interface? I wish to continue micing my amp because I LOVE the tone I get, but it's more for creating workable and complex bass and drum lines that I can play along with.

 

If you can't tell, I don't have a clue and any guidance would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.

www.myspace.com/darcyhoover
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Hfx,

 

Many possibilities here. First off, you have to look at the available inputs/outputs on your PCMCIA card: does it have MIDI in/out? Does it have stereo Line In (or just Mic In)?

 

If your soundcard has a Line In, you would get a better sound from your microphone if you plugged the microphone into an external preamp (maybe even the Zoom?) and connected the Line Out of that preamp into the soundcard (as opposed to using the Mic In, which features a typically very low quality preamp on the soundcard).

 

If you have MIDI in/out on your soundcard, then you can send MIDI music to your Zoom device and play the sounds off that device. However, you can always play MIDI music with the built-in sounds from your laptop soundcard and you should probably start there first (and increase the level of complexity later if you decide to).

 

As far as writing drums and bass parts on the laptop, there are many choices. One cool option is an affordable (starts at $88) software solution called Band-In-A-Box. The program lets you write your chord progression, enter the tempo and the style of music and it writes up the arrangement for you (how cool is that?) Depending on your needs (accompaniement for jamming vs. writing your own compositions), this could be your best bet. You can visit their website for more info.

 

Good luck,

Rhino

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Thanks! I downloaded the Band In a Box Demo. It seems a tad over the top for me, I'm just looking for some basic shuffle drum tracks and I can write in the bass lines I'd like, that's all I need; drums and bass, I'll record my own rhythm and lead...I'm sure Band In a Box will allow that but I need to play with it for awhile first.

 

I'll try the mic suggestions, so far the recording level, even set at max, is waaay too low, and I was getting better quality from my HiMD player/recorder.

 

No MIDI in/out, just the lines, but it is set up to run a DTS surround sound system, so hopefully I can get it set up!

 

Thanks again!

www.myspace.com/darcyhoover
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Originally posted by Hfx_Buzz:

...a Dell Inspiron 600m, with extra memory, RAM, etc. and a PCMIA 24 bit soundblaster card....now what do I do? :D

 

...make some backing tracks for myself, etc. but I'm starting to see more potential.

 

...I typically jam with a Zoom RhythmTrak-123, but generally select an existing bass/drum pattern and just change the key/tempo as required. It's capable of much more but attempts at programming anything beyond a measure is lost on me, but it does have a Midi input.

 

So can I write backing tracks (bass and drum tracks)with some sort of software and somehow input that into my drum machine, or just skip the drum machine and just use the laptop? And how would I go about that?

 

 

Thanks.

Okay, skip the drum machine, and learn how to do everything that you want to do in BIAB.

 

If you later decide you want a better mic and better recording, look at the Tascam US-122, which is a 2 channel USB device that sells for about $150 and comes with a light version of Cubase, a light version of GigaStudio (or whatever Tascam calls it these days), and a bunch of guitar player friendly stuff.

 

Lots of computer based stuff seems daunting at first, but with a little application, you'll soon get the hang of it.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Thanks again, after playing with BIAB abit, I can see where my drum machine will become redundant! Just looking for some songs (as opposed to styles) to load up, I'm hoping to find some Stones, SRV, Clapton, Santana tunes! If not, I think I can figure out how to make em myself, for those quiet days at work... ;)
www.myspace.com/darcyhoover
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cubase sx also has vst intrument and thats what i use, never tried band in the both though. I dont know if you have a firewire port but i use the presonus firebox as a recording interface and am very happy with that, seems everyone else that bought it was too.

 

Im not sure if band in the box is midi. But if you have a tabbing program like Guitar Pro or power tab editor you can export those tabs to midi (they usually tab drums and bass and everything in between) and then open that in cubase sx and use the bass and drums tracks and edit them if you want.

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Well, after my initial excitement, I'm seeing every MIDI I'm getting, when opened with BIAB, is simply the melody, you can't isolate the various instruments, and they aren't what I'm looking for. Do they have to be reformatted somehow to allow more flexibility with BIAB, or does anyone know of another way of finding good BIAB backing tracks for popular songs? For example, Pride and Joy's bass and drum lines, I can handle Stevie's part! (well, not very well, but... ;) )
www.myspace.com/darcyhoover
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You are possibly discovering the joys of free MIDI stuff, wherein all of the instruments are grouped together on one track.

 

I don't use MIDI anymore, and haven't for years, so I'm not up on that stuff. But I can tell you that some MIDI files are available with the instruments on seperate tracks, some aren't. Some can be seperated out, some can't.

 

Like, if you buy a MIDI file from someone like Tran Tracks or Tryco, you get a sheet telling you which channels the various instruments are on.

 

I used to seperate out the various drums, laying each drum on it's own track, even though they played back from the same channel. That allowed me to do things like change the different parts to make them feel more natural, and made it easy to see what I was doing. I would vary the tempo and velocity of the various drums by various amounts, and soon it sounded as if a real person was playing the drums instead of a machine.

 

Anyway, stick with it, you just started. There is a little bit to learn, but you've already discovered how much fun it can be.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by EmptinessOFYouth:

well thats what i was talking about about with using a tab editor for the tracks. In guitar pro, when you export the song to midi and then open it with cubase (im assuming the same will happen with BIAB) all the instruments are on their own track and you can edit them if you want too.

But if the songs are already MIDI files, how does a tab editor help?

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:

Originally posted by EmptinessOFYouth:

well thats what i was talking about about with using a tab editor for the tracks. In guitar pro, when you export the song to midi and then open it with cubase (im assuming the same will happen with BIAB) all the instruments are on their own track and you can edit them if you want too.

But if the songs are already MIDI files, how does a tab editor help?

 

Bill

I don't think that's what he meant, Bill. I think he's talking about tabbing up the song first then exporting the MIDI based on the tab. That may not be right but that's I think he' saying.

 

Also, some MIDI composers allow you to edit in tabs as well as musical (grand cleft) notation. G7 will allow you to do that. And you can edit the MIDI files that way as long as individual instruments are on different channels.

Born on the Bayou

 

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Heres it maybe a little more clearly"

 

With guitar pro you dowbload a guitar pro file (.gp4 i think is the extension) from a site like www.mysongbook.com.

 

That guitar player file has everything tabbed out, most of the time drums and bass.

 

You open it in Guitar Pro and then export it to midi.

 

When i open that file with cubase, everything is on its own track. I can even edit or change the output sound of every track.

 

So you dont start with a MIDI file first and you dont tab it out yourself. You pretty much turn a .gp4 file into a midi and then open it with your program.

 

Make sense?

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