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Trapper Zoid

Composing music for a beginner: any recommendations?

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I'm trying to gain skill in all areas of game development, and I'd like to try my hand at music composition. I'm pretty much a beginner at the moment; I can play keyboard a little bit (but I'm not very good), and I know the basics of making chord progressions and fitting melodies to them. At the moment, I've been playing around with finding good chord combinations on a synthesiser keyboard, as well as improving my keyboarding skills by learning traditional pieces. However, I'd like to try recording a few pieces to my computer. I could just record the sound of me playing on the keyboard, but I'm not a very good player yet and I'd like to be able to easily edit out my mistakes. I'd like some recommendations about a resonably easy way for me to be able to compose music on the computer, or be able to transfer the synth. chords (with automated rhythm and bass etc.) easily. I'm prepared to get some extra equipment or software, but my budget isn't too high for this kind of thing at the moment. What I've got at the moment: Synth. Keyboard (reasonably decent one, with MIDI cable capability). PC (Athlon 2200, Win XP/Linux), but only a crappy motherboard sound chip And of course staved manuscript, pencils, etc. Thanks!

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Modplug Tracker, baby. All you need is to learn your way arond the program, and provide your own samples.

Tracker formats are very straightforward after the initial learning curve. Some people are put off by the fact that they have to provide their own samples, but its liberating. Others champion more involved trackers, but Modplug keeps some of the simplicity of the old school format in its implementation without a lot of bells and whistles.

If you're intrigued, find the forums at modplug.com and look for the new release of OpenMPT, the open source Modplug Tracker. Theres enough people active there to help with a learning curve.

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I'll give it a go. Is there any trick for providing your own samples, or do you just make your own from sound files? I haven't really had a look at creating samples yet, but I'd presume you'd need a separate attack, release and a connecting middle part (sustain? not sure on the terminology) for a sample.

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There are a few MIDI to USB converters out there (Midi Uno and MidiSport, e.g.)... but if you're composing music on your computer, you'll probably want something better than the on-board sound chip you've got. Perhaps consider buying a mid-price sound card with MIDI input (or one of those serial joystick inputs -- you can get MIDI-in and MIDI-out to joystick adapters). I have a DMan MidiMan card which gives me RCA-in and RCA-out, along with MIDI in/out... it works well as a MIDI interface and also gives me better than decent audio recording.

I don't remember how expensive it was, but pricewatch.com is quoting $100. There are cheaper sound cards out there which might do what you want, but if you really need to spend less, I would go with the MIDI/USB solution (pricewatch says the M-Audio interface I have is $45)

Either of these solutions will let you continue to use your keyboard as an interface (which IMHO is *much* better than a mouse for music input). And the good news is, many trackers have MIDI input capability, so you could continue to learn how to use trackers while also keeping up on your keyboard practice. Even better, there is software out there that helps you practice your keyboard technique using your keyboard and a MIDI connection to your computer.

Good luck and have fun!

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I'm a bit out of the loop on sound cards (I used to spend a bit on a decent one, but didn't bother with the computer I presently have). What should I look for in a sound card for audio/music work?

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FOr trackers, you just provide a single wave file, like a piano.
You can tweak it with attack and sustain envelopes. Its old school, not immensely versatilve, but it gets the job done very effectively.

As for a sound card, for hobbyist and simple work, something half decent like a soundblaster LIVE or an audigy will work.
A really good, affordable pro card I highly recommend is the M-Audio Audiophile 2496.

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I would reccommend with your PC set up...do the following.


1. Buy at least a Creative SoundBlaster Live!, or a Creative Audigity
Price: $50-$200


2. Buy FLStudio, its made for begginers, and when you get really advanced into it you can compose just about anything at any quality.
Price: $60-$250

3. Headphones are a must! its better to buy good headphones, then the best speakers
Price: $20-$100+

Total Price: $130-$550+


With that said, you should also buy a VSTi or two, I would reccomend 2 products from edirol
EDIROL: Super Quartet
EDIROL: Orchestral

Those are 2 very powerful VSTi

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$US550 is a bit much; that's probably higher than the value of the rest of my computer! September is a pretty busy month for me, but I'll have a look around for sound cards later on once I've cleared the backlog of projects I've got. There's probably some good local deals on ebay.

I've been playing around a bit with ModPlug loading up the ScreamTracker modules from Deus Ex, and it seems pretty good! I can probably start off with that, as it will be easy to put in a basic level of interactivity within that kind of music.

This question is probably a bit too basic, but where do you get some sample instrument sounds? I'd like to find some good free ones to start off with. I've done a quick Google search, but I'm not sure what is free for use (i.e. no copyright issues). What samples do you use (even if they are expensive, I'd like to know).

By the way, is it okay copyright-wise to plug in my synthesiser keyboard and record a few notes from that to use as a sample?

And one last question, what's VSTi? Thanks! (I feel like such a newbie [smile])

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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Thanks! (I feel like such a newbie [smile])


Better to be a noob than to never have tried at all. :) Good luck with your music.

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