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Little Coding Fox

Where to start?

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Hello again, everyone! Sorry if i shouldnt have created this thread, but even after using the search feature of the forums, i couldnt get even one result for "Getting started creating music". Well, I've been interested in making music lately, but i have absolutely no idea how to start. Being a programmer myself, i wish to make some music, even if it has very bad quality, easily without "In Real Life" instruments, if possible, but like i said, i know nothing about how to get started. Would somebody mind giving me some hints? Thank you all for your time, and have a nice day!

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First off, do you have any prior musical knowledge or experience? If not, that is where you should start. It would be extremely hard to write music if you have never played it or have no knowledge of music (i.e. basic musical theory, how to read music, different musical styles, etc.)

It would also help to know a few more things:

*What kind of budget are you able to work with?

*What kind of style(s) of music would you like to create?

*What is the function of this music?

Fill in some of the blanks and then I (or someone else on this board) will get back to you.

There are tons of very helpful composers and musicians on here, and I know we can point you in the right direction.

Hope that helps,

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Nsmadsen is right. Is there ány musical knowledge you have? Knowing what a note is, is a start. Reading is another. Try to build up from simplicity and work up to the more advanced stuff (scales, chords progressions). I'm sure there are enough tutorials on the internet to be found. If you really wanna do this you might even try looking for a teacher in your neighbourhood (it's your friendly neighbour, Spiderman!)

easily without "In Real Life" instruments

That should easily be possible. In fact, hiring a complete orchestra is one of the most expensive means of making music, and a lot of us use these so-called 'samples'. They (if the quality's good of course), sound like real instrument and can be 'programmed' on the computer.
But samples are also rather expensive. In the end, being a composer is just rather expensive.

If you need any help, just ask, and where here for you.


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Hello again!
Replying to your questions:

"*What kind of budget are you able to work with?"

Currently none...

"*What kind of style(s) of music would you like to create?"

Well, i'd like something gamedev-related, even if its just midi or anything, doesnt have to have voices or anything too, just some melodies, probably the style i am looking for is "orchestral".

"*What is the function of this music?"

Well, first i just want to play around to see if i am actually any good at this, then i will probably use it in my games.

"Is there ány musical knowledge you have?"

I have some very low knowledge, i had "music education" or what you should call that, in school, about 8-9 years ago, but i dont remember much.
Still, i have time to learn!
Maybe i should use wikipedia or google to find information on how to learn the theory of music and then apply it on a program i use.

I know there are many kinds of programs, like trackers and whatnot, and that just confuses me more because i dont know what to choose exactly as i dont know what do each of them do and what are they good for.

I also doubt i'll be any good, especially since i cant spend even 1 cent over the internet or IRL.... That's what you get when your parents are "that rich"...

Well, thank you guys for your time, and have a nice day!

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Download demos of software like Reason, Live, NI's KOMPLETE stuff like that and then start trying it out and find one you like and then get used to using it. Then save your money and buy it. If you're in school you can probably get an academic discount like I did. I got Reason for like $200 off.

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Well, you still haven't mentioned being able to play any kind of musical instrument. Do you play anything? If not, then even the act of inputting your songs into Reason or any other DAW is going to be a long and taxing process. I'm also concerned that you mainly want to do orchestral because that is a complex style to write in. It involves many instruments and a good deal of knowledge the roles of different musical instruments and orchestration.

I'm not saying that this isn't possible, so please don't take it that way. I just want you to be prepared for the task you'll be undertaking. Especially if you do not remember much from your musical education. Do you know what the notes of both staffs are? Can you identify different rhythms written out?

Feel free to down load the demos, but I still think the most important thing to do first is learn about music and how to play music. Music now...software later. That would be my advice.

Pick out an instrument you'd like to learn, get a private teacher and study study study!!! If you can not afford a private teacher then maybe a group class (those can be cheaper) or use books. Learning to play by reading books is quite hard though and books can't catch mistakes and teach like a person can.

I admire your enthusiasm, but you'll need some good training and experience before tackling an orchestral piece. For example, I started taking piano in third grade, saxophone in sixth all the way through graduate school. I have two degrees in music and I'm STILL learning a ton of stuff about music. I'm now taking more guitar lessons to learn even more about that instrument. You can always learn more and better yourself.

Good luck!!!

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So as to not make another "How to start" thread, I want to ask a few questions here.

I'm not trying to stick with games too much, but this is the only place I know that has a forum for music production. I'm not too interested in the composing portion. But what I'm interested in is recording and mixing. Production and sound engineering I guess it is.

What do you guys think is the best way to go about learning how to do this?

I know they have some music degrees out there, but they usually entail composing your own and then the general classes are actually ART classes (I guess because it's a Bachelors of Art degree). Well, I don't think of myself as a good drawer and stuff, so I'm wondering if this is a good route to go. I think the only school that offers that is remotely close to me is the Savannah College of Arts and Design. (http://www.scad.edu/academic/majors/snds/bfa.cfm)

Another problem with the college thing is that I'm already going to college for Information Technology. So I've used up a lot of my scholarship already and I would have to retake a lot of the core courses for an Arts degree.

Well, that's my background I guess, didn't want to make this too long, but I guess I failed at that. =)

- So, again, how should I start out learning music and how to produce music? I know I need some training to learn how to actually listen to music and what not.

- (Hopefully I don't sound like a money-grabber) What is the average salary for people in the music business? I looked at the GameCareerGuide, but they didn't have the Audio people in this year's survey.

- I have tinnitus and I was wondering does that impair your listening skills or just a nuisance? How do you cope with it? (It gets annoying sometimes when it gets bad) I guess I should really go to an ENT doc or something.

- What are some more music websites/forums? I've found MixOnline, but they don't have a forum or anything.

- On a side note, do you guys use in-ear monitors or headphones? I've heard that IEM's are a lot better. Although, I have good headphones from when I was doing a little dj'ing so I think I'll stick with those for now.

I think I had more questions when I started, but I forgot them, I'll try to remember though. Thanks for the help!


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Hey Wesleygames,

Recording and mixing music is one of the harder things to do. It is an art in itself. Just like a good musician must have some innate, built in talent for music, a producer (which is what you're describing) must have a very good ear for hearing a piece of music and being able to identify what needs to be fixed and how to fix it.

While you can learn and hone your ear, there has to be some talent there to start off with. You can learn all of the theory and techniques in the world, but if you can HEAR what the differences are...then you'll not go far in the professional audio world.

That being said- there are many things you can do right now to get started. First off, I would get some software and start trying to mix now. You can get a watered down version first (that can still handle audio, etc) and save some cash up front. You didn't mention in your post if you had any software already, and you also didn't mention if you play any musical instruments yourself. If you do, start tying to make the music yourself. I know you're not as interested in the composing part of things, but this can be a good way to get your feet wet without a band waiting over your shoulder.

This is how I started. I got a free version of Cakewalk (really old one too!) and started playing on my computer. I can play piano, guitar and sing so I started making up stupid, silly songs. At first it was just for fun, but looking back I can see how playing around with the tools and constantly trying to make better songs (even if they did talk about "math being fun" or "I have to take a crap") taught me many lessons. I didn't go to a trade school for ADR, and I didn't take many classes in it at college, so I was mostly self taught.

Besides doing this, I'd read Computer Music, a monthly magazine that has great tutorials, demos and content that you can use. I'd also pick up some books and start learning what goes into making a solid musical track (from the producers point of view). You'll need to learn the terms and practices if you want to do this professionally.

About headphones, I would not recommend using them for mixing purposes. The reason why is what sounds good on a set of headphones, may not on monitor speakers or car stereos, etc. The most ideal mixing environment is a mid to large room with the speakers not being within four feet of any walls. This allows all of the frequencies to be heard correctly. Also, you don't want to be right in front of the monitors either. I can test this at work (I'm a composer-sound designer by day, Batman by night). I can load up a song and sit right at my desk and the bass freq don't sound that over powering, but if I move back about four feet I can really sense them more. I didn't increase the volume, I'm positioning myself where the freq can be best heard.

This is what you eventually want to do. If you mix on headphones only, then what you're giving the client may only work best on headphones. What happens when the client pops it into a stereo and the mix is off...you look bad.

As far as tinnitus goes...I don't know what that is and am not a doctor, so I can not answer that question. Sorry.

Finally, the salary can vary (and don't worry about appearing to be a money grabber!). Some positions can start off in the mid 30s, while others can start as high up as in the 60s. The important thing is if you're good at it, there is no telling how high you can eventually go. Also, if this is what you love to do, the money (while important to live and such) is secondary. You're having so much fun and loving your job. This is, at least, the way I feel. Sure, I don't want to be vastly underpaid, but I don't feel like I have a job. I feel like I have "playtime" and best thing yet...it PAYS! :)

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Thanks for the reply, nsmadsen.

I haven't played any instruments since the 7th grade (I played sax). So I don't really remember it too much. It was fun, but I didn't really enjoy the teacher too much so I dropped that class. I'm thinking about picking up the guitar, but I'm kind of low on funds right now. Apart from that I'd like to learn how to play piano, or keyboard (is it really the same?) for synth stuff. But for now I don't play any instruments, but I do have some (although very basic) knowledge of music.

I was wondering about the salary thing mainly because it seems like you have to spend quite a bit of money to get all your equipment, software, etc.

I'd like to pick up some software to start mixing with, but I'm not too sure what to get. Is the home version of ProTools good to start with or something else? (Cakewalk still good?) Also, how can I go about getting tracks/samples to start mixing with?

How do you go about training your ear? I've seen a couple of books out there with audio CD's, but I'm not sure if that's a good route to take. For instance, it would kind of be up to you to see if you're hearing it right, which maybe you can interpret it wrong. But I am willing to learn! Are there any books, in particular, that you have found useful?

Thanks for the information on headphones, I should probably fork out some money for some decent monitor speakers. Any favorites that you have in mind? I know you get what you pay for, but cheaper is better for me (Poor college student =P).

And the tinnitus is the ringing in the ears you get. Sometimes when you listen to loud music, sometimes medicines that you take can start the ringing, and other causes. I was wondering if anyone knew if it impairs the high frequency listening. I think I should go get that checked out at an ENT doctor. I was just wondering if anyone else had the same problem.

Are there any other forums you use or visit? I like this forum, but it is centered around games more or less.



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