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synth_cat

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I've finally decided to try adding music to my game CellZenith, a task I had previously put off because of the size of long .wav files. I figure midi files will be a good alternative. I'm not looking for anything advanced - all I really want from a sequencer is a few orchestral elements and a little percussion. Is there a cheap or free midi sequencer out there? Thanks! [Edited by - synth_cat on June 24, 2007 10:56:35 PM]

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JazzWare is free, but it isn't exactly wonderful. Does the job, though.

You could also consider FMOD or another library that supports .MOD files and create your music with ModPlug Tracker (also free). This allows you to use your own instruments and effects. Beware that MIDI doesn't sound the same on every machine, it is dependent on the instrument banks of the soundcard.

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I've done a bit of looking around for sequencers. I happened to stumble across a useful list of audio software in the Music forums - thanks for that!

Anyway, are MidiMountain and Anvil Studio good sequencers?

They are free and they can sequence, but I thought I'd still better ask to make sure they'll work.

Quote:
Beware that MIDI doesn't sound the same on every machine, it is dependent on the instrument banks of the soundcard.

That sounds important. In what way might midi sound different across different systems? Does this depend on the quality of the program you use to create the midi files? For example, I think the midi music in Windows Pinball has sounded the same on every system I have ever played it on.

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I'd suggest finding a copy of cubase vst, its complicated because its an audio recording program but it has great midi control and support

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Quote:
Original post by synth_cat
I've done a bit of looking around for sequencers. I happened to stumble across a useful list of audio software in the Music forums - thanks for that!

Anyway, are MidiMountain and Anvil Studio good sequencers?

They are free and they can sequence, but I thought I'd still better ask to make sure they'll work.

Quote:
Beware that MIDI doesn't sound the same on every machine, it is dependent on the instrument banks of the soundcard.

That sounds important. In what way might midi sound different across different systems? Does this depend on the quality of the program you use to create the midi files? For example, I think the midi music in Windows Pinball has sounded the same on every system I have ever played it on.




the sound someone hears depends on their soundcard, because midi is just a whole lot of samples, but different sound cards can have different samples, its semi- standard but not really, they'll generally sound similar, but sometimes there's a difference, i don't know its its really that big of a concern though

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or you can try mp3, their file sizes are substancially smaller than wave, they're ALOT bigger than midi files but it may be a good compromise, its generally a MB per minute give or take depending on how many layers and the bitrate you use

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Personally I use Cakewalk software, but the latest suites are not exactly cheap. You could almost certainly find a copy of Cakewalk Express for super cheap. Cakewalk Express 8 Gold came packaged with my SBLive back in 1999, and since then I've upgraded through the series to Pro Audio 9 and various versions of Sonar (presently at 6 PE). I did give Steinberg Cubase a try some time back but didn't find it as intuitive as Cakewalk.

I do agree that a mod format would be a better choice if sample quality is your concern. The file size will be substantially larger than MIDI, but you're guaranteed the same quality on all systems. ModPlug Tracker is nice, and it is free, but it's absolutely no competitor for a high-end MIDI sequencer.

I should also mention that Cakewalk/Steinberg sequencers aren't just for MIDI. You can mix any kind of audio with them, and Sonar at least also supports limited video mixing. (It's no Vegas or Premiere, but it does the basics.) Few people actually use Sonar/Cubase for MIDI these days. The few of us who still sequence songs like MIDI's enhance them with sample libraries and output to MP3 instead.

Still, there's a lot you can achieve with the a properly arranged MIDI. If you haven't listened to the Stonekeep soundtrack by Brian Luzietti, you are missing a wonderful treat. He single-handedly inspired me to start sequencing, and then Jeremy Soule got me into the sample down-mixing aspect.

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Thanks for all the replies!

Quote:
or you can try mp3, their file sizes are substancially smaller than wave, they're ALOT bigger than midi files but it may be a good compromise, its generally a MB per minute give or take depending on how many layers and the bitrate you use

Isn't there a licensing fee for using the mp3 file type? I've heard this before - I wanted to make sure.

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Change of plans -

I think instead I'll just settle for one of those music making programs where you drag and drop pre-made clips on a timeline and then export .wavs.

Does anyone know of an example of this kind of program where you are allowed to use your exported .wavs in commercial games (without royalties or anything like that)?

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Hey synth_cat,

if all you want to do is add little sound bites and effects, .wav's are fine, but in my opinion they're way too bloated for longer music tracks, even relatively short 2 minute tracks have sizes of around 20 MB.
For music, I'd definitely go with some kind of compressed format like .mp3 or one of the many others out there. You can get that same song down to 1-2 MB using MP3 compression with decent quality.
Oh, and about the sequencer question, unfortionately I can't help you with that. Coming from the audio side of things myself, I've mostly worked with semi-professional to professional software, and these can get pretty expensive; if you do decide to spend a bit of money, Cubase, Ableton Live, Reason and Logic are all valid choices.
Then again, these programs all offer way more than just a midi sequencer which you probably won't need.
edit #43239: Of course you could also go with the program you mentioned and convert your WAVs to a compressed format when you're done exporting them :)

[Edited by - Gyna on June 8, 2007 6:52:44 AM]

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Yeah, .wavs are big but I've been able to work around the problem by using short, looping clips (and some tricks to make sure this doesn't get annoying.)

I was originally using Techno eJay ( a music making program where you drag and drop premade clips.) The problem is just that I'm not sure I'm allowed to use the music from this program in a commercial game.

So basically I'm looking for something like Techno eJay which will allow me to use my music in commercial games. I don't really need a MIDI sequencer.

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Hey dude, don't limit yourself to only mp3 compression. There's ogg vorbis, aac, wma, ac3, blah blah blah. The only limitation is what you're allowed to do for free in a commercial game. If mp3 requires licensing, check the others. I'm positive that there's plenty of open source one's out there, or one's that don't require anything. Heck, just open your audio codecs tab and switch to the properties (go to device manager: sound, video and game controllers, audio codecs)page to see a few that come on your own machine. I'm positive that at least a few of those won't charge you.

But the route you're talking about it is just going to put you right back to where you started as far as file size. Just because you create a sound file with a couple of short loops, once you export it as a wav file you're right back where you started with a big file.

The midi problem is like this: Not all midi implementations (varies based on sound card) use actual sounds as a basis to make their sounds. Some use FM, or PCM to make their sounds. That means that they're completely synthesized. And FM and PCM sound like cr*p. Those are the worst. But even if a sound card manufacturer chose to use actual sounds (called samples) as the basis for the tones, it doesn't mean they used good quality samples. In a few instances they can actually sound worse than FM or PCM. Nowadays it's a lot better than what it used to be. That being said, there is a good reason to use midi. The small file sizes. All the file has in it is musical instrument activation instructions. That means things like, start playing note x, stop playing note x, start playing note y and x together. A lot of manufacturers have ok sounding midi these days, so it isn't all bad. But occasionally, your midi song will sound like cr*p.

You ask me, I'd use some sort of compression. Not necessarily mp3, but something else. I'd look at ogg vorbis.

- Goishin

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Quote:

But the route you're talking about it is just going to put you right back to where you started as far as file size. Just because you create a sound file with a couple of short loops, once you export it as a wav file you're right back where you started with a big file.

Actually, what I meant was that I pack a very short wav file with my game and my game plays it over and over again.

Compression does sound nice, but I am trying to avoid it for one main reason - I want to have control over the lowest-level handling of my sound files (in other words, I want to be the person who actually makes the fopen() call, instead of passing control to some third party SDK function like OgreOpenMusicFile() or whatever.) The reason for this is that I want to be able to shield my music files from access by the average Joe ( in my case, I just dump the raw sound data from my wav files into a pack file with a different extension.)

Obviously I couldn't do this kind of thing with a high-tech compressed sound file.

So, are there any good Techno eJay alternatives out there which will let me use my wavs in commercial games?

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[quote]Original post by synth_cat
Quote:

Compression does sound nice, but I am trying to avoid it for one main reason - I want to have control over the lowest-level handling of my sound files (in other words, I want to be the person who actually makes the fopen() call, instead of passing control to some third party SDK function like OgreOpenMusicFile() or whatever.) The reason for this is that I want to be able to shield my music files from access by the average Joe ( in my case, I just dump the raw sound data from my wav files into a pack file with a different extension.)

Obviously I couldn't do this kind of thing with a high-tech compressed sound file.


Why not? Any half decent library should let you load data from a stream or buffer, and then decode it, so you just load form the package, and pass it to the decoder.

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Quote:
Original post by Goishin
Hey dude, don't limit yourself to only mp3 compression. There's ogg vorbis, aac, wma, ac3, blah blah blah. The only limitation is what you're allowed to do for free in a commercial game. If mp3 requires licensing, check the others. I'm positive that there's plenty of open source one's out there, or one's that don't require anything. Heck, just open your audio codecs tab and switch to the properties (go to device manager: sound, video and game controllers, audio codecs)page to see a few that come on your own machine. I'm positive that at least a few of those won't charge you.

But the route you're talking about it is just going to put you right back to where you started as far as file size. Just because you create a sound file with a couple of short loops, once you export it as a wav file you're right back where you started with a big file.

The midi problem is like this: Not all midi implementations (varies based on sound card) use actual sounds as a basis to make their sounds. Some use FM, or PCM to make their sounds. That means that they're completely synthesized. And FM and PCM sound like cr*p. Those are the worst. But even if a sound card manufacturer chose to use actual sounds (called samples) as the basis for the tones, it doesn't mean they used good quality samples. In a few instances they can actually sound worse than FM or PCM. Nowadays it's a lot better than what it used to be. That being said, there is a good reason to use midi. The small file sizes. All the file has in it is musical instrument activation instructions. That means things like, start playing note x, stop playing note x, start playing note y and x together. A lot of manufacturers have ok sounding midi these days, so it isn't all bad. But occasionally, your midi song will sound like cr*p.

You ask me, I'd use some sort of compression. Not necessarily mp3, but something else. I'd look at ogg vorbis.

- Goishin



mp3 and wav both use technology owned by companies, so using them for commercial game may be a pain, try "ogg vorbis" , .ogg

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Quote:
mp3 and wav both use technology owned by companies, so using them for commercial game may be a pain, try "ogg vorbis" , .ogg


Does this really apply to .wav files? It seems hard to believe - do I have to license my .bmp and .jpg files too? :)

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Synth_Cat,
This may be of some use to you, and may not, it all depends, but, I add my 2 pennies worth so that it may help someone.
First, this is my first post here, but, I am a musician, so, I use a lot of digital sound.

1.) the .mp3 extention is not a copyrighted extention. You may use a .mp3 in any way that you choose. The only thing that would get you in trouble is what compression codec you use to create your .mp3. I use the mp3PRO(FhG) codec, which, to the best of my understanding, is a GNU Public (Free) license to use anyway you see fit codec. I could be wrong, but, I am 99 percent sure that I am right on that being the free codec.

At sourceforge.net you should look for "audacity", which is a mixing software. You should be able to pull in a midi file that you created with Anvil, and save it in audacity as an mp3 (of course, since I have bought the adobe audition software, I haven't used audacity much, but, I am pretty sure this is how I used to do it).

The answer to the question about midi files and how (and why) they sound different on different machines, I can help you understand that.

A midi file tells the sound card to play x note for x amount of time using instrument 00, not using a piano. While most soundcards (maybe even all soundcards), by default have 00 as piano and 40 as violin, some folks with say, a soundblaster card, can easily mess with their banks (via soundfonts 'sf2') and totally destroy the effect that you were going for, making 00 sound like a bass drum for instance. Silly, but, it's been known to happen.

A few things that might help you along the way.
Rather than doing a larger file of music, how about using some looping techniques. You can create a few different 1 measure long tracks, and within your game, mix them to time. It would be easiest to keep all of your sound files running at the same Beat Per Minute (BPM).

Also, you can easily knock your bitrate for your sound down to something like 96, if you don't intend them to be used on a home theater system.

Further programs (freeware) which you might want to look into are located at http://www.synthfont.com/
synthfont allows you to manipulate your midi that you have created using soundfonts, and vienna (which is also found on that same page) will allow you to create custom soundfonts to use, or manipulate existing ones. A soundfont is actually a bank of different sound samples that can be manipulated into a midi file, similar to a typefont, in many ways, only for sound.
Using synthfont's "Play to file" button, you can create an mp3 or wav out of your midi file. Just note that it's got to play the midi all the way through.

The music is a complicated process if you aren't too sure as to where to go with it all, but, you will get the hang of it.

I have a lot of pro software for music, but, I dabble with some of the freeware because, I sometimes like to prove that one can create great stuff with freeware.

Hope this information is somewhat helpful to you.
Sage

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Thanks for explaining all that! I think I finally understand about those .mp3's.

I've fallen back on a rather simple solution for music in my game. I have several loop-able 18 second music .wav's. My game will pick one, loop it for 30 seconds or something close, fade out, and then fade in with a different one. It works out fine, and the clips are short enough that about six of them only comes up to a few megabytes.

Anyway, thanks again for all the info!

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