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TV & Media Non-Trek television, movies, books, music, etc.

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Old September 3 2014, 01:30 PM   #1
Solstice
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The Music Production Thread

Spun off from a discussion "elsewhere," this is a thread for people who a) make music and b) want to make music but don't know where or how to begin.

The good news is that if you have a computer--and if you're reading this, you probably do--you can make music without really spending any money.

Anyway, if you don't know anything about computer-based music production, I can tell you that there are a few main concepts to get your head around. Many music production programs use a "machine" metaphor for the user interface: effects, instruments, and the like are represented by little blocks called "machines," which can be chained together to produce varying sounds and effects, and of course you can control input and output. For the instruments, you also have what are known as "trackers"--essentially the computerized equivalent of sheet music, in which you define the specific notes the instruments will play. Within a tracker you have "patterns," which can be thought of as similar to measures. Different programs may use different terminology but they tend to work very similarly.

Another major facet of computer music production are VSTs. These are virtual instruments and effects. They were originally designed for a program called Cubase, but now a wide variety of music production tools support them. There are many, many thousands of VSTs out there, and a lot of them are free.

So, this is all pretty theoretical so far. You probably want to know where to actually get these programs and VSTs and stuff.

First off, I think Jeskola Buzz is a great program to start with. It uses the machine concept described above, and it's pretty easy to get started with chaining instruments and effects together. Using the Polac VST Plugin (available from the site), you can also employ VSTs. KVR Audio has one of the most expansive collections of VSTs out there, with a very powerful search engine so you can easily find what you're looking for. You can get VSTs that emulate real-world analog instruments, classic synthesizers, or things people made up specifically for the VST.

There are plenty of tutorials in Buzz, including video tutorials like this one:



There are also a large number of tutorials here which cover many different sounds, effects, and features of the program.

If you need a place to share your musical creations, I would recommend SoundCloud. Feel free to show us your work!

With all that out of the way, I am hardly the end-all authority on this topic and I know we have other people who use different tools and software, so they are all welcome to chime in, too.
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Old September 3 2014, 02:06 PM   #2
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Re: The Music Production Thread

I was using Ableton Live, but found it just outrageously complicated. I'm currently free-trialing Reaper, which is an order of magnitude less complex, but seems to do everything Ableton does.

REAPER is $60 to buy, I may give Buzz a try though before I buy it in case it is better. REAPER doesn't use the machine concept, but it does support VSTs. All my music production is recording live instruments though, my aim is to record the live sound I want and not do too much to it afterwards, so I am not sure the machine concept is so useful to me.
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Old September 3 2014, 02:24 PM   #3
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Yeah, a machine-based system wouldn't be much help to you if you're using physical instruments and just chaining effects. There are definitely other solutions for that.
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Old September 3 2014, 02:39 PM   #4
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Re: The Music Production Thread

I used FL Studio. I had to hutn down samples it didn't have as well as replace existing ones wiht superior ones -- all free. Some of the music I've made with the program:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGmVyFYB75w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZN49lOtVfU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLSecRv5B2Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX26FaY37h8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcTlcYpVqdE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEJeLBrq35w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owIr36KEtx8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBCl9N63mq8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiumwz-wqGs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdfrzlcjxxE

Among others. Just some of my favorites.
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Old September 3 2014, 02:48 PM   #5
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Re: The Music Production Thread

I've been using FL Studio for a while and I loves it. I used to use Reason, but the lack of VST support made me jump ship.

Edit:
Here's something I did a few years back: [clicketty link] It takes a while to get going and the drums are quite poor, but there you go. At least I got some backwards guitar on there. Love doing that.
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Old September 3 2014, 03:31 PM   #6
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Re: The Music Production Thread

All my gear in the '80s - early '90s was MIDI based, and I was interested in getting them connected to the computer, but wasn't finding software in my price range at the proshops I was visiting then. I wound up getting a Yamaha digital sequencer instead (QX-16?) and had a Fostex X-15 4-track along with a Yamaha YMC-10 controller.

Also had 2 Yamaha drum machines (RX-17 & RX-21?), a Korg drum machine (not MIDI capable), Yamaha FB01 tone generator (synth minus keyboard), Yamaha DX-100, Casio CZ-101 (which started the madness for me), and Roland Alpha Juno 2, which was outside my normal price range but bought because it had normal sized keys but only a 4-octave keyboard. Didn't have the Mirage hooked into the setup. Also had a Yamaha mixer.

Don't ask me how I remember all those model numbers after 20 years, they just wanted to get out.
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Old September 3 2014, 03:34 PM   #7
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Re: The Music Production Thread

MIDI is usually done via USB these days so you don't even need anything special, just MIDI enabled instruments/gear and a program that supports MIDI inputs.
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Old September 3 2014, 03:46 PM   #8
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Melakon wrote: View Post
All my gear in the '80s - early '90s was MIDI based, and I was interested in getting them connected to the computer, but wasn't finding software in my price range at the proshops I was visiting then. I wound up getting a Yamaha digital sequencer instead (QX-16?) and had a Fostex X-15 4-track along with a Yamaha YMC-10 controller.

Also had 2 Yamaha drum machines (RX-17 & RX-21?), a Korg drum machine (not MIDI capable), Yamaha FB01 tone generator (synth minus keyboard), Yamaha DX-100, Casio CZ-101 (which started the madness for me), and Roland Alpha Juno 2, which was outside my normal price range but bought because it had normal sized keys but only a 4-octave keyboard. Didn't have the Mirage hooked into the setup. Also had a Yamaha mixer.

Don't ask me how I remember all those model numbers after 20 years, they just wanted to get out.
Nice! I've always wanted a TB-303 and TR-808 setup connected in the pre-MIDI way, just for the shits and giggles.
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
MIDI is usually done via USB these days so you don't even need anything special, just MIDI enabled instruments/gear and a program that supports MIDI inputs.
I'm currently using a small controller keyboard that MIDI's up my VST's via the gift of USB. Barely any setup needed, works like a charm.
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Old September 3 2014, 09:56 PM   #9
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Some good stuff posted by Tharp & ITL. Nice track there ITL

I'm very impressed with how good the samples and synths Tharp used sound, I don't work with any of that stuff so my experience is very limited.

I don't have anything I haven't already posted right now, but I am mid album, so i'll post it when it is done. I'm not going song by song though, so the whole thing might take a while to pull together yet.

There's a couple of metal tracks I need to find a drummer for as well, the drummer in my band isn't good enough to play what I want, but i'm not going to tell him that...
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Old September 3 2014, 10:02 PM   #10
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Re: The Music Production Thread

You can find the stuff I've done most recently over here: http://soundcloud.com/gorzek/sets/king-tu-2014

I really need to do more.
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Old September 4 2014, 07:33 PM   #11
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Good, I think I much prefer the second one, the first one is a bit sparse for my tastes. Nice touches in the second one. Reminds me of Bjork.

I'm just trying to buy a vocal mic from Ebay, an SM58 naturally. The amount of fakes is absolutely unreal, probably 50% of everything on there is a Chinese knockoff and they are extremely convincing, right down to the packaging and certificates.

Even battered old second hand ones go for maybe £70 instead of the £90 you can get one new for. I guess that is a testament to how good they are.
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Old September 4 2014, 08:59 PM   #12
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Sometimes I wonder if the difference between an SM57 and SM58 is that pronounced. I have a 57, but for vocals I'd swear I got a better frequency response from a mic that was a quarter the price.
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Old September 4 2014, 10:49 PM   #13
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Re: The Music Production Thread

As I understand it the 57 is intended for recording instruments specifically, something to do with it being tuned to handle certain parts of the frequency spectrum better than others, while the 58 is designed to work best with the frequencies a human voice can reproduce.
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Old September 5 2014, 03:21 PM   #14
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Pingfah wrote: View Post
Good, I think I much prefer the second one, the first one is a bit sparse for my tastes. Nice touches in the second one. Reminds me of Bjork.
Thanks! Do you have any links to any of your work?
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Old September 5 2014, 03:35 PM   #15
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Re: The Music Production Thread

Pingfah wrote: View Post
As I understand it the 57 is intended for recording instruments specifically, something to do with it being tuned to handle certain parts of the frequency spectrum better than others, while the 58 is designed to work best with the frequencies a human voice can reproduce.
Actually I think the guts of the mic are exactly the same, and the only difference is the head. Like if you took the cap off an SM57, it's basically an SM58. Yeah, that cap will affect the frequencies, but not a terrible lot. I think it has something more to do with how it handles distance, but I'm not sure.
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