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Old November 10th, 2003, 08:45 PM   #1
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Latest Thoughts on Music Software?

My God, I'm overwhelmed with learning about music software--I've already checked some earlier threads, but am wondering if anyone is familiar with some of the newest stuff, such as Reason 2.5 or Cubase SX. What brand do you use, and how have you benefited by it? For a newbie, what would you recommend as need-to-know in choosing a package? I assume most work on the principle of creating sophisticated tracks from whatever creative input is put into it, whatever the level.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 02:07 AM   #2
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How would you/do you prefer to create your music?

a. Loop based construction?
b. Using a MIDI sequencer?
c. Recording and mixing multiple tracks?

d. All of the above?
---------------------------------------------------
Aaaagh, all the software overlaps anyway but this is what I use and how I use it.

When I'm being a "musician" I like to use Sonar. I picked it over Cubase because I preferred the interface ... (btw that's a big Holy War right there)

When I'm recording vocal, instrument, or MIDI tracks I use Sonar - usually jazz, rock, blues, latin type music. I don't use soft synths, I prefer my hardware synths.

When I'm making loop-based songs, I use Sonar and Acid depending on where the music is headed: music or video. Both programs work the same way so it doesn't really make a difference. The loops are interchangeable.

If I'm making techno/trance/dance/hip-hop/drum based music, I like to use Fruity Loops, Sonar has a grid editor too, but I like Fruity loops because that's what I started with ... but Sonar's grid editor is also very nice. I occasionally use Fruity Loops to record MIDI tracks if I'm creating that type of music.

If I'm working specifically with video though, I tend to ONLY use Vegas for recording vocal/instrument tracks and Acid for composing loop-based songs.

Sonar and it's little brother Home Studio have a very similar interface to Vegas, Acid, and SoundForge so they are easy to learn if you've used any of them.

Click here to see the Sonar/Home Studio interface.

To be further confused, check out the forums on Harmony-Central.com and MusicPlayer.com.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 08:19 AM   #3
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Thanks for the further confusion. :D

That's what I like to read--actual user experience with this initially (and forever after?) bewildering field. I only have a sketchy idea of the terms, and as yet still don't know the precise definition of MIDI sequencing compared to loop based, though I know what the latter does. I have a modest keyboard, and am intrigued by the idea of software transforming my musical musings into an actual kind of soundtrack. Vocals wouldn't apply for any of this. Fortunately, I have Vegas 4 to utilize, though bear with me when I ask how the more music-dedicated software gets programmed into Vegas. I think I'll soon be studying those other forums. :D

It Pays To Be Ignorant: By hardware synths do you mean keyboard based compared to software created?

How does the Propellerhead software stand among all this?? And I assume Sonar and Cubase are the industry leaders?
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Old November 11th, 2003, 09:45 AM   #4
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Well MIDI is when you work with digital control signals which control synths in real time. These can be real synths or software based. Lately most MIDI programs have evolved to include audio as a media type as well as MIDI, so you can work with 'real' instruments, voices and so on.

Steinberg/Cubase comes from a MIDI background and seems to be the semi-pro industry leader on the Wintel platform, although their product line does cover some Mac ground and their audio implementation is good.

The real industry leaders are actually Avid/Digidesign with their Pro-Tools product line and a company called Mark of The Unicorn which makes a music and audio software package called Digital Performer. Pro-Tools was designed from the ground up as an audio production tool, DP evolved from a very good MIDI program and is far better for music production. Unfortunaley DP is Mac only for now. Pro-Tools is multiplatform, but is not as good for music production as Digital Performer because it is not as 'music' aware. Cubase, Pro-Tools and DP are all usable for MIDI based composition and sequencing and for audio based tracking, mixing and mastering. But they are not specialized composition tools.

If you don't have much of a music education you might have fun and make great music with Reason, which is also multiplatform, but it is heavily geared towards an electronic, loop-based style.

I use DP at the recording studio where I work, we track and mix a lot of local bands and singer/songwriters and we also compose, arrange, record, mix, sweeten and sync music and audio for TV ads. We do all that stuff and more in DP. I have seen similar setups with Cubase which is not as good but does the job.

So if have a Mac get DP. If you want to stick to DP try Cubase, it'll probably work for you as a general purpose tool. And you might get a kick out of Reason, try it too.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 10:43 AM   #5
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Hi,

You might also want to take a look at Fruity Loops... Itīs an often underrated tool, and looked down because its name and itīs "non-professional" skinned looks.
But it has a lot of possibilities, for composing... not only beats and loops. but whole pieces as well.

I think it has a lot of potential.. and itīs cheap too.
Just donīt make the mistake of discarding the tool because of itīs "fruity" looks...

I made the whole percussion and some electronic melodies of my bandīs latest demo with this tool.. then mixed it on Cubase... and I use it a lot for making music for my videos.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 11:56 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies...I should mention I'm PC only, so it's helpful realizing that not all programs are multi-platform.

As an essentially untrained "musician" (I have way too much respect for the word to call myself one, despite early years in the school band), I do nonetheless have a very strong musical sense, and my goal is to take a few kernels of musical improvisation and give more depth, structure and fullness through the software programs discussed--it sounds like a very exciting process. The kind of problems I like are those that offer overwhelming choices! :)
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Old November 11th, 2003, 01:33 PM   #7
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<<<-- ... still don't know the precise definition of MIDI sequencing compared to loop based -->>>

MIDI sequencing is the digital equivalent of sheet music - it lets you record the notes of a song into a file, so that you can have it played back using different instruments - violin, piano, clarinet etc. You can also take the MIDI file information and print it out as sheet music.

Loop based music is similar to a DJ who takes different recordings and mixes them together to make a song. Dance/Trance, Hip-Hop music are good example of this - the musicians may be long gone, but the recordings of their music are mixed together with other songs and sounds to make something new. ** Sometimes that something new also includes a copyright violation :-)

<<<-- By hardware synths do you mean keyboard based compared to software created? -->>>

Yes. Hardware synths can also come just as sound modules - minus the keyboard portion. Generally, hardware synths produce better quality sounds, but there are some very good soft synths as well.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 08:43 PM   #8
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Okay, here's another semi-literate question:

What keyboard synthesizers do you use? What would you recommend for someone of moderate aspirations? That is, a keyboard beyond the quasi-toy category but short of those $2,000 + wonders. And how vital is a keyboard, given what sound modules etc. can offer?
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Old November 11th, 2003, 09:51 PM   #9
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I have 2 synths: an Access Virus KC and a Yamaha S90 which are both $2,000 wonders :-)

The rest of the question is probably best answered on the
Keys, Synths, & Samplers forum on Harmony-Central



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Old November 12th, 2003, 08:14 AM   #10
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Okay. :)
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Old January 28th, 2004, 06:25 PM   #11
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Anyone have Cubase SX 2.0?
Vienna Symphonic Library?
Garritan Personal Orchestra?

I'm doing my periodic sweep of this subject. As before, I'll state that I'm not a trained musician, but I have a feel for music, and I think with a boost from a good music program I can transform various musical ideas into something harmoniously coherent. :D
I'm bowled over by this area, and wonder if anyone of late has any new thoughts or purchases.
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Old January 28th, 2004, 07:20 PM   #12
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Live 3.0 Rocks

www.ableton.com
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Old January 28th, 2004, 07:44 PM   #13
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I'll check that one; thanks.

I also keep hearing continued good things at Propellerhead.com. By comparison, editing software seems a breeze to investigate. :D
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Old January 29th, 2004, 08:52 AM   #14
 
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Anyone have Cubase SX 2.0?
Vienna Symphonic Library?
Garritan Personal Orchestra?

Barry, I have Cubase and Vienna. Don't have Garritan. Cubase is good, I don't care for the workflow. Vienna is a GREAT library! I've used, or have most every program out there. On the Mac, I use DP. On the PC, I use Sonar. I prefer Sonar. Nuendo, Cubase aren't at all any better, just different.
Further, if anyone tells you their audio or midi sounds better in one app than another, they are crazy or hearing things in the night. Softsynths triggered by midi notes sound the same in all apps. Samples triggered by midi notes sound the same in all apps. Audio recorded into any digital app sounds the same and quality is dependent on the converter used. A soundblaster recorded into Nuendo will sound crappy just as an Apogee recorded into Nuendo will sound great.
At the basic, starting level, I agree with earlier recommendations for Cakewalk home. Don't forget Acid, either. Loops nearly always sound great.
Don't buy keyboards any more, buy softsynths. Available from just about everyone, tools ranging from the ancient Yamaha CV-80 to the MiniMoog, to Korg Triton, to Prophet 5, to Hammond B3 are all available for a fraction of the cost. Cakewalk home comes with a couple. I can recommend a bunch. If you have VSampler, you can play back samples from Giga, ACID, Roland, Emu, Yamaha, and Akai sampler/sample disks. All software driven, all portable, all affordable, and all great sounding. I use them every day.
Ableton is a great tool, so is Reason. Played with the new version of Reason at NAMM last week, and they've done a great job on the update. M-Audio distributes it, so you can find some great info on their website.
Hope this helps a bit.
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Old January 29th, 2004, 11:10 AM   #15
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This helps in a waaaay good way, save for the fact I'm blessed/cursed with so many interesting options now. But as problems go, it's wonderful. :) The main revelation is the suggestion of skipping the need for a keyboard, which does help simplify my quest greatly. I too have been awed by Vienna, but wonder if that's more suitable for a "graduate" course someday, since I'm such a punk beginner in all this. I find the whole concept of music software the most "romantic" aspect of video production, if I can be a tad sentimental (why not--Valentines Day isn't far off). Anyway, thanks for the input.

P.S. Sudden thought-- does a music/computer setup ideally require a separate computer system. or can all components and sofware integrate into a regular video setup without overload? I have a dedicated video computer system, for instance, geared exclusively for editing etc. How would a music-dedicated computer system network then with a separate video system, if that makes plausible sense, or work as one.
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