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Alan James September 19th, 2006 04:49 PM

Music Making Programs
 
I donít know if this is the right place to ask this question but I couldnít find a better one so here goes. Iím trying to compose music for a movie Iím directing and editing. I am a musician and know a lot about theory so doing the job will be no problem. My problem is that I donít know what to buy to do it. I want to but some kind of USB controller keyboard and a midi sampling program so I can just play it and have my computer record it and give me a play back from those samples (pretty basic stuff). Iím looking to spend about $500 but I will go as high as $1000 if I have to for better software and more samples (orchestral, strings, woodwinds stuff like that). My computer is a 2.2 Ghz AMD 3200+ with 1 gig of ram and an AudigyZS 2 sound card. I am also using Windows XP SP2. Any suggestions about what to buy?

Finn Hensner September 20th, 2006 03:43 AM

Check out the M-audio USB keyboards (Oxygen series is pretty good and affordable, ranges from $179 to $279 but they also have bigger ones).
As to the software, Propellerheads Reason is a complete virtual rack environment with sequencer, samplers and effects. The bundled sound library is fairly extensive. Reason is really cool and quite easy to work with once you get to know the interface. As I recall they have a couple of orchestra packs as well. Check their site.

http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=...ardcontrollers
http://www.propellerheads.se (trial download available)

Good luck!

Patomakarn Nitanontawat September 20th, 2006 03:44 AM

By theory you mean writing real notes out on paper I assume. In that case Finale or Sibelius should do the job. They both have 30 day demos I think. But if you want to play in on a keyboard (really any midi controller can do the job now, only if you're a pianist like me then you would demand one of those 88 keys hammer action stuff, but even those prices are coming down.) There is also another style of composing, sequencing style. For those I'd recommend either Cakewalk Sonar, or Steinberg Cubase. Get the "lite" versions, trust me you don't need all the bells and whistles at this stage. Now about sounds, it also depends on what kind of score you are looking at. For a good and not too expensive orchestral pack, Motu's Symphonic Instrument is very easy to use, by which I mean it sounds grandiose out of the box with minimum tweaking, or the East West Symphonic Library stuff, those are really good too. For an all around package (contemporary score, or world music if you like) a cheap one would be Native Instruments Bandstand, but it does take a brilliant sound engineer to give it the texture you need. A good alternative to that would be IK multimedia's Sampletank, cheap, easier to work with the Bandstand. It all really depends on what kind of music are you look at. There's seems to be a popular style lately coined by Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson Williams of using percussive loops, big brass and choir, or you could go the traditional orchestral ways (Elmer Beinstein, John Williams,) or completely alternative like BT, RZA. As long as it serves the film, you're in luck. I personally feel that writing the score for a film is like redirecting it in a way, you control the emotional flow of the audience.

"Yes I can teach music theory, but only God can teach composition," John Williams

Alan James September 20th, 2006 08:00 AM

Thanks. Great stuff guys. I agree that writing the score is like redirecting the movie (its kinda like that and writing the script combined). By theory I mean that I already write music its just to slow to play it on my keyboard and then figure out what I just played, but only the parts I liked, then write it down note by note and then go to the next instrument and hope it lines up vertically. Iíd much rather just play, record, and listen, cause then I know it works and I can even cut it in as temp music before it goes to orchestra. I usually write stuff with a lot of strings in minor chords and kinda like a viola or violin playing the theme then have that theme repeat throughout the orchestra. I think this is the baroque(?) style but Iím not sure right off hand. Are there any web sites just for music like this one is for video?

Jon Fairhurst September 21st, 2006 12:53 PM

Hi Alan,

I recommend Sonar for your needs. You can play video.avi files that are fully sync'd to your music. It's much better than Sibelius or Finale for playing your music in live. And it will sound better too - live MIDI recordings sound much more human than mechanically sequenced MIDI. A key point with Sonar is that it has flexible tempo control, which is critical for hitting your sync points. Many others use Cubase, but I've tried the demo and the user interface feels inside-out to me.

Most people use GigaStudio or Kontakt for sample playback. Any day now Tascam will start shipping GVI. As a Giga user, I recommend waiting for it. My favorite recent sample purchases are the oboe and flute from Westgate Studios. They have true legato playback, so you can play fast runs without it sounding like an accordion.

Check out Northersounds.com if you want to hang with composers who use the latest sample libraries and virtual instruments.

And check out the stuff I've done with my AMD A64 3000+, Sonar, GigaStudio and M-Audio Audiophile 192. (Dump that Audigy!) You can hear it at http://colcrush.com

Patomakarn Nitanontawat September 23rd, 2006 12:55 AM

I'm not a really Sonar user, but I do agree, Cubase can be a little confusing. Violins viola minors eh? I think that East West Orchestra the small pack silver I think should do the job for you. Nice sounds, doesn't break the bank.

Also agreed dump the Audigy! M-audio and ESI stuff are also really good, and most importantly, dont' break the bank.

Jon Fairhurst September 24th, 2006 11:58 PM

EW Gold has been on sale a few times, and can be affordable. There's also Garritan Personal Orchestra to consider. For a wonderful, dark sound check out Kirk Hunter's Emerald. It needs a sample player, and should work in GVI, once available.

EW has the most cinematic sound - especially the Gold and Platinum versions, which inlcude the reverb of the recording space and release samples. Kirk's sounds are the most dark and mysterious. Garritan's can be very expressive. Listen to the demos before deciding.


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