Sunday, November 27, 2005

MyWayToCreateMusic: Tools Part 2 - Software

Let's continue!

If you are going to use a computer to create music you'll need some software too. Apart of your OS you'll need other things:

1st. A sequencer. There're a lot of software sequencers available. May me the most used are Cubase, ProTools, Logic or Sonar. These are commercial software, and most of them are quite expensive, but you can find some free sequencers too.

There is a free version of ProTools (may be the most used proffesional sequencer), but there're other options like Emagic's Logic fun, a free version of Logic, it famous sequencer.

Anyway, most of the sequencers works in the same way and have similar functions: MIDI & Audio tracks, mixing table, plugin support, effects, etc. So surf the web to learn more about these products, check your pocket to see if you have enough money to buy your favourite sequencer or download some of the free ones.

2nd. Samples. If you don't own a keyboard with builtin sounds you'll need a sampler to store the sounds you'll use to create your music.

There are two sample types: loops or 'single note' samples. Loops are usually rhythm samples which can be used to create the rhythm base of a song. They can help you to build a song in few minutes, and they are good to inspire you, so they'll help you to find the melody or song you're looking for. The disadvantade is that they aren't very flexible, so you'll be limited when you use them to build a song.

In the other hand, 'single note' samples are very flexible, due they only contain a single note of a certain instrument.

Using some of these samples you can create a virtual instrument. This virtual instrument is built using one sample for each instrument's note. This allows you to play a sitar with your keyboard, for example. Anyway, you'll need to work a lot in this samples to get a credible real instrument sound.

Usually, the most credible instruments samples are percussions, due these instruments are single noted. But with brass or strings ones you'll need to spend some time until you get good results.

There're tons of samples/virtual instruments available, to be used by keyboards and hardware samplers, or in software samplers. You'll find free samples available on Internet or in digital music magazines, but the best samples are usually commercial products, so if you don't have a keyboard you'll need to spend some money.

I can't say 'The winner in the 'Samples contest is...', because It depends of the sound you're looking for. Sometimes you'll find the sound you want on the CD of a digital music magazine or in one of those expensive samples pack used by professionals.

If you have enough money you can check some of the products of Big fish audio, Eastwest or Vienna. Probably Vienna is the most used orchestral sample pack, but it's quite expensive for most of the people, so it's usually used only by professionals. A cheaper option could be the Big fish audio products.

Ok, here ends the first chapter. I hope you liked it.

See you in the second chapter: 'Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working'

MyWayToCreateMusic: Tools Part 1 - Hardware

Hi again!

May be you have enough money to rent Vienna's symphonic orchestra, but in most of cases you will not have more than the money necessary to buy a new computer or soundcard. Well, don't panic mate! you don't need more than these to get some aceptable results.

The only thing you need to begin working is yourself. I'll explain this later deeply, but for the moment I suppose you have this hardware: yourself. If you haven't, ask your girlfriend, boss or teacher to have more free time :-)

2nd: A computer. You won't need a high-end one, with 4 GB RAM or the latest processor, motherboard or soundcard. Any modern computer will do this job very well.

In my opinion, and being very simple, any computer with 2 years or less will do a great job, with 2 to 4 years will do a decent job, and with more than 4 years will need extra hardware to accomplish the objetive. That is, to use an external sampler, etc.

If you're going to use your computer as sampler, secuencer and mixer the most important feature will be the RAM. Depending the amount of samples you use, you'll need a lot of RAM. To have 1GB or more will be a good idea, if you can afford it. And if it's fast better than if it isn't, of course ;-)

To have a good hard disk is very important too. Today you can buy cheap fast hard disks with hundreds of GB. If you are going to use samples you'll need a lot of disk space to store them.

Some of this SATA hard disk will have some clipping problems due hardware configuration. If you're going to use these hard disks to create music you can find more information about this problem HERE.

3rd: The soundcard. It's part of the computer, I know, but I've used a new bullet for it because it's the final interface between your computer and you.

You don't need to spend a lot of money in your soundcard, but you need to know that if you have a bad soundcard your processor will need to work harder than if you have a newer/more professional soundcard.

I don't like builtin soundcards, so any hardware acelerator soundcard as Creative SB Live! or newer soundcard or equivalent will be a better option. In the other hand, some of the newest models as the new Creative's X-Fi series, or other professional soundcards can give you extra features, but you will get good results with this cheap hardware anyway.

4h: A MIDI keyboard, controller or any other MIDI device. You can use it to play or edit easily the music you record. Of course, you don't need a MIDI device to create the music, you can write the score directly in the score screen, piano roll or other edit screen of your secuencer program, but for those of you who don't know a lot of music theory the easiest way will be to use one of these MIDI instruments.

The cheapest option is a MIDI keyboard controller. This is a piano keyboard which can't play any sound by itself. You need to connect it to your PC or other MIDI device capable to generate sound from samples, etc. You can find this from 100€/$. In the other hand, if you have a MIDI keyboard you can use its builtin soundbank to generate the sound. This is the best option if you have an old computer which can't handle a lot of samples by itself.

Ok, these will be the basic hardware. Of course, you can add as much hardware as you can afford, and probably if will help you to get better results. But may be not. Take in mind the most important hardware to get a good song is YOU.

You can have rack of digital effects, a 3000€ computer, a 64 tracks mixer or the latest Akai keyboard, but without a good idea you won't get a good song, dude ;-)

See you in the next chapter: Tools part 2 - Software

My way to create music: Intro

Welcome back,

During the next days I'm going to share with you my way to create music. For some of you may be this isn't interesting, but for other it'll be at least curious, and may be for somebody it'll be useful.

I'm going to split this 'how I create my music' in chapters. The idea is to get into the creation process so I won't focus a lot in technical aspects. Anyway, I can't ignore the need of use tools to convert an initial idea in something more real, so the fist part of this thing will be focused in the tools you need. You can find thousands of websites which contain information about music theory, MIDI, samples, effects or mixing if you need more information about this.

As you know, there're a lot of music styles: pop, rock, folk, dance, hip-hop, classical and hundreds more. I'll focus this document in how to create classical compositions or orchestral arrangements, but most of the ideas of this document can be applied to other styles.

In the other hand, creating classical music with a computer has limitations. Is important to know what limitations you have, otherwise you can get frustrated very soon.

The more evident is the hardest one: to get your music sounds as it were played by a real orchestra. But we'll talk about this later. Now let's go with some useful tools: the hardware!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My music as part of a documentary!!

Hi again folks!

another great surprise! Some days ago I received three emails and a post in my Soundclick's message board asking permission to use my music in a DVD documentary which will be sold in NoFear stores worldwide!

This time, the theme is not WWII, because the DVD is about motocross. The title is 'The constant war', and such title and the DVD cover shows a military taste, so I suppose the music will fit well (otherwise these guys weren't interested in use it, hehe). You can find a trailer and more info about this DVD here.

Here is part of one of these emails:

Hi Rantam
Your music is amazing. Very epic, very impressive.
I'm curious to find out about your means of composing such well-produced songs.

I've actually sent you an email and was wondering if you received it. I'm a producer/music supervisor from a film/tv production company( that produces extreme sports documentaries. We love your music and want to use "Entering Battle" and "Forgotten Hope" in an upcoming low-budget documentary on the sport of motocross. The documentary will be sold in NoFear stores worldwide.


It's great to know so much people really like my work!! Let's see if they use my music finally, because they are going to release this DVD in 05' Nov and may be I've answered a bit late to their e-mail.

Ok, and finally I'd like to give you some information about the incoming 'My way to create music' thing. I don't like to call it tutorial or howto, because I'm not trying to teach you anything. It only describes my way to create music and some comments and ideas which may be can be useful to some of you.

This document is getting bigger and more complex every day, so I'm going to split it in several chapters. My idea is to release the introduction (really short) and may be the first chapter this week.

It's being a hard week, but I'll try to do it ;-)

Thanks for your attention, see ya here very soon!