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Topic: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

  1. #1

    General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

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    I’m having some significant learning curve issues migrating from older proprietary hardware sequencers/hardware sounds to CubaseSX & Soft Samplers. I often wonder how others got to where they are and the level of challenges faced.

    Regarding Sequencers: When Midi was standardized in the 80’s, did everyone immediately jumped to computer-based, or was the typical migration path first proprietary hardware sequencers and then a slow progression to PC/MAC computer-based sequencing? And when you did try PC/MAC sequencing, what platform/seqencer did you come from and how difficult was the transition? Was it intuitive and fun, or full of bugs, and a tough learning curve? I can only imagine the frustrations for the early adopters of the first MAC/PC sequencing software. It was surprising to read that some of the earliest computers, such as the Commodore, had relatively sophisticated sequencing software.

    Regarding Sounds: This I have more knowledge in compared to the progression of sequencing platforms. I guess we are pretty much today in the midst of watching hardware sounds become obsolete and the mass move to soft synths. But I could benefit from hearing other’s perspective on the challenges faced when you moved from proprietary hardware sounds to soft samples. I know I haven’t found it easy.

    Although posting in the Gen Discussion forum and off the beaten path, hopefully you have a few free minutes to tell your story sometime. Maybe me (and others in my boat)will receive inspiration and validation that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and to keep enduring.

    Some interesting things found on the web -
    Analog Sequencers of all things. A Brief history of midi sequencers (from Google search)

    Berfore the induction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in 1982, there
    were analog sequencers. They would spit out pre-programmed voltages to a sound
    generator to produce a series of notes. The patterns they played were liimited and
    there were not any editing or manipulation capabilities. The early digital sequencers
    before MIDI were a blend of the \"then new\" digital technologies and old analog (voltage) technology. They had a digital memory and control voltage inputs. They were more
    acurate and in tune than the analog sequencers, but still very limited with no editing or synching capabilities.
    Before MIDI there were many compatibility problems... Brand X\'s sequencer might not work with Brand Y\'s synthesizer... This limited musicians to sticking to one brand for
    their electronic music gear. Then the MIDI protocol came along. The MIDI protocol
    got all different electronic misc devices manufactured by different companies speaking the same language. This allows musicians to mix and match the brands of equipment they use to fit their needs. It also allows for third parties to create all sorts of utilities and
    software for MIDI.

    ADULT RATED XXX Pics of vintage computer-based sequencing programs:


  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    I cut my teeth on MiniMoogs, an old Korg Trident, a couple of Buchla 200s cobbled together, and a pair of Ampex 1/2\" 4-tracks. I also had a lovely Rhodes Stage 73, with an extra harp so that I could always pop an \"in tune\" harp in and take my time tuning up the other one. I got into sequencing around 1984-1985. There was very little MIDI at first, but it exploded quickly. Started building up a huge collection of keyboards for the next couple of years, and went from Roger Powell\'s Texture sequencer on Apple IIe to Master Tracks to Cakewalk to Cubase to Cakewalk. Started selling off the keyboards when I got bored with the sounds, and had a couple of years where I did nothing but looping and musique concrete. Then I got back into synthesis with Reaktor and Reality, got GigaStudio, and have never looked back.

    All the while, though, I was gigging on trumpet and percussion, and involved in more traditional studio projects as well.

    That\'s my story.

    As far as the sounds and the creativity, I think it\'s all a wash, then and now. Now there\'s a lot more \"realism\" oriented products, but creativity is creativity. You find a way to make interesting music on whatever is available. I know in my case that it was sometimes easier to be creative when the sounds were less realism-oriented. When you remove that onus, things are more fun, at least to me.

  3. #3

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    Hi Bruce,

    That your first midi \"experience\" was on computer rather than hardware dedicated sequencer is very surprising. Powell\'s Texture - don\'t think I\'ve heard of that one. Before that, actual tape.

    Very interesting comment about how it was somehow easier when the sounds were less real. I\'m finding the same thing, and how in the world can this be?

    I appreciate the glimpse into your yester-years. Thank you.

  4. #4

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    As someone said elsewhere, Joanne, you do have a talewnt for proposing stimulating discussions.

    I am not sure whether you are interested in hearing only from people with a great deal of experience, but I am answering anyway! I got my first synth and software sequencer about five years ago. A year ago I got my first sampler(software) and sample library(AO). For technical reasons(!) I have not really been able to use the library much until a couple of months ago. (By the way, I am very grateful to Bruce R, for some terrifically helpful reviews published on another website, which made it very easy for me to choose a library. I would love to have his help now in decioding about GPO!)

    By and large, although some investment is needed in learning to use these tools, the big problem, I think, is if you seek authentic imitation of the acoustical instruments of the orchestra. This is a big job indeed, even if the sample libraries are extraordinary, because I find that you must try to feel as if you are really playing each of the instruments. In addition, you must really understand the articulations that these instruments are capable of producing (There are over two dozen ways to articulate a violin). Traditionally, the composer may provide some guidance, but mostly these things are decided by the performer and conductor.

    If in addition your output will be a finished CD rather than a paper score for musicians, you now have also to become a sound engineer.

    If on the other hand you regard the sample libraries and the samplers to manipulate them, as just a big bag of aural candy to be strewn about at you discretion just for the fun of it, then it can be a lot easier, thrilling and fun!

    I am in the latter category, BUT, when I use samples of orchestral instruments, i have fallen into the trap of wanting them to sound AUTHENTIC!!! in old age, the issues of quantity of life(how long you live) is in conflict with the quality of life(do you have alzheimer\'s). With this computer music stuff, the QUANTITY of composition can be severely threatened by a compulsion to try to imitate(futile task) the QUALITY of fine acoustical performers. To really accomplish this, I think requires a Faustian contract! I am trying to get away from trying...HELP(diminuendo..fino a silenzio)


  5. #5

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    Hi Edi,

    Thanks for your post. So you too started with sequencing software on PC or MAC and did not first make a stop at a hardware sequencer.

    I think you might have explained one of the reasons realistic samples aren\'t quite and easy and fun as the older sounds as Bruce said. Added realism seems to highlight when we compose voices for a given instrument that either cannot be played by a real live musician, or are in the wrong range for a given instrument. It makes sense that with realistic sample we simply cannot get away with as much.

    Good points how we have now become sound engineers as well as composers, and that being too concerned with realism means you will have that much less total body of work at the end of the day. Thanks for the interesting perspectives.

  6. #6

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    Hi Frogness,

    What a background. Starting with the Commodore (only 3 voices!), but you consider you\'re real first sequencing experience on a hardware keyboard. Like you, I remember the fun of those. Still trying to figure out why that enviroment was so much more fun than what we suffer (sometimes) with now.

    I had no idea you had a pro background in engineering. Although it\'s not where you want to head, the experience must have been worth your time spent. And Cubase was the inspiration to explore engineering. How interesting.

    Revealing is your statement that you love computers. But then again, of course you do. Why else would you be involved with sequencing and the commodore.

    Thanks for providing your background, equipment-wise and your interest in my \"issues\". Some problems are due to not having enough samples, not being able to use my JV-1080, not having any eq/reverb setup, and lack of knowledge of cubase, a persistent bug that will not allow me to create audio from my giga daw to cubase daw. I seem to sit here and whine and complain rather than getting through this with brute force as I usually do.

  7. #7

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    Well I guess you could consider the fiddling I did in the Commodore 64 sequencing. I had a program that was basically a virtual notation page and you\'d select notes from a menu and place them on the the staff. Only 3 voices because it just used BASIC to render the sounds out and it could not be used to create midi info. I also played around a lot with Dr. Rhythm, which was another sort of crude form of sequencing. The first real sequencer I played around with was the Ensoniq EPS. What a revolutionary keyboard that was for it\'s time. It was just like the modern keyboards that have built in sequencers. I saw that at Guitar Center in 86-87, the salesman loaded up Night in Tunisia, and I could not believe what came out of that keyboard. Good times those were. Good Times.

    After that I mostly focused on live playing until I got Cubase VST 3.5 in 97 or so. All I had was my Alesis QS8 and a microphone, so I was limited, by todays standards anyway. It was my love for that program that got me back out to LA to do engineering. There was something so amazing about multi-tracking. It felt like I was creating things that were larger than myself and it was a glorious feeling. I wanted more. I ended up not really caring for engineering. I love the studio and I love the process of engineering but everything else about the field is not cool. 16-20 hour days everyday until a project is done and then you\'re basically unemployed until you find another project. I did learn a lot more about the studio and a lot about Pro Tools.

    Aside from the nightmare of getting 2 computers up and running together and working and sounding good, I\'ve found the transition pretty easy. I think that might be because I\'ve loved computers and have been around them for a good portion of my life. One of the things I really loved about Cubase VST was that it\'s interface was just like a studio. If you knew your way around a control room, you could load up Cubase and just get going. SX is Steinberg;s attempt to compete with Pro Tools, so if you\'re familiar with Pro Tools, SX becomes a little easier to make your way through. I tried Logic a few times and could get things done but all those little icons and drawing lines from one icon to another brought tears to my eyes. Logic\'s great for people that think more abstractly.

    If the transition\'s been hard for you, maybe you haven\'t found a proper environment for the type of person you are. You could probably find VST 5.0 on EBay for cheap. That\'s the most intuitive software I\'ve experienced. Or you could download the trial versions that most of these companies offer. What is it exactly that you\'re having problems with?

  8. #8

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    You should empty your mailbox. It\'s full [img]graemlins/tounge_images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  9. #9

    Re: General Discussion: Sequencing & Sounds Then & Now

    Done. Thanks Michael

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