First off, this may seem pretty pathetic but I feel it's the best place to learn things from. I really like making music but so far all I've done is make lame combinations of voices on keyboards (played by hand). Obviously only with electronic music, because orchestral-keyboard-music = echh...but finally I bought Cubase, and now finally EWQLSO Silver edition. Anyways.....the samples sound odd now but that's only because I'm a beginner and don't know how to work anything. Anyways, can anyone tell me a good place to start to learn this kind of stuff? Or anyone willing to help me out? I've got tons of ideas I've stored over the past years for music bursting in my head but I have no idea how I can produce them. I can make simple tunes meaning set a midi to a EWQLSO sample, but of only one line things with none of the "effects" or anything, so it just sounds dull and unrealistic, not to mention very bad. So does anyone have advice on where to start?
I don't own Silver, but in general a good place to start is to come up with a simple melody or supporting harmony, choose your instrument, and then try to play that musical line as naturally as possible to a click track. There are a few keys to doing this well:
* Practice, practice practice. Getting the timing accurate is really tough. Getting the dynamics even is easier, but still takes practice. There are two workarounds: you can slow down the click track when recording and speed it up for playback, or you can tweak notes in the sequencer by hand. But good technique is the very best route.
* Creating human sounding dynamics on blown and bowed instruments. On a guitar or piano you just pluck/strike, let it ring, then mute. But on trumpet, flute or violin you can make the sound swell or die away. Some libs use the mod-wheel for this, others use MIDI control CC-11 (Expression). There are more advanced tricks of the trade, but master this one above all others.
* Select your articulations. With Silver this may not apply, but may libs have various articulations for staccato, vibrato, non-vibrato, etc. Sometimes you can blend artuculations with good results. Whatever makes the most realistic musical line.
* Play idiomatically. Don't play block chords with a flute. Don't play portamento on a marimba. (At least not in orchestral music.) Instead, listen to how instruments are played by experts, and try to emulate that. For instance, on guitar you can play a chord by delaying each higher note slightly to create a down-strum. On trumpet you can play the individual notes of chords to give a fanfare sound.
If you use these techniques and ensure that each musical line stands on its own, you will have nice results when you combine the instruments - assuming that you can write and orchestrate reasonably well. But those are different subjects.
Silver is currently my main lib. and i can use it well . Feel free to PM me if you have anything to ask or want a demonstration of how to do something.
But basically, stick to what Jon says. Also, when you have the basics down, work on humanizing alot. For instance, slightly offset notes in a piano melody and use different velocites. If you just lay down a melody and all notes in chords strike at the same time for instance, itll sound very mechanical and dull. Offsetting notes works very well with percussion.
Oh, and look around the EW, Garritan forums for user demos. Some are very good and are perfect examples of quality orchestration.
I have a question: You can hook up a keyboard to computer via MIDI and play notes and then set them to one of the EWQLSO voices, right? I'm thinking that would play with a bit more life than arranging them on the sequencer with click-create. Only thing is, my keyboard has touch setting so that soft touch = soft sound hard touch = louder sound. Will this transfer to the computer or will it just record all flat notes and I have to modify everything from there?
You are at the very beginning of a long journey.
I admire and respect anyone who has the passion to start it.
your keyboard has what is called 'velocity sensitive'. Meaning exactly what you said - harder=louder, softer=softer.
This is a good thing.
Most of us learned through trial and error. Just doing it and doing it.
Piano and/or guitar ability certainly helps in writing songs. You may want to develop either or both of those skills.
As far as the software - trial and error - and leave the manual in the bathroom. Amazing how much you can learn in there.
You may find that most forums are not the best places to look for answers.
It's very hard to help someone throught the initial steps through typing.
Find a friend who has this stuff together.
One on one you will be amazed at how much faster (and more fun) you will progress.
If you can't find a mentor - just someone who is starting out can be a big help. Sort of sharing in the suffering.!
I can't imagine how daunting it all must look to you right now.
But you will get there.
The one big truth that never changes no matter how accomplished you are -
composition is sitting at a chordal instrument (guitar/piano) and moaning out a melody (most composers can't sing well!).
Play a chord - start moaning.
Then record the chords into your sequencer and make another instrument play what you moaned.
It is exactly that simple - exactly that hard.
The tech stuff will come in time.
And the learning(headaches) from technology never stop.
Sounds like you have a good set of tools to start. Find someone who has it together. Buy him/her some pizza and beer.
Someone on this forum could probably help you lots. Plenty of good composers here...
I would help more, but i dont seqence in Cubase, so i couldnt say anything about that. I use FL (even though its portrayed as a crappy beginners program) its very good. Much quicker and easier to write things.
Basicly recording MIDI from keyboard and editing the data with the mouse is everything you need to know about technology for some time. You just have to separate the programming and the mixing from each other. My advice would be to get into chamber music for starters. Music that is made for small amount of instruments and is meant to be performed in small spaces with moderate reverberation. This way you can concentrate on the MIDI and orchestration basics and leave the mixing (meaning things like equalization and reverbs) until you are ready for it. The Silver has great solo instruments and you can do enjoyable music with them even without any kind of mixing. The onboard reverb in the Silver player isn't great but it might help you with getting to the right mood as a completely dry instrument doesn't usually feel natural.
Start small. Don't start your first symphony just yet but try to make a couple of songs with a violin, cello, flute and a piano. Then familiarize yourself with the string sections. Strings are very homogenous meaning that the string sections all have similar sound and playing techiques. Therefore they might be easier to work with than the winds. Also there is more ready music available with just the strings than there is music with only some winds. After that start playing with the brass and rest of the woodwinds. Most of the wind instruments have their own usages in orchestral context and you have to learn these things before you can write for the full orchestra. Basicly don't try to learn everything at once.
You are trying to emulate real instruments. Therefore you have to understand how the real instruments work. If you have some basic knowledge about music theory you should get Samuel Adler's The Study of Orchestration. Get it from a local library and try it out. It will help you a lot with the orchestration part if you can understand it. Don't get stuck to it if you don't. The part about instrumentation will be useful even if you don't know much about music theory.
As suggested before you should get library demo MP3s. Get also the same songs on CDs played by real players if such recordings are available. Listening to the library demos and comparing them to the actual performances help you to understand what can and can't be done with the library. A perfect orchestral library doesn't exist and there is no point for you to try achieving something that the library isn't capable of.
Don't get stuck if your single melody line doesn't sound overwhelming. Even if the Silver instruments are great for the price they aren't going to sound like superb performances by professional players. Multiple instruments playing simultaneously are most likely going to sound more realistic. You just have to know what to do with the instruments.
Just don't get stuck. If something feels too difficult then try something else and get back to it later. When you get stuck you can come back here and ask more questions.