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Topic: Best software for composing-

  1. #1

    Best software for composing-

    Hi there,

    I've been composing for a fair while now, primarily using Finale with the GPO library, however, I think I would like to try something different, something better.

    So, I need your help! When it comes to sequencers and samplers, I don't particularly know one from the other; I was looking on Kontakt's website and I listened to the amazing demos they have on there, but, if I were to but Kontakt 3, how exactly can I use it? Is it possible for me to use it with Finale as well? Or would I have to use a keyboard to produce the sounds? How exactly does it work?

    Also, I've been looking at the East West products, again they sound absolutely amazing, but with they're price tag, I suppose they should do!
    Anyway, does the same apply with the East West range of software? Is it possible to use it in conjunction with Finale?

    Ideally, I'd want something that I could use with Finale and my keyboard...however, I'm not quite so sure it's as simple as that!
    On YouTube, these people have about 3 different keyboards with all these mixers and computers and full studios, when all I want is to get the same quality sound, but on my computer with the help of my keyboard (a Yamaha, DGX-620) without all these complicated studios and what-not!

    I'd be so greatful if you guys could help me!

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Re: Best software for composing-


    Lot's of things to explain here...

    Let's start from the very beginning, by definitions and move further to choices then.

    1. Software:

    a. Notation programs: The main purpose of these are to export a fine printed sheet music! Finale, Sibelius, Notion, Noteworthy are all examples of such programs. Lately (over the past few years), the move has been made for these to also be able and create very nice renderings, using sample libraries! So with Finale, for example, and GPO, you can get most excellent results, considering the program, the sample library and the general price tag, as compared to other choices.
    b. Sequencers: Mainly for... sequencing (creating) renderings (music). Logic (Mac only), Pro Tools (actually Mac or PC, or both? :S), Sonar (PC only), cubase (both), reaper (both and shareware, thus towards free), even reason and FL are such programs. They are capable to handle audio files, not only midi, and you have much greater control of what you hear. On the contrary, whilst most have notating capabilities, these are quite limited to date.
    c. Samples. These are sounds!

    MIDI, is a protocol for communication of digital instruments. MIDI does NOT contain any sounds! It's just information towards the length of the note (otherwise known as event), the duration, the velocity (how hard you hit it), the pitch (which note), etc...

    MIDI all alone is usually heard from your soundcard and what is known as GM (General MIDI) which does not sound THAT great.

    If, however, you take the midi information and use samples (such as those from Eastwest, as you said, or VSL, or Garritan, or Kirk Hunter, or Bela, or pianoteq, or whoever else anyways), you can create very realistic results, such as those you hear on the demos in those websites you went in.
    d. Samplers (notice the ending), and sample players!

    Samples are just sounds, audio files. It takes lots of effort to map these different files (which may very well be thousands of them), into a coherent system, and organise them in such fashion so as to play accordingly to what YOU play through your keyboard!

    Sample players do exactly that! They correspond between you and the samples. If you hit C4 rather hard (velocity... 90 let's say), you will hear the specific file! If you hit C4 VERY HARD (velocity 125) you'll hear a different sound probably and something... louder. And so on...

    SampleRS are players and editors as well. They do exactly the above, but you can also create your own samples, maps, recreate various stuff (although it's on the edge of the illegal to play with other peoples samples), and so on...

    PLAY (Eastwest), VI from VSL, ARIA engine from Garritan are all players.

    Kontakt2/3, Gigasamplers, Halion are all samplers.


    Choices and links

    Notation you are covered but for the shake of the rest:

    Finale: http://www.finalemusic.com/
    Sibelius: http://www.sibelius.com/home/index_flash.html
    NOTION: http://www.notionmusic.com/
    Noteworthy: http://www.noteworthysoftware.com/


    Cubase: http://www.steinberg.net/en/home.html
    Sonar: http://www.cakewalk.com/
    Logic: http://www.apple.com/logicstudio/
    Reaper: http://www.reaper.fm/
    Samplitude: http://www.samplitude.com/eng/seq/
    Reason: http://www.propellerheads.se/
    FL (fruityloops): http://www.fruityloops.com/


    I'll limit myself to orchestral stuff, otherwise I would need another two days to finish this post...

    Garritan: http://www.garritan.com
    VSL: http://vsl.co.at/
    Eastwest: http://www..com
    Kirk Hunter Studios: http://www.kirkhunterstudios.com/
    Ivory (piano): http://www.synthogy.com/
    Pianoteq (piano and not samples, btw): http://www.pianoteq.com
    truepianos (piano and not samples, btw): http://www.truepianos.com/
    Galaxy II (piano): http://galaxypianos.com/
    Garritan and VSL and Eastwest all have also lovely pianos out!

    As you can imagine I can't start explaining each choice, it's something that you will need to do by yourself by following the links I provided...

    In general, for your main question, Finale has VST support which means that it can work with "anything". It has that support for quite some time now and generally it seems to be leading the playback revolution in notation software. I do know people who use successfuly EW products in Finale, and GPO (Garritan Person Orchestra) is certainly usable through Finale, since it's already half bundled there. It probably is the finest choice to use in Finale, since it works SO well inside it!

    If you visit the Garritan forums (here in NSS) you can here more demos and see how people use GPO inside Finale and what they can create with it.


    Phew... I'm done I think... Any non 100% descriptions someone else cover me please. I'm done with my post and hope that all links work and should give a head start...



    Sound is very much dependant on what you use, but also who you are and how you use it! I have heard brilliant demos from cheaper products like GPO, and very ugly ones from VSL (GPO costs around 200$ and VSL can go up to $10,000 just for the shake of comparison).

    You soundcard does not really really matter, since you will be working digitally, inside your computer, and thuse you won't have any loses. Very cheap soundcards may have a slight deteratory result, especially in a slight panning towards the one side, but still there's no harm done.

    Your hearing must be very very good however. Meaning that, you will need a good set of monitors, or an excellent set of headphones, as well as creating a more aggreable room for your monitors (even 10,000$ monitors in a toilet will sound like... well you guessed it). Headphones might help towards that, since you don't need room treatment, but they can be tricky and you do need to have a comparison with normal monitors!

    You don't really need 3-4 keyboards, or mixing consoles, etc, if all you do is to stay inside your computer. None of this matters! For the record, I don't have any mixing console just yet, alhtough I will be buying shortly, for mic recordings, etc...

    Good luck

  3. #3

    Re: Best software for composing-

    hey calamity symphony... you have your best answer in nikolas post... all i can add is that its quite a world of difference to switch to logic or cubase (sequencer) from finale... however if you have good keyboard skills then you will find that in time... for a better sounding production a sequencer is very necessary... i do everything in logic pro on mac... and i do computer games, advertisements, ... all kinds of stuff, just with my laptop... no outboard equipment except for some "Tannoy Reveal" -Speakers and two sets of earphones (AKG K240 & Sony MDR 7506). All these products are very good value and pretty much studio standard.. once you get to know more about mixing... given you don't know already. These products make everything sound real nice... so you get a pretty good sounding result without a big effort... This is considered a BAD thing because the whole thing is to have honest sounding speakers, that reproduce exactly what you're doing.

    So-far it suits me.. and it is just one of the infinite solutions for monitoring.

    ....got a bit side tracked there...

    at the end of the day, just find the tool YOU can work with best and refine that.. if composition on paper is your Strength, then find someone that can take your composition (either on paper or as a midi file) and go crazy with it... You'll learn quicker and see quicker which route you want to take from there...

    Enjoy music.

    MacBook Pro; 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo;
    2 GB SDRAM; Logic Pro; Lacie 350 GB HD;


  4. #4

    Re: Best software for composing-

    Finale can play VST instruments directly, so you can use Kontakt or any VST. Just go to the Midi setup and select the "play Finale through VST" Then go to instrument setup and choose VST and you can load any VST instrument. I've used several of the EastWest titles.

    This might be step one for you so you won't have to purchase everythng at once. If you purchase a library for use with Finale, it must be one that comes with a Player like Kontakt Player. Or if you purchased a Player/Editor like Kontakt, it comes with a decent amount of sample library demos that are useful.

    Sequencers such as Sonar, Cubase, do make it easier to edit midi data to get a more realistic sound. But if you are comfortable with Finale it can also output Midi files for use with other sequencers as well.

    But you can start with what you have and just add a decent VST instrument.


  5. #5

    Re: Best software for composing-

    I think there is no best software for composing.

    If you want an excellent recording, then you must use a sequencer like Cubase, Sonar, Samplitude, DP e.t.c. .

    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  6. #6

    Re: Best software for composing-

    Can't let Nikolas get away with not mentioning MOTU's DP (DIGITAL PERFORMER).

    Some would say THE BEST but largely unheralded (certainly in Europe anyway) sequencer on the market.

    Another mac only sequencer of course.
    MacPro 2x3 Ghz Quad Intel OSX 10.4.11 DP 5.13
    9 Gig RAM
    VI's & Libs: Ethno4 / Tsaiko/ RA / Symphonic Choirs/ MX 4 / V-Station / Kontact / Arturia MiniMoog V / EWQLSO Gold / GPO / Atmosphere / Trilogy / NI Komplete4 / Massive / SAM Horns / True Strike /GPO/Garritan Jazz Band / QL Brass /Stylus RMX/ Atmosphere /Trilogy/ Voices of Passion

  7. #7

    Re: Best software for composing-

    LOL! Thus my european place, as well as my all PC past is revealed!

    Whoops! Sorry!

  8. #8

    Re: Best software for composing-

    I also think that the ideal tool doesn’t exist.

    We are in 2008 and, ladies and gentleman :

    Still no vertical piano roll.

    Still no real playback at cursor.

    Still no articulation detection on-track.

    Still that prehistorical MIDI protocol, and sequencer / player separation.

    Still those definitely unproductive loading times...

    ...or did I miss something ?

    Hard to be a composer with all those 80’s or 90’s technologies...

    But after what doesn't exist yet, I think that Nikolas’ post will be more helpful for you...
    Gabriel Plalame.

    (The French dyslexic who speaks badly English.)

  9. #9

    Re: Best software for composing-

    ....., but the film companies will have soon some very great intelligent libraries where they don`t need composers any more.

    They click "friendly", "drama", "dangerous" a.s.o., and the intelligent lib-program will compose all for them.... . Yeah, another result from "save money...." .
    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  10. #10

    Re: Best software for composing-

    Hands down, the best software for composition..is Notion.

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