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Topic: Getting Started with Music Production?

  1. #1

    Getting Started with Music Production?

    I'm not sure if this is the right place for something like this, but it seemed like a nice community so I figured I'd try.

    I've taken orchestration and composition courses, but everything I've done has been strictly acoustic--on paper, with the occasional finalizing on Sibelius to get parts printed and to their respective performers. Classical composition's always been a hobby, and when a friend approached me with an offer to do some collaborative film-type work (small-time stuff), I figured I'd extend that hobby.

    I hear some amazing stuff that's been done without the use of real instruments, and I wanted to get a start on that. I was wondering if anyone had any tips? For instance, is it as simple as purchasing a library such as Garritan Personal Orchestra, and having it set as the output or playback device for what I'd notate in Sibelius? Or would anyone recommend that I invest the time in learning to use a DAW? Would a DAW offer advantages to this kind of music production over a music notation software?

    Also, would I need a midi keyboard? Browsing around for information, I've seen quite a bit on this kind of music production needing a solid midi keyboard. Normally I just compose from a regular piano and notate it as I go. Is there a reason midi keyboards seem to be so important in music production?

    Basically I'm just looking for some tips to get started. I have almost no experience dealing with the virtual side of music production. If anyone could point me in the right direction, I'd be very grateful!

  2. #2

    Re: Getting Started with Music Production?

    Hello and welcome -

    In reading your post it seems that you're starting from "ground zero" with regards to music production.

    First I want to relate to you as someone who also puts "pencil to manuscript paper". I've been composing in that manner since high school and music college years which is over 3 decades ago. Been sequencing for over 2 decades so I will naturally want to suggest to you that you work with sequencing programs. LOL!

    But the buttom line is this, with the maturity in programming found in the latest edition of music-related software, one can find really well-rendered and realistic sounding music in either notation programs or audio/sequencing programs. I have both (Finale by Make Music and Logic Pro by Apple.) Both will get the job done. You will get responses advocating for either method of producing music (without recording live musicians).

    Now. . . at this point I need to share with you that I am not in the music business making any kind of money. There are people here that are though. In reading the many posts on similar subjects from similar music production-focused bulletin boards, it is my understanding that there exists expectations of a rather quick turn-around with regards to scoring music to video/film. It's just something to think about when developing a work-flow with how your compose/create music. Hopefully, people more "in the know" will also respond to your post and offer you thoughtful suggestions. There are other bulletin boards that also deal video and music production. A good one that I visit is http://www.dvinfo.net. Althouth it's primarily video-focused, there are plenty of forums within that particular bulletin board that address audio and other production matters of video. Check out the support forums of the software products that you're considering purchasing. For example, Apple has a great "discussion" support forums for their products including Logic Pro (from the music end) and Final Cut Pro (from the video-editing end). Also, check out the following music/recording related forums which have served me well in the past in providing thoughtful information: http://www.kvraudio.com and http://www.recording.org .

    My set-up? Logic Pro on an aging Mac Pro computer, MOTU 2408 MK3 audio device, the latest versions of both Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro, an aging M-Audio 88 KeyboardPro midi-controller/keyboard, studio speakers (3 sets) and LOTS of "home-made" manuscript paper created from the Finale notation program. The set-up works well for me.

    Now. . . with regards to instrumental libraries. This is a Garritan forum. I own several different versions of a number of the Garritan libraries (GPO, JABB, etc.). I think that these libraries make a fine edition to one's music production studio. Garritan products have been used on video scores, film scores and television series.

    But. . . if you want to record only live musicians. . . that's another whole bunch of paragraphs worth of typing that I (unfortunately) don't have the knowledge-base to share with you. Others will.

    Good luck with your learning process. And, again, welcome.

    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  3. #3

    Re: Getting Started with Music Production?

    Just a few quick notes, Darsh --

    If you are already using Sibelius, then you already have a "DAW," although somewhat limited in scope. Most DAWs also include a sequencing program which will give you greatly expanded control over the MIDI data generated by Sibelius, but you can record directly from Sibelius if you like.

    Sibelius 6 comes bundled with several selections from the Garritan libraries, and you can use all of the full Garritan libraries with Sibelius as well as whatever sequencing program you like that can handle VST instruments.

    Also, if you use Sibelius to enter all of your notes, then you don't need any external MIDI equipment such as a MIDI keyboard unless you just want to enter MIDI data that way... some people prefer that, and some do not, so it's a matter of personal preference.

    Most days, I can do without my MIDI keyboard because I enter the notes into Finale (for notation) and Sonar (for sequencing) using my mouse, but there are occasionally some passages that I might like to enter using the keyboard directly -- but only because it saves TIME.

    Many decisions about building or expanding your DAW are personal things that YOU decide you might want to use or to do without. Expense is also a major consideration for many people. It all depends on your personal goals, your aspirations, your budget and the amounts and kinds of equipment you believe you might need. But all of those decisions are personal decisions. You already have a DAW in using Sibelius, which is not just a notation program, but you appear to have been using it in that limited capacity. It is capable of much, much more, so you might want to explore that avenue before looking at other options.

    I wish you well, and make great music!!!
    Arvid Hand

  4. #4

    Re: Getting Started with Music Production?

    My music life changed when I bought a MIDI keyboard and a sound card with ASIO support. I've had already been using a DAW (an ancient version of Sonar) for a while by that time, but not for MIDI, instead acoustic production.
    But the MIDI keyboard and the good sound card have opened me up a whole new world of possibilities. First I discovered the Hauptwerk virtual pipe organ, and then I started to look for VST instruments, then different VST hosts, then I got an Akai EWI USB, with that I discovered Garritan, and now I'm happily experimenting with symphonic orchestral arrangement. 2 years ago I didn't even know what a VST was, I was playing the piano and occasionaly ethnic flute.
    Now I'm struggling a bit with the huge amount of possibilities and the lack of time, but I have learnt a lot of great stuff, great part thanks to this community.
    Now I'm using REAPER as my DAW, I find it very convenient. And it is inexpensive. If you have a decent computer you might not need a separate ASIO card, you might have luck with just installing the free Asio4All driver.
    Instead of notation programs I prefer to record the voices "live" in a DAW, to make them more humen.

  5. #5

    Re: Getting Started with Music Production?

    Thanks for all the great responses! It's true that I haven't explored Sibelius at ALL . . . it's just been a way to notate a conductor's score and print parts for me. I'll take a deeper look into it, and check out those links that were mentioned! I think I'll start with finally consulting my Sibelius' F1. If things get a bit more serious, then I'll look into a VST and a keyboard.

    Thanks again for the tips!

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