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Topic: Looking for some sage advice

  1. #1

    Looking for some sage advice

    I also posted this in the Notation/Sequencing forum but I think there's more traffic here.

    Hi there. I'm new to these parts! I've been meaning to get involved in some sort of online musical community for a while, and this seems like a very fine place to finally do that. I look forward to getting to know ya'll.

    I'll spare you the details of my life story, but suffice it to say that I am a composer (at least, that's what I claim to be until I can prove it to people haha) who needs some way of sharing music. I'm fairly new to the game, but after a period of rather intense study and yada-yada-yada, it's time to really get moving with things.

    I work primarily in the "contemporary classical" field, I guess, and I have some ambitions towards film scoring and that sort of thing. But for the moment, I just need a way of getting my music heard. I'll likely use something like Soundcloud to share unless someone has better suggestions for that sort of thing, but this is all a very wordy way of saying that I need to get a sequencer/sampler.

    I'm not the most technically-savvy person; I compose with many pencils (but mostly erasers) and lots of paper, all at a safe distance from any instruments to make my head really do the work. But music in one's head/on paper doesn't do me much good at this point. I'm about to get a shiny new computer (Macbook Pro, most likely) so I'm trying to pin down what type of software to get. As I said, I'm rather ignorant of most of these things. I've used GarageBand to do some rudimentary mock-ups and general messing around before, but I don't really know what I'm doing beyond that.

    From what I've gathered, it seems that a wise choice would be to acquire Garritan stuff and Logic Pro. I considered notation software (Sibelius) but I just can't justify that yet. I'm not publishing music, and no one needs nice and shiny scores from me yet, so my sketches will go in a safe place until the point at which I actually need to turn them into the real thing. For now, all I need is the ability to take my sketches, play them into the computer, and spend some quality time polishing up some nice mock-ups.

    Any kind souls willing to educate me? Sorry for the ridiculously long post!

  2. #2

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Hello, and welcome to the forum! Wonderful to see a new face around here, and I would really look forward to hearing some of your music!

    As far as software suggestions go, if you are steering away from notation software, I can't help you much there, as I've only ever used some sort of notation software. (Finale, currently) As such, I really had very little experience with the sampling world when I first encountered GPO, and I've really enjoyed it ever since. In my experience (that is, using it through Finale) it really does not take a huge amount of effort to get realistic sounds out of the library. I couldn't speak for Logic users, but we have a good mix of notation vs sequencer users on this forum, and I'm sure someone will come along and be able to give more advice than I can. Otherwise, glad to have you with us!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Silh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Alberta, Canada

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Hi, and welcome as well!

    A very quick bit of searching turns up some inconsistent information as to whether GarageBand supports VST instruments or not (could be a very recent addition), but if it does, I guess the first question is would that meet your (current) needs if you were able to load VST instruments such as the Garritan ones into GarageBand? (Note that the Garritan instruments can also be loaded as AU plugins as well, which GarageBand seems to support).

    If GarageBand as a host does not do what you want, I guess the question then is, what would be your preferred way of entering music into the computer, and how much tweaking of it do you want to be able to do? This is where all sorts of personal preferences as to how things are done come into play...

    If you prefer to enter music on a score, maybe notation software is the way to go, whether it be Finale, Sibelius, or some other alternative. They won't allow as much tweaking of the MIDI data as a sequencer would, but I've heard some pretty good results from people using Finale/Sibelius, so just because it's meant primarily for notation doesn't mean it can't be used to produce a good rendering.

    If you prefer to play it in via a keyboard (or you like entering music via the piano roll!), a sequencer would more likely be preferred. There are lots of options out there, be it Logic, Cubase, DP, Reaper, Ableton, FL, etc., each has their own way of doing things and quirks, which everyone has their own preferences for... which is hard to qualify without actually trying things out to see what one likes.

    Or a combination of both... I do my initial entry via notation, since that's how my mind works, then dump the MIDI into a sequencer for the final tweaks and rendering.
    -- Matt Wong

  4. #4

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Hi TheGreyPilgrim:

    Welcome to the Forum. We have many, many ideas on how to make the Garritan Libraries sound as "live" as possible and each one has it advantages/disadvantages. I'm sure you will hear from a lot of folks that have presented some fine music here at the forum from all kinds of input devices, so I won't sell you on any particular one.

    What I would advise, however, is that you get a computer that can handle what you want to produce. During the years that I have been using sampled libraries, I have found that to use Garritan effectively, you will need a 7500 RPM hard drive and at least 2 GB of RAM. I'm using a Mac Pro 2.66 Ghz with 4 GB of RAM. This machine handles anything I want to do with no effort at all. I also have a MacBook Pro and use it as a backup computer and for mobile applications. No problems yet.

    Looking forward to hearing some of your music when you finally get into composing some with your new setup.

    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 25.5, DORICO 1.2.10, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.51, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Canyon, Texas, USA

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Welcome! I am relatively new to this forum and have found the members and moderators to be very helpful.

    I was a pencil and paper composer for many years. I now use a top of the line iMac running Finale and Logic Pro. After getting through the learning curve of Finale I now prefer sketching on the computer to pencil and paper. The combination of immediate playback and easy editing makes working out the final details of a piece much easier than it used to be.

    Now that Make Music owns both the notation and sound software, I'm expecting the two to work together almost seamlessly.

    I strongly agree with the those who suggest that you buy a computer with plenty of speed and memory and that you choose your software based on your preferred method of entering music.

    Take the time to get a good start in using the software but go ahead and start composing as soon as you can. It can take awhile to really master a notation or DAW program. By the way I understand that Apple bought Logic in part to use in developing Garageband and Final Cut Pro. When I bought Logic Pro it included the complete libraries of Garageband extras. I suspect that all of your Garageband work can be moved to Logic Pro rather easily.


  6. #6

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Thanks for joining us here at the Garritan Forums, "TheGreyPilgrim."

    You've already gotten exactly what you were hoping for - some good, sage advice, and I can't really add to what's been said, but I can add my own personal spin.

    Everyone, me included, tends to have a prejudice for the software they use. I use Cakewalk Sonar, recording software not mentioned on this thread yet. I feel it's the best option for this kind of program, and from being a frequent visitor at the Sonar Forums, I've seen many posts from users of *other* programs who are frustrated with what they have, and who make the change to Sonar. BUT - that could probably be said in support of any program you could name. Users like what they have, defend it, and feel the competitors are inferior. SO - We all have to admit our preferences are purely subjective.

    But I do think you need something with more capability than GarageBand, and I can see you feel the same way.

    Even though it sounds like you're tempted to get DAW software so you can play your music, record, edit, and produce good sounding recordings - I'm not so sure that would be the top priority for you right now.

    You're so proficient at notating your music, my opinion is that you would make the best transition first to a notation program. Finale, made by MakeMusic, would of course be the industry-leader choice. MM now owns Garritan, and that partnership is benefiting both Garritan and MM. What a combination of power you would have with Finale - MM's excellent notation coupled with Garritan's excellent virtual instruments.

    A number of Forum members here are experts at getting recordings from Finale that sound wonderful. So even though it's more tricky to produce good demos that way, it is possible, and the membership here would be a great resource to help you out with that.

    So, I'm suggesting you get Finale first - add recording software like Sonar, Cubase etc. later on.


  7. #7

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    So, I'm suggesting you get Finale first - add recording software like Sonar, Cubase etc. later on.
    I have to agree with what Randy has said here because what he describes is...exactly what I did! Except I started with the Sibelius notation application and then added Sonar later on. Now, I don't believe that I am as advanced as you in terms of compositional skills or experience so we aren't exactly on the same part of computer music making path right now but starting out a bit slow with just a notation program will get you up to a certain level of knowledge in what can be a pretty daunting learning curve. You'll learn about virtual instruments, midi and other software stuff. If you hook up your PC or Macbook to a nice sound system then you'll learn some things about the hardware required for all of this like soundcards, interfaces, etc. When you get to the point where Finale can't quite render your pieces exactly like you want (if that ever does happen) then you can get something like Sonar or some other DAW. In my earlier days, I would do a lot of work in Sibelius, then a little in Sonar and then back to Sibelius for another long stretch. By the time I got back to Sonar I would have forgotten much of what I had learned in the DAW! So you can take it kind of slow, you don't have to learn everything at once.

  8. #8

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Wow, thanks for all these responses already and the warm welcome. Let's see....

    Preferred mode of entry... I have done both live playing and note-by-note entering with GarageBand, and I found the latter to be far more tedious (particularly since it takes even more effort to get a natural sound). So I guess live playing through a MIDI keyboard is the way to go in my case. And yes, I'm hoping to choose something much more capable than GarageBand (though it's a fine little program).

    I mentioned I plan to get a Macbook Pro, and this would mean specifications of at least a 2.5GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and a 5400-RPM hard drive. And if I'm really feeling up to it, I may just go for the more powerful model, with stronger processor and RAM but the same hard drive speed. Unfortunately, for now, that's about the limit of what I can get computer-wise.

    As for the notation vs. sequencer question... I'm still leaning a bit towards sequencers for some reason (probably my fondness for the film scoring world), and also because it feels less like repeating a step than entering a sketch into a notation program does. Though if I understand correctly, it is also possible to do live MIDI playing with those programs. I guess what this comes down to is which is more intuitive for creating a mock-up. I seem to remember reading about tweaking samples and patches in notation software and getting the impression that it can be somewhat complex, involving scripts (I use that word completely ignorant of its meaning) and things of that nature. If I ask a vibraphone player to switch his mallets with a bow in the middle of a score, is it less complicated in notation than in a sequencer where I would just change to a new track?

    This is a tougher choice than I initially thought, and I'm grateful to have such support!

  9. #9

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Quote Originally Posted by TheGreyPilgrim View Post
    ... and a 5400-RPM hard drive...
    You have a lot of good new questions in your new post, but for now I wanted to say that I feel you really should balance your list of needs to the faster RPM of 7200. That's a major factor in the heavy processing that happens with all music software, DAW or notation.


  10. #10

    Re: Looking for some sage advice

    Unfortunately it's a matter of money. Apple isn't exactly flexible when it comes to customizing, and as a laptop is the only practical choice for me, it doesn't seem possible to achieve the 7200 RPM speed without looking to non-Mac products. My experience with Mac has been very positive and I've had nothing to gripe about as compared to previous computers I've owned, which is why I wanted to continue with them. But if those extra RPMs are that vital, I guess I may have no choice.

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