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440 Forums _ Musical Theory _ Making Music

Posted by: tacoboy Fri 18 Apr 2003, 17:38

There seems to be a lot of o topics about the technical side of music production. I'd like to know more about the methods.

How did you start out?

What effects has it had on your life and way of thinking?

How have you progressed and where you would like to see yourself in the future?

Posted by: trippinginthefall Fri 25 Apr 2003, 20:49

Since nobody wants to tell you their secrets, I will "give away" how I currently work, since it is about to radically change thanks to my switching to mac.

I select a drum kit by picking through my sample archive and/or cutting up bits of an old old song, circa 70s usually.

I transfer the wav files to a zip, pop the zip into my mpc2KXL and load them onto its 16 pads.

I then pound out a beat, starting with the kick and snare usually -- though I have found starting with another soundset can be very stimulating - like a conga or timbale, even 808/909 toms (very danny tenaglia).

Each layer of the beat is done on a seperate track. I record parts that need to interlock well normally, and when I need a change up I SOLO the new track. Then I preview all parts as I go, redoing new bits that dont fit well. Taste is 98% of composition imho.

I follow in with either a bass line or the first synth part. It helps to be in a constant state of sound design, but carefully - instruments like my Nord can easily have overwrites since it has no Naming feature just a number. On the Virus I usually combine the function of the sound with the tracks working title, like padRighteous, if the tracks name was Righteous.

Backing up, sound design and keeping a song log - three very important things to do.

I also intend to get a digital camera for snapping pics of my analog mixer and then printing them out and sealing them in plastic for setting up the mixer at shows.

How else can you start? Maybe with a beer or a bowl.



Posted by: Presto Mon 5 May 2003, 20:06

Sorry folks this is long.

I only bother with audio (don't record midi). I use two c.500$ mics through an Mbox (phantom power + preamp + audio/digital conversion), into a simple ibook600.

I can record live stereo for groups during the day (barn loft in the country). This gives a much better sound than mixing lots of tracks using lots of mics. Its their stage amps that provide the balance. OK you get mistakes but they can rerecord and the sound is live and real stereo. Live recordings in simple stereo don't often need data-losing calculations, so I now record using 16bits only.

At night (no unwanted sound from outside) I can record me and my bits of compos. I just record bits and stick the audio files together in protools on OS9. I use nearly no plugins, and just convert from 44.1/24bits to 44.1/16bits at the bounce. For what I want to produce its usually better to produce two completely different mono tracks, one panned left and one right. So I record mainly multi-mono as just about everybody does. With multi-mono and pottering with bits here and there, you get quite nice sound technically but the musical result is rather dead, which is also the case for just about everything you hear on the radio.

>How did you start out?

I bought an imic and used a Sure stage mic in my ibook. The result was dreadful.

I then found and got loads of very good and enthusiastic help which decided me on my present equipment. I did realise after a while that most people on here give advice from either a professional sound engineering point of view or from the amateur and midi point of view. However, what I really needed was advice from composers recording their own stuff using audio and not much midi. The priorities are different.

I have a feeling that nowadays most composers using computers use mainly midi and have no idea what real stereo audio recordings sound like. I hope to find others in my position but I think I must be marginal.

Oh, I started composing yonks ago - guitar/voice - but I don't know how.

>What effects has it had on your life and way of thinking?

My present project has caused an almost total drain on financial reserves (I gave up most other work to concentrate on it) + the chance to raise my younger children in a more fun musical environement. Don't think its changed my way of thinking about life in general.

>How have you progressed and where you would like to see yourself in the future?

I found that only composing and recording my own "inventions" caused my imagination to gradually fade out. I found I needed to record other musicians, and myself doing other people's songs faithfully and then with my variations, also discovering loads of other peoples stuff on CDs. I don't get much help from most radio stations as they are not interested in much else than run-of-the-mill multi-mono recordings and are in a style rut - boring!! (I'm in France. Exception: FIP). I also need to perform with other musicians if I want to keep feeding my composing enthusiasm.

In the future, I should like to find my teaching CDs pirated alot (sign of success) - er well, not too much as I'd like to make my living from it. I do have hope as my market is huge and there is no real competition. I'm months and months behind partly due to the input drought I stupidly imposed on myself.

I must add that I'm now quite certain that the sound engineering (the desire for technically perfect recordings) and radio (monotonous high volume and no "risk" music), and midi (unnaturally perfect rythmn etc - not live) approach to music seems to dampen out all the wonderful variations that musicians can produce. They push composers and musicians into a rut of flattened-out music. Give me a scratchy, dirty, recording of a great live performance with all its imperfections and bits of genius anyday.

Thanks for asking - its good to look at where you've been and where you're at from time to time.

Posted by: Presto Thu 8 May 2003, 10:57

Belated Erratum:

I said "Live recordings in simple stereo don't often need data-losing calculations, so I now record using 16bits only."

I forgot to write 'sometimes'. In anycase this is silly as 16bit recording with protools is not recommended. PT does 24bit processing even on 16bit files so I should ALWAYS record in 24bits as I should dither anyway to avoid truncation - you never know for sure you won't need to produce best quality from those files.

Posted by: manexmachina Fri 9 May 2003, 04:31

Ignoring the technicalities... this is my process...

I generally start with a mood and then play around on the piano for a while until I hear some sort of representation of that mood in what I'm playing. It could be a chord or a melody. I realize though that while I hear it in this moment, in order to make other people hear it, it has to be juxtaposed to other chords and melodies which will set the scene and reflect or expand the original chord or melody. lyrically i almost always write lyrics after the melody (except for two operettas that I wrote where the lyrics came first).

The technology simply allows for a greater access to sounds which could represent that mood. More unusual options, but the process is the same.

As for the other questions. I started playing as a child because it created a protective shell for me to escape into and I would play for hours everyday. I suppose I continue to do so because it's like returning home. I've been a professional musician now and then, but I generally find that the difference of composing for someone else takes away the pleasure of composing for myself.

I hope that was something of what you were inquiring.

Posted by: tacoboy Sat 10 May 2003, 05:15

Great reply Manexmachina.

I sometimes find it harder to inspire myself than it is to calibrate my studio. Although the studio always takes the bulk of my time. Sometimes I will be so reved up that I could produce a full 6min track in about 2 and a half hours. It can be the greatest feeling on earth (besides the obvious).

Can some more people please describe their own setups/methods? smile.gif

Posted by: Mac Daddy Sun 16 Dec 2007, 06:28


{I dont think i am ever going to start up with the technical part of the music it is so much confusing for me. and i was thinking that music creation is easy. I am such a stupid}

Dear better,

It becomes a balancing act at first, only because it's "New". If you are using a Desktop it is a bit more complicated than a Laptop. Great music can be created on Laptops, not just MIDI, with good Interfaces, microphones and Pre-Amp it can and is being done... Hang out at retail stores and ask questions...

If you are setting-up a Home Studio and are not Technical, which most of us were "Not", we improve... But, remember it is about making and playing MUSIC. Pay someone to Install/Connect. Make Diagrams, use Color Tape on the Jacks... Blue goes into Blue, Yellow into.... After you pay you will also pay attention...

Personally I have a love hate thing with Engineering/Recording/Mixin'/Fixin'/Tryin'/Cryin'/Dyin'... I'm no longer Performing... I'm "Clicking" "Pasting" "Draging" Etc. Have I improved? Sure there has been progress over years of tears and fears to one day hear cheers.... My music may not be so great but I can "Double Click" faster than anyone!!!

It takes time... you can always forget about all the Tech Stuff and just play Acoustic Guitar or Piano/ Um, do you play?

With a name like "Better"... Chillax... Soon you'll be zooming...

Posted by: mortalengines Sun 16 Dec 2007, 07:19

I actually started out (freaking decades ago) playing guitar. All of my band projects turned abortive at one point or another and I got tired of begging people to get together and play on the weekends (they were usually too busy dealing with hangovers, houses, girlfriends, etc) so after a while, I found myself getting a computer fast enough to run audio. I think the first program I started working with was Acid on a PC. A cool start but, I got frustrated and started taking courses at the local community college (engineering and midi programming with PTLE and Reason) and it has all been downhill from there (haw! haw!). It used to be that my favorite toilet reading was a "Power!" book (either Reason or Ableton) and it probably took a couple of years before I settled into a comfortable workflow. I am there now and I must say that the effort was worth it. You will hit a brick wall for a long time and then one day it is like a light bulb goes off or something and suddenly it gets easy.....then it is time to push yourself some more. Don't be afraid to make crappy music for a while, and don't EVER get too comfortable with what you are doing. Have fun! Relax! Do it because it is fun! If it isn't fun, take a break for a while and come back. It is amazing how many times I just COULDN'T get something to work and took a 15 minute break and came back and Holy worked!

Posted by: Mac Daddy Wed 19 Dec 2007, 06:41

You really can accomplice whatever you dream... It's not just a metaphor ... It really is true... Think it you can do it. There are only a few things that can stop you, poor health, death, other people negative tthoughts/influence and yourself... If you practice, play and experiment, you can be as good or better than anyone... I don't know you, but I know you might be one of the greatest people ever created... I'll hold this opinion until you prove otherwise...

So you better get better and better each day better...

Posted by: seattle mac music shows Wed 9 Jan 2008, 12:48

Live with a prolific musician your bound to pick stuff up. :-P

Posted by: Presto Thu 9 May 2013, 13:52

Yes, music happens sort of symbiotically when you're tuned in. And yes, plenty of practise before you can express it well.

A flamenco guitarist told me he needed to practise more than two hours a day in order to keep his skill level, and eight hours a day or more to improve.

Its a pity that, particularly for recordings, sound engineers sterilise out the oddities that make live performances special. And where has pp gone that makes ff so powerful?

But don't despair now that musician's can do their own sound engineering smile.gif
Have a look at what you can do with iOS apps and mic and instrument interfaces and foot controllers. Apart from the usual apps, have a look at Impaktor and Loopy and don't forget Audiobus.

Thanks Mortalengines for your encouragement, and Aloeindica for waking up the thread

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