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Best Music Composition software?


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#1 ericsh6

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 10:58 AM

I have visited computer music composition forums and have downloaded trials of flstudio, Acid, PG Music PowerTracks, and others. I have a midi keyboard and would like to get fairly realistic sounding banjo's, fiddle, guitar, harp, etc and would also like good and ambient techno synthesizers. I like flstudio because its easy to assign sound fonts and the synthesizer plugins make some nice sounds. I also want to record live instruments like a violin and mix it with the computer generated music but flstudio doesn't seem to do this too well. I would like the tool to be flexible enough to allow me to be creative and experiment while composing. Anyone care to share their secret?

#2 Sevenar

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 11:06 AM

If you're using a PC, I suggest ACID. Then look for free VST instruments on the net to supplement the loops and synths included.

#3 ericsh6

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 11:13 AM

I do use windows XP. I use Vegas so I should like ACID. I'm glad you mentioned VST. Do you think VST has more realistic instruments than soundfont? Is VST a colletion of sampled, real sounds like soundfont? What about DXI?

#4 Sevenar

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 11:18 AM

If memory serves, you can use VST alongside SoundFonts. Most of the VSTs I've seen are synthesizers, but there are patch-players, too. Never used DXI, so I can't help you there. If you're going to record while playing back other tracks in realtime, I strongly suggest you use a sound card's ASIO drivers, otherwise, there will probably be unbearable lag. I use my Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS ASIO driver in ACID and Vegas, works just fine.

#5 ericsh6

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 12:55 PM

Do you use ACID Music Studio? or ACID Pro? Yes, I have been playing with ASIO. I borrowed a m-audio fast trak USB sound card that has the 3 pin microphone jack and a guitar jack. I need to search the web for some free VST instuments.

#6 Sevenar

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 01:27 PM

I use ACID Pro. I like the free VSTs called Crystal (lots of good mood/special effects presets for movie scoring) and Alpha.

#7 Shazam3D

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 02:57 PM

FL Studio (Fruity Loops)

Easy and efficient low cost tool B)

Download the demo

JM.

#8 SiriusCG

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 04:07 PM

If you want to experiment a bit to get a feel of just how good midi+soundfonts can sound, grab this editor/player: http://www.saunalaht...t_SynthFont.htm and this SoundFont: http://www.sccmusic....nuser/intro.htm and have a blast.

[EDIT] Almost forgot this: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ a wonderful and free application for adding effects, mixing and post processing.

By way of example, here's a quick song I did in about 20 minutes. I grabbed peanuts.mid off the 'net, loaded it into SynthFont, assigned some instruments and saved it out as as 4 .wav files ( 1 per track). Next I imported the 4 tracks into Audacity, did a little fiddlin' about with levels, a touch of EQ and exported it out as a stereo .mp3. The bass line is a bit muddy, but hey, 20 minutes...
Enjoy.

#9 ddustin

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 06:43 AM

What about Sound Forge?
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#10 pdaley

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 06:50 AM

David, Sound forge is a sound editor. You'd be hard pressed to compose with it. You CAN take sounds from your looping (or studio) software into it and perform more extensive processing than you usually can in the composition software though.
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#11 ddustin

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 07:16 AM

David,
Sound forge is a sound editor. You'd be hard pressed to compose with it. You CAN take sounds from your looping (or studio) software into it and perform more extensive processing than you usually can in the composition software though.


Ahhhh I get it.
Obviously I haven't tried it for this yet.

Thanks,
David
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#12 ericsh6

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 12:51 PM

I

and this SoundFont: http://www.sccmusic....nuser/intro.htm and have a blast.



Your peanuts song sounds really good. I went to the soundfont link and downloaded some very good acoustic and electric guitars and some special effects soundfonts. I started my movie with fruity loops (fl-studio) so I dropped these new soundfonts onto my instruments and heard a big improvement except for the guitar strumming (green day - hope you had the time of your life). I can't get a good free violin soundfont either - maybe its impossible to synthesize a solo violin or fiddle. But that is one reason why I started looking for a different music composition software - so I could do a live recording of someone playing the violin. FlStudio seems a bit awkward in this respect or maybe I need to learn how to use the ASIO interface better.

#13 Fuchur

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 01:24 PM

If you like freeware, search for Kristal Sound Engine(music-composing) and Audacity(audio-editor)... You could although use Magix Music Maker, which is easy to work with and which can make great results. IF you think about semi-pro and pro-music-software, search for sequia or samplitude, pro tools or if u r on a mac "soundtrack"... Pro tools and Sequioa/samplitude are quite expensive, but professional tools. The others are more affordable. *Fuchur*
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#14 Godfrey

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 02:26 PM

I can't get a good free violin soundfont either - maybe its impossible to synthesize a solo violin or fiddle.

If you want to hear something that'll knock your socks off, have a listen to some of the demos for the Garritan Stradivari Violin. It's not free, unfortunately, but damn.

I don't have this particular library -- yet -- but I've got both the Garritan Personal Orchestra and the Garritan Jazz & Big Band library, and they're well worth the money. While GPO doesn't have all the articulations of the Solo Strad, it's got a full orchestra's worth of decent instruments (I used GPO for the soundtrack of Soap Opera).

While I use Finale for composition and score production, my main audio tool is Cakewalk's SONAR. The price tag is a little steep (you can get better deals at places like Musician's Friend/Guitar Center), but if you don't need all the features of SONAR, Cakewalk makes some really good, yet less expensive, software in the same vein. If you want to mix MIDI with recorded audio, this is where it's at.
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#15 itsjustme

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 02:53 PM

You might try Skale Tracker...it's what I use. It's free, can use VST effects and instruments and you can create and edit your own instruments using samples.

#16 jamagica

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 03:27 PM

I use FL and a free program called Audacity. Audacity is used to record live samples, and I use FL to use those samples in my beats (I do hip hop stuff)
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#17 gordonm

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 04:20 PM

I have also used Audacity - a good piece of freeware.
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#18 SiriusCG

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 05:31 PM

Your peanuts song sounds really good.


thanks!

I can't get a good free violin soundfont either - maybe its impossible to synthesize a solo violin or fiddle.


Not impossible. but very difficult to do with stringed instruments, especially the violin. The secret is to get multiple clean samples throughout the range of the instrument, ie; getting C3, C4, C5... then "layering" them, at least in the case of soundfonts, together. The issue is that the audio card can pitch the note quite well, but the "resonance" of the instrument starts to get wrong in the upper and lower octaves. By using multiple samples, the audio card can use the proper octave range and maintain both note and resonance. Another trick is to "loop" the sample so it can be sustained on longer notes without being "cut off".

If you're interested in creating soundfonts from samples, Vienna is a tried, true and free editing tool. http://soundblaster....t/downloads.asp But be aware that it takes some time an patience to create a good soundfont, even if it's dedicated to one instrument.

BTW, that's why myupright bass sounds "muddy" in the peanuts tune. I'm still tweaking... ;)

#19 Shazam3D

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 09:28 PM

Another good freeware option:

http://www.computerm...ut/aboutvst.asp

...

#20 Godfrey

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 10:07 PM

The secret is to get multiple clean samples throughout the range of the instrument, ie; getting C3, C4, C5... then "layering" them, at least in the case of soundfonts, together.

For an ideal soundfont (or other sample-based library), you should sample chromatically -- or at most a third between samples, to minimize formant artefacts. If you're doing a stringed instrument, you'll probably also want to make sure you have one sample for the open string, and other samples for the fretted/fingered notes immediately above and below them, for greater realism.

For an even better soundfont, you should also create samples for each note at several different velocities, normalize the samples, then layer each note based on a velocity map: e.g. if you sampled four different velocities for each note, then velocities 0-31 trigger the "softest" sample (I put it in quotes because once you normalize the samples, they may be roughly the same volume), 32-63 trigger the next loudest sample, 64-95 trigger the next loudest, and 96-127 trigger the loudest sample.

This way, if you're entering the MIDI data with a velocity-sensitive keyboard, then how hard you strike the key will change the character of the note. So if you're doing a string bass, you can get a light pluck by lightly pressing the key, or a nice slap if you really hit it hard. The more velocity layers you have, the more "alive" it will sound when you play it.

Of course, using multiple samples for each chromatic note will make for a huge soundfont, but with memory as cheap and plentiful as it is today (and with the advent of VST soundfont players such as sfz, which can stream the data "direct from disk" to conserve memory), that's not really as much of a problem as it once was.
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#21 Dalemation

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:03 AM

I have used Magix Music Maker for music tracks. This is a track (MP3) I created with it in about 30 minutes - lots of trial and error as I'm no musician :D
My Tune

The choir samples at the end of the track were taken from this superb (Royalty Free) Orchestral Sample CD
Orchestral Samples. Might even have the violin sample you require.

#22 ericsh6

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 09:19 AM

If you want to hear something that'll knock your socks off,



Wow - wow! I visited the Gerritan website and saw the demo video of the Stradivari violin synthesizer or soundfont (not sure how it is packaged exactly) but it sounded super. That is the sound I am looking for. The orchestra demo mp3s are very realistic as well. does Gerritan also have Guitar and ethnic instruments like banjo? Or is there a source for these kinds of instruments with the quality of Gerritan?

#23 ericsh6

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 01:44 PM

[/quote](I used GPO for the soundtrack of Soap Opera).
[quote]

We just watched Soap opera - very funny and very nice orchestral work. I really appreciate all everyone's suggestions on music composition software and realistic synthetic instruments. Now I have a slew of programs to try and digest.

#24 Godfrey

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 05:12 PM

Wow - wow! I visited the Gerritan website and saw the demo video of the Stradivari violin synthesizer or soundfont (not sure how it is packaged exactly) but it sounded super. That is the sound I am looking for. The orchestra demo mp3s are very realistic as well. does Gerritan also have Guitar and ethnic instruments like banjo? Or is there a source for these kinds of instruments with the quality of Gerritan?

The Garritan instruments use Native Instruments' Kontakt sampling technology (like soundfonts, but you can do more with them programmatically). The Strad library currently requires Kontakt 2 (not cheap), but there will soon be a standalone player for it like the ones which come with Personal Orchestra and Jazz & Big Band.

The J&BB library has an acoustic and a couple of electric guitars, but so far no banjo from Garritan. (I was hoping there'd be one in J&BB -- what's Dixieland jazz without a banjo?) I'm sure there are plenty of guitar libraries out there, but I haven't really looked into them (I just record the real thing if I need a guitar part).
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