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what are your newb friendly ideas or tips?

permalink   Sun, Jan 15, 2012 @ 2:04 PM
i’ve been playin guitar for 4 years and piano for like 6 but i really like the digital side of music i just have no clue how to go about starting.

i’d like some help from the people with experience here and i’ve been listening to all the amazing work the community has contributed here it all sounds awesome.

but you had to start somewhere and i would like to learn how to do the same great work as you.

how did you first start mixing or creating your own music? did you grab a program like Reason 4 and start with drum tracks? hook up your keyboard to your computer? how did you even learn how to use the programs you use?

Im quite lost but determined to find a forum with people who can share their experience and set some stepping stones down for the newbies.

what are some first hardwares or softwares that i should get my hands on to start off?

thanks for your guys’ feedback.
permalink   Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 2:21 AM
First thing to start with is choosing the ‘right’ Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

One important hint: Beginners often tend to ask for ‘best’ or ‘best sounding’ DAW. It doesn’t exist. They all sound the same. It depends on which plugins and samples you use and how well you know your program.

You can browse ’What Tools I Use’ to get an overview how ‘popular’ each DAW is among ccMixter’s producers (btw: I was surprised how many people are using Reason, as you mentioned this).

I would advise to download some demo versions to see which DAW you feel comfortable to work with before buying it.

And I would advise not to chose a too ‘exotic’ DAW that only a few people are working with, as you will find a better support for a widely used one. There are tons of tutorials, how to’s, tips and tricks on youtube for each common DAW. Working them through step by step is a good way getting started.

As a beginner the question of finding the right DAW seems impossible to answer. The good thing is: regardless of which one you choose - you won’t go wrong too far.

Once you have chosen your DAW, you need to get sounds in and out of it.

One way to get sounds in is using samples (audio material like wav, mp3). Most DAW’s come with a decent sample bank to start with. There are thousands of free and commercial sample packs arround the web. Which one to use depends on the music genre you want to produce. And of course, a great way to start is using ccmixter’s samples.

The other cool way of getting sounds in your DAW is using VST-Plugins - small software programs that emulate virtual instruments, synths and all kind of effects.

As you already play piano, one thing you might want to use is a MIDI keyboard. So you won’t have to draw in each single note manually via mouse.

For mixing some decent headphones will work fine or use the monitors of the sound system you already have. You shouldn’t use the cheapest laptop speakers for audio output, but I wouldn’t spend too much money on it when beginning.
Abstract Audio
permalink   Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 3:33 AM
I learned a lot from redaing magazines mostly http://www.soundonsound.com on there website you can read every issue ever published except the last 3.

Since you are playing a real instrument that you will want to record at some point you need a DAW that does that well. Something like cubase, logic, studio one or pro tools.

I would suggest an audio interface with a break out box something that allows you to plug in mics or amps. You won’t get very far with your onboard soundcard.

A good set of monitor speakers and headphones not to fancy but most definitely not something from a pound shop.

And for plug-ins think about what you want to achive with it. A good starting point is
http://www.kvraudio.com A place where every released vst is on with links to download sites. A ton of HQ free stuff with a lot of good users reviews

As an overal advice I’d say think about what you want to do and what you don’t need. Start small learn one plug-in or technique good and then move on to another.
Donnie Drost
permalink   Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 11:07 AM
I never learned an instrument. The few guitar playing and piano, I taught myself. Music is simply a passion and, I guess, skills grow by experience (I’m still a beginner…) The main thing is, that you have fun!

For the beginning I could recommend Ableton Live , with a free 30-days trial (unlimited features!!!). It has tons of good instruments and effects.
Important is a midi USB keyboard and for guitar recording (electric) you can get a good usb-midi interface for some money (EMU, M-Audio etc).

Just choose one fantastic pella from this site and start with a simple Drum Loop in your DAW. Continue with some VST instrumant tracks and play around with your midi keyboard.
Have fun!
permalink   Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:58 PM
Thanks guys. I have a keyboard that i believe hooks up to midi. Would i be able to just buy a sound card that connects to the piano keyboard with a Midi cord? or do i need a little box thing that i’ve seen that connects to the keyboard and pc? or the sound card + little box thing?

so many questions i know but this community seemed real knowledgeable.
permalink   Abstract Audio Tue, Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:14 PM
Midi is just digital information about what a device has to do. For example if you press c for a second midi tells the device its connected to play note c for a second.
So what you need is something that sends that info in your pc and that is goes into a usb port. Depending on your keyboard you need either a usb-usb cable or a midi-usb cable

Once you’ve got a the cable plugged in you need the software to connect for wich I suggest you read both manuals of the keyboard and software you use
permalink   Tue, Mar 13, 2012 @ 3:23 PM
I took a long time to get started, trying to work things out by myself. My first bit of software was a trial version of Cool Edit but things really took off when I bought Acoustica Mixcraft, a very reasonably priced program ($90 Australian)…but not the best by any means. I would like to get something like Reason but decided to start small. I believe there is still a free trial of Mixcraft http://www.acoustica.com/mi...

I also downloaded a lot of VST effects, bought a digital recorder - Zoom H4n http://www.zoom.co.jp/engli... and a Shure SM58 mic for vocals.
You’ve come to the right place for great samples, a friendly community, and helpful tips and support!
permalink   Tue, Feb 19, 2013 @ 10:58 AM
You’re already on the right track by conversing with other people in your field, and that will help you immensely.

The simplest advice I can offer is to learn by doing. Use whatever you can get your hands on and just spend some time banging away on it. The results of these sessions doesn’t really matter; you’re not really trying to create music, you’re just leaning about how digital audio behaves when you do different things to it.

Learn the ins and outs of your setup, and always try to think up new ways of manipulating sound using the tools at your disposal. Even if the results are godawful, you’ve still learned something.

Then, when you do drop some money on a more sophisticated setup, all that accumulated knowledge will come in handy when it comes time to exploit all the new tools at your disposal.

As for software, I started off with a suite of shanky as hell freeware apps, all of which were passable in one aspect but not so good in others, and I rigged them together with some gear I bought at Radio Shack.

Making that junk do anything at all was my education.

Currently, I use Audacity for recording and Ableton Live Intro for mixing and all manner or sound experimentation. Intro is the cheap version of Live, so it comes with some limitations, but a little creativity can get around those.

I would personally recommend you try Audacity first, because it’s free, open-source, and is pretty simple to use, as it behaves more or less like a multitrack tape recorder with destructive editing and some effects.

It’s pretty old-school in that regard, but I’m a firm believer in learning the basics.

What suite of software is ultimately going to work for you is going to depend on how you approach music creation. I like Live Intro because of the layout, interface, and the way loops can be triggered and interacted with in realtime, but that might not be what works for you.

Lastly, there’s a ton of books and resources out there dedicated to teaching the more technical stuff, like compression and EQ, which you’re going to want to practice using in order to get a more polished sound.
permalink   Wed, Feb 27, 2013 @ 4:05 AM
Hi Sketysh,

I realize it’s been a while since you posted this but it may still help or at the very least help someone else.

My suggestions would be:

Search google for demo DAWs (digital audio workstation)
Once you find a list of them go straight to YouTube and watch videos and determine which one(s) speak to you and seem to make the most sense.

Then talk to friends and find out what they are using. Repeat the YouTube run again this time searching for “How to” and “tutorial” along with the name of the DAW you are interested in. This will show you what’s available “in the wild” as far as help and resources to learn and figure out how to do things and use your chosen DAW.

You will find a huge number of videos showing you how to use a majority of the most popular DAWs. This should help you narrow it down.

It’s best to use a program which you feel the most familiar with upon looking at the program. Also check the manuals which are always available on the manufacturers site.

The good thing about using any of the major DAWs is that they all tend to have the same features (with some exceptions) so you will not likely be missing important features.

The one important tip I will pass on to you before you start is this:
You must have a separate hard drive for your audio files and projects. All projects should be saved on that drive. There are people who save their audio files on their system drive without having a dedicated drive for audio without having problems and they will confidently tell you that you don’t need one but in fact you do. If you check with a couple of audio pros you find this to be true.

As someone stated earlier, it doesn’t matter what you choose. They all are comparable as far as sound (with some exceptions). The things you want to look at are support, resources for learning, possible freebies that may come with more popular programs such as free VST programs that you can use with your DAW, as well as what plug-ins are included.

Hope this helps.
permalink   Wed, Mar 20, 2013 @ 1:50 PM
I’m a singer, and so far on ccmixter, I’ve only mixed two acapella songs. One which, aside from the lead vocal, I entirely sang myself, and in the other, my acapella group recorded a bunch of tracks behind my lead vocal. The only other stuff I’ve done outside of ccmixter is record myself singing on top of karaoke instrumentals.

I say this to differentiate how I use my DAW. I’ve never “created” music in a DAW, using loops or samples, Nor have I recorded any instruments aside from my voice. I’ve only mixed raw singing tracks together.

I used Audacity for both of these pieces, and I frankly hope to never use it for this large a project ever again. That said, I actually do recommend using Audacity at first, until it becomes obvious that you’ve outgrown it.

Audacity certainly works well enough, and it is FREE, and I learned a hell of a lot, but know that you have got to be organized to the extreme in order to keep track of things in a large project, especially if you want the possibility to make a change to twenty steps ago. I’m just reaching that growing-out-of-it point now, and I’m evaluating Mixcraft for my next song. When I get me the monies, I’m getting definitely Ableton and maybe Cubase.

For my most recent song, I brought my lead-vocal track to the studio (my first time in a real studio :), and then the group sang onto five tracks (two overall “room” mikes, and three tracks covering each part). We split the session/song into three parts, and ended up with about four good takes of each—resulting in lots and lots of raw tracks.

I created an Audacity file for each part of the song (backup-only-verse-1&2, backup-only-verse-3&4, and lead/putting-it-all-together). Because Audacity is destructive, I documented EVERY step I took.

Some specific Audacity tips:

I highly recommend, number one, storing and backing up the raw tracks before ever starting. I also highly recommend, for every track in the piece, having a separate “patch” track, where any overdubs/cross-fades/etc. will be placed. Finally, also have a “working-patch” track, that is entirely empty except for the patch you are currently working on. When the patch is complete, move it to the appropriate patch-track (save and restore selection-range are two of the most critical commands in Audacity!).

I also “export multiple” religiously, although all changes, like enveloping, are permanently implemented in the exports. Having clearly and distinctly-named tracks (because the track name is also the distinctive file-name) is very helpful. One related quirk I’ve noticed: label-tracks need to be deleted before exporting multiple, or your track-names won’t be recognized/won’t be used as the file names. Just undo to restore the label track after the export is complete.

As far as actual editing, these are the general steps I take:
-1- Noise removal
-2- Normalize (tames the most extreme/loud peaks)
-3- Compression (averages out the levels of the entire track…easily the hardest concept to get my mind around…if you have a few extreme peaks and otherwise mostly quiet, compress “based on peaks”)
-4- tweaks, including crossfade edits, enveloping (manually adjusting the volume) and other manual changes to specific moments in specific parts.
-5- The VERY last step is reverb (which is also a pretty intimidating concept, given all the settings. I’ve noticed that for a vocal track on top of a karaoke instrumental, for example, the more extreme the reverb should be, in order for it to be heard.)

Unrelated to DAWs, a problem I’ve been rightly criticized for is too many too-much-air-on-the-mike moments. I just got a microphone stand and a pop-screen.

Also, making crossfades and other corrections on the backup parts was great, because there are always other voices to cover up the imperfections in the edits. Making similar changes on the soloist is virtually impossible given my current experience and skill-level.

I hope someone finds this useful! :)
permalink   Thu, Apr 11, 2013 @ 5:11 PM
First passion: I have always wanted to create music, I have a love of music that drives me through the learning and keeps me going when I hit problems. I have had many rough patches when my skill or music ability didn’t reach what I wanted to do, my determination got me through.

DAW: Any main DAW has the ability to create wonderful music, its the ability of the musician that makes the music.

Instruments: Get a good sounding set of instruments and VST/AU plugins. Drums, Bass, Lead, Pads, etc. They should have a good library of patches that you would use. Some have fantastic sounding settings that are near useless due to things like filling the audio spectrum, having only major chords in the arpeggiator. There are some great free plugins, try Computer Music which has a free CD with some excellent instruments.

Getting started: I started with a free copy of Ableton, then started using their drum and bass clips to create a backing and writing my own leads and harmonies. Slowly I learnt how to use the DAW, adding notes, moving notes adjusting velocities. How to move sections around and re-arrange the composition..

Later on: I bought a Midi keyboard and use the instruments that are available from the DAW. I also bought a Pad Controller for drums and use that with the drum kits though the DAW.

Lessons: I took an eight week course for EDM using my chosen DAW. It was a great learning experience, can recommend doing that if you enjoy lessons and tests. Watch YouTube!

Hardware: Although I use a PC, I would recommend using an Apple computer, they are built to make music, rather than a PC which is capable of making music. A good set of Headphones and a great set of monitors. I wish I could use monitors, my room is only 6’ x 4’ no space for monitors. I mix on headphones.
Rey Izain
permalink   Fri, Apr 12, 2013 @ 10:16 PM
Hi…I don’t know if this’ll help but I find youtube to be an incredible tool to assist my learning…for example you commented about your midi set-up and I found this useful last year — http://youtu.be/cGp1Dhr2Olc — Hope it helps ;)