I want to write Electronic music!

So, I found my old Thomas Dolby CDs, and decide to rip them onto my Ipod and re-discover them. It’s been a blast. Now I’ve gotten bit by the electronica bug. Not in any stylistic sense (i.e., house or techno), but simply in the sense that as an anti-social wierdo who plays piano and organ and spends an inordinate amount of time on the computer (look where I am now!), I would like to write coherent songs without going through the trouble of forming a band. Which isn’t all that much trouble, since I’m a music major in university and know enough people, but never mind that. I’m a control freak. :stuck_out_tongue:

So, with that in mind, I was wondering if someone could offer me some advice as to where to get started. This is what I have accomplished so far:

  • 8 or 9 years of piano, two of organ.
  • B.A. in music, good marks in counterpoint, TA’d a harmony course last year
  • I have a 2.5 octave USB MIDI controller
  • I write all of my sheet music/compositions in Finale. I’m pretty proficient with it.
  • I wrote a “Techno-ish” song in Garageband on my Mac Mini. It was just “o-k,” IMO.

I have a much bigger and stronger PC than my mac, and I feel boxed and limited by Garageband. It’s great to start off, but it’s difficult for getting voices to line up, and having really tight rhythms (unless I’m using it completely wrong). And there’s not enough different timbres in there for my liking; I would much prefer, if possible, to create my own sounds, as well.

I don’t have the room for another synthesizer/sampler in my apartment, but I’m hoping I can work on my musical projects with the hardware I already have, and perhaps a few new programs, either for my PC or my Mac. Any suggestions?

Many thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

Get a copy of Computer Music Magazine. They have a DVD each month full of functional demos of virtual synths and effects.

I shall have to look at the news stand for this - thank you! :slight_smile:

First you need a sequencer that is a host for VST instruments. There are a ton of these. I use Orion: Synapse Audio Software
Many other people use Cubase or FL Studio:
Create Your Best Music | FL STUDIO
Presonus Studio One is a new one that seems promising:
Find one that suits your work flow. You should be able to record your playing in the sequencer using your usb keyboard, as well as just entering the notes one by one with a mouse.

You will need the VST instruments (software synths) to plug into your host/sequencer. You can find many free ones here: http://www.kvraudio.com/get.php The forum at KVR is also a good place to find free VST instruments and effects.

In theory I suppose you could write music the traditional way, convert it into midi and then import it into you sequencer. I am not sure what program you would use for the converting but there is bound to be one out there.

Logic + a high end Mac? Works for Banco de Gaia.

When I was working with Garageband, that’s what I did. Finale is my “sheet music making” software, and I inputted everything there in nice even notes, save the product as a midi file, and then imported it to Garageband. The problem is, it would save what I made as an entire TRACK in GB, meaning that even if I made a 5 second MIDI file, it was this very long and unmanagable line that I couldn’t crop, edit, and loop as I pleased.

Definitely check out FLStudio (used to be called Frooty Loops)

Take existing electronic music, run it backwards. Success.

I saw the folks from Sonic Foundry at a trade show right before their product’s release, and used Acid Pro (on my PCs) for many years. It was very easy to work with, very intuitive with their keyboard shortcuts and layout, and very cheap. I know Sony bought Sonic Foundry years ago, but I’m not sure if they still make Acid Pro.

Yep, they do.

For the Mac, just upgrade to Logic or Logic Studio or Studio Logic Express or whatever the next step up or two is called.

But all I keep getting is Tchaikovsky! :frowning:


Here’s a tip: if you find you can’t write good electronic music, try making it funny. LOL.

My grandpa’s brought me back Cassettes from Hungary that weren’t much better than that. However, they were not jokes. :smiley:

Thanks for the find!

You could also always just take a crappy pop song and slow it down 8x:

You should check out Propellerhead Reason, or Record, or you can combine the two. With Reason you pick out synth and drum machine modules to create a rack. Record is audio multitracking plus a nicer mixer section. I have reason plus record and it’s perfect for me because I just like to like boot up and bang out ideas. Reason is all virtual instruments, so you should have a good computer and an audio interface. You can layer multiple drum machines and rhythm loops so it can be a real rhythm beast. Another feature is you can record audio and slow it down or speed it up just by adjusting the tempo and the pitch stays the same. It’s pretty incredible. The only drawback is that it’s mainly a closed system except for the audio.

Acid Pro is pretty cool, but the process is more like music assembly than music composition. It has audio multitracking as well.

Both of these have demos I believe.

I was going to mention one or two things, but someone stole my thunder with the reference to Computer Music magazine. That’s a very good suggestion, because on its cover disk (alongside a whole bunch of softsynths and VST effects) you will find a copy of EnergyXT. EnergyXT will do just about everything you want.

I personally use Zynewave Podium for recording music, and there’s a free version of it, but I’m more focused on guitar based music. For you, EnergyXT is probably the better bet. Someone above mention Sony Acid, and that’s a good bit of software too, but it’s better at sample-based music than anything else. It’s also a good idea to pick up a copy of either Soundforge or Audacity for basic editing of sound files. I master all my tracks with Audacity.

Thanks for that! I already use Audacity for editing audio files and cropping feeds from my USB turntable.

I rather like Mack’s suggestion about Propellerhead Reason. This may be a dumb question, but judging by the demo version, it looks like there’s recording capabilities in it. What’s record for, then?