#1
Hello,

I apologize of this is in the wrong place, as I wasn't sure where to post my... post.
Anyhow, I'm a guitarist/bassist who'd like to try composing/recording some classical orchestra-style music, however I'm not exactly sure where to start (hardware-wise). I've got an iMac with Garage Band and some Garritan Orchestra plugins (that I'm kinda learning how to use). I'm assuming I need a keyboard/synth of some sort. If that's the case, can anyone recommend me a good starter setup? Or perhaps some advice on what I would need in general?

Thanks very much in advance for any help!
#2
For hardware? Pen and paper is easily the best.

If you really want the midi in front of you as you go, I guess finale or sibelius.

Edit : unless you are just trying to make that "epic" sound that's always in trailers and stuff. Then just stab chords i - V in their inversions on strings and choir with lots of timpani.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
Last edited by nightwind at Sep 7, 2010,
#3
You don't need a snyth set-up at all. All you need is a program called Guitar Pro. Use the diagram of the guitar neck to pick your notes and the rest is up to you. After you're finished compsosing the song, export the midi and convert it to an mp3. It's SO much less cheaper then a synthisier which usually (if you want the most sound potential) will put a couple grand whole in your pocket. If you want to save money and still make quality Symphony music just use guitar pro. There are SO many different instruments to choose from. To get an idea of what you can make check out my profile. Both songs on my profile I made using the same steps I just told you of.
Everything is divisible by metal- Michael Angel Batio
#4
I think Mozart could compose so well because he could transfer his ideas and musical thoughts on to paper so easily. It isn't because he had Notepad or GuitarPro that could create sounds in front of him to guess and check.

Use your brain, not your computer. Also, use lots of timpani. lol


/my ignorant 2 cents
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”


-Max Planck

☮∞☯♥
#5
Pen and paper is fine if you have musicians to play the music, but otherwise there's Finale and Sibelius.
#6
Ahh

I really think it is better no to use finale and all that stuff unless you are going to print it to give to others.

It REALLY ****s you up.

You should write pen and paper then if you want to hear it just record the seperate parts . Hearing the music in the midi is NOT even close to what it really is.

I guess if you really want to do the whole symphonic thing then you would need to use finale, but

A: it's a bad place to start understanding this style
B: It's a crappy medium nowadays. The only people who use an orchestra are professors and those that think it brings validity to you as a composer.

I'd suggest just writing for 2-4 nondescript monophonic voices
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#7
Thanks for so many insightful replies.

I'd love to write music with pen and paper, but to be honest, my grasp of actual music notation and its theory are shaky at best. I'll definitely look into the guitar pro idea. I know it can export compositions as MIDIs, but is there a way to make the MIDI not sound like it came out of a 16-bit videogame? Like, great orchestra sound without the orchestra. Is that even possible?!
#8
Quote by Tim-kun
Thanks for so many insightful replies.

I'd love to write music with pen and paper, but to be honest, my grasp of actual music notation and its theory are shaky at best. I'll definitely look into the guitar pro idea. I know it can export compositions as MIDIs, but is there a way to make the MIDI not sound like it came out of a 16-bit videogame? Like, great orchestra sound without the orchestra. Is that even possible?!

First, Guitar Pro is super shitty for writing for orchestra. It doesn't handle notation very well.

Secondly, what better way to improve your notational skills than to write out notation? There's no shortcuts here. Even with Finale or Sibelius, you'd be using notation. No matter what, if you plan on doing orchestra, you need to work on music notation because tuba players don't use tab, comprende?
Quote by dudetheman
So what? I wasted like 5 minutes watching DaddyTwoFoot's avatar.


Metalheads are the worst thing that ever happened to metal.
#9
Ignore the person above, when you make your music on guitar pro you can print out just the sheet music that's displayed above your tab. Make SURE to turn ON music notation and really pay attention to what's involved. You CAN LEARN music notation by using this program, but you have to want to. Learn the spaces and lines then follow the instructions below.

Nope. You gotta convert it to an mp3, just like I said in my post (they're free everywhere just search midi-mp3 in google. Start off with by pickin' an instrument you feel fit to be the lead. Then once you've got your melody, start experementing; when theres a quarter or longer note try and find a nice chord that can back it on something soft like maybe a rhodes piano, or a harp (sound great even in guitar pro) or if you're going for Lord of the Rings sounding try an ochestra hit instead. Once you've made a few simple things try adding some flavour; have the high notes sound on a violin, or flute. The possibilites are endless. And the great thing about guitar pro is that everytime you click a note or delete one from a chord it sounds what your clicking on your ear will develop as well (if you use it consistantly). These are all just ideas, things I've done to work on it but I've noticed a big change in my ability to compose in the last month by doing this so it works for me. Hope for you.
Everything is divisible by metal- Michael Angel Batio
Last edited by Wing00 at Sep 7, 2010,
#10
Quote by nightwind
For hardware? Pen and paper is easily the best.



I hope you have a USB interface for those


TS, you can find a keyboard controller relatively cheap, and then write in garageband.

I've been using this..

http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=532&subcategory=533&product=13558

with my Imac + Logic Pro (garage band is pretty cool though)


If you have GPO & Garageband + controller..... you're in pretty good shape.
For notation, programs like Finale and Sibelius are good, but if you're just looking to compose, a daw like Garageband offers an intuitive work environment.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 7, 2010,
#11
Quote by Wing00
Ignore the person above, when you make your music on guitar pro you can print out just the sheet music that's displayed above your tab. Make SURE to turn ON music notation and really pay attention to what's involved. You CAN LEARN music notation by using this program, but you have to want to. Learn the spaces and lines then follow the instructions below.

Nope. You gotta convert it to an mp3, just like I said in my post (they're free everywhere just search midi-mp3 in google. Start off with by pickin' an instrument you feel fit to be the lead. Then once you've got your melody, start experementing; when theres a quarter or longer note try and find a nice chord that can back it on something soft like maybe a rhodes piano, or a harp (sound great even in guitar pro) or if you're going for Lord of the Rings sounding try an ochestra hit instead. Once you've made a few simple things try adding some flavour; have the high notes sound on a violin, or flute. The possibilites are endless. And the great thing about guitar pro is that everytime you click a note or delete one from a chord it sounds what your clicking on your ear will develop as well (if you use it consistantly). These are all just ideas, things I've done to work on it but I've noticed a big change in my ability to compose in the last month by doing this so it works for me. Hope for you.

I'm not saying that Guitar Pro DOESN'T handle notation. I said that it's BAD at handling notation. Leave your condescension at the door, please. It does a poor job of discriminating between flats and sharps and on any version before GP6 (which is still buggy and in need of major patching) it only handles notes as far as what you set the guitar's tuning to. It's very poor for notation. Great for tabs, but trying to use it for an orchestra is like using a standard 8-digit calculator for advanced calculus.
Quote by dudetheman
So what? I wasted like 5 minutes watching DaddyTwoFoot's avatar.


Metalheads are the worst thing that ever happened to metal.
#12
Quote by nightwind
Ahh

I really think it is better no to use finale and all that stuff unless you are going to print it to give to others.

It REALLY ****s you up.

You should write pen and paper then if you want to hear it just record the seperate parts . Hearing the music in the midi is NOT even close to what it really is.

I guess if you really want to do the whole symphonic thing then you would need to use finale, but

A: it's a bad place to start understanding this style

I don't think I could disagree with you more. I like to consider myself a good composer and I've composed in Sibelius as well as Guitar Pro (that's for you to judge, of course).

I'll start off by saying, if you can get it recorded, do so. But if you can't, then Sibelius/Finale are the way to go. Guitar Pro is good... but not for orchestras and stuff like that. The standard notation on it sucks, and it doesn't sound real at all... it's also not made FOR orchestra, so the focus is definitely not there.

I don't think Finale is a bad place to start at all (granted, Finale itself is... I prefer Sibelius ;] ). Many colleges/universities use Finale/Sibelius to grade students cause not everyone has the ability to record parts or hear an ensemble/orchestra play what they write. It also does help a bit with orchestration, though you're right... there is nothing quite like the real thing and what you DO happen to write in Sibelius might sound like total shit in real life because of the way dynamics work and whatnot.

B: It's a crappy medium nowadays. The only people who use an orchestra are professors and those that think it brings validity to you as a composer.


I'm not even sure what you mean by this, but I'm assuming you're saying orchestras are outdated and only elitest pricks listen to them. This is certainly not the case.

I like to think that the soundtracks I listen to/aspire to aren't just washed up hasbeens trying to regain their glory in a dying art... in fact, actually, video game music is becoming its own medium and, by the way, it's mainly orchestrated. If you need, I can give you links to some absolutely breathtaking orchestrated video game pieces. Then there's movies that have fantastic music in it. "Up" by Pixar was a great movie, and Michael Giacchino got an award for it. I'd recommend taking a listen. Then there's also Hans Zimmer, who just did the "Inception" soundtrack. He also did Gladiator and the 2nd and 3rd "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. I don't think those are crappy at all, and are completely valid to todays society ;]

Maybe writing a 4-part symphony is outdated and would flop (though the collective niche it appeals to would flock towards it), saying the orchestra is a "crappy medium" is a bit ignorant on your part. And you don't seem that ignorant to me.

I'd suggest just writing for 2-4 nondescript monophonic voices

This, however, I agree with. I think a String Quartet (Violins: I, II; Viola; Cello; Double Bass/Bass) would be perfect for what TS wants.

For things to start learning, I'd check out voiceleading principles and, until you get those down pat, stay there and focus on them. Then move onto species counterpoint (though, they're kind of one in the same), and then free counterpoint. You'll pick things up along the way you're interested in and do your own research.
#13
Quote by Tim-kun
Thanks for so many insightful replies.

I'd love to write music with pen and paper, but to be honest, my grasp of actual music notation and its theory are shaky at best. I'll definitely look into the guitar pro idea. I know it can export compositions as MIDIs, but is there a way to make the MIDI not sound like it came out of a 16-bit videogame? Like, great orchestra sound without the orchestra. Is that even possible?!


This ...


http://www.eastwestsamples.com/static_pages/EastWest-Quantum-Leap-Symphonic-Orchestra-Complete-pr-EW-177.html

Check out the demos, pretty amazing IMO.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 7, 2010,
#14
^^^^Guitar pro is pretty rubbish for composing orchestral stuff/writing music in general and as for recording...you want him to use the GP sounds?


TS, there are three recording paths you can go down in my eyes; use actual instruments, use a synth and make your own sounds, or use samples.

-The 'actual instruments' path is pretty self explanatory.

-If you're using a synth, the results aren't going to sound "real". So if you want that, go for it. You can either go for a softsynth (virtual) or hardware (physical) and if you plan on creating a big arrangement, a controller might be useful for the hands-on approach to mixing/playing, but you'll more than likely have tons of automation, so it's not completely necessary (same with samples).

-Samples are self explanatory as well, but you'll need some synth knowledge to manipulate them (for automating envelopes etc.), and keep in mind that unless you've paid for hyper-sampled instruments like NI or propellorhead offer (I don't know anything about Garritan orchestra plugins), things will just become a pain in the ass imo.

As for composing; learn about classical form, notation, voiceleading, harmony etc. etc.
Last edited by MapOfYourHead at Sep 7, 2010,
#15
Quote by DaddyTwoFoot
...but trying to use it for an orchestra is like using a standard 8-digit calculator for advanced calculus...


Then I must be damn good at calculus beacuse I've made great ochestra compositions that's results are on my profile. They don't sound amazing but you can't say they sound horrible either.
Everything is divisible by metal- Michael Angel Batio
#16
Quote by Wing00
Then I must be damn good at calculus beacuse I've made great ochestra compositions that's results are on my profile. They don't sound amazing but you can't say they sound horrible either.

You are completely sidestepping my point.

WHAT I DID NOT SAY:
Guitar Pro is literally incapable of doing notation
It is impossible to write for an orchestra using Guitar Pro
Guitar Pro is useless in general

WHAT I DID SAY:
Guitar Pro is a bad choice for notation
There are better choices than Guitar Pro for notation
There are better choices than Guitar Pro for writing for an orchestra
Guitar Pro has it's uses (namely guitar based music)
Quote by dudetheman
So what? I wasted like 5 minutes watching DaddyTwoFoot's avatar.


Metalheads are the worst thing that ever happened to metal.
#17
Quote by Wing00
Then I must be damn good at calculus beacuse I've made great ochestra compositions that's results are on my profile. They don't sound amazing but you can't say they sound horrible either.

Yeah, you can do it. But it's harder than it should be. I know for a fact great things can be done in GP... but I've yet to hear an actual GOOD orchestrated piece made in GP. Scratch that, I've heard one... but it was closer to avant-garde, orchestra stuff with a piano and a trapset than an actual orchestra. And he didn't use the standard notation in GP. Why? It's majorly flawed.

DTF's analogy was spot on. I'd much rather have a TI-89 for Calculus than a small Scientific Calculator. Just like I prefer Sibelius for orchestrated songs and GP for guitar-centric songs (for the record, I do put orchestras in my music).
#18
^

Yes soundtracks for movies and videogames often have great orchestral stuff.

But while it seems very strange to blame a medium or something, since a method for conveying an idea cant REALLY be bad, I still kind of do. Let me put it a different way. To me, orchestral music has the largest amount of bad music , and tends to attract those who don't want to use it for real but to be able to have an orchestral piece in there 'ouvre' or to pretend to be part of a tradition that isn't one.

In terms of someone like Hans Zimmer, his music is the kind written on piano then fleshed out to the orchestra for a textural reason and certain grandiose. ...

There's not much to be gained by going on though. To the TS , orchestral ideas sort of grow from ensemble ideas, and ensemble ideas are sort of born out of solo instrument ideas. I mean, the bigger the ensemble, the more risk you run of just having it be novel. "Look at measure 87 when the souzaphone plays a low e!!!!!!!!"

I'm still going to say Pen and Paper with guitar in hand is still the best way. If you are constantly in the process of writing notation sibelius and other such programs dont cut it, are far too time consuming, and are huge pain because you have to learn an entire interface to do things slower than a human with a pen would.

This raw method builds up confidence a lot quicker. It's sort of like if you are thrust into an environment where you don't speak much of the language - sink or swim. Finale and those programs are sort of like being able to carry your translating dictionary around. Helpful yes, but only to a point and ultimately can stunt your progress.

Though I'm going with what DimFifth said if you don't plan on doing this often and just sort of want to doodle around . Sounds condescending but I dont mean it that way!!
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#19
Quote by Wing00
Then I must be damn good at calculus beacuse I've made great ochestra compositions that's results are on my profile. They don't sound amazing but you can't say they sound horrible either.


I'm pretty sure the guy wants something that is somewhat professional sounding, telling him to use a GP render as his final mix is daft.
#20
Quote by nightwind
^
I'm still going to say Pen and Paper with guitar in hand is still the best way. If you are constantly in the process of writing notation sibelius and other such programs dont cut it, are far too time consuming, and are huge pain because you have to learn an entire interface to do things slower than a human with a pen would.

Oh yeah, definitely it's better. But the problem with it is you can't hear what you're doing (which, if you haven't studied the ranges and everything that comes with an orchestra, could be a VERY bad thing). But if you ever get to the point where you can, that's where I'd say to drop it.

Though I'm going with what DimFifth said if you don't plan on doing this often and just sort of want to doodle around . Sounds condescending but I dont mean it that way!!

Haha I take offense to that! That's my chosen career path and it's definitely not doodling around! We all have our views; I understand how you feel. I used to feel that way actually I just have so much fun with orchestras, and all the different textures you can get out of them, that I can look past those bad things and focus on the music itself.
#21
^ Cool you are a musician occupationally ?

high five brother.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#22
Quote by nightwind
^ Cool you are a musician occupationally ?

high five brother.

No... senior in High School But I have my life planned out, and I'm working at becoming a Video Game Soundtrack composer (some stuff on the pro ;] /shamlessplug ).

Though, if I wanted, I could find some libraries to sign over rights to my songs to, but I don't feel I've developed enough yet.

High five back, man.
#23
Again, thanks for the helpful replies!
I'm very impressed that this actually turned into an intelligent discussion as opposed to me be flamed for being a noob. lol.

To be honest, I was curious about composing some classical stuff because I was recently listening to my old Final Fantasy X OST, and I was particularly moved by the mood and melodies of these orchestral tracks. As such, I kinda wanted to noodle around and further expand my musical horizons. I do have Guitar Pro, but I never really used it for orchestra stuff because the MIDI kinda sounded like crap. HOWEVER, it's very easy to use for me since I'm a self-taught guitarist (I survive on tablature, which is probably bad). Pen and paper is great, but like someone mentioned, I can't hear the entire thing while it's being composed, which is definitely a problem for me (not Mozart).

It would be nice to find a way to improve the Guitar Pro MIDI's sound, though.