Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013, 06:22 am
New Music Friday: Air Ignite
No, the pollution hasn't gotten that
bad. Air Ignite
is a rather amazing program which allows you to put together song ideas in the most natural way I've found yet.
I've found a few interesting attempts at this lately. Stagelight
is inexpensive (only $9.99) and surprisingly powerful -- basically a micro-DAW. Its workflow as a sketchpad is good but could be better. Same thing with Studio One Free
, another micro-DAW, although it doesn't let you use VSTs -- you have to get one of the pay versions for that. And JamDeck
tries to do what Ignite does, but is much more cumbersome and much less powerful about it, and costs $39.
So what does Ignite do? Ignite lets you create both audio and MIDI clips, and arrange them into a song. It has a wide selection of internal instruments, and several basic effects with a lot of presets. (It does not use VSTs.) It also works in a number of time signatures, so you can, for instance, do that 7/4 or 9/8 piece you've been considering. And it exports to .WAV, .MP3, and .MID, kicks your song into a folder with separate audio tracks so you can work on it some more in a DAW, or uploads direct to SoundCloud.
If you've bought an M-Audio keyboard in the past year or so, you likely have a copy, but you can also download it for free
(not quite 1 GB). It's available for both Windows and Mac, and there is a playlist of instructional videos
which will get you up and going in about an hour.
Any other new music toys, or new music, we need to know about?This entry was originally posted at http://filkertom.dreamwidth.org/1600288.html. You may comment there or here, although LJ tends to have a livelier conversation at this time.
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 02:49 pm (UTC)
Do people still make MIDI clips? That's so 90s!
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 03:10 pm (UTC)
There is a gent in Germany who apparently spends ALL his time creating outstanding midi sequences of whatever song strikes his fancy. Every two weeks he has a dozen new works available for sale. I bought one of them -- "Galveston" -- which I then turned into "Furrycon". (It was out of my singing range, but I'm just entertaining myself so who cares)
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
I stand corrected. As I understand it, MIDI is basically sheet music your computer plays. That means two computers can play the same MIDI but have it sound different (this happened to me when I got a new computer). Has this been fixed or is the only way to make sure it sounds the same to everyone is to convert it to an mp3?
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 05:12 pm (UTC)
Pretty much that. MIDI is a set of instructions -- not merely note and note duration, but velocity, instrument changes (e.g., suddenly going from piano to harpsichord and back again), and many, many other commands to your MIDI instrument or module. What you describe is not something to be "fixed" as such; if you want better sounding instruments, send the MIDI signal to better sounding instruments. The internal default MS Wavetable instrument is roughly the equivalent of the 8-bit Casio keyboards of the 1980s -- it's designed to do the job and not much else.
If you want to hear some kickass MIDI on your computer without getting into a DAW, there are a gazillion ways to do it, and they all involve a player program that has better General MIDI sounds. The easiest and cheapest way I can think of is to get the one-two freebie combo of:
Apart from that, yeah, if you want a MIDI file to sound exactly the same
to everyone, then converting it to an MP3 or .WAV is really the only way to go... but then it's not a MIDI file any longer, it's an audio file, and everything about playback and editing is different.
Here, here's my favorite MIDI file: a version of ABC's "The Look Of Love
". Even on the basic internal sound, it's awesome. It really shows what can be done with MIDI.Edited at 2013-02-08 05:14 pm (UTC)
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, and no.
There is a collection of the most common instruments called General Midi (or GM). If your midi file follows the GM conventions, then any channel can be any instrument still. However, a program change to 4 always gives you an electric piano and PC 32 is always an electric bass. There are small differences between GM players and how the instruments sound, but in general a GM midi will sound correct as long as the player uses GM music players.
The problem you point out was that in the early days, I could have one music player were Program 1 was a screaming lead synth, and your music player had program 1 play a Glockenspiel. And as much fun as hearing someone try to rock the house with a pitchbending glockenspiel may be, that's not how I created the music. So the General Midi assignment was created to give everyone the same program assignments across the land and make a GM on one machine play the same instruments (with varying qualities) no matter what GM player they used. (Roland Virtual Sound Canvas is a good one - http://www.pgmusic.com/rolandvsc.htm
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
I got Stagelight and was horribly unimpressed with it. If it had more selections of music defaults and patterns, I could see it being a fair "getting started" platform. Anyone already using a DAW will be underwhelmed by Stagelight though, and I'm a diehard reaper fan. Or are there expansion packs I'm not aware of yet?
But on the other hand, I (did) comprehend Stagelight better than BIAB. I think that says I need to beat on BIAB a few more hours though rather than giving up on it. :)
In other music news, the owner of Prodcyon has decided to abandon writing VST and put all his new stuff out for Reaktor instead. He says that people refuse to buy anything that's made with Synthedit, which I guess I'm too ignorant to know about because I liked his VST stuff enough to get the lifetime membership. Fat lot of good that did me though. *grumbles*
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
No expansions or anything yet. I thought -- still think -- Stagelight is very cool for a certain type of music, but I quickly came to the realization that (a) it wasn't my type and (b) its workflow is not what they say it is. Still, I'm only out ten bucks, and I haven't uninstalled it, because maybe next time I'll go back to it and something will click. That does happen.
It hasn't happened yet on Reaper routing. I want to love everything about that program, but the bullshit I seem to have to go through to set up any instrument besides a basic Channel One MIDI is just confusing, even with their presets and templates. It is actually way easier to set up an instrument in Sony Acid.
What part of BIAB aren't you getting? Or, perhaps more to the point, what are you trying to do with it that you are having trouble doing?
Yeah, I'm a PFL member too, and I'm not happy. We'll see how well it works for him, though -- I think there's a much smaller installed Reaktor base than he thinks.
I'm nowhere near the Synthedit wars -- I think they're stupid; what's that Duke Ellington line Peter Schickele quotes all the time? "If it sounds good, it is good." And then the complainers always have exceptions: IK Multimedia sucks (but Amplitube is amazing), Native Instruments sucks (but if you don't use Kontakt you're not a real
musician), blah blah blah.
(Full disclosure: I am a very
satisfied IK Multimedia customer, love Amplitube and SampleTank; and I hardly ever use NI products -- Kontakt Player and Reaktor player are a pain to work with. I have a version of Guitar Rig that came with Acid Pro a few years back, and it's easy to use and very good, but nowhere near as good as Amplitube.)
Unless something is blatantly awful, or the marketing goes to a whole new level of obnoxious (I'm lookin' at you, Crysonic), you get what works for you, and who cares who made it?Edited at 2013-02-08 05:16 pm (UTC)
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
The issue I'm stuck on is creating music in the style and the key I want. Create a style for 16 measures, try to set a key for it to play in, and it assigns any key except what I told it to assign. Never mind complex chords like a C/Dm
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
Okay, first thing: A new song in BIAB defaults to the key of C Major. It's that little dropdown to the left of the tempo, just below the song name. For the sake of ease and convenience, it's a good idea to put the song in the key you want before
you start entering chords. Transposing through that dropdown changes all the chords in the song to what they would be in whatever key you change it to -- e.g., if you start to enter chords in the key of G, and suddenly realize you still have the song in the key of C, changing the song to G will change any G chords in the song to D.
If you want to transpose without changing those chords:
- click and drag over the cells/bars until you've selected the whole song
- press Ctrl+c to copy all those chords
- go to the dropdown and transpose the song, leaving the cells still selected
- press Ctrl+v to paste the original chords over the transposed chords
Once you've done that, you can start inputting chords at any time. And don't be afraid to start out in a key you're more familiar with and then transpose it to the one you want to actually perform in -- I often set up bass runs in C because I know that key better, and then transpose it to E or somethin'.
The C/Dm chord you refer to would be interpreted by BIAB as a C with a D minor bass -- is that what you have in mind? It may help, until you get used to things, to use the Chord Builder (right-click on a bar, or Ctrl-Shift-B) to get the exact chords you want. You can also use the bar's Chord Settings (alt F5) to edit each beat's chord and rest/stop/hold.
Now, when you say you want to Create a style, do you mean you want to:
- load a style from the ones that come with BIAB?
- cobble together a hybrid style from the ones that come with BIAB?
- create your own original style?
For the sake of this, I'm going to assume the first. To the left of the song title is the Style button. Click on that. (If it says it needs to rebuild, do so.) This will bring up the Style Picker, and all you need to do is click on a category of styles you like, click on a style name, and then click OK at the bottom (or double-click the style, and the window will close automatically).
Now click on GenPlay in the main window to generate and play the song. (If you're not running BIAB 2013, click the Play transport icon. In 2013, Play is now used to simply Play an already-generated song without changing anything.) If you like it, you can Freeze it, either the whole song or by-track.
Does this help?Edited at 2013-02-08 07:14 pm (UTC)
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
Yes it does, and I will try it tonight. That explains everything changing on me everytime I tried to enter a chord -- I seem to be trying to do it wrong. I'll give it a try tonight. Thanks!
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
Excellent. Yeah, basic chord entry is literally that -- you click on one of the cells and type in a chord. (Each cell is one measure, and the program calls them bars.) You'll see a black box which covers half
the bar; you can enter two chords there, separated by a comma -- e.g., "Am,G" will enter an A minor on the first beat and a G on the second. Then use the cursor keys to move to another half-bar.
The "1a" blue box at the beginning of the first bar shows a level of activity for that bar and all others following it. Most styles have two levels of activity, or "substyle" -- "a" is less busy, "b" is more busy. (Note that this does not usually apply to the pre-recorded RealTracks.) To change that at any point in the song, right-click on a bar number; a menu will pop up, letting you know which substyle you have, which ones you can change to, and also giving you the option to select another style to define a new substyle (but that gets kinda recursive, so let's leave that for now).
If you put a substyle marker in any given bar, you're also telling BIAB to put a fill (like a drum fill) in the bar before that one. This is handy for separating the song into verses, choruses, bridges, etc., and every substyle marker ends up defining a new part of the song graphically by shifting it to its own new line and going to the left (so you don't freak out when BIAB does that).
Anyway. You type and cursor your way through the song. Some of the keystrokes you can use for a chord:
Edited at 2013-02-08 11:45 pm (UTC)
- "/" between the chord and a separate bass note for this chord
- "^" or "^^" before a chord makes it push (start a bit before right-on-the-beat)
- "." after a chord is a rest (no sound) -- you can also enter exceptions based on your instrument types (e.g., "C.bdp" means that the bar rests, EXCEPT for Bass, Drums, and Piano instruments which will continue playing in the key of C)
- ".." after a chord is a shot -- the chord plays very briefly, just enough to define the beat, and then stops until BIAB comes to a new chord. (Ex.: "I'm in love" [shot] I'm all shook up.") Same exception rules apply.
- "..." after a chord is a hold -- the chord is played and held until BIAB comes to a new chord. Same exception rules apply.
- You can get VERY into detail on all of those by right-clicking on a bar and choosing Bar Settings.
- "b" after a chord is a flat -- so "bb" is a B-flat. BIAB will sometimes rename a flatted or sharped chord to what it wants it to be, but it will sound exactly like what you entered, so don't worry about that.
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Huzzah! That's getting me operational. Thanks!!
Ooh, this is going to be fun.
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
Also, what issues are you having with reaper routing? Channel assignments? Simplest way to fix that is to have the midi track nested within another track with the soft synth in it. Whatever channels are played in all the nested tracks will sound with the softsynth in the track they are all nested in. So a single instance of ProteusVX can play 16 different instruments at the same time. I do this often, and I've experimented with copying a single midi track and copypasting it 8 times, then slightly nudging the times on each and randomizing the velocities to create a 1001 string sound. (Results have been iffy, but the theory is sound.)
Fri, Feb. 8th, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC)
Hm. Haven't tried the nesting thing. I'll look it over and give it a shot. And I know there are a few tutorial videos on YouTube I should peruse....
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 01:36 am (UTC)
Let's make a simple midi sequence on track two, and nest that inside track one. Have track one have a multichannel VST (Coyote WT, Roland VCS, etc). Whatever instrument is on channel one in track one, that's what you'll hear.
Now configure track one's vst channel 2 instrument to be something else entirely. This is simple to do.
Now. On track two (where your midi is) click on IO by the track's name. You'll find a button called New Send, with 1. on the pull down. Select track one and for the magic, at the bottom of the send, change all the midi going out to be Channel 2 instead.
Hit play. Everything on every channel of track two now plays out as Channel 2 on the VST in track 1. This can be done many, many times - just send the midi data to the higher level track and pick what channel you want that data to be.
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 01:39 am (UTC)
note: you have to turn off the Channel 1 instrument as it still plays otherwise. Since I am assuming you just want to record with your keyboards but easily change their channel setting, this is a fast way to do it.
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 01:54 am (UTC)
Another way that may be simpler:
Create track one with a VST and track two with teh midi nested inside it.
In Track two, add the effect JX:IX/MIDI_Router. That'll let you send any channel to any other channel, and that's the channel that'll play on the upper VST
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Okay, here's the key thing: What do you mean by "nested"? By one track nested in another track? By a MIDI sequence nested in Track Two?
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)
Yes. Two tracks, one nested inside the other.
Create two tracks. Track one has your VST as the FX and track two has the midi data in it. On the right and bottom of the track one control, you'll see a little folder symbol. Touch it, and everything after that track becomes nested in track one. You can touch a folder symbol in the last track you want nested to signal it's the last nested too. Everything that happens in these nested tracks happens in the top track of the nesting; in this case, midi data in track two plays on the VST on track one.
And adding the effect JX:IX/MIDI_Router to track two to send the midi data to any other channel you desire in track one will give you the routing to use multitimbral softsynths effectively.
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
I DID NOT KNOW YOU COULD SET AN INSTRUMENT TO A FOLDER TRACK.
Everything's working great, except... the Proteus isn't playing when I play my MIDI controller. I hate the plugins that don't just do what the hell you want them to. But I am using MIDI on track two, routing it to track one, and it's playing just fine.
Okay, now this
'll make ya crazy. I just dragged Piano One to a third track (still inside the folder of Track One). That one plays through the controller just fine, and
it plays the Proteus sound on Track One as well. But if I mute Track 3, nothing goes to Track One. WTF?
(It seems to have to do with Record Monitoring being on or off, but no matter how I set tracks one or two, I can't play the controller and get noise without track three being the active track.)Edited at 2013-02-09 03:08 am (UTC)
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
You have to have the Record Arm button on the track turned on to play live.
And my most common oversight with live use of a track is forgetting to set the input to the midi keyboard instead of line in.Edited at 2013-02-09 03:15 am (UTC)
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 03:25 am (UTC)
See, this is what I mean. I've tried all of those, and it's still not working properly. I'll go after it again in the morning -- right now I'm too tired -- but... in Acid, I insert a soft synth, set a track to that synth, and... it works. BIAB, it works. Sonar, Ignite, StageLight, Ableton (lite live 8)... it works. At most, I have to set the correct MIDI channel. (It's actually easiest with Acid -- insert a multichannel VST like Aria or Sampletank or Proteus, set a track to a specific channel, boom it works.)
And I realize that the Reaper guys did it this way specifically to make the routing as powerful as possible -- but it's not
intuitive, and it's not simple. I'm sure I'll get it to click sometime... but I've been trying on and off for FRICKIN' YEARS, literally, and it makes me feel STUPID to not get it.
Sat, Feb. 9th, 2013 03:34 am (UTC)
As stupid as me not being able to enter a chord? :)
There are several ways of getting there. The fastest is to have a folder that's the VST and all the channels inside that folder, and a JX:IX/MIDI_Router to change the channel for each track to whatever you want.
Playing VST live:
softsynth on FX
Record arm button on track
Record monitor on.
Input to the keyboard you use (this almost always defaults to LineIn for audio use)
When you see the VUmeters flicker red with the keyboard playing, you know you have data reaching the track. If you see the red flickers but no sound, that's usually the monitor.