Make Music with your Computer: An Introduction
Well guys, I’ve decided to write a short article on how to make music with your computer. When I started out, I couldn’t find anything to help me. I didn't know what to buy, or where to start. Hopefully this short article will help you in your quest to making music a fun and productive hobby or future profession.
Loops and SONY ACID Software
When I first started to create music I used SONIC FOUNDRY'S ACID MUSIC 3.0. It's a piece of software that enables you to create music with loops. Loops are small pieces of music, like a drum line or synth line. These loops are only a few seconds long, but, obviously, they loop. This means that you can draw the loop in for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, whatever length you’d like with no distortion or other strange noises when the loop starts over at the beginning. There are many websites and companies that create loops for production use. A lot of them are Royalty Free; this means that you can use them in commercial (for-profit) songs. Each of the companies that create these loops has their own license, which you’ll want to read if you’re going to release an album. The license is usually just a set of rules or terms that say what you can and can’t do with a loop. Most the time you can use these Royalty Free loops in commercial recordings, but you can’t, for example, resell the loops by themselves. You have to abide by the license.
As far as I know SONIC FOUNDRY was bought out by SONY, so if you’re looking for this software….
- Do a search for ACID PRO, or visit the link at the bottom of the article
- There are different versions of the software; one of the versions is absolutely FREE
The Reason to create
The piece of software I’d like to talk about in this section is PROPELLERHEADS REASON. This piece of software is much different than ACID. REASON is focused less on loops, and more on programming. When I say programming, I mean using individual sounds, for example, a kick drum, snare, or piano sound. You then use the awesome devices to create patterns. REASON includes a powerful list of devices. Some of the more important are the ReDrum Drum Machine, Synthesizers, and all new in 2.5, the mastering devices. I’m not going to get into this too much, because there’s just too much to tell in this article. If you’re interested in using REASON, I recommend that you get the tutorial CD-ROM from M-AUDIO. It will give you a good idea of how to get started with REASON, and if you think that it will be good for you.
Putting it all together
The great thing about the two pieces of software that I talked about in the previous two paragraphs is this:
- You can use ACID for all your loops
- You can use ACID to record vocals and/or guitars if you have the equipment
- You can use ACID to render your final recording to mp3, wav, aiff, and more
- You can use REASON to program patterns for drums, synths, etc.
(Keep in mind that these two programs can do way more than what’s displayed above)
The coolest part of this whole thing is that you can connect these two programs. Using a technology named “REWIRE”, created by PROPELLERHEADS you can have both of these applications synchronized. Add a loop in ACID, make a pattern in REASON, and have them play back together. When you’re done, you can render in ACID to have the synchronized music as one file, or track.
Wait! I have no sound
Okay, so now you have the software to start creating some awesome music. So the thing you’re missing is sound, speakers, headphones, etc. I use an external sound card by M-AUDIO, called OMISTUDIO USB. This thing connects to my pc with the USB port. It has two headphone connections and two instrument/mic connections with preamp power. It also contains several speaker connections, as well as other connections for mixers, etc.
There are several different types of these external sound machines. Most of them are either USB or FireWire. Most have headphone, speaker, and mic connections and come with the necessary drivers for your computer.
It’s all over
I hope that this short article gave you some ideas to start making music. I plan on writing more articles as time permits. See ya soon!
ACID PRO and other SONY Software - http://www.sony.com/mediasoftware
PROPELLERHEADS REASON - http://www.propellerheads.se
M-AUDIO Products - http://www.m-audio.com
This article was posted on August 25, 2005