Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How do I write music ?

A Common question that ends up in my inbox from time to time.

How do I write music...

I have a question about game music composition. I would like to be a wannabe composer. What equipment is required to do such a thing?

I have the following:

1. A competent computer + Xonar Sound Card

2. M-Audio Oxygen 88 -  88-Key Graded Hammer-Action USB/MIDI Controller

Digital Audio Workstation Software

4. Some VST Libraries and Samples

Is this all that is needed, or is there more? This seems to work, but I have seen some studios with all a sorts of equipment. Much of it I have no idea what it does.  

When I started writing music I had a piece of manuscript paper and a piano. I didn't have any of the above, but I was able to scribble notes down which eventually were turned into music using an Amiga 500 and soundtracker.

Not relevant today, we have it much easier than that.

Think of it this way. If I want to make a sandwich and have bread, a knife, a cutting board and a fridge full of delicious fillings and toppings and yet, don't know whether that's enough to make a sandwich... then maybe it's time to think about reading a book on sandwich making :)

If you have a keyboard and can make it make a noise and have a recording device (sequencer,tape machine, iphone, whatever it might be)  then go and make some noises and record them.

The more you do it, the better those noises will be and once your friends stop having to say nice things about them and say them geuinely, then worry about what bits of gear and software you can buy.

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  1. I've always wondered who takes care of the final polish. What's the mix/mastering situation like?

  2. I recently was stuck on how to get started making music, all these Keyboards, DAW's, do I need this and that etc etc.

    It's actually surprisingly simple, just get a keyboard (I got the Oxygen 49, it's under £100 and quite versatile) and download some software. I went for Reaper, it's very powerful and has a free trial.

    Next you might want to download some instruments to make sounds with, there are numerous websites with free ones on or you can, like me, buy the Computer Music magazine. This often comes with a free CD with lots of instruments on!

    Now you just play around with sound! Think of random little jingles and record them, experiment with different effects etc then build from there. It can be mind blowingly complex at times but only if you want it to be. The best thing is to start making noise and gradually improve your knowledge with your skills.

    If you're in the UK and you want some base knowledge this might come in handy (I haven't tried it myself though)