When almost anyone decides they fancy having a crack at making music on a computer there are several things that might hold them back. The first challenge is learning how your DAW (recording / sequencing software works. The second problem is often a lack of music theory knowledge.
A lot of musicians come to making music on a computer from a more traditional band setting. If (for example) you are a bassist, then you can get by in a band by simply watching what the guitarist is doing. If you’re the band member actually writing the songs you can randomly hit strings and chords until they sound ‘right’. It’s entirely possibly to be in a band but have absolutely zero knowledge of music theory.
This carefree nonchalance to the ‘rules’ of music can be a problem when musicians sit down by themselves and try and make music on a computer.
The good folk at ‘Mixed in Key’ have a solution; the solution is the Captain Plugins. This suite of plugins pretty much takes care of music theory for you, in a very clever and intuitive way.
Captain Plugins – what do they do?
Captain Plugins is a song building and inspiration tool that comes in the following parts:
- Captain Chords
- Captain Deep
- Captain Melody
- Captain Beats
- Captain Play
Each of the parts can be run as standalone software outside of your DAW but it’s real power is revealed when used inside a DAW. Each of the above parts appears as a separate plugin. Captain Chords takes care of the chords for your composition. Captain Deep takes care of the bass, and beyond that you can probably guess what each part does from its name.
The Captain Plugins workflow
The user experience with this software is incredibly good. Each plugin part is connected to the other parts to ensure musicality. For example; drop the Chords plugin into your DAW, then drop in the Melody plugin and they will connect to each other. So if you change your chord progression the Melody should update itself.
As you’ll see from our demo video, once you set your chords a basic song just sort of appears out of thin air. That by itself is impressive.
If you’ve not got a brain full of musical theory you can pretty much just charge around like a bull in a china synth shop and the song you create will still be passable. Most of the time.
If you’re a music theory virtuoso then there are enough options and tweaks to push your creativity to brave new places.
While building your song you can preview your creation using any of the many instruments included within the software.
When you are happy with your composition you export the midi data from each of the plugin parts, drop the midi into your DAW and assign whichever instruments tickle your fancy.
It’s that easy.
Captain Plugins Conclusion
As a creative tool Captain Plugins is great. You could use the software to crank out a ton of tracks in no time at all. But I think the real strength of the software is the ability it has to give songwriters a starting point that they may not have thought of. Better than that, Captain Plugins can give you an idea for a track that comes from far outside your comfort zone. That’s where the magic is.