Computer Music – Getting Started!

Computer Music – Getting Started!

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All You Need Is A Computer!

Life can be so unfair. Just because you can’t sing or play an instrument, why can’t you be a rock star?

Well, those shortcomings didn’t stop lots of ‘stars’.

But let’s turn it down a notch and say you wanna make music. Maybe you haven’t yet learned to play an instrument but you have lots of ideas. Can a computer help? You betcha!

Most songs have a similar structure with sections such as verse, chorus, middle eight, instrumental and so on. Take a look at The Quick Guide To Song Structure for more info.

You’ll know instinctively which parts of the song are which – the verse is the catchy bit, just in case you’ve recently arrived from Mars – and you don’t have to be a classically trained musician to be able to ‘feel’ the beat or groove.

There are dozens of pieces of software to help you put your musical ideas down on, er, digital paper. And you don’t need a degree in music to do it!

Traditionally, music sequencers were organised like multi-track tape recorders, mimicking the hardware recording systems they aimed to replace.

However, the advent of computers enabled software designers to expand the limits of conventional sequencing and many music composition programs now use a building block approach to music creation.

They come with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of loops and samples which you can arrange in one- or two-bar patterns to form a song. It’s easy and fun!

The samples are usually of extremely high quality and you might be amazed at how easy it is to produce great-sounding music.

Garage Band
Apple’s Garage Band is one of the most well-known pieces of music composition software. It runs on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Unfortunately, it’s not available for other operating systems.

However, if you have one of the above devices, it’s one of the best such programs available and currently it only costs £4! Yes, read it and buy one!

Maschine
Maschine is billed as a groove production studio. It’s by Native Instruments who produce a superb range of software instruments and effects.

The original Maschine is a hardware unit but NI has produced a software version called iMaschine which, as you can tell from the name, is another Apple-only product.

However, again, at only £4 it’s a cheap, easy and fun way to start building beats and making music.

If you don’t have an Apple device – and even if you do – there are many other software options for both Mac and PC computers.

Ableton
Ableton made its name with the eponymous Ableton Live, designed for music production and performance. The best thing is, you can try it for free and it’s available for both Mac and PC.

Sequencing
If you want to go completely off road with 100% control over all the sounds and patterns, you need a sequencer. These are now commonly called a DAW – Digital Audio Workstation.

They require a little more musical ability and work best with an input device such as a keyboard connected via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). They allow you to create and manipulate patterns, change sounds and tempo, and arrange the patterns on virtual tracks.

There are dozens of sequencers on the market catering for every type of music, musician and pocket. Some of the more popular ones include Cubase, Logic, Magix, FL Studio, Acid Music Studio, Cakewalk Music Creator and Reason to name but a few.

There are many more and it’s worth taking time to decide where your musical interests lie and what type of software would best suit your needs.

And if you want to know how to bring it all together into a Hit Song, have a read of this post.

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