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Compositional processes using modern digital technology


Ashmil

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Hi all

 

I'm doing a project for Uni (sharp intakes of breath!), the aim of which is to investigate a number of paradigms of digital music creation, using different software. I'm interested in how these paradigms affect the process of music composition itself. I'm particularly interested in comparing these processes to more traditional methods, such as when songwriters (or indeed songwriting partnerships) just sit down and write with an acoustic guit or a piano or what have you, with no digital facilities.

 

To do this, I am composing a bunch of tunes myself, and analysing the processes used.

 

Also, I'm doing a lot of web research, trying to find articles and interviews on artists that use digital technology as an integral part of the composition process. I already have qutie a few, but I'd be grateful if anyone has any good links to such material, perhaps relating to artists such as the Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Four Tet, Massive Attack, or indeed anyone. Any good links folks?

 

I will stress at this point that ANY AND ALL material used will be properly quoted/referenced in my project. This is NOT an attempt to get someone else to do my thinking/searching for me. My tutor has suggested that I do research into other peoples' experiences of using modern digital music creation techniques. I have already done a lot of work on this, but I am posting this purely in case anyone knows of a good article or two which I may not have found.

 

I would also be interested in getting some e-mail interviews with people on this forum. I'm in the process of putting together some interview questions now, but in the meantime, I'd be interested in hearing any comments or views from you if you fall into any of the following categories:

 

- You have experience of composing tunes using software like Ableton Live, Cubase/Tools/Logic, Reason, FL Studio, ACID etc.

 

- You have experience of composing tunes using just an acoustic instrument, and working it out just 'in your head'

 

- You have experience of being part of a song-writing partnership, whatever methods you use.

 

- You have experience of composing with samples.

 

- You have experience of composing tunes confined to just one platform/method - say, purely in Ableton Live, or purely in Reason.

 

- You have any interesting views in general on modern compositional processes

 

Like I said, any and all material used will be used for reference/quotation purposes only, NOT as a substitute for my own thinking.

 

I'd love to hear what you have to say! Please get in touch.

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Well, as far as making music to listen to, I don't have the equipment nor all of the instruments to record a song. But, for composing music, I use powertabs (what no guitarist should be without). It allows to me to be much more dynamic and effecient in the song writing process.

 

I don't feel like going through the process of recording a riff, and then recording a solo over it to see how it sounds or vice versa. I'd much rather tab the notes in, hear it via midi playback, and be able to alter it on the fly and see how it sounds.

 

The songwriting process for me most of the time is to come across a riff while jerking off the guitar, and then tab it out. From there I can add multiple layers of instruments (something I wouldn't normally be able to do, without it being a bitch, especially with all the trial and error), melodies, harmonies, the whole works.

 

I don't know if this is the kind of information you are looking for, but programs like this can greatly help people who don't have access to all the instruments and recording equipment become better composers.

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I am fascinated by software sequencers and VSTi's. I must have a whole bunch of them. There is one more aspect you may have missed that fascinates me also, looping live. Kid Beyond, or basically check out loopers delight if you haven't already. Kid Beyond Uses ambelton and uses nothing but his voice, effects to compose beatbox driven songs that he sings and raps on. He is open to interviews I think, he is an advocate of sorts.

 

I used to think, that loop and sequencers stuff is easy. I stil think that but you still have to have skills to compose something good. The best part is you can at least compose something with very little skill.

 

The one thing is over looked it does is open the realm of composition to poor people and people who cant play well. You can still write music and it is a faster learning curve that is good for music education as it keeps people interested with less of a obstacles to lead to results which seems to aid people in learning. Increase work flow means people with mental/physical disabilities can write music. You can just point and click. There is the efficiency of storage and materials used.

 

I also think sequencing and VSTi's open up a great possibility to ex[lore other styles. You can't drop a grand on a few used keyboards and a drum machine or two. But you can download FLsutudio Demo, a few synths and a drum machine (latest free fav is erratic) and play your metal riffs over souring arp synth sounds and a mixed up Amen break.Fun! Synths with fast Japanese drums? Why not! Rap beats with a meditating monk plugin...why not!!! Ok the last is a little strange, but fun to mess with.

 

The one thing I noticed is it is easier to be creative and make new rythms on my guitar as the piano roll just doesn't have the same composing interaction. It is also a heck of a lot faster with the guitar than the point and click and click and click and click. But as for synths, I can't play well at all so it is much more accurate. I have composed a few metal songs in FLstudio. It doesn't have the same feel. It has it's own sound.

 

make try to email Kid Beyond or anther looper. Looping software to check out. superlooper. I posted a article that used a keyboard with the keys pulled off with Ambelton, I also posted another alternative that is free, Ambiloop. You pull a the keys off the keyboard put some pedals on the ones you need and the have at it. It is further down the list on this forum. EDIT: I was on the wrong forum:freak: It is on DIY. Here is a link. http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1704227 Of course you can use a real midi pedal. I haven't the spare keyboard or the cash but it sems like it would work oK.

 

Other looping programs for linux would be freewheeling. They use circular spinning representations of the sound files you are looping. It is all keyboard or midi pedal based. You can connect a midi keyboard and trigger with it, or try the keyboard home made option. It is fun to see the stuff spin around a compact display.

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This is a cool project. Interestingly enough, the music I have been writing has been changing, and I have been writing more film score compositions (which I plan on putting up here as soon as I finish one of them). This is a bit strange (but I love doing it) seeing as I am a guitar player, and my only real experience with a full band and orchestra lasted for 4 years in my early teens. Anywho, I have composed different songs in different ways. The song that I am going to be most proud of, I wrote when I was trying out different tunings on my guitar. I came across a tuning that just had a big, full sound. I began writing parts on it, then I realized that this could be an entire orchestra playing what I am playing. So I plugged into my amp, grabbed my looper, and started looping my other ideas over existing ones, experimenting with the music only a few measures at a time, and then having them repeat so I could add more. It was a hell of a way to write, but it worked fine for me. I then bought Garritan and have since started writing on the computer, as well as get the original ideas for that tune down. I think it helps a ton to have an actual, sheet of music in front of you as you write, no matter how you are doing your writing, seeing the music helps a ton.

 

Another weird instance, and a bit more old fashion, I might add. Was when I was on vacation. I went to Ireland and did a large amount of traveling around. The only things I had with me were two pencils and two pads of paper. When inspiration hit I would sit down and start writing what I was hearing in my head. As a kid, my guitar teacher made me do interval training, and he pounded it into my head. Luckily, it was really paying off. It was weird writing music I couldn't physically hear, but I knew how it would sound. I guess that's how Beethoven did it (or at least, I like to compare myself to him :D).

 

Lastly, Finale is a great tool that is worthy of mention in your paper. I'm sure it has had a profound impact on the classical world, which I don't consider myself a part of at all. Just from the light experimenting I have done with it, it is a very powerful and useful tool.

 

 

That's just my $0.02, sorry for rambling. :blah:

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i'm another fan of the looping approach. i've had recording gear for over 10 years now, starting with a 4 track tascam jobby all the way up to logic pro 7 and pro tools 7 le and despite aspirations to greatness i have done very _very_ little with it. i'm just too lazy to get everything set up, to the point that i rarely even plug my electric guitars into an amp when i play and they are my main instrument. and i have a 5150 combo which i adore when i do use it.

 

however, a few moths back i decided that i was going to get me a copy of guitar rig 2 with the rig kontroller, partly for the great sounds and flexability, and partly because of the loop machine demo on their website. since then i have recorded more ideas than i had in my entire life beforehand. it is phenominally easy to lay down a few bars of a riff and let them loop over and over whilst you work on fitting a melody to it, or adding a bassline or a second rhythm track. adding in the power of guitar rig 2's emulations you can get hugely different sounds at a single click, so it's easy to separate out your tracks with different tones. a nice clean sound for strummy chords panned a bit left, a nice overdrive playing a more intricate riff to the right, the bass straight down the centre and a tasty distortion to noodle a lead over the top. it's just so quick and easy to get a feel for how an idea might work in a full band setting.

 

it'll even let you export the different layers as audio files that can easily be imported into your daw of choice to work on getting them into professional recordings as you can't do any mixing beyond setting the level an pan position before doing a take. i've tended to find it preferable to start from scratch once moving to logic pro as i'm happy to be a bit sloppier when looping than i want in a final take, but by the time i get to this stage the looper has more than earned its place on my mac.

 

if you haven't seen/used any looping tools i recommend you head on over to the native instruments website and check out the video on loop machine in the guitar rig 2 section. as a self-confessed lazy wannabe i don't know if i'm quite the target of your interview questions, but feel free to message me if you want me to take a pass at em.

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You have experience of composing tunes using software like Ableton Live, Cubase/Tools/Logic, Reason, FL Studio, ACID etc.

Yes

 

-You have experience of composing tunes using just an acoustic instrument, and working it out just 'in your head'

Yes

 

- You have experience of being part of a song-writing partnership, whatever methods you use.

Yes

 

- You have experience of composing with samples.

Yes

 

- You have experience of composing tunes confined to just one platform/method - say, purely in Ableton Live, or purely in Reason.

Yes, purely Cubase, purely Nuendo and purely Logic.

 

- You have any interesting views in general on modern compositional processes

Maybe; the tools at hand today have a long way to go until they are as comfortable as paper, a pen and a eraser. And in my perception, musicians playing an instrument are identified as human, where with pure computer music I miss the human behind the music

 

.

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