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Thread: MIDI, Sequencing, and Electronic Music

  1. #1

    Default MIDI, Sequencing, and Electronic Music

    Anyone here into composing, or using MIDI instruments to perform music? I'm getting back into music, and have decided this go-round to do the electronic route (I almost studied it in college, but the electronic music lab they had at my school at the time was crap). So, anyone out there who knows what an Access Virus A is, or Korg Karma, or has used Fruity Loops or Reason, let me know. I'm looking for any and all advice.

  2. #2


    Hey Cush,

    I've done my share of sequencing. I've got what I consider pretty solid expertise with an older version of Fruity Loops (3, to be exact), and actually found the later versions to be less user-friendly than that. Otherwise, I've done a ton of work on the old Roland Groovebox 303, 505, an Orbit V.2., external MIDI sequencer, yadda-yadda. I haven't dabbled for a year or two, but it might be cool to discuss it.

    What kind of help are you looking for? I can't guarantee I can help, but it might do a bit of good!

  3. #3


    I would help, but I write MIDI tracks in GarageBand on my old Mac, and use RetroWare MIDIO to export it to Ableton on my new computer.
    It works for me. I normally just write drum tracks in there, and record guitar and bass tracks into ProTools M-Powered... I wish I had talented friends...

  4. #4


    I use midi files to learn to play the synthesyser, and I use fruity loops to make pretty crappy music, I never really got around of making something nice (I have a few 'decent' songs, but nothing serious).

    There used to be a member here that I used to make music with (bluetack (dude where ARE you??!)), but I havn't seen him in ages

  5. #5


    Have you considered using the tracker format over midi? I love recording things from analog sources and then using a program like Impulse Tracker to make the music with it. Although since you are new to this, I would suggest using the modplug tracker and the IT format in it. You can even start with midi data and then import it into modplug tracker so that you can then assign any sound you would want, or soundbank to any note in the song. Personally I am more knowledgeable about pre-midi stuff (or really early midi stuff), but that doesn't mean I have totally ignored the last 20 years.

    If you want to have a blast on a budget, I would buy one of the semi-rare, but not too desireable (to the ignorant) Roland Phrase Labs, there is often 0 on ebay, right now there are 2! It is a TB-303 bass generator, a cut down TR-707, 808, 909 drum machine (no ride cymbols or toms), a 4 channel, 20bit, 44.1Khz, mono audio looper, a roland 32 note step and track sequencer and last but not least, a fully unlocked Saturn-09 monophonic synth. It's slanted to techno or electronic music, but the drum machine in it alone is worth the price. You can make some really wicked acid techno on the synth too I must say. However what you want the phraselab for is to not have to buy thousands of dollars in samples. You can combine channels on the looper (or not) and save 16bit standard wave files to a solid state flash card. Then take out the flash card with loops on it (or even just single sampled notes) and jam them into ANY computer program that is made to do audio and mix songs out of them on the PC.

    There are much more (and some less lol) sophysticated devices like this called Grooveboxes, but this little machine sure has some amaizing sound...especially if you get a fully working one under 300 US. Oh and it has midi, which the origional devices it replicates and shoves into a smaller box do not.

    Oh and I am not at all against packages of loops and sounds...but it is really nice to be able to make your own, and to have them sound nice on a budget.

    The modplug tracker is even a free program.

    If you want to record without using a PC at all. I suggest a Hi-MD deck unit, record in PCM mode, transfer over USB 2.0...awesome A/D conversion. It's hard to find a recorder like it. There are much more expensive, higher quality (bit wise and sample wise) HD recorders now, but it is very nearly impossible to ever burn something higher than 16bit, 44.1Khz in most cases, so why bother going up when you only have to go back down?

    In that case a keyboard + a MC-09 Phraselab would be kinda sweet together since you could use the phraselab as a very complicated drum machine and a bass generator for your keyboard.

    Using some kind of computer though is probably the way to go because going the all hardware route is very expensive indeed.

  6. #6


    Do all that junk in school. Use pro-tools 8, which I think is the latest version, and a bunch of stuff for plug-ins. Big fan of Reason, and Redrum for making my own drum tracks. Doesn't sound that great, but for writing and recording a quick metal track over a week it works alright. I'm not so into electronic stuff, but Reason has got synths and patches up the yang, so it's probably a gooder. I dig a program called Kontakt too. Great for getting decent sounding orchestral and exotic instruments. I've been hard-pressed to find horn patches that don't sound like they're coming out of a Super Nintendo, and Kontakt is pretty solid.

    My younger brother picked up small m-box and a demo version of pro-tools for super cheap, like 200 hundred bucks. If you wanted to buy (not download anything for free) a full version of pro-tools, a decent sized interface and some solid virtual instruments and plug-ins and junk, I think it might run you up a bit. Not too sure, but probably getting close to a grand.

    But yeah, pro-tools is a lot of fun to mess around with, way better than something like Garageband for getting an alright recording feel, and good if you just wanna lay down some of your own stuff or some small-time deals with friends. Your equipment and mixer / producer skills kinda determine how good it sounds in the end I guess, but totally some solid stuff to pick up if you're into making some music.

  7. #7


    I use my Korg Triton for all my midi needs. The Korg Karma is sort of a randomizer. You can go to their web site and hear one. If you buy a Korg M3, the Karma is included. It's a big part of Korg Oasys, but that keyboard is extremely expensive. However, they have a great web site that demonstrates it, and you could hear what it sounds like.

    That said, a good sequencer should allow you to choose tracks, set your sounds to each track, have a drum track and patterns. With the Korg, I can go to the mixing window and change all the volumes in real time. There's so much that can be done, but you will have to investigate. If you go computer, all of your midi modules have to be set up in the software. You probably would want a sound card that would be part of your computer setup.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by dogboy View Post
    That said, a good sequencer should allow you to choose tracks, set your sounds to each track, have a drum track and patterns. With the Korg, I can go to the mixing window and change all the volumes in real time.
    You bring up a good point, maybe unintentionally. Make sure whatever you go with that your midi devices are from more or less the same decade. The midi standard continues to evolve and there are many things ultra moden sequencers can do, but that doesn't mean that the midi you make on them will still work on older devices, or at the very worst you will just lose all the fancy controls like the realtime volume control. A lot of older midi systems have very small byteword lengths, and their buffers often require you to put in spacers of "dead air like data" so that the midi device doesn't start randomly losing notes or whole channels. Unless you are a computer programmer who easly digests engineering articles, you might want to just forget any midi device pre 1990s...or at least do a lot of research into the device so you can understand how to feed it midi data it will like. Then just get whatever you like, as long as it has midi. I really wish there was some kind of formal midi generation numbers, and I wish they marked midi devices with said numbers...but the evolution of midi seems to be one where each company was free to alter it as they saw fit, as time went on. So there are some standards...but you might as well just forget any standards exist.

    [QUOTE=dogboy;502368There's so much that can be done, but you will have to investigate. If you go computer, all of your midi modules have to be set up in the software. You probably would want a sound card that would be part of your computer setup.[/QUOTE]

    Yes, if you go the computer route, you will want a soundcard with as much onboard memory as possible (or at least 128 megs), so that you can load large soundfonts into memory. Even simple soundfonts like for a Hammond organ with low Leslie are about 8-10 megs (for just for one sound setting on the organ). So to make the organ sound realistic, you are looking at, at least 70 megs of ram for one instrument. That is a fairly extreem example for at least what I work with since accurately reproducing anything with that much body in it, you just gotta not care too much about space. Although if you can afford a soundcard with more onboard ram for soundfonts, I would go for it. That is unless you are trying to re-produce that vintage SNES sound...then get a cheap soundcard with no onboard memory...I'm not kidding, they sound a lot like the SNES in midi mode. A bit worse than the SNES though on some sounds like drums.

    On other thing I have to pimp is the Akai AX-60. If you wanna go analog for some reason, this baby is almost a poor-mans Jupiter 6...almost. But is has features the Jupiter lacks, like a nearly modern seqencer (it was very advanced for its time), oh and midi, and it can record patch settings, so you don't have to re-create each sound, every time you want to change sounds. You can get them used for about $400 or less. It's doesn't have all the bells and whistles the triton does, but it's one of the only 80's keyboards to have 90's like midi, and a good arpegitator (I am terrable at spelling...), patch saving, and it can produce 6 or 8 notes at once...I forget offhand since most techno much requires about 1-4 notes at once for the melody, often just one note at once. Oh and it is often overlooked by people wanting midi Jupiter 6's, Elka Synthex's or a Prophet 600.

    Oh and if you are totally unsure of what you want, I suggest waiting as long as you can to buy anything, since well all this stuff gets expensive quick, especially anything newish.

  9. #9


    I'm not into composing much, but i do quite love that kind of music. it reminds me of the simpler days.

  10. #10


    There is another way to go. I have a Tascam digital recorder which is set up as a mixing board with 8 channels. You can record individually into each channel using anything that comes out of a jack or mic cable. You can punch in and out should you make a mistake. I'm a concert organist so I don't make a lot of mistakes so it works for me. You can then mix all your tracks and load on to your computer or burn to CD on the Tascam. In this way you don't have to worry about source comparability. I will add that the operating system of the Tascam is difficult and has a high learning curve. The manual is vague. I had to trial and error, and then made notes to my manual.

    The other way to go is to visit your local music store and see what they suggest. No matter what you do, it's going to be expensive. I'm a live player so I don't much care to drag a computer with me to gigs. This is why I went with the Korg Triton which is a keyboard work station. That might be your best bet because everything is in house and there is no comparability problem. Since you are interested in the Korg Karma, you would want to investigate the Korg M3.

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