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Topic: Sequencer pre-beginner question

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  1. #1

    Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Maybe a bit O.T, but I've decided I probably have to step into the world of MIDI sequencers to post-process the output from Sibelius. I definitely need some help.

    I downloaded doc for Reaper (because I could) and started going through it, and don't understand a word of it! Some of my problem is simply a vocabulary issue: they expect the reader to understand things like "FX", but they expect too much. Some of it is my lack of knowledge of ANYTHING relating to digital audio. Some of it is my lack of understanding my particular "sound system" (if such a term can be used for the rudimentary sound card and tiny speakers that came with my PC).

    So where do I start? All I want to do is be able to "reshape" the MIDI output from Sibelius before feeding it to GPO in hopes that I can improve the sound. But I think I need an understand far beyond that just to make sense of the tools I'm going to use. Are there some good books I should get that can get me up and running fairly fast and don't require a degree in digital audio engineering in order to understand?

    I could probably use some suggestions in choosing a sequencer program, too. I certainly doubt I need all the bells and whistles of the high-end products, but I suspect I need to get a "user friendly" one if I have any hope of using it. Reaper is certainly priced right (for non-commercial use) but I have no idea if it is what I need.

    And could someone point me to some good books on MIDI orchestration techniques? (I didn't even know such books existed until Raymond mentioned he had one.)

    Many thanks.

    Pat

  2. #2

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Hi, Pat

    I'm sure you have a good inkling that your post invites the opening of a Huge can of worms.

    Like the rest of us, you need to avail yourself of everything you can find about MIDI and music production with a computer. Online there's much good (and much bad) info. But what I recommend is a trip to your local library. There will be many good books on the basics of MIDI and beyond.

    We all started with a big question mark and on our own we started filling in the blanks.

    When you're at square one as you are, there's really not much anyone can specifically say to help you out, because as you pointed out, even the manual for Reaper didn't make sense to you because the basic terms weren't already known by you.

    "...All I want to do is be able to "reshape" the MIDI output from Sibelius before feeding it to GPO..."

    From my viewpoint, you're already starting out with a problem there at the start. Why "reshape" the MIDI before "feeding" it to GPO? The instruments you use, GPO, should be utilized from the very beginning of your music creation process. GPO isn't just a plugin you run data through - it's one large beautiful instrument which you use from the start to create your compositions.

    Are you using Sibelius because you want to start with notation?--Starting work in a sequencer--and I can Highly recommend Sonar Home Studio for that, by the way, - is a much more straight-forward and intuitive way to work.

    Even people who are comfortable with notation adapt to using a sequencer like Sonar, because they can work by inserting notes if that's what they're comfortable with. But the best way to work really is by actually Playing music on a keyboard, recording the data, and then thoroughly editing it with Sonar's tools.

    I can't go on past this, because I don't think it would be honest for anyone to try and tell you more before you've done much more of the basic reading and research you need to do first on your own.

    Randy B.

  3. #3
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    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Gday Pat,

    You said:

    “Some of it is my lack of understanding my particular "sound system" (if such a term can be used for the rudimentary sound card and tiny speakers that came with my PC).

    So where do I start?”


    Unsurprisingly, music is about sound. Would you agree?

    You need to upgrade your sound system, get a lot of diverse music recordings and listen, listen, listen, …

    You may need to train your hearing in respect to sound, not necessarily only in respect to music.

    Before you spend any money on hardware, try to be informed. This is not so easy if you start out from a blank page of technical knowhow. There is a lot of confusion created by sales people and people pushing their own ideas, who do not really have any clear technical understanding. Just persist and you will succeed.

    Once you can hear your music with reasonable realism, you go to the next step and that is the understanding and the usage of the right music creation and production software. Randy gives you good advice on what suits many midi musicians.

    I prefer to do all composition and orchestration in a notation program. Rendering the music in a sequencer is important but only the final step in music production. Technology does not improve poor orchestration, but may add to the problem.

    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  4. #4

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    You downloaded the Reaper manual.

    I have a better idea.

    Download Reaper. It is a fully functional demo.

    It comes with a demo tune that uses both audio and midi if I remember correctly.

    By running the demo song and looking at everything and clicking on everything as well as checking in the manual you should be able to come to some decent understanding of what is going on.

    There is also a very good users forum on the Reaper site.
    Just reading through posts will also be of some help.

    Then you can decide to use Reaper or buy something else.

    The various programs work differently, but the basic concepts remain fairly standard.

    No one will be able to teach you this on a forum. A few hours with a functioning program running an actual project will teach you an enormous amount.

  5. #5

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Pat, welcome to Northern Sounds
    I see you have already been offered some great advice.
    Since you are new to audio, may I suggest reading this
    short tutorial that I made for Garritan customers.
    It's great for beginners to get a head start.

    http://www.garritan.com/tutorial/AudioMixing.htm

    Dan

  6. #6

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    ... and that book I was talking about is called:

    Acoustic and Midi Orchestration for the contemporary composer, "a practical guide to writing and sequencing for the studio orchestra", Andrea Pejrolo and Richard deRosa, "DVD with examples included", Focal Press, ISBN 978-0-240-52021-6 (Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier, 30 Corporate Drive, Suite-400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA). First edition 2007, Reprinted 2009.

    Raymond

  7. #7

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Nice to see a new member here! Welcome and go ahead and ask your questions. There are many of us willing to offer help even if sometimes you get more than you really wanted.

    Raymond's suggested book:
    Acoustic and Midi Orchestration for the contemporary composer
    is an excellent one and will give you some good ideas from which to work. The biggest help I have found is number one, "Read the Manual" and that is for everything related to your computer and sound that you have and number two, ask questions on related forums. This forum is one of the best for user friendly discussions. We pride ourselves on being polite though we may disagree from time to time.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  8. #8

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Just a slight aside from the excellent advice others have given. I've had a close look at Reaper and it is great value for money as well as having the chance to try fully functional completely free for a period of time.

    Here's the rub, much as I know sequencers pretty well I struggled with Reaper even working with the manual. I don't find it to be very intuitive compared to Sonar which is my main workhorse.

    I want to be making music not spending time trying to get my head around yet another interface. It may be worth looking at other sequencers which might help you get to grips with the whole process a bit quicker.

    I'm not knocking Reaper at all it is a very good program but just not for me.

  9. #9

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Monaghan View Post
    Just a slight aside from the excellent advice others have given. I've had a close look at Reaper...
    Here's the rub, much as I know sequencers pretty well I struggled with Reaper even working with the manual. I don't find it to be very intuitive compared to Sonar which is my main workhorse...
    I'm here again to echo what you said, Tony.

    It could be that I'm so accustomed to Sonar after using it for so many years, but I too found Reaper strange and complicated, not as intuitive to use.

    I tested it out of curiosity, since we often recommend it to people, Reaper being an inexpensive sequencer. I wanted to get an idea of what it's like for its users.

    But the Home Studio versions of Sonar are about the same price, and I feel they're much more straight forward to use. Once one gets beyond seeing the bazillion controls available, the concept emerges - you simply have horizontal tracks of MIDI and Audio to work with. At a glance you can see how all tracks are interacting and where you are in your project. Many people use just the basic functions of HS, and those are the same as in the large, more expensive versions.

    So another strong urging for you to go to the Cakewalk site and check out the Home Studio editions.

    Randy

  10. #10

    Re: Sequencer pre-beginner question

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    Maybe a bit O.T, but I've decided I probably have to step into the world of MIDI sequencers to post-process the output from Sibelius. I definitely need some help.
    Hello Pat,

    As you mention Sibelius I assume that you are adept at notation and preparation of a score. If this is the case then this is a good start.

    Initially, I too work through notation although I use Finale 2010 to prepare my scores. From there I move across to Sonar to prepare my performance importing the MIDI file from Finale. I know nothing of Reaper and have got on well using sonar which I find to be superb.

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    I downloaded doc for Reaper (because I could) and started going through it, and don't understand a word of it! Some of my problem is simply a vocabulary issue: they expect the reader to understand things like "FX", but they expect too much. Some of it is my lack of knowledge of ANYTHING relating to digital audio.
    As has been suggested, it would take one of us to write a book as a beginners' guide to MIDI and audio. Really, the only way, as has been suggested, is to research and read books on the subject, of which there have been recommendations, and to go through tutorials and manuals then post specific questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post

    I could probably use some suggestions in choosing a sequencer program, too. I certainly doubt I need all the bells and whistles of the high-end products, but I suspect I need to get a "user friendly" one if I have any hope of using it. Reaper is certainly priced right (for non-commercial use) but I have no idea if it is what I need.
    As previously mentioned, I use Sonar and, for me, this is the one. I just find it excellent although, I have to say, that like any other sequencer there will be a learning curve.
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

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