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Hello, friends. I wanted to write this blog for a while, but it's difficult to get my thoughts together on this particular subject. As you know, I write music. I do it for fun, not for money. I've spent thousands of dollars on music programs, real & virtual instruments, sample libraries, and hardware. According to Bandcamp, I've probably sold over $300 worth of music since I started using the service back in, say, 2011? Again, not in it for the money. It's all about the music.
I sometimes get asked "what do you use to make music?", so I'm going to post a picture that gives you a rough idea. It's not everything. I buy a lot of digital stuff I don't have discs/boxes for.
Starting from the upper left. The Blue/black disc, Orange disc underneath, and the 3 boxes to the right of them. Those are older versions of Cakewalk SONAR. I am currently using Sonar X3 Producer. It is the main software I use, where other people may use Ableton, Cubase, Pro Tools, Fruity Loops, etc. I don't hear too many good things about Sonar, but I use it because the very first program I used to write music, was from Cakewalk. I'm fond of the company, and I enjoy using their software.
The black box next to the Sonars is Eastwest Symphonic Orchestra. To be honest, I don't use this software much. I have the Gold version (there is Silver, Gold, and Platinum). I will get around to using it. It's one of the more expensive libraries I've purchased.
The greenish box, then the next 2, plus the 1 big one underneath, and then the very bottom right, are from Native Instruments, part of the Komplete Series. I use Komplete 10 Ultimate currently. It is my main tool to write music with, as it has sounds for orchestral, electronic, and just about any type of music I could want to write. It's a MASSIVE collection of sounds, coming on a 300gb+ hard drive for installation. It's pricey, but it's my weapon of choice for the most part. I could write a separate blog post listing the instruments for this crazy collection.
Second row, Orange Box, and then the box in the bottom left that is cut off, those are Dimension Pro and Rapture. Both made by Cakewalk. They were eventually bundled with Sonar in the more recent versions (well, I think 7 or 8 Producer, I'm on X3). I use Rapture for the neat synths, and Dimension helped write some older songs like Drifting Through My Imagination.
To the right of Dimension Pro, is Total REX. 15,000 "REX" loops. REX is a type of audio file that can be stretched to almost any tempo. This is where I get most of my drum beats. I also used funk guitar samples in The DOMO Funk on Volume II of the Dtoid Album. I mainly use the drum loops, because I am terrible at programming drums. They're also really good for laying down, and being immediately inspired.
To the right, is refx Nexus. While the box is for version 1. The current version is Nexus 2. It is my other main tool next to Komplete 10. You will hear it in almost all of my tracks. From Alpha to Omega was written with it almost exclusively. It has many expansion packs with sounds ranging from 8-bit to modern dance/electronic. I recommend checking out the demos. They are amazing.
Next, is VI.ONE, from Vir2 Instruments. I uh, actually need to get around to reinstalling this one. I've had it for years, and used to use it, but other instruments took my attention away from it.
Before I talk about the discs, I want to talk about the big blue box to the left of Komplete 10 Ultimate in the bottom right. It is Omnisphere from Spectrasonics. It's absolutely stunning. Another instrument you will often hear in my songs. So many instruments, and so many unique sound ideas. I think they sampled a burning piano =P
There are 5 discs pictured. The top left and bottom left are the same library, Goliath, originally called Colossus. It is by EastWest, the company that made the Symphonic Orchestra. It's a "Swiss army knife" of instruments, having all kinds of sounds. I used to use the piano in my piano journals.
To the right of Goliath, is Hardcore Bass XP, also by EastWest. I do not use it at the moment. It's very old, and I do not have a link to share.
Above Bass, is Miroslav Orchestra by IK Multimedia. I'm going to go ahead and link to the Total Workstation XL bundle, since I have all 5 of those instruments. Sonik Synth 2 is my favorite. It reminds me of the Korg Trinity keyboard that my brother lent me for a few years.
Last one in the picture, is Drumcore. I have Drumcore 3, but it looks like there is a 4 now. It's an awesome collection of natural drum loops, with midi drum loops as well, which can be used with other drum instrument libraries.
There are so many other instruments, but I have no pictures, since they are digital downloads.
Plogue Chipsounds is what I use to get that authentic 8-bit sound. z3ta+ 2 is another amazing Cakewalk synth. Camel Audio makes a free Alchemy Player, that you buy sound libraries for, which is awesome. They also have a full Alchemy program.
8DIO has some stunning sample libraries. I use Rhythmic Aura, Hybrid Tools, and the Apocalyptic Guitar.
Zero-G, the company that makes Total REX, has some awesome sample libraries, as well. I'm especially fond of the Operating Table.
When all is said and done, I need something to give the music a little extra kick. Something to make it sound professional. That's where I whip out my Ozone 5 (they are up to Ozone 6 now). It makes my music sound so much better. Not just "louder", but cleaner, crisper, etc. I can't recommend this piece of software enough.
So, if it isn't obvious, I love making music, and it's what I spent the majority of my money on. I don't do it to make money back, I just love making music. It's my passion. It's my reason for being. It kept me alive when the voice in my head wanted me to die. In the end, music is really all I have, and even if I go deaf, I still have the orchestra in my head.
There are of course cheaper alternatives if you want to get into making music. Cakewalk makes a thing called Music Studio I think, which is pretty functional. There are lots of free virtual instruments as well. If you write actual sheet music, there are programs for that too. I can't read it, though.
I still have so many weapons I have not mentioned, not because I'm keeping them secret, but because there are so many of them. I had to drop some, because it was overwhelming. Stuff like Wusikstation. Awesome software, but I have too many as it is.
Thank you for reading. I'm sorry if this reads like some kind of advertisement. I can assure you, I am not getting any money out of these links. These are the jerks that took all of my money and made it so I can't afford a Wii U and Smash Bros to play with my girlfriend =p
Good day, friends. As part of a goal I'm trying to keep up with (one of many), I'm going to try to write more blogs. The only thing is, I can only really write about what I know. All I really "know" is music, at least, enough to write music that isn't total garbage.
I released 2AD14 - I on November 10th. It is 15 tracks that I had created this year after Nonsensicals IV. This is a Bandcamp Link where you can download it for free. As always, do not consider the "Pay what you want" some sort of obligation. I encourage free downloading of my music. In order to save some space, I will link to the videos of the tracks I made after completing the album, instead of embedding them.
Kauze and Effect (2014) - Kauzality (from Volume I of the Community Album) redone from scratch, as all my rearrangements are being done. This is probably my favorite song on the first album, and I'm glad to have made an updated version that goes in a different direction.
Goof Troop Assemble (2014) - At the request of JohnnyViral, I redid the 321gocast Podcast theme I wrote for the Community Album. The original is not available online at the moment, I think. I removed all of the Podcast themes and joke songs, although I can probably re-upload this one, since it was a full song. This version is neat, though :)
The Life and Death of the Fool (2014) - This is a new song, using a melody I wrote for my father after he passed away. I wrote this song on November 9th, the 17 year mark of my father's passing. Although the beginning is based on his melody, the song is not about him, or me. The "Fool" referenced in the title, is a character in my original story "AD Infinitum". The Fool references a Tarot Card, which I hope to try to connect to the story in some manner.
I realize 2AD14 is kind of a silly name, but it goes back to a ridiculous project idea I had back in late 2012.
The project was going to be called 2AD13, and begin on January 1st, 2013. I was going to write a song a day for the entire year. The only problem is that not only were my meds not the correct combination like they are now, I was also missing a key medication, Adderall. It's the only way I can function, and I was taken off at the request of a new doctor (I moved to PA). I spent roughly a year off the medication, and I went back to terrible habits, as in not being able to focus on anything, or see anything through to completion.
So the project was destined to fail, although some good tracks came out of it. Those tracks went on Nonsensicals IV. 2AD13/4 is basically the year the album would be released. I put I at the end of the name, to encourage me to write a part II. I've since written 3 songs for the album, which I will embed into the blog post for easy listening.
To New Beginnings (2014) - This song follows the "death" of the previous track, and references the "rebirth" of the next album. I think it's one of my most energetic, positive tracks.
B.O.N.E.R. ~Mr Andy Dixon~ (2014) - Battle on Nostromo, Exit Ripley, Mr. Andy Dixon's song from volume I, redone. I went with a somewhat faster, "a lot going on" approach this time around, and changed many of the chords.
Shattered Diamond (2014) - New song, written with the idea of a terrible incident occurring. As if a major character in a video game died, and people are working through the loss of that character.
- Creative Process -
I said I would write a bit about how I work on music. I'm not sure where to begin. If you have any questions, you're always free to ask in the comments section.
Because of decades of living without the ability to focus, I had developed a poor technique of writing music. It was the only way to get anything out, though. I can't tell you how many pieces of music were never finished, because my attention would drift elsewhere. In order to avoid this, I had to write music as quick as possible. If I ever closed the song during my time without medication, it was like closing a coffin. That song was dead.
I also could not study how to work with music programs, so a lot of my oldest music, is me performing the parts live, and then layering other performances on top of different instruments. It led to a very natural sound, but at the same time, they had timing issues. It was a great time when I learned how to use piano roll, a feature in many music software, that lets you punch in the notes indivudally. I could use this to input notes exactly where I wanted them, at whatever velocity and length I chose.
I could also edit recordings of live performances, since I had been originally saving them in MIDI data. Nowadays, I almost exclusively use Piano Roll to write music. It's rare that I will touch the piano for songwriting, other than audition sounds and trying to grow songs. I admit, it gives my songs somewhat less of a natural feel, but I have yet to find the balance between the two techniques.
When it comes to actual songwriting, I open up the software "Sonar", look at the screen, and I don't know what I'm going to do. Usually. At least when it comes to writing brand new music. I don't know what instrument I'm going to load, what type of song I want to compose, nothing. That doesn't come until later.
So I have an empty program staring at me, and something needs to be written. I'll load up a virtual instrument, or perhaps a drum sample, and go from there. I call it "growing music from seeds". The initial instrument is the seed, and the music grows from the single instrument/sample. The track "Smooth Move" is a perfect example. I wrote the song based on the cluster synth you hear in the beginning. I had no idea what I was going to do. But within an hour or two, I had that song put together.
I am not good at planning ahead, by any measure. I can't schedule tasks, and it's just difficult to maintain any sort of daily ritual. I don't live for the future, I live for now. I'll be dead at some point, and I don't want to leave anything undone, so I simply don't set up to do anything major.
I realize this isn't very helpful for people looking for information on how to write music. I apologize, I seem to be somewhat "special". I guess what I have is a talent, that I didn't really work for. I just refined the technique a bit over the last few years. I can play a fair amount of music on the piano, but it all disappears as soon as I play it, which is why I do piano journals. I have almost never been able to "retrieve" a song played from a piano journal, to turn into a regular song.
Music just flows through me. My mind is an orchestra I can control at will, assuming I'm not dealing with the occasional earwig (TOO MANY COOKS!). Man, typing all that out makes me wonder how I even do what I do :P
I just like to write music. It is always exciting to hear what comes out of me, because sometimes it's like I'm not writing the music. I often feel like a vessel for "what sounds good to me" to come out. Many of the songs I put together in bulk amounts, were written in very short amounts of time. I have songs I only spent an hour on. That means when I go to listen to them, it's almost like listening to music someone else wrote. It's kind of surreal.
I don't have any serious music training outside of 3 years in the school band playing trumpet, which did teach me a fair amount (mostly about rhythm, I can't remember how to read/write sheet music, I write based on note pitch), but I realized it was quicker to just go from the mind, as opposed to getting any sort of formal training. It might be too late, but if I find myself in a better position financially, I might look into music theory/reading piano music. I have a lot of free time, which is why I can write so much music, and still play my games!
I wrote a ton. That's nothing new. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. If you have any questions, please ask, and I will answer to the best of my ability. Thanks for all the great years, and for putting up with my ups and downs the way they have been. I hope that is behind me now. I really do.