Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

I not a Scientist or a Mathematician nor am I a Digital Engineer

Recently, as I have indicated I have tried to branch out to more modern form of composing. 

Up until recently, I used to compose in a very traditional and old fashion way. Get the idea, write it down on paper or Sibelius, and develop it.

Then I have downloaded several free DAW demos. To me every single one of them is like Egyptian Runes. Unintelligible, unclear, indecipherable. Only several DAWS are left that I still didn't try, the Albion and Cakewalk. The Albion to the best of my knowledge doesn't offer a demo, I'm not going to pay $500 and then not like the program and not use it. The Cakewalk, there is a demo through Steinberg, but it doesn't work on my computer. The only thing that I feel comfortable with is an online program called Soundtrap, I pay a membership fee of $12 a month and it gives me the tools to compose in the easiest and clearest platform that I have seen so far. The drawback on this is the quality of the sounds, though it is better then some, it is also less in quality then others. 

When I approach the art of composition, I want to concentrate on the melody on the actual content of the music, all those digital complications destroys it for me, as there are so many things one has to do in order to get one line of music mixed and recorded, what a shame.

The ideal thing would be, and this is for those who are looking to make a business out of this is to create something that has the simplicity of Soundtrap with the sound quality and flexibility of Albion and other famous high end sound libraries. What I also like about Soundtrap is that it does all the mixing for me which is amazing.

Until such an option will come, I will continue concentrating on Piano and also Sountrap. No other DAWs are good for me, until at least they simplify the process and provide the composer with the ability to concentrate on inspiration and music writing instead of becoming a digital engineer, which I am not and probably will never be.

For the love music, I have no idea how people are composing with things like Digital Performer and Reaper, and Studio One, etc, basically all of them, besides the ones I have yet to try.

This is not meant to be a debate, though I don't know which better thread this topic fits.

Cheers to all.

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expensive doesn't bother me its the usability that is a problem.

How much actual time have you spent trying to master these things Saul - pick one with good reviews and work at it. If you find a very easy one then it will not have much functionality. Imagine if you had given up on piano when first learning because you didn't have the ability to get the music out of your head with it and found it a "complication".

What you want to do I assume is have your keyboard linked so whatever you play is recorded through midi into the DAW and using whatever sample you want. Or perhaps you want to record directly from your electric piano. Both those aims are very simple and neither of them require you to do mixing or anything else.

However if you want your music to be better you really need to add some amount of mixing knowlede to your palette. Even if you think people won't notice they will.

To truly master a pro-level DAW will of course take a long time and is a different field to composition.

But to get good enough with it that you can use it for basic recording would take a couple of weeks if that. I feel you might have tinkered with one for an evening and got frustrated and given up. Put in the time. Look up videos. Your using an electric piano with sampled sounds to record so I don't understand why taking the next step and moving the electronic aspect of your work into a computer is such a problem.

Saul Dzorelashvili said:

No I do want to use it as long as it simple and musically based and not scientific and technological as it is right now. That was the entire point of the discussion. As I have indicated, the DAWs that are available now don't work for me, as it is an entire subject/profession that one has to learn and master and does not necessarily have anything to do with music.

Regards

I would bet that an experienced orchestrator or composer working with software would hands-down beat paper. Imagine trying to hand-write an entire score and then the dozens of individual parts for an orchestral performance in less time than someone using sibelius or another notation program - whilst being equally readable! Of course in terms of immediate inspiration and capture paper has no equal.

Dane Aubrun said:

NONE of these can beat putting dots on paper staves for speed.

I was talking about the initial stages of composing. And I'd bet that you can't. Hands down? Nope. You also can't spread various versions complete with all your adjustments out on the table and do some literal cut and pasting. I've compared myself with others using software. 

I don't know at what level you pronounce someone "an experienced orchestrator/composer" and I suppose those who do it for a living day in day out have it down pat, in which case I defer.

I agree it's possibly useful at the final stages when the work's close to firming up. As a publishing tool it's fine as long as you don't stretch it too far. There are things even now it can't do.

I asked someone to transcribe a certain passage of Ravel's Scarbo. It couldn't be done.  

Like I say, we all have our ways of working. 

Charles Holt said:

I would bet that an experienced orchestrator or composer working with software would hands-down beat paper. Imagine trying to hand-write an entire score and then the dozens of individual parts for an orchestral performance in less time than someone using sibelius or another notation program - whilst being equally readable! Of course in terms of immediate inspiration and capture paper has no equal.

Dane Aubrun said:

NONE of these can beat putting dots on paper staves for speed.

Just a quick note on this quite interesting conversation. I don’t use a DAW, but I do listen to everything posted on this site, a lot of which is composed on a DAW. I have noticed a quality of sameness about these works, enough to the point where I would say that if I heard a new composition without being told how it was composed, I could probably tell if it came from a DAW within a few seconds.

Dane,

You make several statements based on your experience. Everyone works differently.

Of course software will let you have several versions of a piece open at once and let you cut and paste between them. I don't think most people work that way. 

As for the Ravel, it can be done. Just as a player has to think outside the box to play this piece, so does a DAW user. This could be done in notation software, though not as well. The score might not look like a piano score. But there's not much practicality for anyone to do the Ravel. Though, perhaps, you should give it a try.

I was talking about preparing music for performance or recording. The same piece of music and one experienced person working with DAW/NS and one experienced person working with paper to create the same score and parts. Paper might win for very small-scale pieces or those written for solo to quartet ensembles but I really cant see the paper winning for anything larger or complex or if it somehow did! being preferable to the players. You can of course cut and paste in software and have multiple versions.

The things NS can't do compared to handwriting are going to be so deeply specific and unusual I doubt they will come up much. And in which case you simply free-write in the NS. There are always workarounds for if there weren't NS like Sibelius would not be the standard for countless hours of music recorded every year in so many styles.


Dane Aubrun said:

I was talking about the initial stages of composing. And I'd bet that you can't. Hands down? Nope. You also can't spread various versions complete with all your adjustments out on the table and do some literal cut and pasting. I've compared myself with others using software. 

Hi All

I've been using Dorico since it was released - before that I use cubase but the notation part of it was rubbish. With Dorico (and no doubt with Finale and Sibelius) you can do it the "old fashion" way but have the addiional benefit of using good sound libraries including note performer. 

So now I start and finish the writing with Dorico and then use Cubase for the mixing and mastering - I tried a demo of Wavelab Elements but I decided I could do just as well with Cubase. I'm getting better at the cubase side of things but you do have to put in the effort of learning it if you want good results.

If you don't want to engage with the "scientifi and technological" side of things as embodied in DAWs like Cubase then you can simply use Noteperformer but if you want the best possible results then you need to bite the bullet and get the hang of the tech stuff, or you could pay a sound engineer to do it for you.

Colin

Yes, we're at cross purposes. I was talking about the initial stages of getting ideas down. I do use a daw as things progress - well, most times. 

Were I a composer by trade I'd probably think about notation software.  I don't like to rely on technology..


Charles Holt said:

I was talking about preparing music for performance or recording. The same piece of music and one experienced person working with DAW/NS and one experienced person working with paper to create the same score and parts. Paper might win for very small-scale pieces or those written for solo to quartet ensembles but I really cant see the paper winning for anything larger or complex or if it somehow did! being preferable to the players. You can of course cut and paste in software and have multiple versions.

The things NS can't do compared to handwriting are going to be so deeply specific and unusual I doubt they will come up much. And in which case you simply free-write in the NS. There are always workarounds for if there weren't NS like Sibelius would not be the standard for countless hours of music recorded every year in so many styles.


Dane Aubrun said:

I was talking about the initial stages of composing. And I'd bet that you can't. Hands down? Nope. You also can't spread various versions complete with all your adjustments out on the table and do some literal cut and pasting. I've compared myself with others using software. 

I have downloaded Dorico from Steinberg and it won't load even though Steinberg provided the serial number for the trail version. All the softwares that I downloaded from Steinberg don't work on my Mac computer, don't know why.



Colin Dougall said:

Hi All

I've been using Dorico since it was released - before that I use cubase but the notation part of it was rubbish. With Dorico (and no doubt with Finale and Sibelius) you can do it the "old fashion" way but have the addiional benefit of using good sound libraries including note performer. 

So now I start and finish the writing with Dorico and then use Cubase for the mixing and mastering - I tried a demo of Wavelab Elements but I decided I could do just as well with Cubase. I'm getting better at the cubase side of things but you do have to put in the effort of learning it if you want good results.

If you don't want to engage with the "scientifi and technological" side of things as embodied in DAWs like Cubase then you can simply use Noteperformer but if you want the best possible results then you need to bite the bullet and get the hang of the tech stuff, or you could pay a sound engineer to do it for you.

Colin

Dane,

I don't want to have to learn how to use a DAW either but I must say I disagree with your comments about notation software. I have been using Sibelius for years and, although like many other software programmes it was difficult to master initially, it very quickly became easy to use (having said that, there are still some terrific features that I have only recently discovered by talking to other users). I find it suffers from none of the problems you describe and it's a great aid to composing - although if I'm away from the computer I still use notepaper M/S to copy down my thoughts.

There are problems with mixing that I have enunciated on other threads, but they have more to do with improving the (electronic MP3) sounds received by others....the actual art of composing using notation software has made life very much easier for me.

If you're serious about composing I think you will find the process of learning to use such software great fun and very valuable. I would say it took me only a couple of days to learn the basics of Sibelius to a degree that I got excited about its ease of use....I've remained in a mild state of excitement ever since. A great advantage is being able to print directly the score and parts to a standard expected by professional performers. Another enormous aid is, if you find at a first rehearsal that you've made a few blunders, they can be corrected and a revised part printed in minutes (just think about the time and effort needed to correct a handwritten score and parts).

I don't work for Sibelius (if that's what you're thinking)….I just genuinely love to use it.

All the best,

Stephen

Dane Aubrun said:

Hello, Saul,

You are not alone. I suppose DAWs do a lot more than just let you compose music, like they record and give you many editing facilities. Yes, they probably take getting used to and I still find after about 5 years with mine there's more to learn.

But like you (once did) I still start composing on paper with pencil. I've watched Sibelius being used and once tried out Finale with their free try which was appalling! It let me do nothing if it wasn't in a common or compound time. 5/4? Nah, mate, none of that.

NONE of these can beat putting dots on paper staves for speed. There are other issues - pencil and paper doesn't crash; the publisher doesn't go out of business; and you can compose away from any computer. Perhaps I have a too short memory but if an idea crops up I want to jot it right then. Oh, and I never start with a time signature nor bar lines. No software allows me that except through some extraordinary work-arounds.

I suppose I'll have to get some kind of notation software in the end. They all seem a swindle to me. Upgrades each year at $99? I mean, how much has music notation changed in the past 4 centuries and they still need an annual upgrade? 

Even, as I think I understand things, one of their benefits is they lift out individual parts of a multi-part score - except they don't seem to let you put smaller cueing staves above an entry as you'd like, so even if I did get software I reckon there'll be much manual editing still to do. 

Yes, it's a problem all right.

cheers.

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